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A Great Pluralist

Barwicker No.34
June 1994

John Sumner was Rector of Barwick from 1750 to 1772 and we have no evidence that he ever visited the parish. He was in Colman's words, "A great pluralist", being appointed to many ecclesiastical and educational posts . He pocketed the money from the living at Barwick and appointed assistant curates to carry out the work here.

We include below a 6ummary of John Sumner's life from Rev. Colman's 'A History of the Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet' published in 1908. The last sentence is the only attempt at humour that we can find in his book.

John Sumner DD (1750-1772) was a great plural1st. Born at New Windsor, Berks, 21 October 1705, he went in due course to Eton where he held a scholarship, was admitted Scholar of King's College, Cambridge, 15 August 1724, became Fellow 15 August 1727, BA 1728, MA 1732, and DD 1744. In June 1728 he was appointed an assistant master at Eton and Head Master 23 December 1745. While holding this post he was made, June 1750, Rector of Barwick, Canon of Windsor 1750-1 and Rector of Castleford, 1753-4.

In 1754 he resigned the Head mastership and on 18 October 1756 became Provost of King's College where he died 12 March 1772, in the 67th. year of his age, and was buried in the college chapel in the first vestry by the south door. The inscription over his grave records that besides being, at his death, Provost of the college, Canon of 'Windsor, Rector of Barwick and of Cast1eford, he was also Chaplain in Ordinary to the King. A few days before his death he was presented, March 3, 1772 by the Dean and Chapter of Windsor, to the Donative Curacy of St. Bennet Fincke, in the City of London.

Dr Sumner married a Miss Bell, daughter of a merchant living in Clapham, in Surrey; one aon , 'William Henry, died in 1759, aged 4, another, Humphrey, was Provost of King's, 1797 to 1814, and a third Robert, was in 1767 a Scholar of King's.
The annalist of Eton says "John Sumner was head master for 9 years. I can find no single fact recorded of him that is in any degree interesting". For 22 years he held this Rectory and the same may be said of him here.


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