Philip Francis

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Francis, Philip, D.D., a well-known author, was born in Dublin early in the 18th century. [His father had been ejected from the rectory of St. Mary's and other clerical preferments, for political reasons.] He was educated at Trinity College, entered the church, and obtained the degree of D.D. Occasionally he wrote for the Castle. He edited several of the classics, and in 1743 published his well-known translation of Horace.

About 1746, soon after the death of his wife, he removed to England, and in 1751 or 1752 established a school at Esher, in Surrey. One of his pupils was Gibbon the historian, whose recollections of his master were by no means pleasing. In 1756 he was almost domiciled in Holland House, and he was afterwards private chaplain to Lady Holland. He taught Stephen and Charles Fox to read, and Lady Sarah Lennox and Lady Susan to declaim. He wrote and published anonymous political pamphlets in the interest of Henry Fox and his ministerial colleagues, and for some years was one of the editors of the Gazette daily paper, in the pay of the court and Government.

In 1757-'8 Dr. Francis dedicated to Mr. Fox his translations of Demosthenes and Aeschines. His dramatic productions were not successful — neither the acting of Garrick nor the charms of Mrs. Bellamy could establish his plays of Eugenia and Constantine.

The intercourse between him and his only son, Sir Philip Francis, was of the most affectionate character, although clouded for a time by what he considered his son's misalliance, and the difference of their political principles. In religious matters there is little reason to suppose that he was more orthodox than Sir Philip. In June 1761 he was presented to the vicarage of Chilham, in Kent, and he died at Bath, 5th March 1773, having suffered from palsy the last seven years of his life.

Sources

116. Dublin University Magazine (45). Dublin, 1833-'77.

136. Francis, Sir Philip, Memoirs: Joseph Parkes and Herman Merivale, M. A. 2 vols. London, 1867.

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