George Horne (bishop)

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Bishop Horne.

George Horne D.D. (1 November 1730 – 27 January 1792) was an English churchman, writer, and university administrator.


Horne was born at Otham near Maidstone, in Kent, southeast England, and received his education at Maidstone Grammar School and University College, Oxford (B.A. 1749; M.A. 1752; D.D. 1764).[1]

In 1749, Horne became a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, of which college he was elected President on 27 January 1768.[2] He resign his post as President on 11 April 1791. He was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University from 1776 until 1780.[3][4]

As a preacher, Horne attained great popularity, and was suspected, if inaccurately, of Methodism. In 1781 he was made Dean of Canterbury, and in 1790 was raised to the seat of Norwich. He died in Bath on 27 January 1792.[1]


George Horne's publications included a satirical pamphlet entitled The Theology and Philosophy of Cicero's Somnium Scipionis (1751), a defense of the Hutchinsonians (1753), and critiques on William Law (1758) and Benjamin Kennicott (1760).

His main works are:

  • ‘A Fair, Candid, and Impartial Statement of the Case between Sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Hutchinson’ (anon.), 1753.
  • ‘An Apology for certain Gentlemen in the University of Oxford, aspersed in a late anonymous pamphlet,’ 1756. The anonymous pamphlet was called ‘A Word to the Hutchinsonians.’
  • ‘Cautions to the Readers of Mr. Law, and, with very few varieties, to the Readers of Baron Swedenborg,’ 1758, to which was added ‘A Letter to a Lady on the subject of Jacob Behmen's Writings.’ Horne had been impressed by the earlier writings of William Law, but complained that he saw him ‘falling from the heaven of Christianity into the sink and complication of Paganism, Quakerism, and Socinianism, mixed up with chemistry and astrology by a possessed cobbler.’
  • ‘A View of Mr. Kennicott's Method of Correcting the Hebrew Text,’ 1760, criticising the plan of Benjamin Kennicott and some of his friends to collate the text of the Hebrew Bible from manuscripts, to prepare for a new translation to be made into English language. In spite of their differences Horne and Kennicott became friends
  • ‘A Letter to Dr. Adam Smith’ (anon.), 1777, on Smith's account of David Hume.
  • ‘Letters on Infidelity,’ 1784, addressed to ‘W. S., Esqr.,’ presumed to be William Smith, his cousin and lifelong friend.
  • (With William Jones of Nayland) ‘Answer to Dr. Clayton's Essay on Spirit.’[5] Against Robert Clayton.

He intended writing a ‘Defence of the Divinity of Christ’ against Joseph Priestley, but did not live to do that.[5]

The best known work by Horne is his Commentary on the Psalms, 1771. The ‘Commentary’ is partly exegetical and partly devotional; it proceeds on the principle that most of the Psalms are more or less Messianic, and cannot be properly understood except in those terms. Richard Mant transferred Horne's preface almost verbatim to his annotated Book of Common Prayer. Hannah More, another of Horne's friends, admired it. Of a similar character was his ‘Considerations on the Life and Death of St. John the Baptist,’ 1769, which was an expansion of a sermon preached by him on St. John the Baptist's day 1755, from the open-air pulpit in the quadrangle of Magdalen College. Horne had a reputation as a preacher, and his sermons were frequently reprinted.[5]

Horne's collected Works were published with a Memoir by William Jones in 1799.


Having adopted some of the views of John Hutchinson, Horne wrote in his defence. However, he disagreed with Hutchinson's fanciful interpretations of Hebrew etymology.[5]

Horne fell under the imputation of Methodism, but was a high churchman; and he protested from the university pulpit against those who took their theology from George Whitefield and John Wesley rather than major Anglican divines. Nevertheless, he disapproved of the expulsion by John Hingson of six Methodist students from St Edmund Hall, Oxford, a high profile event of 1768 in Oxford;[6] and he thought that Wesley should not be forbidden to preach in his diocese.[5]

Horne was an active promoter of the Naval and Military Bible Society, founded in 1780. He supported the cause of the bishops of the Episcopalian Church of Scotland who in 1789 came up to London to petition parliament for relief from their legal disadvantages.[5]


On 12 June 1769, he married Felicia (1714–1821), only child of Philip Burton and his wife Felicia, daughter of John Whitfield.[7] They had three daughters: Felicia (1770–1829) who in 1791 married the Reverend Robert Hele; Maria (1773–1852) unmarried; and Sarah (1775–1853) who in 1796 married the Reverend Humphrey Hole.


  1. ^ a b Nigel Aston, ‘Horne, George (1730–1792)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 18 December 2009.
  2. ^ Salter, H. E. and Lobel, Mary D., ed. (1954). "Magdalen College". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 193–207. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Vice-Chancellors from the year 1660". The Oxford University Calendar. University of Oxford. 1817. pp. 27–28. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f  "Horne, George". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  6. ^ St. Edmund Hall, Oxford — A Brief History, St Edmund Hall, Oxford, UK.
  7. ^ "Rt. Rev. George Horne". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Horne, George". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Church of England titles
Preceded by
James Cornwallis
Dean of Canterbury
Succeeded by
William Buller
Preceded by
Lewis Bagot
Bishop of Norwich
Succeeded by
Charles Manners-Sutton
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Jenner
President of Magdalen College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Martin Joseph Routh
Preceded by
Thomas Fothergill
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Samuel Dennis