James Hurdis

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An engraving of Hurdis by Romney, frontispiece from The Village Curate and other poems (1809)

James Hurdis (1763–1801) was an English clergyman and a poet, born in Bishopstone, East Sussex. He studied at St Mary Hall, Oxford, and Magdalen College, Oxford, later becoming a Fellow of Magdalen College.[1] He was the vicar for the West Sussex village of Burpham and it was there that he wrote The Village Curate. In 1793 he was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

Local shepherds at this time used to catch birds in small cage traps to sell as songbirds. It is said that Hurdis used to free the trapped birds, but would leave a few coins in their place to compensate the shepherds.

He died in 1801 and there is a memorial to him in Bishopstone Church. The local town hall in Seaford, East Sussex, is named Hurdis House in his honour. (The Town Council Offices were at Hurdis House, they moved to 37 Church Street. Seaford does not have a Town Hall). He was a headmaster of Prebendal School, Chichester. His eldest son James Henry Hurdis was a notable amateur artist.


  1. ^ Dictionary of National Biography