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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Vincent
2 November 1739 – 21 December 1815

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William Vincent

Vincent born in London, the fifth surviving son of Giles Vincent, packer and Portugal merchant. He was admitted at Westminster School as a ‘town boy’ in 1747; and became a king’s scholar in 1753. In 1757 was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge. After graduating as B.A. in 1761, he returned to Westminster as usher.

He became second master in 1771, and was made chaplain in ordinary to the king. He graduated M.A. in 1764 and D.D. in 1776, and two years later received the vicarage of Longdon, Wiltshire, which, however, he exchanged within six months for the rectory of All Hallows, Thames Street.

In 1784 he became sub-almoner to the king. He shared the Tory views of his family, and in 1780 published anonymously a Letter in reply to a sermon preached at Cambridge by Richard Watson. A sermon preached by him in 1792 at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, for the benefit of the greycoat charity, attracted attention, and when reprinted in the following year by the Patriotic Association against republicans and levellers, twenty thousand copies were sold.

In 1788, Vincent was appointed headmaster of Westminster. He held the position for fourteen years, respected alike for both scholarship and character. Tothill Fields, a playground, called Vincent Square after him. The attention he paid to his pupils’ religious education rendered him well qualified to answer the attacks of Thomas Rennell, master of the Temple, and Thomas Lewis O’Beirne, bishop of Meath, who had charged headmasters with neglecting this branch of their duties.

Vincent’s Defence of Public Education, issued as a reply to the latter in 1801, reached a third edition two years later. In 1801 he was nominated by William Pitt, the Prime Minister, to a canonry of Westminster. The following year Pitt’s successor, Henry Addington, offered him the deanery of Westminster.

In 1805 Vincent obtained the rectory of St. John’s, Westminster, and resigned that of All Hallows to his son. In 1807 he exchanged St. John’s for the rectory of Islip, Oxfordshire, where he made his country residence.

He had been appointed president of Sion College in 1798, and acted as prolocutor of the lower house of convocation in 1802, 1806, and 1807. He oversaw many restoration and repair projects to Westminster Abbey.

Vincent made his reputation as a classical scholar by the publication of a Latin treatise entitled De Legione Manlianâ Quæstio ex Livio desumta, et rei militaris Romanæ studiosis proposita. Only four copies of the work are said to have been sold. In the next year Vincent published The Origination of the Greek Verb: an Hypothesis, followed in 1795 by The Greek Verb Analysed: an Hypothesis in which the Source and Structure of the Greek Language in general is considered.

Ancient geography was the subject which Vincent made his chief study. In 1797 he issued his commentary on Arrian’s Voyage of Nearchus. The subject was pursued in The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea, which appeared in two parts in 1800 and 1805. These three commentaries, which occupied Vincent’s leisure during eight years, were dedicated to George III. The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean, 2 vols., issued in 1807, forms a second edition of the whole work. It was considered the most valuable contribution to the geography of antiquity and the history of commerce. An English translation of the Voyage of Nearchus and of the Periplus was published separately by Vincent in 1809.

Gleanings from the Asiatick Researches of the learned Dr. Vincent, was privately printed in 1813 by Joseph Thomas Brown. Vincent also contributed notes to Gibbon’s Inquiry into the Circumnavigation of Africa, and to the Classical Journal articles on Ancient Commerce, China as known to Classic Authors, The Geography of Susiana, and Theophilus an African Bishop. For the first series of the British Critic, conducted by his friend Nares, he wrote several important reviews. Vincent was also a frequent contributor to The Gentleman’s Magazine.

Vincent died at Islip on 21 December 1815, and was buried in St. Benedict’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on 29 December 1815.

In 1771 he married Hannah, fourth daughter of George Wyatt, chief clerk of the vote office, House of Commons. She died on 17 February 1807, leaving children.

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