A Tale of Two Williams

William Lennox Bathurst was the second son of Henry, third Earl of Bathurst.  William Hiley Bathurst was a distant cousin of Henry, third Earl of Bathurst.

William Lennox Bathurst was born in 1791 and died in 1878.  William Hiley Bathurst was born in 1796 and died in 1877.

William Lennox Bathurst was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts at the age of 21 (he later returned for a Master of Arts).  William Hiley Bathurst was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts at the age of 22.

William Lennox Bathurst became an MP at the age of 21.  He was called to the Bar, and in his long career he was a Deputy Teller of the Exchequer, Joint Secretary of the Board of Trade, and Joint Clerk of the Privy Council for 30 years.  William Hiley Bathurst was an Anglican minister in relative obscurity for 32 years in Yorkshire.

When his elder brother died childless, William Lennox Bathurst entered the House of Lords as the 5th Earl of Bathurst.  When his elder brother died childless, William Hiley Bathurst inherited his father’s expensive-to-maintain country estate.

William Lennox Bathurst took the title his father, Henry Bathurst (the third earl of Bathurst), had held before him.  William Hiley Bathurst resigned the Anglican ministry (to which he had been presented by that same third earl of Bathurst) due to convictions regarding baptism.

William Lennox Bathurst was 5th Earl of Bathurst for 12 years.  William Hiley Bathurst, after resigning the ministry, engaged in literary endeavours for 11 years.

William Lennox Bathurst was a great success by all outward appearances, while William Hiley Bathurst did not even carry on in the ministry until retirement.

But one William Bathurst is virtually forgotten today….

William Lennox Bathurst never married, and died childless.

William Bathurst EarlWilliam Lennox Bathurst left no notable quotes.  Though he made speeches in Parliament, no one remembers anything he said.  He got a mention in the History of Parliament Trust’s House of Commons 1790-1820, but there is nothing in his record likely to matter in the least to anyone alive today.

His title passed to his younger brother’s son — as it would have a few years earlier if William never existed.  A caricature of him by the artist James Tissot in 1873 was captioned, “A Relic.”  George W.E. Russell wrote (first chapter) that in the 1870s he was known in London for his “dyed locks and crimson velvet waistcoat.”  No one today cares about anything he said or did, except those interested in obscure historical details of parliament or the English peerage.

William Hiley Bathurst, however, is remembered. Of his four children, his oldest son was a minister, and his two daughters married ministers.  Of his fourteen grandchildren, two grandsons became ministers and one granddaughter married a minister.  There is a plaque commemorating him in the parish church building in Lydney, Gloucestershire, and the 14th century cross in Lydney was restored in his honour in 1878, the year after his death.

He was remembered (where he served as minister) as “the greatest benefactor of Barwick-in-Elmet.”  He personally paid for improvements to the parish church building and the school.  He was the minister there for the last 17 years of William Batty’s life (William Batty’s Bible).

He composed many hymns and metrical Psalms for his Psalms and Hymns for Public Use.  He wrote in the preface:

The singing of ‘Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs’ is so pleasing and edifying a part of divine worship, that it is much to be wished that all persons in our Congregations should feel it a duty to join in thus giving praise and glory to God: and may He, who is the Giver of every good gift, direct us how to sing, as well as pray, ‘with the spirit and with the understanding also.’

We still sing and are challenged by the following:

O, for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe!

That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chastening rod,
But, in the hour of grief or pain,
Will lean upon its God.

That bears, unmoved, the world’s dread frown
Nor heeds its scornful smile;
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan’s arts beguile.

A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life’s last hour is fled,
And with a pure and heavenly ray
Lights up a dying bed.

Lord, give me such a faith as this,
And then, whate’er may come,
I’ll taste, e’en here, the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.

From his Metrical Musings, or Thoughts on Sacred Scripture in Verse:

What place so sacred, or what heart so pure,
That Satan enters not?  where Christians meet
To worship God, he labours to allure
Their thoughts, and draw them from the mercy-seat;
By threats or promises he would defeat
God’s work of grace, and fill the inquiring mind
With groundless prejudice and vain deceit;
And with religion’s empty shew would blind
His slaves, that real peace their souls may never find.

This Wednesday, 28 August, is the birthday of William Hiley Bathurst.

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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