Historical information

Rev Robert Hodgson:
His father was Robert Hodgson Snr, of Congleton, and Mildred (née Porteus) in early 1773. He was baptised on 22 September 1773 at St Peter's Church, Congleton. Hodgson was a close relative (by marriage on his father's side and by blood on his mother's side) of Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London of whom Hodgson wrote a biography of Porteus.
On his mother's side, he was a descendant of Augustine Warner Jnr., who presided as the Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses during the time of Bacon's Rebellion (Warner served before the Rebellion in 1676, and after the Rebellion in 1677.)
Hodgson was educated at Macclesfield School and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA as 14th Wrangler in 1795. He was appointed rector of St George's, Hanover Square for over forty years, from 1803 until his death in 1844.

Bishop Beilby Porteus:
Beilby Porteus 8 May 1731 – 13 May 1809), successively Bishop of Chester and London was a Church of England reformer and a leading abolitionist in England. He was the first Anglican in a position of authority to seriously challenge the Church's position on slavery.
Porteus was born in York on 8 May 1731, the youngest of the 19 children of Elizabeth Jennings and Robert Porteus ( 1758/9), a planter. Although the family was of Scottish ancestry, his parents were Virginian planters who had returned to England in 1720 as a result of the economic difficulties in the province and for the sake of his father's health. Educated at York and Ripon Grammar School, he was a classics scholar at Christ's College, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1752. In 1759 he won the Seatonian Prize for his poem Death: A Poetical Essay, a work for which he is still remembered.
He was ordained as a priest in 1757, and in 1762 was appointed as domestic chaplain to Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury, acting as his assistant at Lambeth Palace for six years. It was during these years that it is thought he became more aware of the conditions of the enslaved Africans in the American colonies and the British West Indies. He corresponded with clergy and missionaries, receiving reports on the appalling conditions facing the slaves from Rev James Ramsay in the West Indies and from Granville Sharp, the English lawyer who had supported the cases of freed slaves in England.
In 1769 Beilby Porteus was appointed as chaplain to King George III. He was also Rector of Lambeth (a living shared between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Crown) from 1767 to 1777, and later Master of St Cross, Winchester (1776–77).
He was concerned about trends within the Church of England towards what he regarded as the watering-down of the truth of Scripture and stood for doctrinal purity. He was, however, happy to work with Methodists and dissenters and recognised their major contributions in evangelism and education.
In 1776, Porteus was nominated as Bishop of Chester, taking up the appointment in 1777. He was Renowned as a scholar and a popular preacher, it was in 1783 that the young bishop was to first come to national attention by preaching his most famous and influential sermon.
In 1787, Porteus was translated to the bishopric of London on the advice of Prime Minister William Pitt, a position he held until his death in 1809. As is customary, he was also appointed to the Privy Council, and Dean of the Chapel Royal. In 1788, he supported Sir William Dolben's Slave Trade Bill from the bench of bishops, and over the next quarter-century, he became the leading advocate within the Church of England for the abolition of slavery, lending support to such men as Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, Henry Thornton, and Zachary Macaulay to secure the eventual passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.


Beilby Porteus was one of the most significant, albeit under-rated church figures of the 18th century. His sermons continued to be read by many, and his legacy as a foremost abolitionist was such that his name was almost as well known in the early 19th century as those of Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson but 100 years later he had become one of the 'forgotten abolitionists', and today his role has largely been ignored and his name has been consigned to the footnotes of history. His primary claim to fame in the 21st century is for his poem on Death and, possibly unfairly, as the supposed prototype for the pompous Mr. Collins in Jane Austen's novel ”Pride and Prejudice”.
But, ironically, Porteus' most lasting contribution was one for which he is little-known, the Sunday Observance Act of 1781 (a response to what he saw as the moral decay of England), which legislated how the public were allowed to spend their recreation time at weekends these laws continued for the following 200 years until the passing of the Sunday Trading Act of 1994.

Physical description

Book of sermons cover is brown with gold border and decoration

Inscriptions & markings

Beilby Porteus (or Porteous; 8 May 1731 – 13 May 1809), successively Bishop of Chester and of London, was a Church of England reformer and a leading abolitionist in England. He was the first Anglican in a position of authority to seriously challenge the Church's position on slavery.

The Works of The Right Reverend Beilby Porteus Vol 2” . Spine has “Porteus’ Works, Vol. II Sermons”.
The works of the Right Reverend Beilby Porteus, D.D., late Bishop of London; with his life, by the Rev. Robert Hodgson, A.M.F.R.S. and one of the Chaplains in Ordinary to His Majesty. A New Edition in Six Volumes. Vol. II – Sermons.
Published in 1811 for T. Cadell and W., Davies, in The Strand, London.
Printed by G. Sidney, Northumberland-street.