[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]



Spalding, August 29 1797.

Rev. Sir,

In the absence of my relation and good friend, Dr. Maurice Johnson, the minister of Spalding, and grandson of the founder of the Gentleman's Society at this place, I took the liberty of opening your letter ; and, upon reference the books of minutes, can only find that bishop Hildesley is entered as a member of the Society ; and (as on the top of the other page) with a reference to the note subjoined *.

About the beginning of the present century, Dr. Johnson's grandfather, being a very respectable antiquarian, and having a great taste for literature, founded a Society of Antiquaries in this town, upon the plan of the London Society ; which soon after became eminent, and corresponded with the Societies of London and other places.

Their society was honoured, indeed, by the correspondence of all the great men of that time, most of whom were members. In the List of Members, I find, amongst many others, Sir Isaac Newton ; Sir Hans Sloane ; Sir John Clerk ; Sir: Richard Ellis ; Sir Charles Frederick; Lord Coleraine ; Doctors Jurirn, Taylor, Bentley, Knight, Stukeley, and Birch : Bishops Pearce, Pococke, Lyttleton ; Mr. Pope, Mr. Gay, Roger and Samuel Gale, Mr. Clarke, Martin Folkes ; Professor Ward, Browne Willis, Mr. Vertue, Mr. Bogdani * ; Commissary Graves, Mr. Timothy Neve, Mr. John Rowning, &c. &c.

It does not appear that bishop Hildesley was a regular, or a corresponding, but an honorary member : and the only way in which I can account for his being member of a Society at so great a distance, is, that Mr. Johnson at that time had a near relation and intimate friend, Mr. Bogdani, who lived at Hitchin ; for whom he was counsel, and steward of his Manor-courts at Baldock and Hitchin, and whom he used frequently to visit. And upon such visits he formed an acquaintance with Mr. Hildesley, whose name he requested as a member of his Society, amongst the many other eminent men who had honoured it. Mr. Bogdani and his son were members, and occasionally visited Mr. Johnson at Spalding ; and it is probable that Mr. Hildesley might accompany them. It was a custom with Mr. Johnson, on entering the names of the members, to add some account of them, by a note and reference.

The printer of the History of the Gentlemen’s Society at this place, is Mr. John Nichols, printer to the Society of Antiquaries, London. The materials were collected by Mr. Gough, chiefly from books and manuscripts in the possession of Dr. Maurice Johnson.

The above is the best account I can give you, and, if of any use, you are heartily welcome to it. The time of Mr. Hildesley’s being entered a member of the Society was about the year 1750.

Having a friend going to London this day, I shall entrust him with the care of this, and desire him to put it in one of the penny-posts. I am, sir, respectfully,

Yours, &c.


Rev. Weeden Butler;

Chelsea, near London.


*This was the same short account of bishop Hildesley, which has already been noted and narrated, at the commencement of the Memoirs,p 5.

* William Bogdani Esq. Clerk of the Ordnance, S. A. S. and Lord of the Manor of Hitchin ; who died in Nov. 1772.

See Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, No. XX. pxv


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