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MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
BISHOP WILSON was born at Burton, in Cheshire, on the 20th December, 1663. To use his own words, “he was descended from honest parents, fearing God; and had an early right to the covenant of grace," being baptized on the following Monday. At a suitable age he was placed under the tuition of Mr. Harper, a learned Schoolmaster in the city of Chester; from whence he removed to Trinity College, Dublin, where he contrived to maintain himself on an allowance of twenty pounds
In the year 1686, he was ordained Deacon, by the then Bishop of Kildare, Dr. Moreton ; but he did not continue long in Ireland after his ordination, for in December of the same year he was appointed to the curacy of the new Church at Winwick, in Lancashire ; his stipend as curate amounting to only thirty pounds per annum. He fully experienced the truth of one of his favourite maxims, “Nature wants little, and grace wants less." Having been trained in the school of that Master who “had not where to lay His head,” his desires were moderate, and his exigencies few. Small as his income was, however, he set apart one-tenth of it to the poor.
On the 20th of October, 1689, he was ordained Priest, by the then Bishop of Chester (Dr. Strafford); and in 1692 he was appointed Domestic Chaplain to the Earl of Derby, and tutor to his son, Lord Strange. The fidelity with which Mr. Wilson discharged his duty as a chaplain was no less conspicuous than his conduct as a tutor. To the formation of the moral and religious character of his pupil he paid particular attention. He laboured to qualify him to act an useful and honourable part in society. He taught him to regard his wealth and station as instruments of advancing the happiness of those around him, and admonished him to devote all his talents to the glory of the great Giver, and the good of his fellow-creatures. Such were the sentiments and views of Mr. Wilson, when an all-wise Providence was pleased to call him to fill a higher station in the Christian Church. The Bishopric of Sodor and Man had been vacant since the death of Dr. Baptiste Levintz, who died in 1693. The Earl of Derby, in whom the appointment lay, offered his Chaplain this preferment. The offer, however, was modestly but firmly rejected. Whilst Mr. Wilson thankfully acknowledged the favour that was intended him, he at the same time declared himself unworthy of so high an office, and incapable of so arduous an undertaking. It appears that the Earl of Derby was unwilling to appoint any other person to the Bishopric; which continued vacant for such a length of time, that at last Archbishop Sharp complained to King William, that the See of Man had been vacant four years, and urged the necessity of filling it without further delay. In consequence of this complaint, the King sent for the Earl of Derby, and insisted on an immediate nomination of a Bishop for the See of Man; and Lord Derby now importuned his Chaplain to accept this preferment, and, as Mr. Wilson expresses it, he forced into the Bishopric.” Accordingly, he was consecrated a Bishop on the 16th of January, 1697, at the Savoy Church, by Archbishop Sharp, assisted by the Bishops of Chester and Norwich. Possessed of every endowment, human and divine, which could qualify him for the discharge of the episcopal functions, he arrived in his Diocese on the 5th of April, 1697, and was installed in
the Cathedral of St. German, in Peel, on the 11th of the month.
Towards the close of the following year he married Mary, daughter of Thomas Patten, Esq. This partner of his life was in every respect suited to be his companion and helpmeet. her he had four children, only one of whom survived him ; who afterwards became Prebendary
; of Westminster, &c. and died at Bath, 1784. The annual receipts of his Bishopric did not exceed £300 ; yet out of this moderate sum, he contrived to relieve, not only the poor of the island, but many distressed and shipwrecked mariners. Before, however, he administered relief to any, he required a recommendation from the Parochial minister; which he kept regularly filed, and from these he entered the names and circumstances of his poor petitioners in a large book, which he denominated the “Register of the Poor.”
It would be impossible to recount all the various deeds of charity which he performed, although with reference to these, he with pious humility observes, “that a very small
will serve for the number of our good works, when vast volumes will not contain our evil deeds." Besides his daily good actions, he was a liberal