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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Phone number: 01865 488577
Drawing extensively on hitherto unexplored manuscript sources, this article outlines, first, the functioning of patronage within the eighteenth‐century church, with particular reference to the formation of Lewis Stephens's clerical identity. This provides a foundation for, second, the interrogation of Stephens's satirical compositions, and especially the depiction of his former patron Archbishop Lancelot Blackburne. Finally, the relationship between Stephens's contributions to public religious discourse, clerical conduct and private literary compositions and those of other leading satirists and writers of the period is analysed in order to illuminate the interplay between the roles of clergyman and writer in Walpolean Britain.
This article identifies two previously-unknown Sterne letters of 1752, the first ‘new’ pieces of Sterne’s correspondence to be brought to light in over ten years. First, evidence is forwarded to demonstrate that just two years after delivering the assize sermon ‘The Abuses of Conscience’ at York Minster, Sterne wrote a letter of application (now lost) to serve Richard of Sykes of Sledmere, High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1752 – an episode entirely unknown within Sterne studies. The second letter, to John Fountayne, Dean of York, provides a personal insight into Sterne’s activities as commissary in the peculiar courts of the diocese of York. A full text of thisletter is presented from the original manuscript. These discoveries, it is argued, provide a crucial insight into a period in which Sterne was embroiled in disturbances in York chapter politics, domestic unhappiness, and an ongoing struggle to gain a foothold with both ecclesiastical and lay patrons in order to further his clerical career.