RICHARD'S CASTLE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.

"RICHARD'S CASTLE, a parish partly in Wolfy hundred, in the county of Hereford, partly in the hundred of Munslow. The entire parish contains 490 inhabitants. The Shropshire part including the townships of Moor, with Batchcott, Overton and Woolverton, 51 houses, 261 inhabitants. 4 miles south-west of Ludlow.

The Rev. Richard Gifford, was for some time curate of Richard's Castle. He was educated at Baliol college, Oxford; where in 1748, having then recently taken the degree of B.A. be distinguished himself by a masterly pamphlet entitled ' Remarks on Mr. Kennicott's dissertation on the Tree of Life in Paradise;' in the preface to which be handsomely apologizes for ' any expressions that may seem too harsh or severe,' and hopes they will be thought to arise entirely from a warmth that is natural to the love of truth, and which it is difficult to lay aside when one is engaged in examining points that seem to make against it.' And he thus concludes, ' As the love of truth was the sole motive of my engaging in the cause, I shall with all the readiness imaginable, acknowledge the many errors I may have run into, upon the least intimation of them: for, indeed I should have spared myself the trouble I have taken in the prosecution of this affair, but that I thought truth a sacrifice too great to be made in compliment to the ingenuity of any man.' To the sincerity of this profession the whole tenor of Mr. Gifford's life bore the strongest testimony. He was in principle a sound Whig of the old school, a zealous friend to the house of Hanover, and the leading members of Baliol college, were all at that period, strenuous tories; which accounts for his not proceeding further in his academical degrees. His Alma Mater, he has often said was to him a step-mother. As it is well known that be possessed an uncommonly strong mind, highly cultivated by profound learning, it is to be lamented that he could not persuade himself to appear more frequently before the publick as an author. One small piece of his entitled ' Contemplation,' was printed in 1753, which attracted the notice of Dr. Johnsen, who has noticed it in his dictionary; a circumstance which Mr. Gifford has frequently mentioned to the writer of this article with evident satisfaction. The general encouragement of the poem, however, was not sufficient to allure him to farther progress in that fascinating pursuit. Having applied himself sedulously to the study of divinity, the more immediate object of his future destination in life, he entered into holy orders; and was appointed by his friend Dr. Salway, curate of Richard's castle in Herefordshire. He was afterwards morning preacher at St. Anne's Soho; and his contemporaries have borne honorable testimony to the respectful attention that was paid him there. In 1759, he became domestick chaplain to John, Marquess of Tweedale; and in 1759, was presented by Dr. Frederick Cornwallis, then bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, to the vicarage of Duffield in Derbyshire, where (to use the expression of a medical friend, to whom Mr. Gifford was long and very justly attached,) his eloquence edified and delighted crowded audiences, In 1772, on the recommendation of Hugo Meynell, Esq. (to whom he had been tutor) he was presented by Thomas Browne, Esq. to the rectory of North Okendon, in Essex. In 1782, he published ' Outlines of an answer to Dr. Priestley's disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit', written as he mentions in an advertisement, while the Author was perusing Dr. Priestley's Disquisitions, which came into his hands in the course of circulation in the Reading Society, at a time when he had not seen Dr. Price's correspondence with Dr. Priestley, nor knew that any answer to the Disquisitions had been published; a circumstance which he thought it necessary to notice, to explain the following passage from Cicero,which stands in the title page: Mea fuit semper hec in hac re voluntas et sententia, quamvie ut hoc mallem de iis qui essent idonei suscipere quam me; me ut mallem quem nominem.' That in this also he was sincere is evident from the following fact. He had written an answer to two exceptionable chapters in Mr. Gibbon's celebrated work, which several of his literary friends wished him to publish; and he was inclined to do so, but relinquished the design on hearing that it was taken up by several able pens. In Mr. Nicholl's History of Leicestershire, an acknowledgment is made to Mr. Gifford for the contribution of good engraved portraits, of their common relations, Mr. and Mrs. Staveley, and for having taken on himself the task of translating the Domesday book, for that county. He was also an occasional, though not very frequent, correspondent to Mr. Urban's miscellany; in which the letters signed R. Duff will always be considered as intrinsically valuable. His principal residence was at Duffield; but he regularly, whilst he was able, passed a considerable part of the summer at his rectory, of North Okendon; though for several years past (in consequence of a peculiarity of his constitution, which rendered the vicinity of the Essex fens unfriendly to his health,) he never returned from that place without the almost total loss of speech from an inveterate hoarseness; and for the last five or six years has been wholly unable to go there at all. It would be injustice, however, to his memory, were we not to notice his constant readiness to assist the clergy of his neighbourhood, till he was disabled by age and infirmity,- that he has many times in cases of sickness, done it for several months together,- and that for some years he officiated at a neighbouring chapel, the income of which was not enough to pay a curate, in order to enable the trustees to form a sufficient accumulation for the scanty fund to make a future provision for that purpose. He reconciled himself to the necessity of non-residence, by the persuasion that he had done really as much ecclesiastical duty gratis, as the law would have obliged him to do at his Rectory, if his constitution would have admitted of his residing there. He always refused any compensation, saying " he was paid elsewhere for preaching the word of God." Mr. Gifford married, in 1763, Elizabeth Woodhouse, (cousin and devisee of the Rev. Thomas Alleyne, rector of Loughborough;) who died January 15, 1793, after a happy union of 30 years, leaving an only daughter, who by the death of her father, March 1, 1807, aged 82, survived to lament the loss of both her parents."

" BATCHCOTT, a township in the parish of Richard's Castle, (which parish is mostly in the county of Hereford) and in the hundred of Munslow. 2 miles south-west by west of Ludlow. 29 houses."

" MOOR with BATCHCOT, a township in the parish of Richard's Castle, and in the hundred of Munslow. 2½ miles south-west of Ludlow."

" OVERTON, a township in the parish of Richard's castle, and in the hundred of Munslow. 12 houses."

" WOOLVERTON (or WOOFERTON), a township in the parish of Richard's Castle, (which parish is partly in Herefordshire,) and in the hundred of Munslow. 10 houses.

[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]