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Boucher, Jonathan

BOUCHER, JONATHAN (1738-1804), English divine and philologist, was born in the hamlet of Blencogo, near Wigton, Cumberland, on the 12th of March 1738. He was educated at the Wigton grammar school, and about 1754 went to Virginia, where he became a private tutor in the families of Virginia planters. Among his charges was John Parke Custis, the step-son of George Washington, with whom he began a long and intimate friendship. Returning to England, he was ordained by the bishop of London in March 1762, and at once sailed again for America, where he remained until 1775 as rector of various Virginia and Maryland parishes, including Hanover, King George's county, Virginia, and St Anne's at Annapolis, Maryland. He was widely known as an eloquent preacher, and his scholarly attainments won for him the friendship and esteem of some of the ablest scholars in the colonies. During his residence in Maryland he vigorously opposed the "vestry act," by which the powers and emoluments of the Maryland pastors were greatly diminished. When the struggle between the colonies and the mother country began, although he felt much sympathy for the former, his opposition to any form of obstruction to the Stamp Act and other measures, and his denunciation of a resort to force created a breach between him and his parish, and in a fiery farewell discourse preached after the opening of hostilities he declared that no power on earth should prevent him from praying and shouting "God save the King." In the succeeding autumn he returned to England, where his loyalism was rewarded by a government pension. In 1784 he became vicar of Epsom in Surrey, where he continued until his death on the 27th of April 1804, becoming known as one of the most eloquent preachers of his day. He was an accomplished writer and scholar, contributed largely to William Hutchinson's History of the County of Cumberland (2 vols., 1704 seq.), and published A View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution (1797), dedicated to George Washington, and consisting of thirteen discourses delivered in America between 1763 and 1775. His philological studies, to which the last fourteen years of his life were devoted, resulted in the compilation of "A Glossary of Provincial and Archaic Words," intended as a supplement to Dr Johnson's Dictionary, but never published except in part, which finally in 1831 passed into the hands of the English compilers of Webster's Dictionary, by whom it was utilized.

His son, Barton Boucher (1794-1865), rector of Fonthill Bishops, Wiltshire, in 1856, was well known as the author of religious tracts, hymns and novels.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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