George Lavington

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George Lavington
Bishop of Exeter
Church Church of England
See Exeter
In office 1746–1762
Predecessor Nicholas Claget
Successor Frederick Keppel
Personal details
Born (1684-01-18)18 January 1684
Mildenhall, Wiltshire, England
Died 13 September 1762(1762-09-13) (aged 78)
Exeter, Devon, England
Frances Marie Lavie (m. 17221762)

George Lavington (18 January 1684 – 13 September 1762) was a Bishop of Exeter from 1746 to 1762.

Born in Mildenhall, Wiltshire to Rev Joseph Lavington and his wife Elizabeth née Constable, he was educated at New College, Oxford (becoming a fellow in 1708) and later appointed Chaplain to King George I. He served as a Prebendary at Worcester Cathedral. Later, he served as Weldland Prebendary at St Paul's Cathedral, London. On 8 February 1746, he was consecrated Bishop of Exeter at Lambeth Palace, which post he held until death.

He was an ardent opponent of Methodism. On being appointed bishop of Exeter, which included Cornwall, one of his first acts was to close the pulpits of North Cornwall to Methodists. He also produced a stream of letters and pamphlets attacking Methodism and John Wesley. One of these pamphlets contained an accusation against John Wesley concerning his conduct with women, and in particular that he had made indecent advances to the maid of a Mrs Morgan at Mitchell in Cornwall. When Wesley investigated he found that Mrs Morgan was merely a gossip, and that Lavington had never troubled to verify the truth of the statements.[1] Lavington also attacked George Whitfield, although their relations were better and Lavington once came with his clergy to hear Whitfield preach.

A reconciliation took place between the Bishop and John Wesley when they had dinner together on 29 August 1762 after receiving the Sacrament together in Exeter Cathedral. The Prelate died a fortnight later. [2]

A portrait painting of Lavington from the early 1760s by Thomas Gainsborough survives.

An epitaph by Subdean Barton survives on a tablet behind the sedilia in the south aisle of Exeter Cathedral, describing him as a pattern for Christian bishops.


He married Frances Mary Lavie (bur. 29 Nov 1763 Exeter Cathedral) of Corfe Mullen, Dorset, on 20 June 1722 at St Benet's Church, London and had at least 3 children by her:

  1. George Lavington (bapt 14 April 1723 and bur. 20 April 1723, Worcester Cathedral)
  2. Margaret Frances Lavington (bapt 30 April 1724 and bur. 30 April 1726, Worcester Cathedral)
  3. Anne Lavington (bapt 11 April 1730 Worcester Cathedral – died 16 January 1811 Exeter), who married Nutcombe Quicke (1727–1810), the Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral


  1. ^ The details with references are given by J.H.Barr, Methodists under persecution, 1916, p.202-3: 'Bishop Lavington accused him in print, upon the alleged statement of a Mrs. Morgan at Mitchell, of having made indecent proposals to her maid. In the presence of Mr. Trembath and Mr. Haime, the woman denied to Wesley that she had ever made any such statement.12 Wesley, however, was "not sure that she had not said just the contrary to others." 13 Thereupon the Bishop furnished his witnesses to prove that Mrs. Morgan had made the statement which he had published. But he seemed to have felt no obligation whatever to prove the fact of his accusation. The maid concerned seems not to have been questioned at all about the matter.' n.12. "Bishop of Exeter, Answer to John Wesley's Late Letter; John Wesley, Works, Letter to Author of Methodism and Papists compared. n.13."John Wesley, Journal, 25 August 1750.
  2. ^ Robert Philip, The life and times of the Reverend George Whitfield, M.A., p.343: One reason of Whitefield's visit to the west at this time was, (although, perhaps, he hardly acknowledged it to himself) to see how his letter to the bishop of Exeter had been received. He found in his own circle there, that it had been "much blessed." He learned, also, that " my lord of Exeter had said, he wrote like an honest man, and has recanted several things ; " but, added Lavington, " he goes on in the same way yet." He did. He went to Exeter, and appeared in the fields again. The bishop therefore threatened another pamphlet. ... He did not answer him. He did better. He went to Exeter, accompanied by a rural dean, to preach the gospel as usual; and divine influence accompanied the word. "This," he says, "is, I think, the best way to answer those who oppose themselves." He preached there twice on the same day. In the evening the bishop and several of his clergy stood near to him, and saw ten thousand people awe-struck by his appeals. They saw also three large stones thrown at his head, in succession, by a furious drunkard,—one of which cut him deeply; but neither the high-priest nor his Levites interfered, although one of their own parishioners also was felled to the ground at the same time.

External links

  •  Courtney, William Prideaux (1892). "Lavington, George" . In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • Haydon, Colin (May 2009). "Lavington, George (1684–1762)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16136. Retrieved 23 December 2009. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Nicholas Claget
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
Frederick Keppel
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