GARDINER, James (1637-1705)

GARDINER (GARDNER), James (1637–1705)

cons. 10 Mar. 1695 bp. of LINCOLN

First sat 21 Mar. 1695; last sat 14 Mar. 1704

b. 1637, 2nd s. of Adrian Gardiner of Nottingham, apothecary, and 2nd w. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. matric. 1649, BA 1653, MA 1656; incorp. Brasenose, Oxf. 1665; DD 1669. m. lic. 1 Aug. 1677, Anne Hale (1656-1703), of Kettlethorpe, Lincs. 3s. 2da.1 d. 1 Mar. 1705; will 12 May 1704, pr. 20 Mar. 1705.2

Preb. Lincoln 1661-98, Salisbury 1666-71; rect. Epworth, Lincs. 1668-95, Gedney, Lincs. 1671;3 sub-dean, Lincoln 1671-95.

Chap. to James Scott, duke of Monmouth, bef. 1667, to Life Guards, 1668-85.4

Also associated with: Dean’s Yard, Westminster.

Likenesses: oil on canvas by Mary Beale, c.1695, Lambeth Palace; oil on canvas, Emmanuel, Camb.

Very little is known about the career of James Gardiner prior to his appointment as chaplain to Monmouth. A Cambridge contemporary of Richard Kidder, later bishop of Bath and Wells, elevated, like himself, under William III, Gardiner spent most of his pastoral life in Lincolnshire, as a parish minister and as a member of the Lincoln chapter. An attempt to secure a fellowship at his old Cambridge college in 1662 appears to have been unsuccessful.5 Well regarded at court, he received crown preferments at Salisbury and Epworth in 1666 and 1668, and in 1671 became sub-dean of Lincoln, in accordance with an earlier promise. It was presumably through his connection with Monmouth that he secured the chaplaincy of the Life Guards, of which Monmouth was colonel. Gardiner appears to have lived in comfortable financial circumstances and, by the time of his death, owned properties in Dean’s Yard, Westminster as well as in Bleasby and Asgarby, Lincolnshire.6 He also sued successfully for scandalum magnatum against William Hide, later rector of Eversholt, with whom he had an ongoing controversy over the latter’s moral standing, but the amount of recovered damages is unclear.7

In June 1672 Gardiner was granted a licence to attend Monmouth on his overseas expeditions and to enjoy his ecclesiastical preferments during his absence. It is unclear whether Gardiner’s association with Monmouth subsequently harmed his career prospects, but in September 1681 he was passed over for the deanery of Lincoln.8 Since Gardiner had not only solicited for the deanery but written a job profile for which he was the ideal candidate, the episode caused some bitterness. He was swift to criticize the new dean as absent ‘in mind if not in body’.9

At the height of the Tory reaction, questions seem to have been asked about Gardiner’s loyalty. On 29 May 1683 Francis Gwyn requested information about Gardiner from Edward Conway, earl of Conway. By July, almost certainly aware of the invidious position in which he found himself (and mindful that the king had failed to promote him in 1681), Gardiner was active in submitting information about exclusionists in his Lincolnshire parish of Epworth.10 Gardiner’s activities during Monmouth’s rebellion are not clear but he may well have opted to steer well clear of the business. That year he made another unsuccessful pitch for the deanery of Lincoln, claiming that he had lost income through the expiry of his chaplaincy to the guards.11

Gardiner continued for the next ten years as sub-dean of Lincoln. He enjoyed a prickly relationship with his diocesan – the notoriously negligent Thomas Barlow, but became a staunch ally of Barlow’s replacement, Thomas Tenison.12 With Tenison’s translation to Canterbury in 1695, Gardiner’s career prospects took an instant upturn. Gardiner was consecrated by Tenison on 10 Mar. with a licence to hold his Lincoln prebend in commendam for three years.13 Although the Lincoln cathedral interest was ‘a force to be reckoned with’ in city government, Gardiner’s political role in his diocese is unclear.14 He became an ‘exemplary’ diocesan, though, conducting triennial visitations in 1697, 1700 and 1703, encouraging collegiality amongst his clergy and insisting on frequent preaching, moral rigour and bureaucratic efficiency.15

On 21 Mar. 1695 Gardiner received his writ of summons.16 On the same day (more than four months into the session) he took his seat in the House and attended for 13 days before the close on 3 May. Gardiner seems to have been relatively conscientious in his parliamentary duties despite absences at the start and end of many sessions. He attended ten of the 11 parliamentary sessions held during his tenure of the see of Lincoln and was named to a total of 120 committees. His London network at this time included the diarist John Evelyn, William Lloyd, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, John Moore, bishop of Norwich, and his patron Tenison, with whom he actively supported the voluntary reform movements. His persistent calls for moral reform reflected his negative perception of the moral ‘malignity’ of the nation, articulated in his preface to the sermons of William Outram.17

Having spent the summer months in Lincoln (he left London for Lincoln at the end of April 1695), Gardiner returned to Westminster.18 Present for the start of the new parliamentary session on 22 Nov., he attended for 58 per cent of sittings. On 11 Dec. Gardiner called for a ‘national reformation’ of morals and manners when he preached before the House of Lords on Psalm 79.19 Ten weeks later, on 27 Feb. 1696, he signed the Association. He was then absent for the last four weeks of business. Over the summer and into the autumn he was involved in a controversy with John Ashburnham, Baron Ashburnham, about the erection of a gallery in Ampthill church. Gardiner initially blocked Ashburnham’s plans, taking the part of Thomas Bruce, 2nd earl of Ailesbury, who complained that the new structure would take light away from the church (and particularly from Ailesbury’s private pew). Gardiner referred the matter to Canterbury and to Sir Christopher Wren and seems to have been eager to delay arriving at a determination. By the second week of November Ashburnham’s patience was clearly running out. Gardiner was eventually forced to give way.20

Gardiner arrived at Westminster four weeks into the following parliamentary session that had assembled on 20 October. He attended for just under one third of sittings. As a staunch supporter of the government, he voted on 23 Dec. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick. On 19 Feb. 1697 he registered his proxy in favour of Thomas Tenison. He attended the following day but was then absent for the last two months of the session.

During the summer of 1697 Gardiner undertook his primary visitation, preceded by a lengthy ‘advice’ to the clergy on preaching, pastoral work, and residence.21 He was back at the House on 3 Dec. for the first day of the session and attended for 60 per cent of sittings. On 24 May 1698 Gardiner was named a manager of the conference on the bill for suppressing blasphemy. Three weeks later, on 16 June, he registered his proxy in favour of Richard Cumberland, bishop of Peterborough, and he was absent for the remainder of the session.

Gardiner returned to the House three days after the start of the session that began in December 1698. He was present at some 35 per cent of sittings. In a pattern that was now becoming familiar, he missed the last nine weeks of the session. He also arrived four weeks late for the winter 1699 session, after which he attended some 58 per cent of sittings. On 23 Feb. 1700 he voted against adjourning into committee on the East India Company bill.

On 8 Mar. Gardiner registered his protest against the resolution to give a second reading to the divorce bill for Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk. In doing so Gardiner, allied with Simon Patrick, bishop of Ely and Nicholas Stratford, bishop of Chester, from the Whig side of the episcopal bench, joined with the Tories Henry Compton, bishop of London, Jonathan Trelawny, bishop of Exeter, and Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester, on the grounds that the divorce case had not been brought before the ecclesiastical courts in the first instance. On 12 Mar. Gardiner dissented from the resolution that the divorce bill pass.

Having been ‘dangerously ill’, Gardiner arrived at the House on 24 Mar. 1701, six weeks after the start of the ensuing session.22 He attended for 54 per cent of sittings. In mid May it was noted that he was one of those to have ‘adhered to the side of the impeached lords’, and on 17 June he voted to acquit John Somers, Baron Somers; on 23 June, the penultimate day of the session, he also voted against the impeachment of Edward Russell, earl of Orford.

Gardiner arrived at the House on 19 Jan. 1702, three weeks into the next parliamentary session (attending for 41 per cent of sittings). On 26 Feb. he took a strong Church line when he dissented from the resolution that the Quaker affirmation bill pass into law. He attended the session for the last time on 20 Apr., again missing the final weeks of business. He was, however, active in Convocation (which was locked in a bitter partisan struggle throughout the spring of 1702) where he acted as Tenison’s commissary.23 He also, on 11 May, sat in the court of delegates in the case of James Annesley, 3rd earl of Anglesey, against John Thompson, Baron Haversham.24 During the summer recess, on 14 Sept., he deputized for Tenison by conducting ordinations on his behalf.25

The accession of Queen Anne was greeted warmly in the diocese of Lincoln (and with a loyal address from the dean and chapter).26 Gardiner was present in the House on 20 Oct. 1702 for the first day of the new Parliament, after which he was present for 40 per cent of sittings. On 3 Dec. the bill against occasional conformity was read for a second time. After the debate on Somers’ motion to restrict the bill to those persons covered by the Test Act, Gardiner joined a cross-party grouping of bishops to vote with the non-contents. The result was a tied vote that only tipped in favour of the contents by the use of proxies.27

On 26 Dec. Gardiner attended the St Stephen’s dinner at Lambeth Palace.28 Shortly afterwards, in an estimate of support for the occasional conformity bill, Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, assumed that Gardiner would oppose the measure. On 16 Jan. 1703 Gardiner voted (as expected) to adhere to the Lords’ amendment to the penalty clause in the bill. At the start of February Gardiner was overtaken by personal tragedy. While discussing with William Nicolson the ‘foolish entertainment’ provided for French officers at Oxford by Arthur Charlett, news came in that Gardiner’s wife Anne, who was known to suffer from depression, had committed suicide by jumping from a window of their house in Dean’s Yard. An alternative and more acceptable explanation was that she had fallen from the window ‘being under some disorder of mind’.29 He absented himself from the remainder of the parliamentary session.

By November 1703 it was still assumed that Gardiner would oppose any new attempt to pass an occasional conformity bill. Arriving at the House four weeks into the autumn session, his pattern of parliamentary activity appears little changed. He attended for some 39 per cent of sittings. At the end of November or beginning of December in his second forecast of opposition to the occasional conformity bill, Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, assumed that Gardiner would vote with the Whig side of the House. As predicted, on 14 Dec., Gardiner voted to throw out the bill.

Gardiner attended the House for the final time on 14 Mar. 1704. On 6 Nov. he entered his proxy in favour of John Williams, bishop of Chichester. Seventeen days later he was excused at a call of the House. On 1 Mar. 1705, at the age of 68, he died at his house in Dean’s Yard.30

An enthusiastic antiquary, Gardiner bequeathed to Lincoln public library his manuscript volumes of antiquities compiled by Robert Sanderson, the first post-Restoration bishop of Lincoln. He left mourning rings to Tenison and to John Sharp, archbishop of York. His properties in Westminster and Lincolnshire went to his sons James (who followed his father as sub-dean of Lincoln in 1704), William (later rector of Hambleton, Rutland) and Charles. He also left £1,500 to each of his daughters, Ann and Jane, at their majority or date of marriage. The farms in Bleasby, Lincolnshire that he had purchased with £3,000 in 1677 (under the terms of his marriage agreement), passed to his eldest son James. Gardiner was buried in Lincoln Cathedral and succeeded by his fellow Whig, William Wake, later archbishop of Canterbury.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/481.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1671, p. 261.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 121; R. Cannon, Hist. Rec. of the Life Guards, 56; Bodl. Tanner 130, f. 121.
  • 5 Tanner 48, f. 73.
  • 6 PROB 11/481.
  • 7 Christ Church Lib. Oxf. Wake mss 1, ff. 83, 96, 346; Wake mss 5, f. 42.
  • 8 CSP Dom. 1672, p. 147; 1680-1, pp. 455, 468.
  • 9 Tanner 36, f. 160, Tanner 130, ff. 75, 121; Hist. of Lincoln Minster ed. D. Owen, 201-2.
  • 10 CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, p. 275; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 31, 71.
  • 11 Tanner 130, f. 121.
  • 12 Ibid. 28, f. 41.
  • 13 CSP Dom. 1694-5, p. 395.
  • 14 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 365.
  • 15 Wake mss 2, f. 84; Hunts. Archives, AH38/1/275/5; Carpenter, Tenison, 130.
  • 16 PA, HL/PO/JO/19/1/353.
  • 17 Evelyn Diary, v. 224; J. Gardiner, Twenty Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions by William Outram DD (2nd edn. 1697), Letter to the Reader.
  • 18 Add. 4274, f. 184.
  • 19 HEHL, HM 30659 (48); J. Gardiner, Sermon preached before the House of Lords … 11th of December 1695 (1695), 27.
  • 20 E. Suss. RO, ASH 840, pp. 134, 143, 159, 171-2, 187, 190-1.
  • 21 J. Gardiner, Advice to the clergy of the diocese of Lincoln (1697).
  • 22 Bodl. Ballard 7, f. 7.
  • 23 Carpenter, 261.
  • 24 TNA, DEL 2/3.
  • 25 Carpenter, 135n.2.
  • 26 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 366.
  • 27 Nicolson London Diaries, 137.
  • 28 Ibid. 153.
  • 29 Evelyn Diary, v. 528; Nicolson London Diaries, 197; Add. 70075, newsletter, 6 Feb. 1703.
  • 30 Lansd. 987, f. 172.