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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

Richard Wilton (1827–1903)

RICHARD WILTON, son of the late Mr. Matthew Wilton, was born at Doncaster on Christmas Day, 1827. He was educated at the Doncaster Grammar School, and at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, of which he was a Scholar and Prizeman in Classics and Divinity, and took his degree of B.A. in 1851, and M.A. in 1861. He was ordained Deacon on the 21st of December, 1851, and Priest in December 1852, both by Dr. Hampden, Bishop of Hereford.

Mr. Wilton became Curate of Broseley in Shropshire on his ordination in 1851, under the Hon. and Rev. Orlando W. W. Forester, to whose son, afterwards Lord Forester, he was tutor. In 1853 he removed to York, as Curate of St. John’s in that city. In the following year he was appointed by Dr. Musgrave, Archbishop of York, the first Incumbent of St. Thomas’s, York, which he retained until 1857, when he was presented to the Vicarage of Kirkby Wharfe. In 1860 Lord Londesborough appointed him his domestic chaplain, and in 1866 gave him the living of the Rectory of Londesborough, East Yorkshire. In 1890 he was made Canon of Givendale in York Minster.

Mr. Wilton’s first volume of poems, “Wood Notes and Church Bells,” was published in 1873, but he had previously been a contributor in prose and verse to various periodicals, his first sonnet appearing in Good Words in 1864. “Lyrics, Sylvan and Sacred” was issued in 1878, “Sungleams: Rondeaux and Sonnets” in 1881, and “Benedicite and other Poems” in 1889. The late Mr. Ashcroft Noble says: “There are in this [last] volume a rich yet restrained admiration, a fine feeling for the fitting relations of substance and form, and an aptitude of felicitous expression. Mr. Wilton’s verse is always achieving a certain freshness altogether different from the spurious originality of strain and spasm. The title poem is a series of rondels, one being allotted to each verse in the Church’s great hymn of praise; and the solemn symmetries of the lofty chant are admirably and winningly rendered in the sequence of ordered measures. Mr. Wilton’s sonnets are not only excellent, but singularly equal in their excellence. Mr. Wilton’s deftness in the use of the ballade as a vehicle for the treatment of familiar domestic themes is manifested in the charming little poem ‘My Grandchildren at Church.’”

Mr. Wilton assisted Dr. Grosart in translating into English verse the sacred Latin poems of George Herbert and Richard Crashaw for the editions of those old poets in the “Fuller Worthies Library.” In 1888 he edited the poems of his friend George Morine.

Canon Wilton married, in 1855, the eldest daughter of the late Robert Storrs, Esq., of Doncaster, and two of his sons took Holy Orders. He died on the 10th of August, 1903.