REV JOHN HULSE
John Hulse, born in Middlewich on 15th March 1708 to parents Thomas Hulse and Anne Webb of Middlewich, a lady of considerable wealth, of a family of 'Brine Pit' owners.*
His life can be seen to unfold in 3 phases:
Part 1 -
John was consequently brought up by his grandparents, His grandfather was the Rev Thomas Hulse, himself an Ordained priest with a cure in the Sandbach Deanery. John was educated at Congleton Grammar School.
Part 2 -
It was during his time as an undergraduate that his grandfather died. Coincidentally at this time John’s father, being heir to estates of his wife, Anne, inherited Elworth Hall along with all the goods, property and land, stretching from Bradwall to Elworth, and much of Sandbach. This, combined with the extreme wealth of his wife's inheritance in salt production and land and property in Middlewich, Newton, Clive and Nantwich, elevated Hulse Snr, to a position of great wealth and influence across the county.
In 1728 John graduated from Cambridge, gaining a BA in Theology. He was Ordained in 1732, and took up a post at Yoxall in Staffordshire.
John married Miss Mary Hall of Hermitage, Holmes Chapel. This lady brought with her the promise of yet more wealth. They had only one son, Edward, who died at the age of 22. He afterwards took the small cure of Goostrey, where he remained until the death of his father in 1753.
Rev John Hulse then resigned his cure at Goostrey and took possession of his paternal home of Elworth Hall, where he remained for the rest of his life, living in virtual seclusion. It is not known when his wife Mary died.
Post 1753 John Hulse became a very wealthy man, much of his wealth coming from rents, tythes and manufacture from across mid and south Cheshire.
Despite having 18 siblings, his unusual start in life caused a breach in the domestic arrangements which never healed. All communications with his brothers and sisters seems to have been cut off from that time.
Overtime, it was revealed that none of his siblings had an heir to their estates; John likewise. Consequently, as the eldest son, he inherited even more wealth from the death of his siblings.
Although he lived a very abstemious life, eating little and drinking only water, this frugality did not extend to his charitable care, concern and giving.
On 21 July 1777 John Hulse compiled his last will and testament. It is a very lengthy document, handwritten in small print, and is said to make up a folio of 400 pages. With the exception of bequests to his long-
Part 3 -
The terms of the bequest were as follows:
First, to maintain two Divinity scholars at St John's College
Second, to found a prize for a dissertation
Third, to found and support the Office of Christian Advocate
Fourth, that of the Hulsean Lecturer or Christian Preacher
This was to be administered by Trustees of the University of Cambridge, adopting the wishes he laid out in his copious Will.
Changes in mandate for parts of the Scholarship, the most notable of these changes is to create a Professorship of Divinity, to replace the office of Christian Advocate.
The mandate for the Hulsean Lectures has, over time, relaxed the conditions attached to the post. It is currently a minimum of 4 lectures (down from 20, to 8 and now 4)
In 2016 the Hulsean Lectures were delivered by Professor Lord Williams of Oystermouth, perhaps better known as the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The subject/theme of the series was "Christ and the logic of Creation: a series of 6 lectures". See
John Hulse died 14 December 1790, aged 82. He is buried in this Church, with his grandparents to whom he was affectionately attached through life, and has not been separated from them in death.
It is recorded in "Rationalism and Revelation (opens a pdf file)”, a Hulsean Lecture, by the Reverend Richard Parkinson, 1837 "that he left instruction that, on interment, his grave was to be left unfilled for some days, and his body watched day and night -
There are no signs or indications of exactly where the Hulse grave is. The only hint is found on his memorial:
"Underneath the Pew, the farthest Eastward in this aisle lieth All that is not immortal of the Reverend John Hulse in the County of Chester ... "
The legacy of John Hulse lives on through his Scholarship requirements and provision and his ongoing Charity for the relief of the poor, The Hulsean Charity.
Quote from Reverend Parkinson: "with this act, he provided one more stone for the cairn"