Robert Clayton

Life
1695-1758; b. Dublin; ed. Westminster and TCD; fellow, 1714; LLD, 1722; DD, 1730; travelled, inherited estate in Lancashire, 1728; Bishop of Killala, 1730; translated to the Cork and Ross, 1735; to Clogher, 1745; issued sermons and theological works, 1738-57; anonymously published An Essay on Spirit (1750) which expounds his Arian account and contains a plea for religious toleration of Catholics, Jews, and Quakers; regarded as the source of the metaphysical idea upon which Charles Johnstone [q.v.] based Chrysal, or the Adventures of a Guinea (1760-65); denied see of Tuam in 1752; issued A Defence of An Essay on Spirit (1752), followed by Some Thoughts on Self-Love, Innate Ideas, Free Will, Occasioned by Reading Mr. Hume’s Works (1753) and Vindication of the Old and New Testaments (3 vols., 1752-57), containing an unorthodox third part;

Clayton made speech in the Irish House of Lords made in 1757 calling for deletion of the Athanasian and Nicene Creeds from the Book of Common Prayer which resulted in widespread calls for his resignation and threats of prosecution for heresy; there is a portrait of Clayton and his wife by James Lantham in the NGI and this became the subject of a poem by Paul Durcan in a NGI-commissioned collection (Crazy About Women, 1990); his home on St. Stephen’s Green became Iveagh House. ODNB FDA OCIL

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Works
An Essay on the Spirit (Dublin 1750); A Defence of An Essay on the Spirit (London 1752); A Vindication &c., 3 vols. (1752, 1754, 1757); Some Thoughts on Self-Love, Innate Ideas, Free Will, Occasioned by Reading Mr Hume’s Works (London 1753). There is a bibliography by M. Halpin (TCD thesis 1985).

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Criticism
Richard Ryan, ‘Robert Clayton, Bishop of Clogher’, in Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. I, p.471; A. Kippis, ‘Robert Clayton’, in Biographica Britannica [2nd edn.] (London 1784), Vol. 3 pp.620-28; [anon.,] Bishop Clayton on the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, Republished With A Memoir (Dublin 1876) [TCD copy contains MS adds. and biog. by W. D. Reeves); David Berman, ‘Berkeley, Clayton, and An Essay on Spirit’, in Journal of History of Ideas. Vol. XXVII (1971), pp.367-78; A. R. Winnett, ‘An Irish Heretic, Bishop Robert Clayton of Clogher’, in Studies in Church History, Vol. 9 (1972), pp.311-21.

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, selects A Vindication of the Histories of the Old and New Testament, Pt. III [797-98]; also includes remarks, leaning towards free-thinking and deism [760]; his rebellious An Essay on Spirit (1750) caused an uproar and calls for his resignation [764]; fury unleashed against him [765]. BIOG. [806], closely associated with Berkeley’s Bermuda scheme, introduced Berkeley into House of Lords, near prosecution and precipitate death. [WORKS & CRIT, as supra.]

R. E. & C. Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belan[a]gare (1988) cites Some Thoughts [ … &c.] as 1751 in Notes.

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Notes
Crazy about Clayton: Clayton is the subject of a portrait featured in Durcan’s Crazy About Women collection (Nat. Gallery, 1990); the portrait of Clayton and his Wife is by James Latham (1696-1747), on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland from the Representative Church Body [see Brian de Breffny, ed., Ireland: A Cultural Encyclopaedia, 1982 p.131].

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