Coleridge, William Hart, Doctor of Divinity 1789-1849, bishop of Barbados, born in 1789, was the only son of Luke Herman Coleridge of Thorverton, Devonshire, by his wife, the third daughter of Richard Hart of Exeter. His father (a brother of Samuel Taylor Coleridge) died during his infancy, and he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. George Coleridge, master of the grammar school of Ottery St. Mary. He entered as a commoner of Christ Church, Oxford, under Cyril Jackson, and was noticed for his earnest application and sweetness of manners. He graduated Bachelor of Arts 21 Nov. 1811, M.A. 1 June 1814, Bachelor of Divinity 17 June 1824, Doctor of Divinity 18 June 1824. Soon after leaving the university he became one of the curates of St. Andrew's, Holborn, and afterwards secretary to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; he was also preacher at the National Society's chapel in Ely Place. In 1824 he was consecrated bishop of Barbados and the Leeward Islands. He found the diocese in an unsatisfactory condition. The number of clergymen and churches was insufficient, and there were few daily schools and Sunday schools. In his first charge (delivered in 1830) the bishop notes an improvement, especially in the condition of the negroes, who had now almost entirely abandoned such customs as the howlings over the dead and the offering of food at graves. In a charge delivered in July 1838, just before the legal emancipation of the slaves in the West Indian colonies, he states that the negroes flock to the churches and chapels, and are civil in their behaviour and decent in their appearance. At this time the number of communicants was unusually large. There were 99 clergy in the diocese, 42 school-houses, and 53 parish churches. Seven of the churches had now been rebuilt after their destruction in the great hurricane which devastated Barbados on 11 Aug. 1831 (cf. Coleridge, Letter — relative to the Distribution of the Parliamentary Grant for the Relief of the Sufferers from the Hurricane, &c., pp. 16 [Barbados?], 1833, 8vo). Among the institutions in Barbados established or remodelled while Coleridge filled the see were: a diocesan committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, a clerical library, a branch association of the Negro Conversion Society, a daily meal society, a medical dispensary society, four friendly societies, an asylum for the coloured poor, and three societies for their education. Soon after his arrival in the diocese he had been engaged, together with the trustees, in the reorganisation of Codrington College, Barbados. In 1841, after about sixteen years' zealous labour, Coleridge was compelled to resign his see through the failure of his health. The large diocese was then divided, the three archdeaconries of Barbados, Antigua, and Guiana being erected into separate sees. On the establishment of St. Augustine's Missionary College at Canterbury, Coleridge was induced to become the first warden, and held the office till his death, which took place very suddenly, 21 Dec. 1849, at his seat of Salston, Ottery St. Mary. He married, in 1825, the eldest daughter of Dr. Thomas Rennell, dean of Winchester and master of the Temple. She was a granddaughter of Sir William Blackstone, the judge. He had by her a son and a daughter who survived him.
Among Coleridge's published writings are: 1. An Address delivered to the Candidates for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Barbados, &c., London, 1829, 12mo. 2. An Address to Young Persons after Confirmation, London, 1829, 12mo. 3. Charges and Addresses delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Barbados and the Leeward Islands; together with Prayers on certain public occasions and Addresses to Candidates for Holy Orders, &c. (with an Appendix containing tabular statements, &c., relating to the state of the Diocese of Barbados, &c.), London, 1835, 8vo. 4. A Charge delivered to the Clergy — in British Guiana, &c., Demerara, 1836, 8vo. 5. A Charge delivered 25 July 1838, London, 1838, 8vo. 6. Various sermons, &c., published separately.
Coleridge's Charges, &c.
Gent. Mag. new ser. (1850) xxxiii. 207
Annual Register (1849), xci. 299-300
Cat. of Oxford Graduates
Brit. Mus. Cat.
Contributor: W. W. [Warwick William Wroth]