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Francis Gastrell (10 May 1662 – 24 November 1725) was Bishop of Chester and a writer on deism. He was a friend of Jonathan Swift, mentioned several times in A Journal to Stella, and chaplain to Robert Harley, when Harley was speaker of the House of Commons.[2][3]

Francis Gastrell

Bishop of Chester
Bp Francis Gastrell by Michael Dahl.jpg
DioceseDiocese of Chester
In office1714–1725 (death)
PredecessorSir William Dawes, Bt.
SuccessorSamuel Peploe
Personal details
Born(1662-05-10)10 May 1662
Slapton, Northamptonshire[1]
Died24 November 1725(1725-11-24) (aged 63)
Christ Church, Oxford[1]
BuriedChrist Church, Oxford[1]
SpouseElizabeth Mapletoft (m.1703)[1]
EducationWestminster School[1]
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford[1]


He was born on 10 May 1662 at Slapton, Northamptonshire and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford.[3] He was Boyle Lecturer in 1697.[4]

One of a group of Tory High Churchmen, he was on good terms with Francis Atterbury, George Smalridge and Robert Nelson, and one of the Commission of the end of the reign of Queen Anne.[5] In 1714, the year of her death, he became bishop of Chester through Harley's influence (consecrated on 14 April of that year in Somerset House Chapel). When Atterbury was put on trial in 1723, Gastrell spoke in his defence.[6]

He was a noted controversialist, but considered to hold moderate views. He criticised Anthony Collins, but was quite approving of John Locke.[7][8] He criticised the Trinitarian theories of William Sherlock as innovative.[9]

As a diocesan bishop, he is noted for the fine-grained survey he made of every parish, published in the nineteenth century as Notitia Cestriensis. Along with it was published the so-called Gastrell Manuscript, or Chronicle of St. Werburg, edited by F. R. Raines.[10]


  • The Certainty and Necessity of Religion in general; or the first Grounds and Principles of Human Duty Established (1697) Boyle Lecture
  • Some Considerations Concerning the Trinity (1698)
  • Principles of Deism truly represented (1709) attributed, dialogues
  • Christian Institutes (1707)
  • The Bishop of Chester's case, with relation to the wardenship of Manchester (1721)
  • A Moral Proof of the Certainty of a Future State (1725)
  • Notitia Cestriensis published around 1850, Chetham Society


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hooper, Richard (1890). "Gastrell, Francis" . In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of National Biography. 21. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. ^ Francis Gastrell, Jonathan Swift's 1710-1713 London letter-journal, Swiftiana, archived version
  3. ^ a b Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  4. ^ Francis Gastrell Bibliography, Eighteenth Century Bibliography
  5. ^ The Commissions For Building Fifty New Churches the Minute Books, 1711-27, A Calendar. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1986., British History Online
  6. ^ Linda Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy (1982), p. 105.
  7. ^ David Berman, A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell (1990), p. 79.
  8. ^ Andrew Pyle (editor), Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers (2000), article pp. 329-331.
  9. ^ Michael Alexander Stewart, English Philosophy in the Age of Locke (2000), p. 119.
  10. ^
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Sir William Dawes, Bt.
Bishop of Chester
Succeeded by
Samuel Peploe