Sir Roger Newdigate - Encyclopedia

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SIR ROGER NEWDIGATE (1719-1806), English antiquary, was born on the 30th of May 1719. He was the 5th baronet of Harefield (in Middlesex) and Arbury (in Warwickshire), and grandson of Sir Richard Newdigate, an English chief justice during the time of Richard Cromwell's protectorate. He was educated at University College, Oxford. From 1741 to 1747 he was M.P. for Middlesex, and from 1750 to 1780 M.P. for the university of Oxford. In 1753 he spoke in parliament on behalf of the repeal of the Plantation Act, and during the debates on the land tax in 1767 he opposed the duke of Grafton's administration and the proposed grant to the royal princes. Being the owner of extensive collieries near Bedworth in Warwickshire, he actively promoted the Coventry, Oxford and Grand Junction canal, cutting also a canal from his collieries to Coventry, and interesting himself in the construction of the turnpike road from Astronomical Papers of the American Ephemeris, vol. viii. pts. i. and ii.

Coventry to Leicester. But it is as an antiquary and the founder of a prize at the Oxford university that he is chiefly remembered. His interest in old architecture dated from a tour in France and Italy which was undertaken while he was a young man. He filled two folio volumes with sketches of ancient buildings. His collection of antiquities included marbles, casts of statues and vases. Two marble candelabra found in Hadrian's villa at Rome he purchased for £1800 and presented them to the Radcliffe Library at Oxford. Among his other generosities to the university were a chimney piece, for the hall of University College, and the sum of £ 2000 for the removal by Flaxman of the Arundel collection of marbles to the Radcliffe Library. The "Newdigate" prize of twenty-one guineas for English verse, which is open for competition each year to the undergraduates of Oxford University, was founded by him and was first awarded in the year of his death. He died at Arbury on the 23rd of November 1806. His portrait was painted by Kirkby for University College, Oxford, and at the age of sixty-three he also sat to Romney.

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