Pilkington, Matthew

Pilkington, Matthew
   Matthew (1701-1774) and Laetitia (1712-1750)
   Matthew, a watchmaker' son, was born at Ballyboy in County Offaly, Ireland, graduated B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1722, then was ordained in the established church. An impecunious curate, he married Laetitia Van Lewen, daughter of a Dublin physician in 1729 (see Grierson, Constantia). Soon afterward he became chaplain to Lady Charlemont. The couple were introduced to Jonathan Swift (see entry), who was amused by Laetitia's wit and humor, and for a time was one of his favorites. It said that he referred to Matthew as "the mighty Thomas Thumb" and to Laetitia as "her Serene Highness of Lilliput." The Pilkingtons had several children before the marriage ended in divorce in the spiritual court, on the grounds of the wife's adultery. Shortly after her father died in 1734, her husband found her entertaining a man in her bedroom. She sued for maintenance, which he could never pay. In London she was sued for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea. With the help of Colley Cibber she published her Memoirs (1748), an account of her relationships with various people, plus some of her poems. She died in Ireland. Matthew became the protégée of Swift, at least for a time, and then the relationship went sour, particularly over Pilkington's treatment of his wife. Nothing is known of his death. Some of Matthew's poems: "An Hymn to Sleep," "Cupid's Reply," "Happiness," "Mira and Colin: A Song," "The Bee," "The Candle," "The Constant Shepherd," "The Gift," "The Girdle," "The Lost Muse," "The Progress of Musick in Ireland," Some of Laetitia's poems: "An Invitation to a Gentleman," "Consolatory Verses to Her Husband," "Queen Mab to Pollio," "Sent with a Quill to Dr. Swift," "The Happy Pair," "To Colley Cibber Esq.," "Your Rosy Wine."
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition, 1.1. Matthew Pilkington-Offaly History, Famous Offaly People (http://www.offalyhistory.com/content/reading_resources/famous_people/pilkington_matthew.htm). The Celebrated Mrs. Pilkington's Jests, or the Cabinet of Wit and Humour, published in 1751 and republished by Ams Pr. Publishing in 1964. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The Poetry of Laetitia Pilkington (1712-1750) and Constantia Grierson (1706-1733). Bernard Tucker, ed. The Edwin Mellen Press, 1996.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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