Charles Chirchill, an English poet, born in Westminster in February, 1731, died in Boulogne, Nov. 4, 1704. He studied for a time at Trinity college, Cambridge, but did not graduate. At the age of 17, although without any means of subsistence, he married, and his father, a curate and lecturer at Westminster, took him and his wife into his house and supported them on condition of his adopting the clerical profession. In 1756 he was ordained, and, having first held a curacy in Somersetshire, was afterward inducted into a small country preferment which belonged to his father. In 1758, on the death of his father, he succeeded to his curacy. During this period he was exemplary in his conduct, although he himself declares that he was doing violence to his own feelings, and that he was but an idle pastor and drowsy preacher. Differences with his wife, increasing debts, and finally the evil example of a young friend, the poet Robert Lloyd, plunged him into all the dissipations and irregularities of the town. He was compelled to give up his curacy, and was only saved from incarceration by the interposition of his friend's father, Dr. Lloyd, a master in Westminster school. His first poem, published in 1761, was the "Rosciad," a satire on the theatrical world of the day.
The criticisms upon this performance drew out the stinging "Apology to the Critical Reviewers," in which he attacked the wits as he had the players. In 1762 he associated himself with Wilkes, and wrote frequently for the "North Briton." The "Prophecy of Famine," a satire on Scotchmen, directed against the Bute administration, attained great popularity. He was involved in the proceedings against the "North Briton," in which Wilkes defended the liberties of the subject against the stretch of kingly prerogative. He defended his profligate course in "Night," and wrote also " The Duellist," " The Author," "Gotham," "The Candidate," "The Farewell," "Epistle to Hogarth," "TheTimes," and many other satirical pieces. He died while on a visit to Wilkes, and was buried at Dover. "No English poet," says Southey, "had ever enjoyed so excessive and so shortlived a popularity; and indeed no one seems more thoroughly to have understood his own powers; there is no indication in any of his pieces that he could have done anything better than the thing he did." His complete works were published in 1804.