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Stradling, George (1620/21–1688), dean of Chichester, was born at St Donats Castle, Glamorgan, the son of , and his wife, Elizabeth Gage, daughter of Edward Gage and his wife, Margaret, of Firle, Sussex. His early travels in France and Italy before entering Jesus College, Oxford, at the age of seventeen in 1638 made him into a competent linguist. At Oxford he ‘much addicted himself to the study of musick’ (Harrington) and, recognized generally as ‘a rare lutinist’ (Wood, Ath. Oxon., 4.237), he much impressed John Wilson, later professor of music. After graduating BA in 1640, in 1641 he became a fellow of All Souls, where Gilbert Sheldon was warden, and proceeded MA in 1647 and DD in 1661. In the civil war he fought for the king ‘with courage and resolution’ (Harrington) as a cornet of horse in the regiment of his brother . was also his brother.

When hostilities ended Stradling returned to Oxford for study, only to be threatened with ejection by parliamentary visitors in 1648. However, protected by his nephew-in-law, the prestigious Edmund Ludlow, and Michael Oldisworth, he survived. After the Restoration, on 7 November 1660 Robert Skinner, bishop of Oxford, ordained him deacon and priest. Declining the principalship of Jesus, he moved to London as chaplain to Sheldon, now bishop. Through Sheldon's patronage preferments followed apace, and Stradling was soon a substantial pluralist. He became sinecure rector of Fulham (1660–88), incumbent of Hanwell, Middlesex (1662–4), Cliffe-at-Hoo, Kent (1663–81), Sutton-at-Hone, Kent (1665–70), and of the ruined St Bride's, Fleet Street, London (1672–3). Stradling was also canon of St Paul's (1660–88) and of Westminster (1663–88). On 22 July 1671 he was installed as precentor, and on 21 December 1672 dean, of Chichester; he held these positions too until his death in 1688. As the deanery buildings had been destroyed in the civil war, joint holding of the deanery and precentorship after 1660 was commonplace.

Though a pluralist Stradling presided at least once a year, often more, at Chichester chapter meetings, and was responsible for beautifying and repairing the cathedral. A moderate man, respected by ‘men of different humour, party and temper’ (Harrington), he was nevertheless at odds with the irascible tory bishop, Guy Carleton, who misinterpreted his moderation as ‘lukewarmness’ and ‘indifference’ (ibid.). That, with Stradling's pluralism, may have created the dissension, as Harrington intimated. But it was doubtless exacerbated by the rapturous welcome his cathedral colleagues, particularly Henry Edes, and the people of Chichester gave Monmouth during his barnstorming visit in February 1680 and on later occasions during the exclusion crisis. Records show Stradling not to have been present at least on that first visit, and there is no evidence that he was an exclusionist at all. In fact, Harrington wrote that ‘a great minister of state’ assured him in a letter that the king ‘was satisfied that he was both able and willing to promote the king's service, with as much zeal as his accuser [Carleton], and with much more sincerity, discretion and success’ (ibid.).

In 1666 Stradling married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Salter, of Iver, Buckinghamshire. She died in 1681; he died seven years later at Westminster on 19 April 1688, and was buried in the abbey. He was survived by two sons, Gilbert and George, and one daughter, Anne. Despite his reputation as a scholar, Stradling was not ‘desirous of applause’ (Harrington), and modestly published nothing, except one sermon. Fourteen other sermons were published after his death.

William Marshall

Sources  

J. Harrington, ‘Preface’, in G. Stradling, Sermons and discourses upon several occasions (1692) · G. Stradling, Sermon preached before the king (1675) · London episcopal register, GL, MS 9531/16 · Oxford episcopal register, Oxon. RO, Oxford diocesan papers, d.106 f.3 · Chichester episcopal register, W. Sussex RO, Ep. I/1/8, Ep. I/1/10 · Chichester dean and chapter act books, W. Sussex RO, Cap. I 1/3/2 · C. H. Fielding, The records of Rochester diocese (1910) · G. Hennessy, Novum repertorium ecclesiasticum parochiale Londinense, or, London diocesan clergy succession from the earliest time to the year 1898 (1898) · Foster, Alum. Oxon. · Fasti Angl. (Hardy) · Wood, Ath. Oxon., new edn, 4.237–8 · VCH Sussex, 3.88, 155 · A. S. Duncan-Jones, The story of Chichester Cathedral (1933), 70 · Fasti Angl., 1541–1857 [Chichester] · TNA: PRO, PROB 11/391, fols. 310–311v · G. Stradling, ‘Reception of the duke of Monmouth at Chichester in 1679’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, 7 (1854), 168–72 · Bodl. Oxf., MS Tanner 384

Likenesses  

R. White, engraving, NPG