History

Richard Cumberland

Playwright and novelist Richard Cumberland is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. His grave is next to that of actor John Henderson and near to the grave of his friend Dr Samuel Johnson. The Latin inscription on the stone can be translated:

"Richard Cumberland Died May 7th 1811, Aged 79"

He was born on 19 February 1732 in Cambridge, a son of the Revd. Denison Cumberland and his wife Joanna (Bentley). His great grandfather was Richard Cumberland, bishop of Peterborough. He attended Westminster School and Trinity College Cambridge. The Earl of Halifax employed him as his private secretary. In 1759 he married Elizabeth Ridge and they had six children. He started to write plays, and novels, prose work and poems followed. His well known plays are The Critic and The School for Scandal. He died at Tunbridge Wells. The burial service was taken by his old friend William Vincent, Dean of Westminster. His son, his grandson, the Hon.and Revd. William Bentinck (son of Richard's daughter Elizabeth and Lord Edward Bentinck), and two nephews, Bentinck and Cumberland Hughes, were the chief mourners. At the close of the service the Dean gave an oration "Good People, the person you see now deposited is Richard Cumberland, an author of no small merit; his writings were chiefly for the stage, but of strict moral tendency; they were not without faults but they were not gross... his works will be held in the highest estimation as long as the English language shall be understood..."

 

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004