Baynes, John

, was born in April 1758, at Middleham, in Yorkshire where his father, who afterwards retired from business, then followed the profession of the Jaw. Mr. Baynes received his education at Richmond, under the rev. Mr. A. Temple, author of three discourses, printed in 1772; of " Remarks on the Layman’s Scriptural Confutation; and letters to the rev. Thomas Randolph, D. D. containing a defence of Remarks on the Layman’s Scriptural Confutation,'‘ 1779, 8vo. At school he soon distinguished himself by his superior talents and learning, and by the age of fourteen years was capable of reading and understanding the Greek classics. From Richmond he was sent to Trinity college, Cambridge; where, before he had arrived at the age of twenty years, he obtained the medals given for the best performances in classical and mathematical learning. In 1777 he took the degree of B. A.; and determining to apply himself to the study of the law, he about 1778, or 1779, became a pupil to Alien Chambre, esq. and entered himself of the society of Gray’s-inn. In 1780 he took the degree of M. A. and about the same time was chosen fellow of the college. From this period he chiefly resided in London, and, warmed with the principles of liberty, joined those who were clamorous in calling for reformation in the state. He was a member of the constitutional society, and took a very active part at the meeting at York, in December, 1779. In his political creed he entertained ’the same sentiments with his friend Dr. Jebb; and, like him, without hesitation renounced those of his party whom he considered to have disgraced themselves by the unnatural coa^ | lition between lord North and Mr. Fox. We are told, however, that if the warmth of his political pursuits was not at all times under the guidance of discretion, he never acted but from the strictest principles of integrity. He had a very happy talent for poetry, which by many will be thought to have been misapplied, when devoted as it was, to the purposes of party. He wrote many occasional pieces in the newspapers, particularly in the London Courant, but was very careful to conceal himself as the writer of verses, which he thought would have an ill effect on him in his profession, a species of caution not much calculated to prove that independence of spirit for which men of his stamp contend. There is great reason to believe that he wrote the celebrated Archaeological epistle to Dr. Milles, dean of Exeter. It is certain this excellent performance was transmitted to the press through his hands; and it is more than probable, that the same reason which occasioned him to decline the credit of his other poetical performances, influenced him to relinquish the honour of this. It is a fact, however, which should not be suppressed, that he always disclaimed being the author of this poem; and when once pressed on the subject by a friend, he desired him to remember when it should be no longer a secret, that he then disowned it. Mr. Baynes had many friends, to whom he was sincerely attached, and by whom he was greatly beloved. Scarce any man, indeed, had so few enemies. Even politics, that fatal disuniter of friendships, lost its usual effect with him. As he felt no rancour towards those from whom he differed, so he experienced no malignity in return. What he conceived to be right, neither power nor interest could deter him from asserting. In the autumn before his death, when he apprehended the election for fellows of Trinity college to be irregularly conducted, he boldly, though respectfully, with others of the society, represented the abuse to the heads of the college; and when, instead of the expected reform, an admonition was given to the remonstrants, to behave with more respect to their superiors, conscious of the rectitude of their intentions, he made no scruple of referring the conduct of himself and his friends to a higher tribunal, but the matter was not decided before his death. It was his intention to publish a more correct edition of lord Coke’s tracts; and we are | informed he left the work nearly completed. His death is supposed to have been occasioned by an intense application to business, which brought on a putrid fever, of which he died, universally lamented, August 3, 1787, after eight days illness. In the ensuing week he was buried near the remains of his friend Dr. Jebb, privately, in Bunhill-fields burying-ground. 1


Gent. Mag. vol. LVII.