Bedford, Arthur

, a pious and learned clergyman of the church of England, and many years chaplain to the Haberdashers’ hospital at Hoxton, was the son of Richard Bedford, and was born at Tiddenham, in Gloucestershire, Sept. 1668. Having received the rudiments of learning from his father, he was in 1684, at the age of sixteen, admitted commoner of Brasen-nose college, Oxford, where he acquired some reputation as an Orientalist. He became B.A. in Feb. 1687, and M.A. July, 1691. In 1688 he received holy orders from Dr. Frampton, bishop of Gloucester, and about this time removed to Bristol, and became curate to Dr. Read, rector of St. Nicholas church, with whom he continued till 1692, when, having taken priest’s orders from Dr. Hall, bishop of Bristol, the mayor and corporation of the city presented him to the vicarage | of Temple church. From this he was removed to Newtou St. Loe, a private living in Somersetshire, soon after which, as he himself informs us, he was prompted to undertake a work on “Scripture Chronology,” by reading over the preface to Abp. Usher’s Annals, in which the primate gave his opinion concerning a more exact method of “A chronological system of the sacred Scriptures, by the help of astronomy and a competent skill in the Jewish learning.” After many difficulties, Mr. Bedford flattered himself that he had succeeded, and then digested his thoughts into some method. Soon after this, coming to London, to assist in the correction of the Arabic Psalter and New Testament, for the benefit of the poor Christians in Asia, he shewed his thoughts to some friends, who advised him to publish them; with which he complied, with a design not to have exceeded fourscore or an hundred pages in the whole. A few sheets were printed off, but the author having received information that a work of a similar nature was intended to be published from the papers of sir Isaac Newton, and being advised by some friends, contrary to his first intention, to publish the work on a more extensive plan, he suppressed his papers. In the mean time, in 1724, he was chosen chaplain to Haberdashers hospital, (founded in 1690, by alderman Aske), and continued to reside there for the remainder of his life. In 1728 he published “Animadversions upon sir Isaac Newton’s book entitled The chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended,” 8vo, in which he attempts to prove that sir Isaac’s system entirely contradicts the scripture history, and he appeals, as his supporters in this opinion, to Bochart, Dr. Prideaux, archbishop Usher, and the bishops Lloyd, Cumberland, Beveridge, &c.

Two years afterwards, he published a sermon (from 2 Tim. ii. 16.) at St. Botolph’s, Aldgate, where he was afternoon lecturer, against the then newly-erected playhouse in Goodman’s fields. This was a favourite subject with Mr. Bedford, who, in other of his publications, proved an able assistant to Mr. Collier, in his attempt to reform the stage. He began, indeed, in this necessary labour, many years before coming to London, as will appear by our list of his works. He continued in his office of chaplain to the hospital, until 1745, when he died, Sept. 15, and was buried in the ground behind the hospital, profrably at his own desire. Tradition informs us his death | was occasioned by a fall whilst making observations on the comet of that year, an accident which was very likely to prove fatal to a man in his severity -seventh year. He furnished the hall of the hospital, where the pensioners assemble, wrh some pious works, chained, in the old library manner, to the windows, and, as appears by his writings, was a man or unfeigned piety and zeal. These writings are: 1. “Serious reflections on the scandalous abuse and effects of the Stage, a sermon,Bristol, 1705, with along preface. 2. “A second advertisement concerning the Play-house,” ibid. 8vo. 3. “The evil and danger of Stage Plays,” ibid. 1706, 8vo, a most curious work, but much enlarged in the subsequent edition. 3. “The temple of Music,” Lond. 1706, 8vo. 4. “The great abuse of Music,” ibid. 1711, 8vo, in which he examines all the series of English songs, pointing out their impious or immoral passages, concluding with a Gloria Patri set to music, apparently by himself, in four parts. 5. “Essay on singing David’s psalms,1708. 6. His “Ævil of Stageplays” republished under the title of “A serious remonstrance in behalf of the Christian Religion, against the horrid blasphemies and impieties which are still used in the English Playhouses, &c.” In this he has so completely perused the whole range of the English drama, as to produce “seven thousand instances, taken out of plays of the present century, and especially of the last five years, in defiance of all methods hitherto used for their reformation;” and he has also given a catalogue of “above fourteen hundred texts of scripture, which are mentioned, either as ridiculed and exposed by the stage, or as opposite to their present practices.” 7. “Animadversions on sir Isaac Newton,” mentioned above. 8. “Scripture Chronology, demonstrated by astronomical calculations, in eight books,” ibid. 1741, fol. which Dr. Waterland justly characterises as a very learned and elaborate work. 9. “Eight sermons on the doctrine of the Trinity, at lady Moyer’s lecture,” ibid. 174], 8vo. 10. “The doctrine of Justification by Faith stated according to the articles of the church of England. Contained in nine questions and answers,” ibid. 1741, 8vo. 11. “Horye Mathematics Vacua*, or a treatise of the Golden and Ecliptick Numbers,” ib. 1743, 8vo. The original ms. of this work, which was written during an illness which deprived him of the use of his limbs, is now preserved in Sion college library. | He published also several single sermons, preached on public occasions. 1


Ellis’s Hist, of Shoreditch. Republic of Letters, vols. II. III. VI.