Johnson, John

, an eminent divine among the nonjurors, the only son of the rev. Thomas Johnson, vicar of Frindsbury, near Rochester, was born Dec. 30, 1662, and was educated in the king’s school in Canterbury, where he made such progress in the three learned languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, under Mr. Lovejoy, then master of that school, that when he was very little more than fifteen years of age, he was sent to the university of Cambridge, where he was admitted in the college of St. Mary Magdalen, under the tuition of Mr. Turner, fellow of that house, March the 4th, 1677-8. In Lent term 1681-2, he took the degree of B. A. and soon after was nominated by the dean and chapter of Canterbury to a scholarship in Corpus Christi college‘ in that university, of the foundation of archbishop Parker, to which he was admitted April the 29th, 1682, under the tuition of Mr. Beck, fellow of that house. He took the degree of M. A. at the commencement 1685. Soon after he entered into deacon’s orders, and became curate to the rector of Upper and Lower Hardres, near Canterbury. He was ordained priest by the right rev. Dr. Thomas Sprat, lord bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster, December the 19th, 1686 and July the 9th, 1687, he was collated to the vicarage of Bough ton under the Blean, by Dr. Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and at the same time he was allowed by the same archbishop to hold the adjoining vicarage of Hern-hill by sequestration; both which churches he supplied himself. About 1689 one Sale, a man who had counterfeited holy orders, having forged | letters of ordination both for himself and his father, came into this diocese, and taking occasion from the confusion occasioned by the revolution during the time archbishop Bancroft was under suspension, and before Dr. Tin lotson was consecrated to the archbishopric, made it his business to find out what livings were held by sequestration only, and procured the broad seal for one of these for himself, and another for his father. On this Mr. Johnson thought it necessary to secure his vicarage of Hern -hi II, that he might prevent Sale from depriving him of that benefice; and archbishop Sancrot’t being then deprived ah officio only, but not a bencficio, presented him to Hern-hill, to which he was instituted October the 16th, 1689, by Dr. George Oxenden, vicar-general to the archbishop, but at that time to the dean and chapter of Canterbury, guardians of the spiritualities during the suspension of the archbishop. But as the living had been so long held by sequestration that it was lapsed to the crown, he found it necessary to corroborate his title with the broad seal, which was given him April the 12th, 1690. In 1697. the vicarage of St. John in the Isle of Thanet, to which the town of Margate belongs, becoming void, archbishop Tenison, the patron, considering the largeness of the cure, was desirous to place there a person better qualified than ordinary to supply it^ and could think of no man in his diocese more fit than Mr. Johnson, and therefore entreated him to undertake the pastoral care of that large and populous parish. And because the benefice was but small, and the cure very great, the archbishop, to induce him to accept of it, collated him to the vicarage of Appledore (a good benefice) on the borders of Romney Marsh, on the 1st of May, 1697: but Mr. Johnson chose to hold Margate by sequestration only. And having now two sons ready to be instructed in learning, he would not send them to school, but taught them himself; saying that he thought it as much the duty of a father to teach his own children, if he was capable of doing it, as it was of the mother to suckle and nurse them in their infancy, if she was able; and because he believed they would learn better in company than alone, he took two or three boarders to teach with them, the sons of some particular friends. He was much importuned by several others of his acquaintance to take their sons, but he refused. At length, finding he could not attend the | he had, his great cure, and his studies, in such a manner as he was desirous to do, he entreated his patron the archbishop, to give him leave entirely to quit Margate, and to retire to his cure of Appledore, which, with some difficulty, was at last granted him; but not till his grace had made inquiry throughout his diocese and the university of Cambridge for one who might be thought qualified to succeed him. He settled at Appledore in 1703, and as soon as his eldest son was fit for the university (which was in 1705) he sent him to Cambridge, and his other son to school till he was of age to be put out apprentice; and dismissed all the rest of his scholars. He seemed much pleased with Appledore at his first retirement thither, as a place where he could follow his studies without interruption. But this satisfaction was not of long continuance; for that marshy air, in a year or two, brought a severe sickness on himself and all his family, and his constitution (which till then had been very good) was so broken, that he never afterwards recovered the health he had before enjoyed. This made him desirous to remove from thence as soon as he could; and the vicarage of Cranbrook becoming void, he asked the archbishop to bestow it on him, which his grace readily did, and accordingly collated him to it April the 13th, 1707, where he continued till his death, holding Appledore with it. In 1710, and again in 1713, he was chosen by the clergy of the diocese of Canterbury to be one of their proctors for the convocation summoned to meet with the parliament in those years. And as the first of these convocations was permitted to sit and act, and to treat of matters of religion (though they brought no business to any perfection, owing to the differences that had been raised between the two houses) he constantly attended the house of which he was a member whilst any matter was there under debate; and his parts and learning came to be known and esteemed by the most eminent clergy of the province, as they had been before by those of the diocese where he lived; so that from this time he was frequently resorted to for his opinion in particular cases, and had letters sent to him from the remotest parts of the province of Canterbury, and sometimes from the other province also, requiring his opinion in matters of learning, especially as to what concerned our religion and ecclesiastical laws. He continued at Cranbrook about eighteen years; and as he

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| had been highly valued, esteemed, and beloved at all other places where he had resided, so was he here also by all that were true friends, says his biographer, “to the pure catholic religion of Jesus Christ, as professed and established in the church of England. But as there were many dissenters of all denominations in that place, and some others, who (though they frequented the church, yet) seemed to like the Dissenters better, and to side with them upon all occasions, except going to their meetings for religious worship, I cannot say how they loved and esteemed him. However, he was so remarkably upright in his life and conversation, that even they could accuse him of no other fault, except his known hearty zeal for the church of England, which all impartial persons would have judged a virtue. For certainly those that have not an hearty affection for a church ought not to be made priests of it. Some of those favourers of the dissenters studied to make him uneasy, by endeavouring to raise a party in his parish against him, merely because they could not make him, like themselves, a latitudinarian in matters of religion; but they failed in their design, and his friends were too many for them *.A little before he left Appledore, he began to discover that learning to the world, which till this time was little known beyond the diocese where he lived, except to some particular acquaintance, by printing several tracts; though his modesty was such, that he would not put his name to them, till they had at least a second edition. The first of these was a “Paraphrase with Notes on the Book of Psalms according to the Translation retained in our Common Prayer- Book,” published in 1706. The next book he wrote was the “Clergyman’s Vade-Mecum,1708, which went through five editions, and was followed, in 1709, by a second part. In 1710 he published the “Propitiatory Oblation in the Eucharist;” in 1714, “The Unbloody Sacrifice/’ part I.; and in 1717, part II.; in 1720,A Collection of Ecclesiastical Laws."

In 1728, Mary his daughter and only surviving child, being his executrix, published some posthumous discourses of his which he had designed for the press; and as no man was more careful and diligent to instruct those

* It was in hifi latter years that he prayers enjoined on the accession of

(probably from his intimacy with Dr. George I. This occasioned hrm some iiickes) became a nonjurar in principle trouMe, and he was forced to submit,

and practice, denying the king’s su- which he did very reluctantly, 'y, anJ refusing to read the

I | committed to his care in the knowledge of their duty by his sermons and discourses, so was he no less careful to instruct them by his example in a regular Christian life; and therefore none was better beloved by his parishioners in -general. This learned divine, of whom his biographer, Dr. Brett, has given a very high, although perhaps somewhat partial character, died Dec. 15, 1725, and was buried in Cranbrook church-yard.

In 1689 he married Margaret, the daughter of Thomas Jenkin, gent, of the isle of Thanet, and half-sister of Dr. Robert Jenkin, master of St. John’s college in Cambridge. He had some children; and among them a son, who died in 1723, after having been fellow of the above college, and rector of Standish in Lancashire.

In 1748 was published “The Life of the late Rev. J. Johnson, &c. by the late Rev. Thomas Brett,” with three of Mr. Johnson’s posthumous tracts, and part of his correspondence with Dr. Hickes, Mr. Nelson, and Dr. Brett. 1

1 Life by Dr, Britt. Gen. Dict. Biog. Brit.