Alphery, Mekepher, So Pronounced, Though Properly Spelt, Nikephor, Nicephorus

was born in Russia, of the imperial line. When that country was disturbed by intestine quarrels, in the latter end of the 16th century, and the royal house particularly was severely persecuted by impostors, this gentleman and his two brothers were sent over to England, and recommended to the care of Mr. Joseph Bidell, a Kussia merchant. Mr. Bidell, when they were of age fit for the university, sent them all three to Oxford, where the small-pox unhappily prevailing, two of them died of it. We know not whether this surviving brother took any degree, but it is very probable he did, since he entered into holy orders; and, in the year 1618, had the rectory of Wot) ley in Huntingdonshire, a living of no very considerable value, being rated at under 10l. in the king’s books. Here he did his duty with great cheerfulness and alacrity; and notwithstanding he was twice invited back to his native country, by some who would have ventured their utmost to have set him on the throne of his ancestors, he chose rather to remain with his flock, and to serve God in the humble station of a parish priest. Yet in 1643 he underwent the severest trials from the rage of the fanatic soldiery, who, not satisfied with depriving him of his living, insulted him in the most barbarous manner; for, having procured a file of musqueteers to pull him out of his pulpit, as he was preaching on a, Sunday, they turned his wife and young children out into the street, into which also they threw his goods. The poor man in this distress raised a tent under some trees in the church-yard, over against his house, where he and his family lived for a week. One day having gotten a few eggs, he picked up some rotten wood and dry sticks, and | with these made a fire in the church porch, in order to boil them; but some of his adversaries, to show how far they could carry their rage against the church (for this poor man was so harmless, they could have none against him), came and kicked about his fire, threw down his skillet, and broke his eggs. After this, having still a little money, he made a small purchase in that neighbourhood, built a house, and lived there some years. He was encouraged to this by a presbyterian minister who came in his room, and honestly paid him a fifth part of the annual income of the living, which was the allowance made by parliament to ejected ministers, treated him with great humanity, and did him all the services in his power. It is a great misfortune that this gentleman’s name is not preserved, his conduct in this respect being the more laudable, because it was not a little singular. Walker calls him Mr. B, and the living is not mentioned by Calamy. Afterwards, probably on the death or removal of this gentleman, Mr. Alphery left Huntingdonshire, and came and resided at Hammersmith, till the Restoration pu,thim in possession of his living again. He returned on this occasion to Huntingdonshire, where he did not stay long; for, being upwards of 80, and very infirm, he could not perform the duties of his function. Having therefore settled a curate, he retired to his eldest son’s house at Hammersmith, where shortly after he died, full of years and of honour. It must be owned that this article is very imperfect; but the singularity of a Russian prince’s being a country minister in England is a matter of too much curiosity to be wholly omitted.

Mrs. Alphery, the last descendant of the family, married one Mr. Johnson a cutler at Huntingdon. She was living in 1761, and had eight children. By her the facts contained in the preceding article, first related by Walker, were confirmed to lord Sandwich, and were likewise known to be true by old people in the neighbourhood. His lordship informed Dr. Campbell, that such was the respect paid this woman on account of her illustrious descent, that no persons, of whatever station, chose to be seated in her presence: on the contrary they rose, and remained so till she had taken her chair. 1


Biog. Brit. Walkev’s Sufferings of the Clergy.