Assheton, Dr. William

, son of Mr. Assheton, rector of Middleton in Lancashire, was born in 1641 and being instructed in grammar-learning at a private country-school, was removed to Brazen-Nose college at Oxford, in 1658 and elected a fellow in 1663. After taking both his degrees in arts, he went into orders, became chaplain to the duke of Ormond, chancellor of that university, and was admitted doctor of divinity in January 1673. In the following month he was nominated to the prebend of Knaresburgh, in the church of York and whilst he attended his patron at London, obtained the living of St. Antholin. In 1670, by the duke’s interest with the family of the St. Johns, he was presented to the rectory of Beckenbam, in Kent and was often unanimously chosen proctor for Rochester in convocation.

He was the projector of the scheme' for providing a maintenance for clergymen’s widows and others, by a jointure payable by the Mercers’ company. The bringing this project to perfection took up his thoughts for many years for, though encouraged by many judicious persons to prosecute it, he found much difficulty in providing such a fund as might be a proper security to the subscribers. He first addressed himself to the corporation of the clergy, who declared they were not in a capacity to accept the proposal. Meeting with no better success in his next application to the Bank of England, he applied himself to the Mercers’ company, who agreed with him upon certain rules and orders, of which the following are the chief

1, “That the Company will take in subscriptions at any time, till the sum of 100,000l. be subscribed, but will never exceed that sum, 2. That all married men, at the age of thirty years or under, may subscribe any sum not exceeding 1000l. That all married men, not exceeding the age of forty years, may subscribe any sum” not exceeding 500l. And that all married men, not exceeding the age of sixty years, may subscribe any sum, not exceeding 300l. And that the widows of all persons, subscribing according to these limitations, shall receive the benefit of | 30 per cent, per annum, according to the former proposal^ free of all taxes and charges, at the two usual feasts of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Michael the Archangel and that the first of these payments shall be made at the first of the said feast days, which shall happen four months or more after the decease of the person or persons so subscribing excepting such as shall voluntarily make away with themselves, or by any act of theirs occasion their own death either by duelling or committing any crime, whereby they shall be sentenced, and put to death by justice in any, or either of these cases, the widows to receive no annuity; but, upon delivering up the company’s bond, to have the subscription money paid to them. 3. That no seafaring men may subscribe, who follow it as their business or vocation; nor others, who go farther than Holland, Ireland, or the coasts of England and that any person may subscribe for any others, whom he shall nominate in his last will, during the natural life of his wife, if she survive, and his intention be declared in his subscription." The company had several meetings in committees with the doctor, about settling a sufficient security in which they satisfied him that their estates, being clear rents, amounted to 2888l. Ss. lOd. besides the payments of the benefactors, to be paid out of the same which, by a moderate calculation, would yield, when the leases came out, above 13,500l. per annum. All things being agreed upon, the deed of settlement was executed by the company and trustees, at a general court of the said company, held on Wednesday the 4th of October, 1699. This deed is enrolled in the high court of chancery, and an authentic copy of it kept by the company but owing to some miscalculations, the scheme did not ultimately succeed, as originally planned.

A few years before his death, he was invited to accept the headship of the college, then vacant, but modestly declined it. He died at Beckenham, Sept. 1711, in the seventieth year of his age, and was buried in the chancel of that church. The writer of his life gives him the highest character for piety, probity, and inflexible adherence to the doctrines and interests of the church of England. His general sentiments and turn of mind may be discovered in the titles of his various works 1. “Toleration disapproved and condemned by the authority and convincing reasons of, I. That wise and learned king James, and his | privycouncil, Anno Reg. II do II. The honourable Commons assembled in this present parliament, in their Votes, &c. Feb. 25, 1662. III. The Presbyterian ministers in the city of London, met at Sion College, December 18, 1645. IV. Twenty eminent divines, most (if not all) of them members of the late assembly; in their Sermons before the two houses of parliament on solemn occasions. Faithfully collected by a very moderate hand, and humbly presented to the serious consideration of all dissenting parties,Oxford,! 670. He published a second edition of this book, the same year, with his name, and the pro-vice-chancellor of Oxford’s imprimatur, prefixed to it. 2. “The Cases of Scandal and Persecution being a seasonable inquiry into these two things I. Whether the Nonconformists, who otherwise think subscription lawful, are therefore obliged to forbear it, because the weak brethren do judge it unlawful II. Whether the execution of penal laws upon Dissenters, for non-communion with the Church of England, be persecution Wherein they are pathetically exhorted to return into the bosom of the church, the likeliest expedient to stop the growth of Popery,London, 1674. 3. “The Royal Apology or, An Answer to the Rebel’s Plea wherein are the most noted anti-monarchical tenets, first published by Doleman the Jesuit, to promote a bill of exclusion against king James I. secondly, practised by Bradshaw, and the regicides, in the actual murder of king Charles I. thirdly, republished by Sidney, and the associates to depose and murder his present majesty,London, 1685, the second edition. 4. “A seasonable Vindication of their present Majesties,London. 5. “The Country Parson’s Admonition to his Parishioners against Popery with directions how to behave themselves, when any one designs to seduce them from the Church of England,London, 1686. 6. “A full Defence of the former Discourse against the Missionaries Answer being a farther examination of the pretended Infallibility of the Chuvch of Rome” or, as it is intitled in the first impression, “A Defence of the Plain Man’s Reply to the Catholic Missionaries,” &c. 1688. 7. “A short Discourse against Blasphemy,1691. 8. “A Discourse against Drunkenness,1692. 9. “A Discourse against Swearing and Cursing,1692. 10. “Directions in order to the suppressing of Debauchery and Proprmneness,1693. 11. “A Conference with an Anabaptist; Part I. Concerning the subject | of Baptism: being a Defence of Infant-Baptism,” 1694. It was occasioned by a separate congregation of Anabaptists being set up in Dr. Assheton’s parish but the meeting soon breaking up, the author never published a second part. 12. “A Discourse concerning a Death-bed Repentance.” 13. “A Theological Discourse of last Wills and Testaments,London, 1696, 14. “A seasonable Vindication of the blessed Trinity being an answer to this question, Why do you believe the doctrine of the Trinity Collected from the works of the most reverend doctor John Tillotson, late lord archbishop of Canterbury, and the right reverend doctor Edward Stillingfleet, now lord bishop of Worcester,London, 1679. 15. “A brief state of the Socinian Controversy, concerning a Trinity in Unity” collected from the Works of Dr, Isaac Barrow, London, 1698. 16. “The Plain Man’s Devotion, Part I. In a method of daily Devotion and, a method of Devotion for the Lord’s Day. Both fitted to the meanest capacities,1698. 17. “A full Account of the rise, progress, and advantages of Dr. Assheton’s Proposal (as now improved and managed by the worshipful company of Mercers, London,) for che benefit of Widows of Clergymen, and others, by settled Jointures and Annuities, at the rate of thirty per cent. With directions for the widow how to receive her annuity, without any delay, charges, or deductions. ‘ Plead for the widow,’ Isa. i. 17. 1713. 18.A Vindication of the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State,“London, 1703. 19.A brief exhortation to the Holy Communion, with the nature and measures of Preparation concerning it fitted to the meanest capacities,“1705. 20.A Method of Devotion for sick and dying persons with particular directions from the beginning of Sickness to the hour of Death,“London, 1706. 21.” The Possibility of Apparitions being an answer to this question ‘ Whether can departed souls (souls separated from their bodies) so appear, as to be visibly seen, and converse here on earth’ This book was occasioned by the remarkable story of one dying at Dover, and appearing to her friend at Canterbury. 22. “Occasional Prayers from bishop Taylor, bishop Cosins, bishop Kenn,” &c. and “A devout collection of Divine Hymns and Poems, on several occasions,London, 1708. 23. “A seasonable Vindication of the Clergy being an answer to some reflections in a late book, entitled The Rights of the Christian Church asserted, &c. Humbly | submitted to the serious consideration of the nobility and gentry of Great Britain. By a Divine of the Church of London,” 1709. 24. “Directions for the Conversation of the Clergy collected from the Visitation Charges of the. right reverend father in God, Edward Stillingfleet, D. D. late lord bishop of Worcester,London, 1710. 25. "Two Sermons one preached before the Sons of the Clergy, at St. Paul’s, December 6, 1699 the other before the Honourable Society of the Natives of the County of KenVat St. Mary le Bow, Nov. 21, 1700. Mr. Wood mentions another Sermon on the Danger of Hypocrisy, preached at Guildhall chapel, Aug. 3, 1673. 1


Life of Dr. Assheton, by Watts, 8vo. 1711.—Biog. Brit.—Wood’s Ath. vol. II.