Calamy, Edmund

, a very eminent divine among the nonconformists, grandson to Mr. Edmund Calamy, minister of Aldermanbury, by his eldest son Mr. Edmund Calamy (who was ejected out of the living of Moreton in Essex, on St. Bartholomew’s day, 1662), was born April 5, 1671. Having made a considerable progress in grammar learning at several private schools, and under Mr. Hartcliffe at Merchant Taylors, where he contracted a close friendship with Mr. Dawes, afterwards sir William Dawes, and archbishop of York, as also with Mr. Hugh Boulter, the primate of Ireland, he went through a course of logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, under the tuition of Mr. Samuel Craddock at the academy kept by him at Wickham Brook in Suffolk. In March 1688, he went over to the university of Utrecht, where he studied philosophy under De Vries, and civil law under Vander Muyden, and attended Graevius’s lectures upon Sophocles and Puffendorf’s Introduction. His application to his studies at this place was so great, that he spent one whole night every week among his books; and his proficiency gained him -the friendship of two of his countrymen at that university, who rose afterwards to very high stations in church and state, lord Charles Spencer, the famous earl of Sunderland, and his tutor Mr. Charles Trimnell, afterwards successively bishop of Norwich and of Winchester, with both of whom | he kept up his acquaintance as long as he and they lived. Whilst he resided in Holland, an oiler of a professor’s chair in the university of Edinburgh was made him by Mr. Carstairs, principal of that university, sent over on purpose to find a person properly qualified lor such an office; which he declined, and returned to England in 1691, bringing with him letters from Graevius to Dr. Pocock, canon of Christ-church, and regius professor of Hebrew, and to Dr. Edward Bernard, Savilian professor of astronomy, who obtained leave for him to prosecute his studies in the Bodleian library; and his resilience at Oxford procured him the acquaintance of the learned Mr. Henry Dodvvell. Having resolved to make divinity his principal study, he entered into an examination of the controversy between the conformists and nonconformists, and was led to join the latter. Coming to London in 1692, he was unanimously chosen assistant to Mr. Matthew Sylvester at Blackfriars; and oa June 22, 1694, was ordained at Mr. Annesley’s meetinghouse in Little St. Helen’s, which was the first public transaction of the kind, after the passing of the act of uniformity, and was not undertaken without some timidity on the part of the elder nonconformists, such as Mr. Howe and Dr. Bates, who seemed afraid of giving offence to government. Six other young ministers were ordained at the same time, and the ceremony lasted from ten o’clock in the morning to six in the evening. He was soon after invited to become assistant to Mr. Daniel Williams in Hand-alley, Bishupsgate-street. Oct. 20, 1702, he was chosen one of the lecturers at Salters’-lmll, and in 1703 succeeded Mr. Vincent Alsop, as pastor of v. congregation in Westminster. He drew up the table of contents to Mr. Baxter’s History of his life and times, which was sent to the press in 1696, made some remarks on the work itself, and added to it an index; and reflecting on the usefulness of the book, he saw the expediency of continuing it, for Mr. Baxter’s history came no lower than 1684. Accordingly he composed an abridgment of it; with an account of many others of those ministers who were ejected after the restoration of Charles II. their apology for themselves and their adherents; containing the grounds of their nonconformity and practice, as to stated and occasional communion witlx the church of England; and a continuation of their history till the year 1691. This work was published in 1702. The following year Mr. Hoadly (afterwards bishop of | Winchckter) published the two parts of his “Reasonableness of Conformity to the Church of England, &c. in answer to Mr. Calamy’s Abridgement of Mr. Baxter’s history, &c.” As a reply to these treatises, Mr. Calamy published the same year, “A Defence of moderate Nonconformity;” and soon after Mr. Hoadly sent abroad, “A serious admonition to Mr Calamy,” occasioned by the first part of his “Defence, of moderate Nonconformity.

Next year Mr. Calamy published the second part of bin “Defence of moderate Nonconformity” with an answer to Mr. Hoadly’s Serious Admonition. In 1705 he sent abroad the third part of his Defence; to which was added, “A letter to Mr. Hoadly, in answer to his Defence of the Reasonableness of Conformity.” In 1707 Mr. Hoadly published his Defence of Episcopal Ordination; and Mr. Calamy drew up a reply, both to the argumentative and historical part of it, but forbore printing it, as he tells us himself in his abridgment of Baxter’s life, that he might not give his antagonist any disturbance in the pursuit of that political contest in which he was engaged. In 1709 Mr. Calamy made a tour to Scotland, and had the degree of D. D. conferred on him by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Glasgow. In 1713 he published a second edition of his Abridgment of Mr. Baxter’s history of his life and times; in which, among other additions, there is a continuation of the history through king William’s reign, and queen Anne’s, down to the passing of the occasional bill and in the close is subjoined the reformed liturgy, which was drawn up and presented to the bishops in 1661 “that the world may judge (he says in the preface) how fairly the ejected ministers have been often represented as irreconcileable enemies to all liturgies.” In 1718 he wrote a vindication of his grandfather and several other persons, against certain reflections cast upon them by Mr. archdeacon Echard in his History of England; and in 1728 appeared his continuation of the account of the ministers, lecturers, masters, and fellows of colleges, and school-masters, who were ejected and silenced after the restoration in 1660, by, or before the act of uniformity. He died June 3, 1732, greatly regretted, not only by the dissenters, but also by the moderate members of the established church, both clergy and laity, with many of whom he lived in great intimacy. Mr. Daniel Mayo, by whom his funeral sermon preached, observes, “that he was of a candid and | benevolent disposition, and very moderate with regard to differences in point of religion.” Besides the pieces already mentioned, he published a great many sermons on several subjects and occasions, particularly a vindication of that celebrated text, 1 John v. 7, from being spurious, and an explanation of it on the supposition of being genuine, in Jour sermons, preached at the Salters’-hall lectures. He was twice married, and had thirteen children.

Dr. Calamy left behind him a ms. in 3 vols. folio, entitled “An historical account of my own life, with some reflections on the times I have lived in.” Some account is given of this ms. in the Biog. Britannica, by Dr. Kippis, who was favoured with the perusal of it by the author’s grandson Edmund Calamy, esq. barrister at law; but there does not appear to be much in it that would now be thought interesting. His most valuable work is undoubtedly his Lives of the Nonconformists, to which, whatever objections may be offered to individual passages, every student of English biography must acknowledge his obligations. An abridgment of this work, in 2 vols. 8vo, under the title of “The Nonconformist’s Memorial,” was published by the rev. Sam. Palmer of Hackney, in 1775, and republished, with additions, in 1802, 3 vols. 8vo. 1


Biog. Brit.—Funeral Sermon by Mayo.