Chauncy, Charles

, an eminent nonconformist, and great uncle to the historian of Hertfordshire, was the fifth and youngest son of George Chauncy, esq. of Yardley-bury and New-place in Hertfordshire, by Agnes, the daughter of Edward Welch, and widow of Edward Humberstone, and was born in 1592. He was educated at Westminster school, from which he went to Trinity college, Cambridge, where he was admitted to his several degrees, | till he became bachelor of divinity. His reputation for learning was such as gained him the esteem and friendship of the celebrated Dr. Usher, archbishop of Armagh. In consequence of his distinguished skill in Oriental literature, he was chosen, by the heads of houses, Hebrew professor; but Dr. Williams, the vice-chancellor, preferring a relation of his own, Mr. Chauncy resigned his pretensions, and was appointed to the Greek professorship. He was the author of the sTriKpuris which is prefixed to Leigh’s “Critica Sacra’ 7 upon the New Testament. When Mr. Chauncy quitted the university, he became vicar of Ware in Hertfordshire. Being of puritanical principles, he was jnuch offended with the” Book of Sports;“and opposed, although with less reason, the railing in of the Communion table. Besides this, he had the indiscretion to say in a sermon, that idolatry was admitted into the church; that much Atheism, Popery, Arminianism, and Heresy had crept into it; and that the preaching of the gospel would be suppressed. Having by these things excited the indignation of the ruling powers, he was questioned in the high commission; and the cause being referred, by order of that court, to the determination of his ordinary, he was imprisoned, condemned in costs of suit, and obliged to make a recantation; which, as it had been extorted from him through fear, lay heavy on his mind. He continued, indeed, some years in his native country, and officiated at Marston Lawrence, in the diocese of Peterborough; but at length retired to New England, where he made an open acknowledgment of his crime in signing a recantation contrary to the dictates of his conscience. For some considerable time succeeding his arrival at New England in 1637, he assisted Mr. Reyner, the minister of that place; after which he removed to a town at a little distance, called” Scituate," where he continued twelve years in the discharge of his pastoral office. When the republican party became predominant in England, Mr. Chauncy was invited, by his old parishioners at Ware, to return back to his native country, and had thoughts of complying, but was so earnestly pressed by the trustees of Harvard college, in Cambridge, which then wanted a president, to accept of the government of that society, that he could not resist their solicitations. This event took place in 1654; and from that time to his death, which happened on the 19th of February, 1671-2, in the 80th | year of his age, Mr. Chauncy continued with great reputation at the head of the college, discharging the duties of his station with distinguished attention, diligence, and ability. So high was the esteem in which he was held, that when he had resided about two years in Cambridge, the church of that town, to whom he was united, and among whom he preached, kept a whole day of thanksgiving to God, for the mercy they enjoyed in their connection with him. Mr. Chauncy, by his wife Catherine, whose life was published, had six sons, all of whom were brought up for the ministry. Isaac the eldest of them, became pastor of a nonconformist society in London, and wrote several treatises *. Mr. Charles Chauncy had a number of descendants, who long flourished both in Old and New England. One of them was the late Dr. Chauncy the physician, who died in 1777, well known for his skill and taste in pictures, and for his choice collection of them, afterwards in the possession of his brother, Nathaniel Chauncy, esq. of Castle-street, Leicester-fields, who died in 1790. 1


Biog. Brit. art. Henry Chauncy. —Gent. Mag. vol. LX. Neal’s History of England, and of the Puritans.