Disney, John

, a learned English divine and magistrate, was born at Lincoln in 1677. At the grammar school in that city he received the early part of his education, and afterwards studied at a private academy among the dissenters, to whom his father was attached. He was next entered at the Middle Temple with a view of making himself so far acquainted with the law as to enable him to become respectable as a magistrate and an author. The former character he sustained with dignity and much reputation: he was diligent, disinterested, and impartial in his decistons: he took an active part with those who formed themselves into a society for the suppression of vice and | immorality. His regard to duty gained him the respect of the wise and good, and on some occasions he was singled out as meriting the thanks of the judges of the circuit for services that he had rendered his country. As he advanced in life, and after he had acted as a magistrate more than twenty years, he conceived the design of becoming a minister in the church of England, with which he had communicated from the time that he had attained to manhood. He was accordingly first ordained a deacon, and afterwards, in 1719, a priest. In the same year he was presented with the vicarage of Croft, and to the rectory of Kirby-superBaine, both in his native county. In the year 1722, he was instituted to the vicarage of St. Mary in Nottingham, to which town he removed; and here he remained till his death, Feb. 3, 1729-30, in the 53d year of his age. He was buried, according to his own request, in the chancel of his church, near to the communion-table, having no other inscription over his grave than the initial letters of his name, and the year of his death. He left a widow, who afterwards lived at her own family-seat, Flintham-hall, in Nottinghamshire, and died there May 20, 1763, in the 86th year of her age, by whom he had five sons and three daughters.

He was a zealous advocate for, and a great friend to, the religious societies (particularly that for the reformation of manners), then in their infancy. His temper was naturally warm and impatient; but he was formed by nature also with a generous and forgiving mind, and his warmth and impatience were generally under the government of his reason. His principles of religion were orthodox in regard to points of doctrine and articles of faith: in respect to the principles of others, they were truly catholic. Mr. Disney’s correspondence with some persons of high name for literature in his age does honour to both parties. His own learning was acknowledged, and the great work which he had designed to have published, under the title of “Corpus Legum de Moribus Reformandis,” was greatly approved by several judicious and learned men, and forwarded by their ready answers to queries proposed to them by the writer, as occasion suggested them, and not unfrequently by their voluntary contributions. His own library contained a very extensive and valuable collection of books in all languages; but he spared not journies to the public libraries in London, and both of our universities, for the | consultation of such scarce books and manuscripts as were nowhere else to be met with. His manuscripts, which are numerous, are preserved in his family, and his exactness and precision in their arrangement, and the fairness of their transcript, are peculiar to himself.

He published: 1. “Primitive Sacrse, the reflections of a devout solitude, consisting of Meditations and Poems on divine subjects,London, 1701 and 1703, 8vo. 2. “Flora,” in admiration of the Gardens of Rapin, and the translation of Mr. Gardiner, written in 1705, prefixed to Subdean Gardiner’s translation of “Rapin of Gardens,” the third edition of which was published 1728, 8vo. 3. “An Essay upon the Execution of the Laws against Immorality and Profaneness. With a Preface addressed to her Majesty’s justices of the peace,London, 1708 and 1710, 8vo. His portrait is prefixed to several copies on large paper. 4. “A Second Essay upon the Execution of the Laws against Immorality and Profaneness. Wherein the case of giving informations to the magistrate is considered, and objections against it answered. By John Disney, esq. With a Preface addressed to grand juries, constables, and churchwardens,London, 1710, 8vo. The preface to this second essay was afterwards printed in a small size by itself, in order to distribute it among those whom it more particularly concerned. 5. “Remarks upon a Sermon preached by Dr. Henry Sacheverell, at the assizes held at Derby, Aug. 15, 1709. In a Letter to himself. Containing a just and modest defence of the Societies for Reformation of Manners, against the aspersions cast upon them in that Sermon,London, 1711, 8vo. 6. Proposals for the publication of his great work, entitled “Corpus Legum de Moribus Reformandis,” dated Lincoln, 1713; a single sheet, and republished in the “View of ancient laws.” 7. “The Genealogy of the most serene and most illustrious House of Brunswick Lunenburgh, the present royal family of Great Britain; drawn up from the best historical and genealogical writers,1714. Dedicated to his majesty, king George I. and engraved by J. Sturt, on two sheets of imperial paper. N. B. A mistake in this Genealogical Table is corrected in the “Acta Regia,1716, 8vo, vol. I. p. 102. Rymer says, that “Albert Great Duke of Brunswick married Adelhard, daughter to Henry the magnanimous duke of Brabant; whereas, Mr. Disney makes Adelhard daughter of the marquis of Montserrat, | 8.A Sermon, preached in the parish church of St. Botolph’s, Aldgate, London, on Sunday, Nov. 22, 1719,“London, 1720, 8vo. 9 14. Six other occasional Sermons. 15.A View of ancient laws against Immorality and Profaneness, under the following heads lewdness profane swearing, cursing, and blasphemy perjury; profanation of days devoted to religion contempt or neglect of divine service drunkenness gaming, idleness, vagrancy, and begging; stage-plays and players; and duelling. Collected from the Jewish, Roman, Greek, Gothic, Lombard, and other Laws, down to the middle of the eleventh century.“Dedicated to lord King, lord high chancellor,Cambridge, 1729, fol. 1


Life in Biog. P.rit. by his grandson, Dr. Disney.