Gilbert, William

, a nonconformist divine of very considerable abilities, was the son of William Gilbert of Priss, in Shropshire, and was born in 1613. In 1629 he was admitted a student of Edmund-hall, Oxford, where he took his bachelor’s degree, and after a short residence in Ireland, returned and took that of master in 1638. By the favour of Philip lord Wharton, he became minister of Upper Winchington, in Buckinghamshire; and in 1647, having taken the covenant, and become a favourite with the usurping powers, he was appointed vicar of St. Lawrence’s, Reading, and next year was created B. D. at the parliamentary visitation of the university of Oxford. About the same time he obtained the rich rectory of Edgemond, in his native county, where he was commonly called the bishop of Shropshire. In 1654 he was appointed an assistant to the commissioners of Shropshire, Middlesex, and the city of Westminster, for the ejection of such as were styled “scandalous, ignorant, and insufficient ministers and schoolmasters;” and according to Wood, was not sparing of the power which this sweeping commission gave him. After the restoration, he was ejected for nonconformity, and, retiring to Oxford, lived there very obscurely, with his wife, in St. Ebbe’s parish, sometimes preaching in conventicles, and in the family of lord Wharton. Nor was he without respect from some gentlemen of the university on account of his talents. Calamy informs us that, in a conversation with the celebrated Dr. South on the subject of predestination, he so satisfied him, that South became ever after an assertor of that doctrine. When a toleration or temporary indulgence was granted to the nonconformists in 1671, although a professed independent, he joined with three presbyterians in establishing a conventicle in Thames street, in the suburbs of Oxford; but this indulgence was soon called in. In his last days he was reduced to great distress, and was supported by the contributions of private | persons, and of several heads of colleges. He died July 15, 1694, and was buried in the church of St. Aldate. He was esteemed a good philosopher, disputant, and philologist, and a good Latin poet. He published, 1. “Vindicise supremi Dei dominii,” against Dr. Owen, Lond. 1655, 8vo. 2. “An Assize Sermon,” ibid. 1657, 4to. 3. “England’s Passing-Bell, a poem written soon after the year of the plague, the fire of London, and the Dutch war,1675, 4to. 4. “Super auspicatissimo regis Gulielmi in Hiberniam descensu, et salva ex Hibernia reditu, carmen gratulatorium,1690, 4to, written in his eightieth year. 5. “Epitapbia diversa,” chiefly on persons not of the church of England. 6. “Julius Secundus,” a dialogue, Ox. 1669, 12mo, and 168O, 8vo. To this is prefixed a preface, also in the form of a dialogue, proving that piece to have been written by Erasmus. Dr. Jortin seems of the same opinion, and has reprinted it in his Life of Erasmus, pointing out some curious omissions by Gilbert. With the second edition, Gilbert republished “Jani Alex. Ferrafii Euclides catholicus,” an ironical work against the Romish church, written by an English convert who chose to conceal his true name. Gilbert translated into Latin a considerable part of Francis Potter’s book entitled “An interpretation of the number 666,” printed at Amsterdam, 1677. He is likewise supposed to have been concerned in the pamphlets called “Anni mirabiles,” printed in 1661, 1662, and the following years." 1

1 Ath. Ox. vol. II. —Calamy. Coats’s Hist, of Reading. Peck’s Desiderata, vol. II.