Jebb, John

, son of Dr. John Jebb, dean of Casbell, was born in London, early in 1736. He was a man much celebrated among the violent partizans for unbounded liberty, religious and political; and certainly a man of learning and talents, though they were both so much absorbed in controversy as to leave little among his writings of general use. His education was begun in Ireland, and finished in England. His degrees were taken at Cambridge, where he bore public offices, and obtained the vicarage of St. Andrew’s, and where he married a daughter of Dr. Torkington, of Huntingdonshire, who was grand-daughter to the earl of Harborough. His college was Peter-house. He early took up the plan of giving theological lectures, which were attended by several pupils, till his peculiar opinions became known in 1770, when a prohibition was published in the university. How soon he had begun to deviate from the opinions he held at the time of ordination is uncertain, but in a letter dated Oct. 21, 1775, he says, “I have for seven years past, in my lectures, maintained steadily the proper unity of God, and that he alone should be the object of worship.” He adds, that he warned his hearers that this was not the received opinion, but that his own was settled, and exhorted them to inquire diligently. This confession seems rather inconsistent with the defence he addressed to the archbishop of Canterbury in 1770. He was a strenuous advocate for the establishment of annual examinations in the university, but could not prevail. In. 1775, he came to the resolution of resigning his ecclesiastical preferments, which he did accordingly; and then, by the advice of his friends, took up the study of physic. For this new object he studied indefatigably, and in 1777, obtained his degree by diploma from St. Andrew’s, and was admitted a licentiate in London.

Amidst the cares of his new profession, he did not decline his attention to theological study, nor to what he considered as the cause of true liberty. He was, as he had been for many years, zealous for the abolition of subscription, a warm friend to the cause of America against England, an incessant advocate for annual parliaments and universal suffrage (those pernicious engines for destroying the British constitution), a writer in newspapers, and a speaker in public meetings. So many eager pursuits seem to have exhausted his constitution, and he died, apparently of a decline, in March 1786. | Dr. John Jebb was a man of various and extensive learning, master of many languages, among which were Hebrew and Arabic; and during his last illness, he studied the Saxon, with the Anglo-Saxon laws and antiquities. He was twice a candidate for the professorship of Arabic at Cambridge. Besides his theological and medical knowledge, he was not a little versed in the science of law, which he once thought of making his profession, even after he had studied physic. He was also a mathematician and philosopher, and was concerned with two friends in publishing at Cambridge a small quarto, entitled “Excerpta quaedam e Newtonii principiis Philosophise naturalis, cum notis variorum;” which was received as a standard book of education in that university. His other works have been collected into 3 vols. 8vo, published in 17S7 by Dr. Disney, and contain chiefly, (besides the plan of his lectures, and harmony of the gospels, six sermons, and a medical treatise on paralysis,) controversial tracts and letters, on his intended improvements at Cambridge, on subscription, on parliamentary reform, &c. He seems to have been an active, enterprising, and rather turbulent, but a sincere man. 1

1 Life prefixed to his Works.