Nyssenus, Gregory

Nyssenus, Gregory. See Gregory. | Oates (Titus), a very singular character, who flourished in the seventeenth century, was born about 1619. He was the son of Samuel Gates,*


There was another Samuel Oates or Otes, of Norfolk, who was of Corpus Christi college, Cambridge, and rector of Marsham and South Keppes, in his native county. He died in the early part of the seventeenth century, leav ing “An Explanation of the General Epistle of St. Jude,” which was published by his son Samuel, in 1633, fol. but it does not appear that he was related to Oates the baptist.

a popular preacher among the baptists, and a fierce bigot. His son was educated at Merchant Taylors’ school, from whence he removed to Cambridge. When he left the university, he obtained orders in the church of England, though in his youth he had been a member of a baptist church in Virginia-street, Ratcliffe Highway, and even officiated some time as assistant to his father; he afterwards officiated as a curate in Kent and Sussex. In 1677, after residing some time in the duke of Norfolk’s family, he became a convert to the church of Rome, and entered himself a member of the society of Jesuits, with a view, as he professed, to betray them. Accordingly, he appeared as the chief informer in what was called the popish plot, or a plot, as he pretended to prove, that was promoted for the destruction of the protestant religion in England, by pope Innocent XL; cardinal Howard; John Paul de Oliva, general of the Jesuits at Rome; De Corduba, provincial of the Jesuits in New Castille; by the Jesuits and seminary priests in England; the lords Petre, Powis, Bellasis, Arundel of Wardour, Stafford, and other persons of quality, several of whom were tried and executed, chiefly on this man’s evidence; while public opinion was for a time very strongly in his favour. For this service he received a pension of 1200l. per annum, was lodged in Whitehall, and protected by the guards; but scarcely had king James ascended the | throne, when he took ample revenge of the sufferings which his information had occasioned to the monarch’s friends: he was thrown into prison, and tried for perjury with respect to what he had asserted as to that plot. Being convicted, he was sentenced to stand in the pillory five times a year during his life, to be whipt from Aldgate to Newgate, and from thence to Tyburn; which sentence, says Neal, was exercised with a severity unknown to the English nation. “The impudence of the man,” says the historian Hume, “supported itself under the conviction; and his courage under the punishment. He made solemn appeals to heaven, and protestations of the veracity of his testimony. Though the whipping was so cruel that it was evidently the intention of the court to put him to death by that punishment, yet he was enabled by the care of his friends to recover, and he lived to king William’s reign, when a pension of 400l. a year was settled upon him. A considerable number of persons adhered to him in his distresses, and regarded him as a martyr to the protestant cause.” He was unquestionably a very infamous character, and those who regard the pretended popish plot as a mere fiction, say that he contrived it out of revenge to the Jesuits, who had expelled him from their body. After having left the whole body of dissenters for thirty years, he applied to be admitted again into the communion of the baptists, having first returned to the church of England, and continued a member of it sixteen years. In 1698, or 1699, he was restored to his place among the baptists, from whence he was excluded in a few months as a disorderly person and a hypocrite: he died in 1705. He is described by Granger as a man “of cunning, mere effrontery, and the most consummate falsehood.” And Hume describes him as “the most infamous of mankind that in early life he had been chaplain to colonel Pride was afterwards chaplain on board the fleet, whence he had been ignominiously dismissed on complaint of some unnatural practices; that he then became a convert to the Catholics; but that he afterwards boasted that his conversion was a mere pretence, in order to get into their secrets and to betray them.” It is certain that his character appears to have been always such as ought to have made his evidence be received with great caution; yet the success of his discoveries, and the credit given to him by the nation, by the parliament, by the courts of law, &c. and the favour | to which he was restored after the revolution, are circumstances which require to be carefully weighed before we can pronounce the whole of his evidence a fiction, and all whom he accused innocent. 1

Hume’s Hist.—Collier and Echard.—Wilson’s Hist, of Merchant Taylors’ School.—Crosby’s Hist. of the Baptists.—Burnet’s Own Times.