Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Rees’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Rees
1777 – 1 August 1864

Thomas Rees was born in Gelligron, Glamorgan, the son of Josiah Rees; George Owen Rees was his nephew. He started in the bookselling business, but on the advice of Abraham Rees (no relation), he was educated for the ministry (1799–1801) at Carmarthen College.

In 1807 Rees became afternoon preacher at Newington Green Chapel, London, of which he had sole charge from 1808 to 1813, when he moved to St. Thomas’s Chapel, Southwark, which was closed in 1822. On 12 October 1823 a new chapel was opened in Stamford Street, Blackfriars, London, built from the proceeds of the sales of St. Thomas’s Chapel and the chapel in Prince’s Street, Westminster. Here Rees ministered till 1831, when he ceased to hold regular ministerial charge.

Rees was a fellow of the Society of Arts, and received the degree of LL.D. in January 1819 from Glasgow University. He was a trustee of Dr. Williams’s Foundation from 1809 to 1853, a member of the presbyterian board from 1813, and its secretary from 1825 to 1853, and some time secretary of the Unitarian Society. From 1828 to 1835 he was secretary to the London union of ministers of the “three denominations”. His rejection in 1835 was resented by the unitarians, who claimed to represent the Presbyterians, from whom the secretary had until then been chosen. They seceded from the union, and obtained the separate privilege of presenting addresses to the throne. Rees in 1837 was appointed by government as principal receiver of the English regium donum, on the nomination of the three denominations.

In 1853 Rees left England for Spain, being unable to meet charges in regard to trust funds; but ultimately he made full restitution. He died in obscurity at Brighton, on 1 August 1864. His wife, Elizabeth, died at Hythe on 20 August 1856.

Rees made a collection of the literature of antitrinitarian opinion, especially during the 16th century. His intention, announced by 1833, of publishing a comprehensive work, was never fulfilled; the Antitrinitarian Biography by Robert Wallace appeared in 1850.

For Rees’s Cyclopædia he contributed articles on biography, various miscellaneous topics, and examined and described the plates.

Rees published, besides single sermons (1804–46):

  • The Beauties of South Wales, 1815.
  • The Racovian Catechism in Latin translation; with a prefixed Sketch of the History of Unitarianism in Poland, 1818.
  • A Sketch of the History of the Regium Donum, 1834.

His historical papers included:

  • Faustus Socinus and Francis David in the Monthly Repository (as were the next three), 1818;
  • On the Sentiments of the Early Continental Reformers respecting Religious Liberty (1819);
  • Italian Reformation (1822);
  • Memoirs of the Socini (1827); and
  • Calvin and Servetus, in the Christian Reformer, 1847.

Rees left in manuscript The Anti-papal Reformers of Italy in the Sixteenth Century, with a Glance at their Forerunners, the Sectaries of the Middle Ages, in six volumes; also a manuscript translation, with notes, of Orelli’s Life of Lælius Socinus. His promised memoir of Abraham Rees never appeared.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Isaac Taylor of Ongar


Isaac Taylor

Isaac Taylor of Ongar was the son of Isaac Taylor by his wife Sarah, daughter of Josiah Jefferys of Shenfield, Essex, he was born in London on 30 January 1759. With his elder brother Charles Taylor, after some education at Brentford grammar school, he was brought up as an engraver in the studio of his father, and worked both in landscape and portraiture.

During his apprenticeship the plates for Abraham Rees’s edition of Chambers’s Cyclopaedia were executed under his superintendence at his father’s establishment, and he met Rees. In 1781 he commissioned Richard Smirke to paint four small circular subjects representing morning, noon, evening, and night, which he engraved and published; and two years later he painted and engraved a set of views on the Thames near London. In 1783 he moved from Islington to Red Lion Street, Holborn, and in June 1786 he left London for Lavenham in Suffolk, where he rented a house and a large garden.

He continued his work as an engraver. He was commissioned to engrave a number of plates for John Boydell’s Bible and Shakespeare. In 1791 he engraved the assassination of Rizzio after John Opie (for which the Society of Arts awarded him their gold palette and twenty-five guineas), and in 1796 he completed a book of forty plates illustrating the architectural details of the fifteenth-century church at Lavenham, entitled Specimens of Gothic Ornaments selected from the parish church of Lavenham in Suffolk. He also sketched in watercolours and engraved a series of Suffolk mansions.

From beginning of the Napoleonic Wars the export of English engravings, which had increased rapidly since 1775, as rapidly diminished. Taylor, who had acquired some fame locally as a preacher, moved to Colchester in 1796 on receiving a call to act as pastor to the independent congregation in Bucklersbury Lane. While there he continued working on plates for Boydell’s Shakespeare which he had commenced at Lavenham. That of Henry VIII’s first sight of Anne Boleyn, after Charles Alfred Stothard, was completed in 1802 and brought him £500. In 1812 he engraved a set of designs for James Thomson’s The Seasons.

In December 1810 Taylor was called as nonconformist pastor to Ongar in Essex, and there he lived during the remaining eighteen years of his life. Taylor died on Saturday, 12 December 1829, and was buried on 19 December at Ongar. A portrait engraved by Blood from a drawing by himself was published in the Evangelical Magazine for 1818.

The long series of books from Ongar by members of the family had them talked of as “Taylors of Ongar”, to distinguish them from the contemporary literary family, the “Taylors of Norwich”. The literary productiveness of the extended family of Isaac Taylor of Ongar, led Francis Galton Hereditary Genius (1869), to illustrate from the history of the family his theory of the distribution through heredity of intellectual capacity. Of a family of eleven, six survived childhood, and from the time of his residence at Lavenham Taylor dedicated his spare time to the education of his children; he himself was self-taught. Years of teaching led him to evolve a series of educational manuals. His own books were:

  • ‘The Biography of a Brown Loaf’ (London, n.d.);
  • ‘Self-cultivation recommended, or hints to a youth on leaving school’ (1817,; 4th ed. 1820);
  • ‘Advice to the Teens’ (1818, two editions);
  • ‘Character essential to Success in Life’ (London, 1820);
  • ‘Picturesque Piety, or Scripture Truths illustrated by forty-eight engravings, designed and engraved by the author’ (London, 1821);
  • ‘Beginnings of British Biography: Lives of one hundred persons eminent in British Story’ (London, 2 vols., 1824, two editions);
  • Beginnings of European Biography’ (London, 2 vols. 1824–5; 3 vols. 1828–9);
  • ‘Bunyan explained to a Child’ (London, 1824, 2 vols., and 1825);
  • ‘The Balance of Criminality, or Mental Error, compared with Immoral Conduct’ (London, 1828).

Taylor also issued, with engravings from designs mostly by himself (a few were by his son Isaac), a series of topographies: ‘Scenes in Europe’ and ‘Scenes in England’ (1819), extended to ‘Scenes in Asia,’ ‘Scenes in Africa,’ ‘Scenes in America,’ ‘Scenes in Foreign Lands,’ ‘Scenes of British Wealth,’ and (posthumously in 1830) ‘Scenes of Commerce by Land and Sea.’

On 18 April 1781 Taylor married at Islington Ann Martin, and had issue:

  • Ann born at Islington on 30 January 1782, who married Joseph Gilbert;
  • Jane Taylor;
  • two Isaacs who died in infancy;
  • Isaac (1787–1865);
  • Martin Taylor (1788–1867), the father of Helen Taylor;
  • Harriet, Eliza, and Decimus, who died in infancy;
  • Jefferys;
  • and Jemima (1798–1886), who married, on 14 August 1832, Thomas Herbert.

Born on 20 June 1757, from the time of the move to Lavenham at in 1786 Mrs. Ann Taylor (1757–1830) shared the educational ideals of her husband. She corresponded with her children during their absences from home, and this correspondence was the nucleus of a series of short manuals of conduct:

  • ‘Advice to Mothers’ (London, n.d.);
  • ‘Maternal Solicitude for a Daughter’s best Interests’ (London, 1813; 12th ed. 1830);
  • ‘Practical Hints to Young Females, or the duties of a wife, a mother, and a mistress of a family’ (London, 1815; 11th ed. 1822);
  • ‘The Present of a Mistress to a Young Servant’ (London, 1816; several editions);
  • ‘Reciprocal Duties of Parents and Children’ (London, 1818; 3rd ed. 1819);
  • ‘The Family Mansion’ (London, 1819; a French version appeared in the same year; 2nd ed. 1820);
  • ‘Retrospection, a Tale’ (London, 1821);
  • ‘The Itinerary of a Traveller in the Wilderness’ (London, 1825,); and also
  • ‘Correspondence between a Mother and her Daughter [Jane] at School’ (London, 1817; 6th ed. 1821).
  • Ann Taylor died at Ongar on 4 June 1830; she was buried beside her husband under the vestry floor of Ongar chapel.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Abraham Rees
1743 – 9 June 1825


Abraham Rees

He was the second son of Lewis Rees, by his wife Esther, daughter of Abraham Penry, and born in Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire. Lewis Rees was independent minister at Llanbrynmair and Mynyddbach, Glamorganshire. Abraham was educated for the ministry at Coward’s academy in Wellclose Square, near London, under David Jennings, entering in 1759. In 1762 he was appointed assistant tutor in mathematics and natural philosophy; on the move of the academy to Hoxton after Jennings’s death in 1762 he became resident tutor, a position which he held till 1785, his colleagues being Andrew Kippis and Samuel Morton Savage; subsequently he was tutor in Hebrew and mathematics in the New College at Hackney (1786–96).

His first ministerial engagement was in the independent congregation at Clapham, where he preached once a fortnight, as assistant to Philip Furneaux. In 1768 he became assistant to Henry Read in the presbyterian congregation at St. Thomas’s, Southwark, and succeeded him as pastor in 1774. He moved to the pastorate of the Old Jewry congregation in 1783, and retained this charge till his death, being both morning and afternoon preacher (unusual then, among London presbyterians); he shared also (from 1773) a Sunday-evening lecture at Salters’ Hall, and was one of the Tuesday-morning lecturers at Salters’ Hall till 1795. A new meeting-house, of octagon form, was erected for him in Jewin Street and opened in 1809. He was elected trustee of Dr. Daniel Williams’s foundations in 1774, and secretary of the presbyterian board in 1778, and held both offices till his death. On 31 January 1775 he received the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University. He made a triennial visit to Wales as examiner of Carmarthen Academy. In 1806 he was appointed distributor of the English regium donum.

When he presented the address of the body of ministers of the ‘three denominations’ (Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists) in 1820 on the accession of George IV, it was noted that, as a student, he had attended the similar deputation to George III sixty years before. According to Alexander Gordon in the Dictionary of National Biography, his theology was of a mediating and transitional character; his doctrines had an evangelical flavour, though essentially of an Arian type, and inclining to those of Richard Price, and he held the tenet of a universal restoration. He was the last of the London dissenting ministers who officiated in a wig.

He died at his residence in Artillery Place, Finsbury, on 9 June 1825, and was buried on 18 June in Bunhill Fields, the pall being borne by six ministers of the ‘three denominations.’ A funeral oration was delivered by Thomas Rees, and the funeral sermon, on 19 June, by Robert Aspland. Rees survived his wife and all his children, but left several grandchildren. His son, Nathaniel Penry Rees, died 8 July 1802, on a voyage from Bengal to St. Helena. His only daughter married John Jones.

Rees’s work as a cyclopædist began as an improver of the Cyclopædia of Ephraim Chambers, originally published in 1728, in 2 volumes. This was re-edited by Rees in 1778; and, with the incorporation of a supplement and much new matter, was issued by him in 1781–6, in 4 volumes; reprinted 1788–91. In recognition of his labour he was elected in 1786 a Fellow of the Royal Society, and subsequently of the Linnean Society and the American Philosophical Society. He then projected a more comprehensive publication. The first part of The New Cyclopædia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences … Biography, Geography, and History, &c., was issued in 1802, and the work was completed in forty-five volumes, including six volumes of plates, in August 1820. The parts were issued at irregular intervals, two parts constituting a volume. Great attention is paid to English biography; the botanical articles were generally contributed by Sir James Edward Smith. Congratulated, on the completion of his task, by his friend, John Evans (1767–1827), Rees wrote in reply: ‘I thank you, but I feel more grateful that I have been spared to publish my four volumes of sermons.’ The New Cyclopædia … is commonly known as Rees’s Cyclopædia.

Besides single sermons (1770–1813), Rees published ‘Practical Sermons,’ 1809, 2 vols.; 2nd ed. 1812, with two additional volumes, 1821. In conjunction with Kippis, Thomas Jervis, and Thomas Morgan, LL.D., he brought out ‘A Collection of Hymns and Psalms,’ &c., 1795, (the ninth edition, 1823, is revised by Rees and Jervis). This collection, generally known as Kippis’s, was the first attempt to supply, for general use among liberal dissenters, a hymnal to take the place of Isaac Watts’s.

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