A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Barclay, Robert

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Barclay, Robert (1648-1690). -- Apologist of the Quakers, s. of Col. David B. of Ury, ed. at the Scots Coll. in Paris, of which his uncle was Rector, made such progress in study as to gain the admiration of his teachers, specially of his uncle, who offered to make him his heir if he would remain in France, and join the Roman Catholic Church. This he refused to do, and, returning to Scotland, he in 1667 adopted the principles of the Quakers as his f. had already done. Soon afterwards he began to write in defence of his sect, by pub. in 1670 Truth cleared of Calumnies, and a Catechism and Confession of Faith (1673). His great work, however, is his Apology for the Quakers, pub. in Latin in 1676, and translated into English in 1678. It is a weighty and learned work, written in a dignified style, and was eagerly read. It, however, failed to arrest the persecution to which the Quakers were exposed, and B. himself, on returning from the Continent, where he had gone with Foxe and Penn, was imprisoned, but soon regained his liberty, and was in the enjoyment of Court favour. He was one of the twelve Quakers who acquired East New Jersey, of which he was appointed nominal Governor. His latter years were spent at his estate of Ury, where he d. The essential view which B. maintained was, that Christians are illuminated by an inner light superseding even the Scriptures as the guide of life. His works have often been reprinted.