Bulkley, Charles (DNB00)

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BULKLEY, CHARLES (1719–1797), baptist minister, the fourth son of Thomas Bulkley, silk mercer in Ludgate Street, and Esther, fourth daughter of Matthew Henry, the commentator, was born in London 18 Oct. 1719. His early education was under Lancaster, a clergyman at Chester. He was trained for the ministry under Doddridge, whose Northampton academy he entered in 1736. His first settlement was with the presbyterian congregation at Welford, Northamptonshire. From this he soon removed to Colchester, where he made no long stay. Under the influence of John Ashworth, brother of Caleb Ashworth [q. v.], he embraced the views of the general or Arminian baptists, went to London, and was immersed. Ashworth had been minister of the baptist congregation at White's Alley, Little Moorfields; in 1743 Bulkley was the successful candidate (in competition with Richard Baron [q. v.]) for that office, but he soon removed to a more prominent position, and Bulkley, in 1745, succeeded James Foster [q. v.] at the Barbican, carrying with him his congregation from White's Alley. Some years later, when Foster retired (January 1752) from the Sunday evening lectureship at the Old Jewry, Bulkley again succeeded him. This says much for his repute; yet it was as a thinker, not as an orator, that Bulkley shone. He came round, after Foster's death, to the more liberal view of the eucharistic ordinance known as 'mixt communion,' and was taken to task for it by Grantham Killingworth, a leading general baptist layman of Norwich. He is reported to have had a crowded audience at the Old Jewry for some few years. In 1779 the general baptist cause in London was declining. Bulkley's congregation associated with three others in building a small meeting-house in Worship Street, Finsbury (removed 1878; congregation now at Bethnal Green). With two exceptions, all of Bulkley's publications were issued before this removal. His 'Notes' on Bolingbroke's philosophical writings (begun in the 'Evening Advertiser,' April to September 1754) attracted some attention, but are now forgotten. He pursued the active exercise of his ministry till his death, though paralysis in 1795 shattered his health and affected his speech. Bulkley died on 15 April 1797, and was buried on 25 April in the graveyard behind the meeting-house in Worship Street. He married in 1749 Ann Fiske, of Colchester (died August 1783), but had no issue. He published: 1. 'A Vindication of my Lord Shaftesbury, on the subject of Ridicule,' &c., 1751, 4to (in reply to John Brown, 1715-1766 [q. v.]) 2. 'A Vindication of my Lord Shaftesbury, on the subjects of Morality and Religion, &c.,' 1752, 4to (continuation of the preceding). 3. 'Discourses,' 1752, 8vo (fifteen in number; reissued 1760). 4. 'Notes on the Philosophical Writings of Lord Bolingbroke. In Three Parts,' &c., 1755, 8vo. 5. 'On the Earthquake at Lisbon,' 1756, 8vo. 6. 'The Nature and Necessity of National Repentance,' 1756, 8vo. 7. 'Observations upon Natural Religion and Christianity, &c.,' 1757, 4to (in reply to Bishop Sherlock's ' Discourses'). 8. 'The Christian Minister,' 1758, 12mo (sermons). 9. 'Sermons on Public Occasions,' 1761, 8vo. 10. 'The Oeconomy of the Gospel, in Four Books,' 1764, large 4to (intended as a complete body of divinity; has a remarkable subscription list). 11. 'Discourses on the Parables, &c., and the Miracles, &c.,' 1770-1, 8vo, 4 vols. 12. 'Catechetical Exercises,' 1774, 12mo. 13. ' Preface to Notes on the Bible,' 1791, 8vo, and various single sermons. Posthumous were : 14. ' An Apology for Human Nature,' n. d. 12mo (prefatory address to William Wilberforce, by John Evans, M.A., dated 2 Oct. 1797). 15. 'Notes on the Bible,' 1802, 8vo, 3 vols. (edited, with Memoir prefixed to vol. iii., by Joshua Toulmin, D.D. The ' Notes ' are not original, but a body of illustrative passages selected from a wide range of reading in classical, rabbinical, patristic, and later authors).

[Evans's Funeral Sermon and Life, 1797 ; Toulmin's Memoir, 1802 ; Turner's Lives of Eminent Unitarians, 1840, i. 200; Lawrence's Descendants of P. Henry, 1844, p. 2 (needs correction).]

A. G.