Cappe, Newcome (DNB00)

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CAPPE, NEWCOME (1733–1800), unitarian divine, eldest son of the Rev. Joseph Cappe, minister of the nonconformist congregation at Millhill Chapel, Leeds, who married the daughter and coheiress of Mr. Newcome of Waddington, Lincolnshire, was born at Leeds 21 Feb. 1733. He was an ardent student when young, and was educated with great care for the dissenting ministry. For a year (1748–9) he was with Dr. Aikin at Kibworth, Leicestershire; the succeeding three years he studied with Doddridge at Northampton, and for another space of three years (1752–5) he lived at Glasgow, profiting by the instruction of Dr. William Leechman. When he was sufficiently qualified by this lengthened course of tuition for his profession, he was chosen in November 1755 co-pastor with the Rev. John Hotham of the dissenting chapel at St. Saviourgate, York, and after remaining in this position until Mr. Hotham's death in the following May became on that event sole pastor to the congregation, and so continued until his own decease in 1800. York was at this time the centre of much greater literary and political life than it is at present, and Cappe took a prominent place among its citizens. The large old mansion in which he lived is described by Mr. Robert Davies, in his ‘Walks through York,’ as situate in Upper Ousegate, and in it he gathered together many students of letters. A literary club which he founded in 1771 existed with unimpaired life for nearly twenty years. In October 1759 he married Sarah, the eldest daughter of William Turner, a merchant of Hull. She died of consumption in the spring of 1773, leaving six children behind her. His second wife, an ardent promoter of education and of unitarian principles, was Catharine, daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Harrison, vicar of Catterick, and they were married at Barwick-in-Elmet on 19 Feb. 1788. Cappe was frequently ill, and in 1791 he was seized by a paralytic stroke. This was followed by several other attacks of the same kind until his strength failed, and he died at York on 24 Dec. 1800. His eldest son, Joseph Cappe, M.D., died in February 1791; his youngest son, Robert Cappe, M.D., died on 16 Nov. 1802 while on a voyage to Leghorn.

The writings of Cappe which appeared during his lifetime were comparatively unimportant. Among them were sermons preached on the days ‘of national humiliation’ in 1776, 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1784. An earlier sermon delivered 27 Nov. 1757, after the victory of Frederick the Great at Rossbach on 5 Nov. 1757, was of a very rhetorical character; it passed through numerous editions, a copy of the sixth impression being in the British Museum. In 1770 he published a sermon in memory of the Rev. Edward Sandercock, and in 1785 he edited that minister's sermons in two volumes. In 1783 he printed a pamphlet of ‘Remarks in Vindication of Dr. Priestley’ in answer to the ‘Monthly Reviewers.’ ‘A Selection of Psalms for Social Worship’ and ‘An Alphabetical Explication of some Terms and Phrases in Scripture,’ the first an anonymous publication, and the second ‘by a warm well-wisher to the interests of genuine christianity,’ were printed at York in 1786, and are known to have been compiled by Cappe. The second of them, it may be added, was reissued at Boston, U.S., in 1818. A work of a more elaborate character, entitled ‘Discourses on the Providence and Government of God,’ was published by him in 1795; a second edition appeared in 1811, and a third in 1818. After his death his widow, in her regard for his memory, collected and edited many volumes of his discourses, consisting of (1) ‘Critical Remarks on many important Passages of Scripture,’ 1802, 2 vols.; (2) ‘Discourses chiefly on Devotional Subjects,’ 1805; (3) ‘Connected History of the Life and Divine Mission of Jesus Christ,’ 1809; (4) ‘Discourses chiefly on Practical Subjects,’ 1815. To the first and second of these publications she prefixed memoirs of his life by herself, and the second contained an appendix of a sermon on his interment by the Rev. William Wood, and a memoir from the ‘Monthly Review,’ February 1801, pp. 81–4, by the Rev. C. Wellbeloved. His widow, whose biography of Cappe is full of interest, died suddenly 27 July 1821, aged 78. She was the author of several tracts on charity schools (Dict. of Living Authors, p. 54).

[Gent. Mag. lxx. pt. ii. 1299 (1800), lxxi. pt. i. 181–2 (1801); Rutt's Life of Priestley; Taylor's Biographia Leodiensis, pp. 210–12; Davies's York Press, pp. 266, 274, 295–8, 303; Belsham's Theophilus Lindsey, pp. 223–37.]

W. P. C.