Dowley, Richard (DNB00)

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DOWLEY, RICHARD (1622–1702), nonconformist divine, son of John Dowley, vicar of Alveston, near Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, was born in 1622. He matriculated at All Souls' College, Oxford, 11 Oct. 1639, but was admitted demy of Magdalen the following year, and took his B.A. degree 13 May 1643. Though he submitted to the parliamentary visitors, 15 July 1648 (Reg. of Visitors, Camd. Soc., pp. 157, 159, 510), he resigned his demyship a few weeks later, and quitted Oxford. He had studied for the ministry under Dr. John Bryan [q. v.] of Coventry, and upon leaving him, became chaplain in the family of Sir Thomas Rouse, bart., at Rouse Lench in Worcestershire, where he met Richard Baxter [q. v.] In July 1656 he was acting as minister of Stoke Prior, near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he was much beloved (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656–1657, p. 15). Obliged to resign the living after the Restoration, he removed to Elford, Staffordshire, where he acted as assistant to his father's elder brother. Although both his father and uncle conformed, he steadily refused, and was accordingly silenced by the Act of Uniformity, 24 Aug. 1662. Upon the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672, he took out a license for his own house, and kept a meeting once a day, at a time when there was no service in the parish church, and he had a good auditory from several towns in the neighbourhood. About 1680 he removed to London, where he taught a school, and preached occasionally, attending on John Howe's ministry when not engaged himself. On one occasion Howe's meeting was disturbed, and though a hearer only, Dowley, with seven others, was seized and carried to Newgate. At night they were brought before the lord mayor, and, being indicted for a riot, were bound over to the next sessions. Dowley was afterwards fined 10l. and obliged to find sureties for his good behaviour for twelve months; he was therefore forced to give up his school. Another time he was arrested in his lodging by a court messenger and again carried before the lord mayor, who, however, tendered him the Oxford oath, by taking which he escaped six months' imprisonment. After the Toleration Act of William and Mary, 24 May 1689, he preached some time at Godalming in Surrey, but infirmities growing upon him, he returned to London, and peacefully passed the remainder of his life with his children. He died in 1702, aged 80.

[Calamy's Nonconf. Memorial (Palmer, 1802), iii. 233–4, Bloxam's Reg. of Magd. Coll. Oxford, ii. cv, v. 173.]

G. G.