Fairclough, Richard (DNB00)

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FAIRCLOUGH, RICHARD (1621–1682), nonconformist divine, born in 1621, was the eldest son of Samuel Fairclough (1594–1677) [q. v.] He graduated M.A. as a member of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which house he was a fellow. When Benjamin Whichcot [q. v.] was presented in 1643 to the college living of North Cadbury, Somersetshire, he engaged Fairclough to bear him company thither. They had scarcely arrived when Whichcot received a hasty recall to Cambridge, and Fairclough at his request stayed in his place. Soon afterwards the high sheriff of the county applied to Fairclough to deliver the assize sermon on an emergency. He succeeded so well that the sheriff presented him to the rectory of Mells, near Frome, where he was greatly esteemed. When the Act of Uniformity passed he was ejected. After he left Finchingfield, Essex, where he had resided during four or five years with his father and brothers, he became pastor of a congregation at Newman Street, London, whence he removed to Bristol. He was licensed in 1672 to be a general presbyterian teacher, being then resident in Thames Street, London. He died in London 4 July 1682, in his sixty-first year, and was buried in Bunhill Fields, where a monument was erected to his memory, as a ‘testimony of gratitude for many obligations,’ by Thomas Percival of the Middle Temple. According to John Howe, who preached his funeral sermon, Fairclough was ‘a man of a clear, distinct understanding, of a very quick, discerning, and penetrating judgment, that would on a sudden … strike through knotty difficulties into the inward center of truth with such a felicity that things seem'd to offer themselves to him which are wont to cost others a troublesome search.’ He was author of ‘The nature, possibility, and duty of a true believer attaining to a certain knowledge of his effectual vocation, eternal election, and final perseverance to glory,’ a sermon (on 2 Pet. i. 10) printed in N. Vincent's ‘The Morning-Exercise against Popery,’ 1675, and in vol. vi. of S. Annesley's ‘The Morning Exercises,’ 1844, &c. Calamy also mentions ‘An Abridgment of some of his latter Sermons to his beloved people at Mells.’

[Calamy's Nonconf. Memorial (Palmer, 1802), iii. 199–202; Howe's Funeral Sermon; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 730; Browne's Hist. of Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk, p. 598; Davids's Annals of Evangelical Nonconformity in Essex, pp. 615–16; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654, pp. 276, 353, 1655, p. 398.]

G. G.