Garrett, Jeremiah Learnoult (DNB00)

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GARRETT, JEREMIAH LEARNOULT (fl. 1809), dissenting minister, was born at Horselydown, in the Borough, Southwark, near the Old Stairs, on 29 Feb. 1764. His parents were boat-builders, respectable people, but by no means 'evangelically' religious. The evangelical habit of mind, however, showed itself early in Jeremiah. While yet of the tender age of five he had, he tells us, `views of the last day,' and before he was eight had 'strict views of the world being burnt up, and the wicked being turned into hell.' Soon after this date his father died. He was now sent to school, first at Christ's College, Hertford, and afterwards at Jackson's academy, Hampton. After a year or two thus spent he was set to learn the tailoring trade, but disliking it was apprenticed to a builder of ship's boats at Wapping, who ill-used him. His master absconding for debt, he was apprenticed to another in the same way of business, from whom he met with better treatment. At the age of fourteen or fifteen he had 'a vision of an ancient form with more majesty than ever was or can be in mortality,' which laid its hand upon him, and which he took to be Christ. A dissenting minister at his earnest request was called in to see him, to whom he confessed his sins, the most flagrant of which was that seven years previously he had stolen a halfpenny. The minister thereupon 'pointed him to the blood of Christ,' which gave him great relief. Subsequently, however, he took to vicious courses, had a man-of-war's man who had assaulted him arrested, frequented theatres, fought with his fellow-apprentice, contracted debts, and a disease for which he was treated in the Lock Hospital. On emerging from the hospital he attended the ministrations of Wesley's preachers, as well as the services of the church, used `to go out into the fields, and rave hell and damnation to sinners' to the detriment of his lungs, and came to be called a second Whitefield by the old women in Moorfields. A mysterious find of 80l. in his bed enabled him to pay his debts. At a somewhat later date he held forth at the old Rectifying House and the old Soap House, Islington, and in 1788 he laid the foundation-stone of the chapel since known as Islington Chapel in Church Street. Having thus established a certain reputation he was received into Lady Huntingdon's connexion and ordained. About this time he married; but was sorely tempted by love for a young woman of his congregation, whom he had saluted, according to the primitive Christian custom, with a 'holy kiss,' He removed to Basingstoke, and thence to Wallingford, and afterwards spent some three years in Guernsey. Returning to England, he ministered for a time at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, but developing lax views on baptism was ejected from Lady Huntingdon's connexion, and went into the business of a cotton dyer at Leicester. He soon, however, resumed preaching, and, after ministering for some time at Nottingham, established himself about the close of the last century at Lant Street Chapel, in the Borough, Southwark, having also a lecture at Monkwell Street Chapel, London. His views seem latterly to have inclined to antinomianism. The date of his death is uncertain.

He published: 1. 'The Power of an Endless Life contrasted with the Law of a Carnal Commandment. A Sermon preached at Monkwell Street on Thursday, 5 March 1801,' London, 1801, 12mo, 2. ' Rays of Everlasting Life,' not later than 1803. 3. `Democracy detected, Visionary Enthusiasm corrected; or Sixpennyworth of Good Advice selected from the Scriptures of Truth,'London, 1804 (?) (an attack on Joanna Southcott, to which she replied in 'Answer to Garrett's Book, and an Explanation of the word Bride, the Lamb's Wife, in the Revelations,' London, 1805, 8vo). 4. 'The Songs of Sion. Principally designed for the use of Churches and Congregations distinguished by the name of the Children of Sion,' London, 1804? 12mo. 5. 'Huntington corrected, and Garrett's Doctrine protected from the Misconstruction of the Disaffected; or a Reply to a Book lately published called " The Doctrine of Garrett refuted by William Huntington,"' Southwark, 1808, 12mo. The controversy appears to have related to the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Christ, which Huntington accused Garrett of denying. A plate of Garrett's head may be seen by the curious in Joanna Southcott's 'Answer.'

[The principal authority for Garrett's life is his autobiography prefixed to the Songs of Sion. See also Nelson's Islington, p. 273.]

J. M. R.