Means, Joseph Calrow (DNB00)

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MEANS, JOSEPH CALROW (1801–1879), general baptist minister, was born at 29 Mark Lane, London, on 20 May 1801. His father, John Means, was a wine-merchant in Rood Lane; his mother was Phillis (d. 11 Aug. 1814), third daughter of John Simpson, successor of Charles Bulkley [q. v.], as afternoon preacher to the general baptist congregation at Worship Street, Finsbury Square. He was educated from 1814 at the boarding-school of John Evans (1767–1827) [q. v.] In 1818, while in his father's counting-house, he became one of the original teachers of the Worship Street Sunday school. In 1822 he was baptised by immersion at Deptford, and in 1823 he was placed on the committee of the general baptist assembly. Turning his thoughts towards the ministry, he entered (1828) the classical and mathematical classes of the newly opened University College, London, and at the same time studied theology in the general baptist academy under Benjamin Mardon, M.A. (b. 18 May 1792, d. 15 April 1866), a biblical scholar. In 1829, while still pursuing his studies, he became preacher to the afternoon congregation at Worship Street. His ministry was successful, and his congregation removed (October 1829) to Trinity Place and subsequently to Coles Street, Southwark. He was appointed secretary (1831) to the general baptist assembly, edited (1831-6) the organ of his denomination, the 'General Baptist Advocate,' and in 1834 was elected one of their 'messengers,' a quasi-episcopal office, held for life. In 1836 he preached the annual sermon before the assembly, and made some stir by setting forth an evangelical view of the atonement. At that date the general baptists of the old connexion were Unitarians of a somewhat rigid type. Means had to retire from his editorship, and after the publication of his volume on the atonement (1838) his connection with his congregation was severed (1839). He formed a small evening congregation at Worship Street (December 1839), to which he ministered without stipend, supporting himself by literary work and by taking boarders. In 1843 he became minister of the general baptist congregation at Chatham, Kent; his settlement was in the face of great opposition, but proved a very happy one. He was elected headmaster of the Chatham proprietary school, and kept it on when relinquished by the proprietors. In 1855 he succeeded Mardon as minister at Worship Street, and from this time he exerted a paramount influence on the counsels of his denomination. He was never robust, and in later life he suffered greatly from asthma. He retired from the pastoral charge in October 1874, but returned again to many of its duties, and preached the last sermon (23 June 1878) at Worship Street, before the removal of the congregation to new premises in Bethnal Green Road. He died on 6 Feb. 1879. He married in 1837 Louisa (d. 1878), daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Hugh Robert Alcock, but had no issue. Firm in his convictions, Means was a man of pure and gentle character; a good scholar, he did his work with accuracy and thoroughness. His contributions to theology were undervalued by his co-religionists; they are marked by considerable power and lucidity. His position was a modified Arianism. His general literary work began in the 'Penny Cyclopædia,' to which he contributed topographical and other articles, including a biography of Lant Carpenter, LL.D. [q. v.] His only published volume is 'Jesus the Mercy Seat; or a Scriptural View of Atonement,' &c., 1838, 16mo. he published a few separate sermons; his addresses as 'messenger,' often valuable for their historical details, are in the 'Proceedings' of the assembly, and some were published separately. He wrote frequently on theological topics in the 'Christian Reformer,' the 'Inquirer,' and in baptist periodicals. He contributed to the 'Biographical Dictionary' of the Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge, and to Dr. William Smith's 'Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography.'

[Christian Life, 15 Feb. 1879, pp. 78 sq.; Inquirer, 15 Feb. 1879, pp. 98 sq.; Memoir in Proceedings of General Assembly of Gen. Bapt. Churches, 1880; Monthly Repository, 1814, p. 506; Unitarian Herald, 27 April 1866, p. 137; Means's publications and private correspondence; personal recollection.]

A. G.