Quick, John (1636-1706) (DNB00)

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QUICK, JOHN (1636–1706), nonconformist divine, was born at Plymouth in 1636. He entered at Exeter College, Oxford, about 1650, and became servitor in 1653, at the age of seventeen. The rector, John Conant [q. v.], had strong puritan leanings, and Quick's tutor, John Saunders, was a man of the same type. He graduated B.A. in 1657, and after preaching some time at Ermington, Devonshire, was ordained presbyter on 2 Feb. 1659 at Plymouth. His first charge was the vicarage of Kingsbridge with Churchstow, Devonshire, a sequestered living, from which Quick was probably ejected at the Restoration. At the passing of the uniformity act in 1662 he held the perpetual curacy of Brixton, Devonshire. Quick neither conformed nor resigned, and, though excommunicated, he continued to officiate till, on Sunday, 13 Dec. 1663, while preaching his morning sermon, he was arrested on the warrant of two justices, and committed to Exeter gaol. On 15 Jan. 1664 he was brought up at the quarter sessions, and examined as to his ordination. His counsel pleaded errors in the indictment, and the bench unanimously pronounced his commitment illegal. But as Quick would enter into no sureties for good behaviour, nor promise to give up preaching, he was remanded to gaol. Eight weeks afterwards he was liberated at the assizes by Sir Matthew Hale [q. v.] Seth Ward, bishop of Exeter, prosecuted him for preaching to his fellow prisoners, but he was acquitted. Quick relates that when sent to prison he was consumptive, but ‘perfectly recovered when he came out.’ On the indulgence of 1672 he took out a licence to preach in Plymouth, but after the quashing of the indulgence in 1673, he was lodged with other nonconformist preachers in the Marshalsea at Plymouth. Obtaining his release, he removed to London. In 1679 he became minister to the English church at Middleburg, Holland; but he returned to London on 22 July 1681. Here he gathered a presbyterian congregation in a small meeting-house in Middlesex Court, Bartholomew Close, Smithfield. This meeting-house was one of the buildings which at that time (and till recently) strangely encroached upon the structure of the church of St. Bartholomew the Great. In one corner was a statue described as ‘a popish priest with a child in his arms,’ and a window of the meeting-house opened into the church, facing its pulpit, so that a person sitting in the meeting-house gallery could watch the conduct of divine service in the church. Quick, who was one of those who took advantage of James II's declaration for liberty of conscience in 1687, was apparently never disturbed in his London charge. He was noted as ‘a serious, good preacher,’ and had a special gift in prayer. All his life he was a hard student, giving his nights to study. He did much to promote the succession of a learned ministry among nonconformists. His interest in the French protestant church was probably due in part to the fact that Plymouth was, from 1681, the seat of an important colony of Huguenot refugees. For the relief of such refugees he made great exertions; his own ‘house and purse were almost ever open to them.’ Quick died on 29 April 1706, in his seventieth year. Funeral sermons were preached by his successor, Thomas Freke (d. 1716), and by Daniel Williams. His wife Elizabeth died in 1708. His only daughter married John Evans (1680?–1730) [q. v.]; she is said to have been wealthy, perhaps through her mother, for Quick himself had no great command of money. His portrait, engraved by John Sturt, is prefixed to the ‘Synodicon.’

He published funeral sermons for Philip Harris (1682), John Faldo [q. v.] (1690), and Mrs. Rothwell (1697); this last is valuable for a number of biographical notices, including one of his brother, Philip Quick. Also, 1. ‘Hell opened, or the Infernal Sin of Murder punished,’ &c., 1676, 8vo (an account of a wholesale poisoning case at Plymouth). 2. ‘The Young Man's Claim to … the Lord's Supper,’ &c., 1691, 4to. 3. ‘Synodicon in Gallia Reformata; or the Acts … and Canons of … National Councils of the Reformed Churches in France,’ &c., 1692, fol. 2 vols. (contains a history of French protestantism to 1685). 4. ‘A Serious Inquiry … whether a man may lawfully marry his deceased Wife's Sister,’ &c., 1703, 4to (against such marriages). An advertisement in this last states that ‘about three years since’ Quick had issued proposals for printing his ‘Icones Sacræ;’ William Russell, first duke of Bedford, had offered to make good the expense. In the week following his patron's death (7 Sept. 1700) Quick was disabled, and could not collect subscriptions. The manuscript of the ‘Icones’ is now in Dr. Williams's Library, Gordon Square, London; it fills three folio volumes, containing the lives of fifty French and twenty English divines. Calamy acknowledges his debt to it for the lives of seven of the ejected nonconformists, including Nathanael Ball [q. v.], George Hughes [q. v.], and William Jenkyn [q. v.]

[Funeral Sermons by Williams and Freke, 1706; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 493; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), ii. 198; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. xxv, 247 seq.; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 331 seq.; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, ii. 318; Protestant Dissenters' Mag. 1799, p. 301; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1810, iii. 369 seq.; Worth's Hist. of Nonconformity in Plymouth, 1876, pp. 19, 24.]

A. G.