Seagrave, Robert (DNB00)

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SEAGRAVE, ROBERT (1693–1760?), divine, son of Robert Seagrave, vicar of Twyford, Leicestershire, 1687–1720, was born there on 22 Nov. 1693. He was admitted subsizar at Clare Hall, Cambridge, on 8 Nov. 1710, and graduated B.A. in 1714, M.A. in 1718 (Grad. Cantabr. 1659–1823, p. 418). Seagrave, although ordained, held no cure, but acted as an extra-parochial clergyman, and preached in many places. He was one of the earliest to join the Oxford methodist movement, and, anxious to stir the church of England from her lethargy, published anonymously ‘A Remonstrance addressed to the Clergy,’ London, 1731, 8vo, and ‘A Letter to the People of England, occasioned by the falling away of the Clergy from the Doctrines of the Reformation,’ by Paulinus, London, 1735. To the fourth edition, 1739, he put his name. It was answered by an anonymous writer in ‘An Appeal to the People of England in defence of the Clergy.’ Seagrave next wrote in 1739, in defence of George Whitefield, ‘An Answer to Dr. Trapp's Four Sermons,’ which was answered in Trapp's ‘Observations on the Conduct and Writings of Mr. Seagrave,’ London, 1739, 8vo. Further vindications of Trapp appeared, and Seagrave issued, in further vindication of Whitefield, ‘Remarks upon the Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter.’ On 8 Sept. 1739 he held a dispute with Ebenezer Hewlett, an unlettered person at Blackwell's coffee-house. Some account of this was published by Hewlett in ‘Mr. Whitefield's Chatechise (sic), being an explanation of the doctrine of the methodists,’ London, 1739, 8vo.

In the same year Seagrave commenced preaching regularly on Sunday evenings at Lorimers' Hall, Cripplegate. Later he gave a Tuesday and a Thursday lecture. For the use of his congregation there he prepared ‘Hymns for Christian Worship’ (London, 1742, 8vo; 4th edit. 1748, reprinted 1860). Thirty of the hymns were his own. Among them are two still in common use, viz. ‘Now may the Spirit's holy fire,’ on the opening of a place of worship (included in Whitefield's ‘Hymns for Social Worship,’ 1753, and in Toplady's ‘Psalms and Hymns’); and ‘Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings,’ also in Whitefield's hymn-book. Seagrave was preaching up till 1759. He probably died soon afterwards. His other works are: 1. ‘Six Sermons on the Manner of Salvation,’ London, 1737, 8vo. 2. ‘A Draught of the Justification of Man different from the present Language of our Pulpits,’ London, 1740, 8vo, being a continuation of the ‘Letter to the People of England.’ 3. ‘Observations upon the Conduct of the Clergy, with an Essay towards a real Protestant Establishment,’ 1738; 3rd edit. 1740, 8vo. 4. ‘Christianity: how far it is and is not founded on Argument,’ London, 1743, 8vo. 5. ‘The True Protestant, addressed to the University of Cambridge,’ 4th edit. 1751, 8vo. 6. ‘The Principles of Liberty, or the Right of Mankind to judge for themselves in matters of Faith,’ London, 1755.

[Wilson's Hist. of Diss. Churches, ii. 559, iii. 315; Miller's Singers and Songs of the Church, p. 152; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, p. 1035; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 142, 250, 314; Hymns and Spiritual Songs, &c., with a Sketch of the Author's life, by Daniel Sedgwick [q. v.], 1860; Evangel. Mag. 1814, p. 304; Tyerman's Life of Whitefield, i. 212, 278, 285, ii. 294; Griffith's Brand out of the Fire, 1759.]

C. F. S.