Stennett, Joseph (DNB00)

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STENNETT, JOSEPH (1663–1713), seventh-day baptist, second son of Edward Stennett (d. 1690?) by his wife Mary Quelch, was born at Abingdon, Berkshire, in 1663. His father, a Lincolnshire man, was a chaplain in the parliamentary army, and appears to have held a sequestered rectory at Wallingford, Berkshire, where, after the Restoration, he had a seventh-day baptist congregation, and supported himself by the practice of medicine. He published ‘The Royal Law’ (1658, 4to) and ‘The Seventh Day’ (1664, 4to).

Joseph was educated at Wallingford grammar school, and by his father and elder brother, Jehudah, both of whom wrote Hebrew grammars. In 1685 he settled in London as a schoolmaster, and joined (28 Sept. 1686) in reviving a seventh-day baptist congregation [see Bampfield, Francis] at Pinners' Hall, Old Broad Street, his father undertaking the pastorate. He was sometime evening lecturer to a seventh-day baptist congregation at Devonshire Square, and on 4 March 1690–1 was ordained pastor at Pinners' Hall by Hanserd Knollys [q. v.] and others. He was also Sunday lecturer (before 1695) to the general baptist congregation, Paul's Alley, Barbican, where his hearers in 1700 remonstrated against his preaching Calvinism. On several public occasions he was the trusted representative of the whole body of baptists. The general baptist association, in 1704, deputed him to write a history of baptism; he collected materials, but his health gave way. He was a fluent preacher with a silvery voice. One of his printed sermons gained him a mark of favour from Queen Anne. He is now best known as a hymn-writer, and is the earliest English baptist whose hymns are still sung. Dr. Julian specifies eight of his hymns as now in common use. Stennett died at Knaphill, near Hughenden, Buckinghamshire, on 11 July 1713, and was buried in Hughenden churchyard. His tombstone bears a Latin inscription by John Ward (1679–1740) [q. v.] His portrait was engraved by Vertue. He married in 1688 Susanna, younger daughter of George Guill, a Huguenot refugee of distinction, and was thus the brother-in-law of Daniel Williams, D.D. [q. v.], founder of dissenting trusts. He left four children.

Stennett's works, consisting mainly of sermons (nine published separately), were collected, with a ‘Life’ (1732, 8vo, 4 vols.). The fourth volume contains his hymns (originally published 1697–1712) and his version of Solomon's Song (1700). Not included in his ‘Works’ are ‘An Answer to Mr. David Russen's … Picture of the Anabaptists,’ 1704, and several translations from the French. He printed anonymously political satires in verse; some are said to be in the ‘Poems on State Affairs.’

Joseph Stennett, D.D. (1692–1758), eldest son of the above, born in London in 1692, was baptist minister at Exeter, and (from 1737) at Little Wild Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. He died at Bath, 7 Feb. 1758. He published several single sermons (1738–54).

Samuel Stennett, D.D. (1728–1795), grandson of the elder Joseph Stennett, was born at Exeter in 1728, and educated by Hubbard of Stepney. In 1748 he became his father's assistant at Little Wild Street, succeeding as pastor in 1758. In 1763 he received the diploma of D.D. from Aberdeen. He was a man of broad views and considerable public influence. John Howard (1726?–1790) [q. v.] the philanthropist was a member of his congregation. He was assisted by his son Joseph, the fifth in a succession of ministers from father to son. He died at Muswell Hill on 25 (not 24) Aug. 1795, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. His works, chiefly sermons, were collected in 1824, 3 vols. 8vo, with ‘Memoir’ by William Jones (a few tracts are not included); his hymns are in vol. iii. (the earliest were printed in 1778), and thirty-eight are in the collection (1787) of John Rippon [q. v.]; they are not equal in merit to those of his grandfather.

[Life of J. Stennett, 1732; Memoir of S. Stennett, 1824; Protestant Dissenter's Mag. 1794, pp. 89 sq., 129 sq., 1795 pp. 352, 367; Universal Theological Mag. Jan. 1803, pp. 3 sq.; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808 ii. 592 sq., 1810 iii. 236 sq.; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, pp. 262 sq.; Evans's Early English Baptists, 1864, ii. 295; Cox's Literature of the Sabbath Question, 1865, i. 267 sq., ii. 10, 60; Sabbath Memorial, January 1883, pp. 382 sq.; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892, pp. 1091 sq.]

A. G.