Stephenson, Samuel Martin (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

STEPHENSON, SAMUEL MARTIN, M.D. (1742–1833), Irish presbyterian divine and physician, youngest son of James Stephenson, by his wife Margaret (Martin), was born in 1742 at Straidballymorris, parish of Templepatrick, co. Antrim. From the school of John Rankin, presbyterian minister at Antrim, he went to Glasgow University, where he was a pupil of William Leechman [q. v.] After being licensed in 1767 by Templepatrick presbytery he became master in the diocesan school at Monaghan, where for two years he lodged with Braddock, an apothecary. This gave him a taste for medicine, which he studied in Dublin and in Edinburgh (1773–6). Meanwhile he received a call in August 1773 from the congregation of Greyabbey, co. Down. His trial sermon, preached on 19 April 1774, was of doubtful orthodoxy, and he declined to subscribe the Westminster confession of faith. By a majority of one he was admitted on 31 May to ordination, and ordained by Bangor presbytery on 21 June (the date, 20 June, in report to synod, is wrong) 1774, reading a written declaration of his faith. On 12 June 1776 he graduated M.D. at Edinburgh, and practised gratuitously at Greyabbey, where his salary was 50l. besides regium donum. On 1 Aug. 1785 he resigned his charge, and was succeeded by James Porter [q. v.] Settling as a physician in Belfast, he obtained great distinction in his profession, revolutionising the treatment of fever cases. He founded, in conjunction with James McDonnell, M.D., the dispensary in 1792 and the fever hospital in 1797. He was also a zealous promoter of the (now Royal) Academical Institution which was opened 1 Feb. 1814. In recognition of his high character for public spirit and private charity, the general synod of Ulster in 1818 replaced his name on the ministerial roll, though he had exercised no clerical duties for over thirty years. In 1821 he resigned his public appointments in favour of his son, Robert Stephenson, M.D. (d. 1869). Latterly he amused himself with farming. He died on 13 Jan. 1833. He married Mary, daughter of James Armstrong, presbyterian minister of Portaferry, co. Down, and had a numerous family.#

He published: 1. ‘The Declaration of Faith,’ Belfast, 1774, 8vo; 2 edits. same year; reprinted, with title ‘Of Articles of Faith,’ [1822?], 8vo. 2. ‘A Review of the Reasons … and … Remarks upon a late Declaration of Faith,’ Belfast, 1775, 8vo. 3. ‘De Typho,’ Edinburgh, 1776, 8vo (graduation thesis). 4. ‘On the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of … Ulster,’ Belfast, 1808, 4to. 5. ‘An Historical Essay on the Parish … of Templepatrick,’ Belfast, 1825, 8vo. 6. ‘An Historical Essay on the Parish … of Greyabbey,’ Belfast, 1828, 8vo. The last two works are somewhat miscellaneous in character, but deserve credit as early examples of attention to Irish local antiquities.

[Bible Christian (Belfast), 1833, pp. 46 sq.; Irish Unitarian Mag. 1847, pp. 288 sq.; Reid's Hist. of Presbyterian Church in Ireland (Killen), 1867, iii. 337 sq.; Killen's Hist. of Congregational Presbyterian Church in Ireland, 1880, pp. 157, 215; Benn's Hist. of Belfast, 1880, ii. 161 sq.; Witherow's Hist. and Lit. Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland, 1886, ii. 187 sq.; Records of Gen. Synod of Ulster, 1897, ii. 507, 561.]

A. G.