Sturch, William (DNB00)

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STURCH, WILLIAM (1753?–1838), theological writer, was born at Newport, Isle of Wight, about 1753. His great-grandfather, William Sturch (d. 1728), was a general baptist minister in London. His grandfather, John Sturch, general baptist minister at Crediton, Devonshire, published ‘A Compendium of Truths,’ Exeter, 1731, 8vo, and a sermon on persecution, 1736, 8vo. His father, John Sturch, ordained (21 June 1753) minister of the general baptist congregation, Pyle Street, Newport, wrote ‘A View of the Isle of Wight,’ 1778, 12mo, which passed through numerous editions, and was translated into German by C. A. Wichman, Leipzig, 1781, 8vo. He died in 1794. One of his daughters married John Potticary (1763–1820), the first schoolmaster of Benjamin Disraeli, earl of Beaconsfield.

William Sturch was an ironmonger in London, and an original member of the unitarian chapel opened by Theophilus Lindsey [q. v.] at Essex Street, Strand, in 1774. In 1799 he published anonymously a thin octavo, entitled ‘Apeleutherus; or an Effort to attain Intellectual Freedom.’ It consists of three essays; the third, ‘On Christianity as a Supernatural Communication,’ written with great ability and beauty of style, is interesting as exhibiting the sceptical side of a devout mind. A fine sonnet is prefixed to the work. In 1819 it was reprinted (anonymously), with a dedication to Thomas Belsham [q. v.], a fourth essay ‘On a Future State,’ and three additional sonnets. Sturch wrote one or two pamphlets in controversy with conservative Unitarians, and was a frequent contributor to the ‘Monthly Repository.’ He published also a very able pamphlet, with a view to Roman catholic emancipation, ‘The Grievances of Ireland: their Causes and their Remedies,’ 1826, 8vo. He took the chair at a dinner given in London (5 Jan. 1829) to Henry Montgomery, LL.D. [q. v.], when Charles Butler (1750–1832) [q. v.] was one of the speakers. He died at York Terrace, Regent’s Park, on 8 Sept. 1838, aged 85, leaving a widow Elizabeth (d. 23 Feb. 1841, aged 81) and family. He was buried in the graveyard of the New Gravel-Pit chapel, Hackney. His second daughter, Elizabeth Jesser (b. 25 Dec. 1789, d. 30 March 1866), married John Reid [q. v.] and founded Bedford College, London, in October 1849.

[Christian Reformer, 1838, p. 740; Taylor's Hist. of English Gen. Baptists, 1818, ii. 93; Aspland's Memoir of R. Aspland, 1850. pp. 106, 154, 557; Inquirer, 7 April 1866 p. 221, 5 May 1866 p. 284; Calendar of Bedford College, 1888; tombstones at Hackney; private information]

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