Tagart, Edward (DNB00)

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TAGART, EDWARD (1804–1858), unitarian divine, second son of William Tagart (d. 1817) by his wife Amy (d. 23 July 1840), eldest daughter of Nicholas Lathy of Barnstaple, was born at Bristol on 8 Oct. 1804. His father was a linendraper at Bristol, and afterwards an accountant at Bath. Tagart was at school under John Evans at Bristol and at the grammar school, Bath. In 1820 he entered Manchester College, York, under Charles Wellbeloved [q. v.] In November 1824, before leaving college, he was invited to be minister of a chapel about to be opened in York Street, St. James’s Square, London. He preferred a call to the Octagon Chapel, Norwich, where he was ordained on 10 Aug. 1825, in succession to Thomas Madge (1786–1870). Early in 1828 he succeeded John Small (d. 1827) at York Street chapel; it was held at a yearly rent, and the minister was practically chaplain to William Agar, a chancery barrister. The congregation removed to a new building (opened 26 May 1833) in Little Portland Street, Regent Street, where Tagart exercised a successful ministry for a quarter of a century. On 9 July 1844 his congregation gave him a service of plate with an inscription by Charles Dickens, the novelist, at that time an attendant on his services. He succeeded Sir John Bowring [q. v.] as foreign secretary (1832), and in 1842 succeeded Robert Aspland [q. v.] as general secretary of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, and was a trustee (1832–58) of Dr. Williams’s foundations, a fellow of the Linnean and Geological societies, and of the Society of Antiquaries. On 7 Aug. 1858 he left London on an official visit to the Unitarians of Transylvania. Returning, he was seized with intermittent fever at Brussels, and died there on 12 Oct. 1858. He was buried on 20 Oct. at Kensal Green. He married (21 Jan. 1828) Helen (1797–1871), daughter of Joseph Bourn (grandson of Samuel Bourn the younger [q. v.]), and widow of Thomas Martineau (eldest brother of Harriet Matineau [q. v.]), who survived him with an only son and three daughters.

In addition to sermons and tracts, he published:

  1. ‘A Memoir of … Captain Peter Heywood, R.N.,’ 1832, 8vo.
  2. ‘Remarks on Mathematical or Demonstrative Reasoning,’ 1837, 12mo.
  3. ‘Sketches of … Reformers of the Sixteenth Century,’ 1843, 8vo.
  4. ‘ Remarks on Bentham, his Obligations to Priestley,’ 1844, 8vo (reprinted from the ‘Christian Reformer’).
  5. ‘Locke’s Writings and Philosophy … vindicated from … contributing to the Scepticism of Hume,’ 1855, 8vo (of this Hallam wrote on 25 Nov. 1857, ‘I think it will have the effect of restoring Locke to the place he ought to take in the estimation of his country’).

He edited (1843) a sermon by Ralph Cudworth [q. v.], with memoir.

[Memoir by his brother, C. F. Tagart (1858); Christian Reformer, 1858 pp. 711, 746 sq., 1859 pp. 65 sq., 233 sq.; Inquirer, 1858, pp. 679, 684, 699 sq.; Roll of Students, Manchester College, 1868; Spears’s Record of Unitarian Worthies, 1877, p. 368; Jeremy’s Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 201 sq.]

A. G.