Wyeth, Joseph (DNB00)

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WYETH, JOSEPH (1663–1731), quaker writer, son of Henry and Sarah Wyeth, was born on 19 Sept. 1663 in the parish of St. Saviour, Southwark. He became a successful merchant of London, and was the author of several controversial works. The chief is ‘Anguis Flagellatus: or a Switch for the Snake. Being an answer to the Third and Last Edition of the Snake in the Grass’ (by Charles Leslie [q. v.]), London, 1699, 8vo. To this a supplement was added by George Whitehead [q. v.], to whose ‘Antidote against the Venom of the Snake in the Grass’ Wyeth had also written what he calls ‘An Appendix’ or sequel (though published separately) entitled ‘Primitive Christianity continued in the Faith and Practice of the People called Quakers,’ London, 1698, 8vo. Of all the attacks upon early quakerism, Leslie's ‘Snake in the Grass’ was the most reasoned, and it provoked the greatest number of replies. The ‘Switch’ was answered by Richard Mather [q. v.], ‘Primitive Christianity’ by Francis Bugg [q. v.], neither of them being an opponent of much weight. Wyeth also contributed ‘An Answer to a Letter from Dr. Bray,’ London, 1700, 4to, and ‘Remarks on Dr. Bray's Memorial,’ London, 1701, to the opposition organised by the quakers against the establishment of a state church in Maryland, which Thomas Bray [q. v.], commissary-general, succeeded in carrying through the English parliament in 1701.

He was for twenty years a friend of Thomas Ellwood [q. v.], whose ‘Life’ he prepared for the press, adding a supplement, preface, and bibliography to the first edition, 1714, 8vo. For the preparation of this he passed in review many letters and documents which had formerly belonged to Milton; the most important of them were afterwards published by John Nickolls [q. v.], who had at one time been apprenticed to Wyeth.

He also published ‘The Athenian Society unvail'd, or their Ignorance and Envious Abusing of the Quakers detected and reprehended,’ London, 1692, fol., and ‘A Vindication of W. P. [William Penn] from the Erronious and False Testimony of Thomas Budd. Being an Answer to a sheet of his entitled “A Testimony for Truth against Error,”’ London, 1697, 8vo.

Wyeth died of fever on 9 Jan. 1730–1, and was buried at the Park, Worcester Street, Southwark, on the 15th. His wife Margaret died at Tottenham, aged 76, on 13 Sept. 1749, and was buried with her husband.

[Smith's Catalogue, ii. 965; Wyeth's Works; Whiting's Catalogue, 1708, p. 215; Nickolls's Original State Papers, preface, p. iv; Ellwood's Life; Registers at Devonshire House; Whitehead's Christian Progress, p. 680.]

C. F. S.