Angus, Joseph (DNB12)

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ANGUS, JOSEPH (1816–1902), baptist divine and biblical scholar, only son of John Angus, a farmer and later a leather merchant, by his wife Elizabeth Wanless, was born at Bolam, Northumberland, on Jan. 1816. His first schooling was at Newcastle, under George Ferris Whidborne Mortimer [q. v.], who wanted to send him to Cambridge. As a nonconformist and a member of the baptist church under Thomas Pengilly at Newcastle, he preferred Edinburgh, where he entered in 1834, after passing a year at King's College, London. In 1835 he studied for the baptist ministry at Stepney College (instituted 1810), under W. H. Murch, D.D., a good scholar. Returning to Edinburgh with a scholarship under Dr. Ward's trust, he graduated M.A. with distinction on 27 April 1837, and gained the gold medal in moral philosophy and the university English essay prize. In 1838 he accepted a call to New Park Street chapel, Southwark, where subsequently Charles Haddon Spurgeon [q. v.] won his fame as a preacher. In 1840 he was appointed colleague to John Dyer in the secretaryship of the Baptist Missionary Society, and became sole secretary in 1841. He had much to do with the raising of the jubilee fund (32,000l.), by means of which, among other enterprises, the mission house in Moorgate Street was built. In 1849 he was placed at the head of Stepney College, which under his presidency largely increased in efficiency and importance, was removed to Regent's Park in 1856, and equipped with special chairs and scholarships by means of a 'professorial fund' (30,000l.), secured by his exertions. He held the presidency till 1893. In connection with his academic work he brought out some useful handbooks to the Bible (1853; 2nd imp. 1907), to the English language (1864), and to English literature (1866); and editions of Butler's 'Analogy and Sermons' (1855; 2nd edit. 1881) and Francis Wayland's 'Elements of Moral Science' (1858); all these were published by the Religious Tract Society. The degree of D.D. was conferred in 1852 by Brown University, Rhode Island. From 1859 he was for ten years examiner in English to the London University, and in 1865 to the civil service commissioners. In 1870 he was appointed on the New Testament company for the revision of the 'authorised' version of the Scriptures. He was elected in 1870 for Marylebone to the first London school board, held office for ten years, and was re-elected for the period 1894-7. In the bibliography of baptist authors of all classes, ancient and modern, he took the greatest interest; his own collection of such works was unsurpassed, and his privately printed lists of acquirements and desiderata were of no small service to students of the byways of religious history. His latest summary of results, 'Baptist Authors and History, 1527-1800,' was printed in the 'Baptist Handbook,' in 1894, and issued separately in 1896. As a theologian his position was essentially conservative; in a controversy of 1870 he upheld the doctrine of eternal torments; he was not without mellowing influences in his later years. He died at Hampstead on 28 Aug. 1902, and was buried in Norwood cemetery.

Angus's portrait by Melville is in Regent's Park College, and has been engraved. He married on 3 March 1841 Amelia (d. 1893), fourth daughter of William Brodie Gurney. Of his family of four sons and six daughters, the second son, John Mortimer Angus, M.A., is registrar of the University of Wales.

In addition to the manuals indicated above and subsidiary pieces Angus published

  1. 'The Voluntary System' (prize essay), 1839.
  2. 'Four Lectures on the Advantages of a Classical Education as auxiliary to a Commercial,' 1846.
  3. 'Christian Churches' (bicentenary prize essay), 1862; 1864.
  4. 'Egypt and the Bible,' 1863.
  5. 'Apostolic Missions,' &c., 1871; 2nd edit. 1892.
  6. 'Man, a Witness for Christianity,' 1872.
  7. 'Popular Commentary on the New Testament' (Hebrews to Jude), 1883.
  8. 'Six Lectures on Regeneration' (the Angus Lectureship), 1897.

[The Times, 30 Aug. 1902; Baptist Handbook, 1903, p. 189 (with portrait); Cat. of Edin. Graduates, 1858, p. 225; information kindly supplied by Mr. Charles J. Angus.]

A. G.