Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Aspinwall, William

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703674Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 02 — Aspinwall, William1885Alexander Balloch Grosart

ASPINWALL, WILLIAM (fl. 1648–1662), one of the nonconforming ministers ejected in 1662, was of the Lancashire Aspinwalls, and so has a gleam on his name in relation to Spenser's 'Rosalind' (Grosart's Who was Rosalind? in his edition of Spenser's Works, iii. pp.cvi-cvii). He was of Magdalen College, Cambridge, and had for tutor Joseph Hill. He proceeded B.A., but having obtained orders, went no further. His first living was Maghull, in Lancashire. In the Lancashire 'Harmonious Consent' of 1648, which denounces 'endeavours used for the establishing an universal toleration,' his name appears ('William Aspinwal, preacher of God's word at Mayhall') in a long list of signatories, headed by 'Richard Heyricke, warden of Christ Colledg in Manchester,' and including Hollingworth, Alexander Horrocks, John Angier, and indeed the foremost ministers of the county and time. These men had come to persuade themselves that 'the establishing of a toleration would make us [the English people] become the abhorring and loathing of all nations.' [See under Angier, John.]

Aspinwall left his cure in 1655-6 to be ordained at Mattersey, Nottinghamshire, and was in that year inducted to Mattersey, in the church at Claworth, in the same county, along with a more notable man, John Cromwell, B.A., and two others (Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, ed. Hardy, ii. 35). He was ejected by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Upon his ejection he turned farmer at Thurnsco, in Yorkshire. There was 'a good house,' and it became a nonconformist meeting-place. Two other ejected ministers, Tricket and Grant, sojourned with him. Whether farming did not prosper, or the usual persecution drove him away, is uncertain, but in a short time he is traced once more in his native Lancashire. There Calamy states he died ; but Samuel Palmer (Nonconf. Mem. iii. 99) corrects this, and gives extracts from a letter dated Cockermouth, 16 April 1724, by which it would seem that he became minister of a 'dissenting congregation' in that town. The old presbyterian congregation there was afterwards merged in the 'congregational,' but in Lewis's 'History of the Congregational Church, Cockermouth, being Selections from its own Records' (1870), Aspinwall's name nowhere occurs: nor have recent inquiries succeeded in finding the slightest memorial of him in Cockermouth, although the existence of the presbyterian church there has been thoroughly verified. Unluckily the date of his death is not given. The following books were published by him : 1. 'A Discourse of the Principal Points touching Baptism, so far as Scripture Light directs.' 2. 'The Legislative Power Christ's Peculiar Prerogative.' 3. 'A Presage of sundry Sad Calamities yet to come.' 4. 'The Abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath or the Sabbath of the 7th Day of the Week.' Palmer is strangely inaccurate in the following addition to Calamy: 'There is a small folio volume of sermons on the whole Epistle of Paul to Philemon, with the name of William Aspinwall prefixed, which the editor supposes to be by the same person. It is a valuable work' (Nonconf. Mem. iii. 100). 'Valuable' certainly; but it does not consist of 'sermons,' and the author was not Aspinwall, but William Attersoll [q. v.]. Our William Aspinwall (as also Peter Aspinwall, of Heaton, Lancashire) is sometimes confounded with William Aspinwall, the ejected minister of Formby, who afterwards conformed, as well as with a contemporary quaker divine (of the same names) who had been persecuted in New England, and wrote vehemently of his wrongs and tenets.

[Halley's Lancashire, its Puritanism and Nonconformity, 1872, p. 370; Tillinghast's Elijah's Mantle or Remains, 1658, book-catalogue at end.]

A. B. G.