Cantrell, Henry (DNB00)

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CANTRELL, HENRY (1685?–1773), miscellaneous writer, was born about 1685. His father was a resident from 1673 at Alstonfield, Staffordshire, and afterwards became master of the grammar school at Derby, dying in 1700. Cantrell's mother afterwards married Anthony Blackwall [q. v.], his father's successor in the Derby school, and there he was educated by his stepfather. He took his degrees at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (B.A. 1704, M.A. 1710). In 1712 he procured the perpetual curacy of St. Alkmund's, Derby, and when this benefice was created a vicarage, Cantrell was its first vicar, holding the living to his death. Before he came to St. Alkmund's the church was in a deplorable condition for want of maintenance, and service had not been performed for fifty years. Cantrell held strong views on the efficacy of episcopal baptism, and noted in his church register, that ‘dissenting ministers have no authority to baptize, and children sprinkled by 'em ought to be baptized after by an episcopal minister.’ In 1714 he wrote ‘The Invalidity of the Lay-Baptism of Dissenting Teachers proved from Scripture and Antiquity,’ Nottingham, 8vo. This was directed against an anonymous work entitled ‘The Validity of Baptism administred by Dissenting Ministers, by a Presbyter of the Church of Christ [Ferdinand Shaw, independent minister of Derby],’ Nottingham, 8vo. There were numerous books and pamphlets taking opposite sides of the question about this time. His next work was ‘The Royal Martyr, a True Christian; or, a Confutation of the late Assertion, viz. that King Charles I had only the Lay-Baptism of a Presbyterian Teacher,’ London, 1716, 8vo. In this treatise he gives an interesting account of Charles I's baptism from the Heralds' office in Edinburgh.

Hutton says ‘Cantrell drunk the Pretender's health on his knees’ on the famous march to Derby in 1745. In 1760 he communicated several interesting particulars of Derby and St. Alkmund's Church to Dr. Pegge. These are now in Pegge's collections at Heralds' College. He died in 1773. William Cantrell, rector of St. Michael's, Stamford, and afterwards rector of Normanton (1716–1787), was his eldest son. Another son, Henry, and a daughter, Constance, died young.

Nichols says ‘his widow became second wife of Anthony Blackwall, his successor in the Derby grammar school,’ but this was clearly his mother. Blackwall died in 1730. Cantrell's father (1659–1700?) was probably the Thomas Cantrell who graduated M.A. at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1681.

[Lysons's Derbyshire, pp. 114, 121, 176; Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 737; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 119, 133; Nichols's Illust. viii. 441; Hutton's Birmingham, p. 117; Reliquary, 1870, p. 113; Cantrell's Royal Martyr, preface, pp. xxv–vi.]

J. W.-G.