Catcott, Alexander (1725-1779) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


CATCOTT, ALEXANDER (1725–1779), divine and geologist, eldest son of the Rev. Alexander Stopford Catcott [q. v.], master of the grammar school of Bristol, was born at Bristol 2 Nov. 1725. He was educated at the grammar school; entered Winchester in 1739, and Wadham College, Oxford, in 1744. He graduated as B.A. in 1748. He published in 1756 his ‘Remarks on the Lord Bishop of Clogher's “Explanation of the Mosaic Account of the Creation and of the Formation of the World.”’ The bishop, Robert Clayton [q. v.], in this ‘Explanation’ expressed disbelief in the universality of the deluge. Catcott intended to follow up his ‘Tract’ by a second part devoted especially to the problem of the deluge. He was, however, compelled by the failure of his eyesight to suspend his labours until 1761, when he published his ‘Treatise on the Deluge.’ He calls himself on the title-page ‘lecturer of St. John's Church, Bristol.’ Catcott contends that the Mosaic account is a full and complete explanation of the miracle of the Noachian deluge. He tries to prove, with much show of learning, that the deluge may be explained by the internal waters, which broke out and dissolved the whole earth. Catcott adopts in part the hypothesis of Woodward, but was strictly a follower of John Hutchinson, who, in his ‘Moses's Principia,’ contends ‘that the Hebrew scriptures, when rightly translated, comprised a perfect system of natural philosophy.’ In 1768 Catcott dedicated a second and enlarged edition of his ‘Treatise’ to the Earl of Buchan, and calls himself his lordship's ‘chaplain.’ He was now M.A., and spent, he informs his readers, some time in Oxford. From July 1766 till death he was vicar of Temple Church, Bristol. He pursued his inquiry with enthusiasm. He examined the ‘two Druidical temples of Abury and Stonehenge,’ the mines of Cornwall and of Derbyshire, and everywhere found proofs of the Deluge in geological remains. In the second part of the second edition of the ‘Treatise’ Catcott gives a ‘Collection of the principal Heathen Accounts of the Flood,’ which Sir Charles Lyell admits to be a very valuable contribution to our knowledge. He adds to this collection some important remarks on ‘The Time when, and the Manner how, America was first Peopled.’ Catcott died at Bristol 18 June 1779 (Gent. Mag. 1779, p. 327).

[Hutchinson's Remarks on Alexander Stopford Catcott's Sermon, 1737; Catcott's The Supreme and Inferior Elohim, 1735; Nicholls's Bristol Past and Present; Bristol Gazette, 24 June 1779; Taylor's Bristol and Clifton, 1878; information from Mr. W. George; Sir Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology.]

R. H-t.