Churchey, Walter (DNB00)

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CHURCHEY, WALTER (1747–1805), friend of John Wesley, was born at Brecon on 7 Nov. 1747. His father was Walter, fifth son of Walter Churchy of Brecon (d. 12 July 1646). By profession he was an attorney, but never a thriving one. He became a zealous methodist, probably through the influence of Thomas Coke (1747–1814) [q. v.], a Brecon man, and from 1771 he corresponded with Wesley. He claims to have suggested to Wesley the publication of the ‘Arminian Magazine,’ begun 1 Jan. 1778. The suggestion was not a new one, but Wesley's letter of 18 Oct. 1777 shows that he was in correspondence with Churchey on the subject. Churchey was an indefatigable writer of religious verse. Before venturing to publish he consulted Cowper (in 1786), who gave him a cautious reply. Wesley got him subscribers for his first publication, a ‘prodigious quarto’ issued at a guinea; the leading piece is called ‘Joseph.’ Though it was not generally accepted as poetry, it was followed by other efforts in the same direction. The author in his final ‘Apology’ complains that he had been ‘ostracised from Parnassus’ by the critics. After Wesley's death Churchey became an ardent millenarian, of the school of Richard Brothers [q. v.] He died at the Hay, near Brecon, on 3 Dec. 1805, and is buried with his ancestors in the Priory churchyard, Brecon. He married Mary Bevan of Clyro, Radnorshire (d. 26 Oct. 1822, aged 77), and had six children. His second son, Walter (d. 28 Feb. 1840), was town clerk of Brecon for twenty-six years.

He published: 1. ‘Poems and Imitations,’ &c., 1789, 4to. 2. ‘Lines on the Rev. J. Wesley,’ &c. [1791?], 32mo. 3. ‘An Elegy to the Memory of W. Cowper,’ Hereford, 1800, 8vo. 4. ‘An Addition to Collins's Ode on the Passions; and the second edition of an Elegy on the Death of W. Cowper,’ 1804, 8vo. 5. ‘An Essay on Man, upon principles opposed to those of Lord Bolingbroke; in four epistles,’ &c., 1804,16mo. 6. ‘A Philippic on Idleness,’ 8vo (Watt). 7. ‘An Apology by W. Churchey for his public appearance as a Poet,’ Trevecca, 1805, 8vo. The British Museum catalogue, following Watt, calls him ‘William’ Churchey.

[Cowper's Works (Bohn), iii. 370; Cottle's Reminiscences of Coleridge, Southey, &c., 1847, p. 230; Tyerman's Life and Times of Wesley, 1871, iii. 244, 282, 547, 579 sq.; monumental inscriptions at Brecon, per Rev. T. Wynne-Jones.]

A. G.