Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clagett, William
CLAGETT, WILLIAM, D.D. (1646–1688), controversialist, was the eldest son of Nicholas Clagett the elder [q. v.], preacher at St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. He was born in that parish on 24 Sept. 1646, and educated in the Bury grammar school under Dr. Thomas Stephens, author of the notes on Statius's 'Sylvæ' (Addit. MS. 19165, f. 270). Before he was fully thirteen years of age he was admitted a pensioner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 5 Sept. 1659, under the tuition of Thomas Jackson (ib. 5865, f. 30 b), and he graduated B.A. in 1663, M.A. in 1667, D.D. in 1683 (Cantabrigienses Graduati, ed. 1787, p. 83). He was elected preacher at St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, on 12 Dec. 1672, and resigned that office on 17 June 1680, on being appointed preacher at Gray's Inn, London, in succession to Dr. Cradock (Tymms, Account of the Church of St. Mary, Bury St. Edmunds, p. 129). He was presented also by the Lord-keeper North, who was his wife's kinsman, to the rectory of Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, into which he was instituted on 14 May 1683; but what he most valued, next to his preacher's place at Gray's Inn, was the lectureship of St. Michael Bassishaw, to which he was elected about two years before his death (Life by Archbishop Sharp, prefixed to Clagett's Sermons). He was also chaplain in ordinary to his majesty. On Sunday evening, 16 March 1687-8, after having preached at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, in his Lent course there, he was seized with smallpox, of which disease he died on 28 March 1688 (Luttrell), Relation of State Affairs, i. 436). He was buried in a vault under the church of St. Michael Bassishaw, and his wife, Thomasin North, who died eighteen days after him, was buried in the same grave.
Burnet ranks him among the worthy and eminent men whose lives and labours in a great measure rescued the church of England from those reproaches which the follies of others drew upon it (Own Times, fol. edit. i. 462, 674), and Dr. John Sharp, afterwards archbishop of York, who preached his funeral sermon, said he should not scruple to give Clagett a place among the most eminent and celebrated writers of the English church (T. Sharp, Life of Abp. Sharp, ed. Newcome, ii. 103). He took a leading part in the controversy carried on during the reign of James II respecting the points in dispute between protestants and catholics.
His works are: 1. 'A Discourse concerning the Operations of the Holy Spirit; with a confutation of some part of Dr. Owen's book upon that subject,' part i., London, 1677, 8vo; part ii., London, 1680, 8vo. In the second part there is an answer to John Humphreys's Animadversions on the first part. Clagett wrote a third part, to prove that the Fathers were not on Dr. Owen's side, but the manuscript was burnt by an accidental fire, and the author never had leisure to rewrite it. In 1719 Dr. Stebbing published an edition of the first two parts. 2. 'A Reply to a pamphlet called The Mischief of Impositions, by Mr. Alsop, which pretends to answer the dean of St. Paul's [Dr. Stillingfleet's] Sermon concerning the Mischief of Separation,' London, 1681, 4to. 3. 'An Answer to the Dissenters' Objections against . . . the Liturgy of the Church of England,' London, 1683, 4to. 4. 'The Difference of the Case between the Separation of the Protestants from the Church of Rome, and the Separation of Dissenters from the Church of England,' London, 1683, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. iii., 8vo ed. vol. xiv.; and in Cardwell's 'Enchiridion Theologicum,' vol. iii. 5. 'A Discourse concerning the Worship of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints,' London, 1686, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. ii., 8vo ed. vol. vii. 6. 'A Paraphrase, with Notes and Preface, upon the sixth chapter of St. John,' London, 1686, 4to. Reprinted in 1689 at the end of the second vol. of his 'Sermons;' also in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. ii., 8vo ed. vol. ix. 7. 'Of the Humanity and Charity of Christians. A Sermon preached ... 30 Nov. 1686.' 8. 'A View of the whole Controversy between the Representer [John Goter] and the Answerer, with an answer to the Representer's last reply; in which are laid open some of the methods by which Protestants are misrepresented by Papists,' London, 1687, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. iii., 8vo ed. vol. xiii. 9. 'The present State of the Controversie between the Church of England and the Church of Rome; or an account of the books written on both sides,' London, 1687, 4to. This was begun by Tenison and finished by Clagett (Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.) 10. 'Of the Authority of Councils and the Rule of Faith. By a Person of Quality . . . ,' London, 1687, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' 8vo ed. vol. v. The first two parts were written by –––– Hutchinson, or Hutchison; the third, containing the 'Postscript' in answer to Abraham Woodhead, was written by Clagett (Jones, Cat. i. 192). 11. 'An Examination of Bellarmine's Seventh Note, of Union of the Members among themselves and with the Head,' London, 1687, 4to. 12. 'The Twelfth Note of the Church examined, viz. The Light of Prophecy,' London, 1687, 4to. 13. 'The School of the Eucharist established upon the miraculous respects and acknowledgments which beasts, birds, and insects, upon several occasions, have rendered to the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Whence Catholicks may increase in devotion towards this divine Mystery, and Hereticks find there their confusion. By F. Toussain Bridoul, of the Society of Jesus. Printed in French at Lille, 1672, and now made English, and published with a Preface concerning the Testimony of Miracles,' London, 1687, 4to. 14. 'An Abridgment of the Prerogatives of St. Ann, Mother of the Mother of God. With the Approbation of the Doctors at Paris; and thence done into English to accompany the Contemplations on the Life and Glory of Holy Mary; and the Defence of the same; with some Pieces of the like nature. To which a Preface is added concerning the Original of the Story,' London, 1688, 4to. 16. 'A Discourse concerning the pretended Sacrament of Extreme Unction . . . With a Letter to the Vindicator of the Bishop of Condom' [i.e. Bossuet], London, 1688, 4to. The 'vindicator' was Joseph Johnston, a Benedictine, of the King's Chapel. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. ii., 8vo ed. vol. iii. 16. 'A Second Letter from the Author of the Discourse concerning Extreme Unction, to the Vindicator of the Bishop of Condom,' London, 1688, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's ' Preservative against Popery,' fol. ed. vol. ii., 8vo ed. vol. viii. 17. 'The State of the Church of Rome when the Reformation began; as it appears by the advices given to Paul III and Julius III by creatures of their own,' London, 1688, 4to. It is probable, from many errors, that Clagett only wrote a hasty preface to the publication, and that the translation was executed by some inferior hand, and yet he apparently adopts the translation as his own when he says in the preface: 'I thought a few hours spent in translating them into our language would not be thrown away ' (Jones, Cat. of Discourses for and against Popery, i. l83). 18. 'The Queries offered by T[homas] W[ard] to the Protestants concerning the English Reformation, reprinted and answered' (anon.), London, 1688, 4to. 19. 'Notion of Idolatry considered and confuted,' London, 1688. 20. 'Several captious Queries concerning the English Reformation, first proposed by Dean Manby, and afterwards by T[homas] W[ard], briefly and fully answered,' London, 1688, 4to. Reprinted in Gibson's 'Preservative against Popery,' 8vo ed. vol. i. 21. 'The Summ of a Conference on 21 Feb. 1686, between Dr. Clagett and Father Gooden, about the point of Transubstantiation,' London, 1689, 8vo. 22. 'A Paraphrase and Notes upon the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth Chapters of St. John,' London, 1693, 4to. 23. His brother, Nicholas Clagett the younger [q. v.], published a collection of his Sermons. The first and second volumes appeared respectively in 1689 and 1693; 3rd edition, 1699-1704. The ' Life' prefixed to the first volume was written by Dr. John Sharp, afterwards archbishop of York. The third and fourth volumes did not come out till 1720, and were also called vols. i. and ii., but notice was given that they were never before published.
[Authorities cited above; Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 640; Jones's Popery Tracts, pp. 10, 106, 110, 172, 200, 347, 378, 412, 418, 438, 439; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn); Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Life of Abp. Sharp, i. 48, 90, 91, ii. 99, 103.]