Coles, Elisha (1608?-1688) (DNB00)

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COLES, ELISHA (1608?–1688), Calvinist, the uncle of Elisha Coles, stenographer [q. v.], was, according to Wood, a native of Northamptonshire. Originally a ' trader ' in London, he had in 1651 taken up his abode at Oxford, for on 23 May of that year we find him acting as deputy-registrar to the parliamentary visitors there, in the absence of Ralph Austen, the registrar. In 1657 Coles became steward of Magdalen College, through the favour of Dr. Thomas Goodwin, the Commonwealth president, and was also manciple of Magdalen Hall (Register of the Visitors of the University of Oxford, Camd. Soc., pp. viii, 337, 516, where, however, Coles is confounded with his nephew). He was obliged to quit his situations at the Restoration, on which he obtained the place of clerk to the East India Company. According to Wood, Coles 'died in his house in Scalding Alley, near the Stocks Market in London, about 28 Oct. 1688, aged eighty years or more.' He wrote: ' A Practical Discourse of God's Sovereignty: with other Material Points deriving thence,' 4to, London, printed by Ben Griffin for E. C., 1673, a work which attained great popularity among the dissenters, and went through numerous editions. The third impression (signed E. C.), 8vo, London, 1678, is preceded by recommendatory epistles 'to the Christian reader' from the author's old friend, Thomas Goodwin, and other well-known puritan divines. Dr. Kippis relates (Biog. Brit. ed. Kippis, iv. 3) that the perusal of this book at the age of fourteen convinced him, contrary to its intention, of the illogical character of Calvinism. By his wife, Elizabeth, Coles had a son, Elisha, whom he apprenticed to some trade (Will reg. in P. C. C. 147, Exton).

Elisha Coles the son has sometimes been confused with Elisha Coles the lexicographer [q. v.] Some execrable rhymes, entitled ‘Χριστολογία, or a Metrical Paraphrase on the History of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,’ are signed ‘Elisha Coles, junior.’ It is most probable that they were written by the latter. The former was presumably dead in 1715, as he is not mentioned in his mother's will signed on 27 Aug. in that year, and proved on 21 March 1719-20 (Reg. in P. C. C. 57, Shaller).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 1276; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn).]

G. G.