Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bryan, Matthew

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BRYAN, MATTHEW (d. 1699), Jacobite preacher, son of Robert Bryan of Limington, Somerset, sometime minister of St.Mary's, Newington, Surrey, was born at Limington, became a semi-commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1665, and left the university without taking a degree in arts. After holding a benefice in the diocese of Bath and Wells for about ten years, he was appointed to his father's old living, St. Mary's, Newington, and to the afternoon lectureship at St. Michael's, Crooked Lane. His living was sequestered for debt in 1684. A sermon preached by him at Newington and at St. Michael's (26 Oct. and 2 Nov. of the same year) on 2 Cor. v. 11 was said to contain reflections on the king's courts of justice, and an accusation was laid against him before the dean of arches. In order to vindicate himself he printed this sermon, which certainly does not appear to contain any such reflections, with a dedication, dated 10 Dec. 1684, to Dr. Peter Mews, bishop of Winchester, formerly his diocesan in Somerset. The archbishop was satisfied that the charge against him was groundless, and it was quashed accordingly. In July 1685 Bryan accumulated the degrees of civil law at Oxford. Refusing to take the oaths on the accession of William and Mary, he lost his preferment, and became the minister of a Jacobite congregation meeting in St. Dunstan's Court, Fleet Street. This brought him into trouble several times. On 1 Jan. 1693 his meeting was discovered, the names of his congregation, consisting of about a hundred persons, were taken, and he was arrested. He died on 10 March 1699, and was buried in St. Dunstan's-in-the-West. His works are: 'The Certainty of the future Judgment' (the sermon referred to above), 1685; 'A Persuasion to the stricter Observance of the Lord's Day,' a sermon, 1686; 'St. Paul's Triumph in his Sufferings,' a sermon, 1692. In the dedication of this discourse he describes himself as M. B. Indignus ἐν τῇ θλίψει ἀδελφὸς κὰι συνγκοινωνός, probably in reference to his sufferings as a Jacobite preacher, the sermon itself being on Eph. iv. 1. He also wrote two copies of verses printed in Ellis Waller's translation of the 'Encheiridion' of Epictetus into English verse, 1702, and republished Sir Humphrey Lynd's 'Account of Bertram the Priest,' 1686.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 602, iv. 779, Life, cxiv; Luttrell's Relation, ii. 398, iii. 1; Cox's Literature of the Sabbath, ii. 81; Bryan's Certainty of the future Judgment and his St. Paul's Triumph.]

W. H.