Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burnham, Richard (1749?-1810)

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BURNHAM, RICHARD (1749?–1810), baptist minister, was born about 1749, of poor parents. In his youthful days he resided at High Wycombe, and attended the Wesleyan chapel there, and in his early manhood was solicited to preach. He was afterwards baptised by T. Davis of Reading, joined a baptist church, and was regularly ordained for the ministry. He was then chosen as pastor by a few people at Staines, but they were so poor as to be unable to support him; this led to his leaving Staines. He removed to London, and in 1780 preached in Green Walk, on the Surrey side of Blackfriars Bridge, where he stayed about two years, removing first to Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and afterwards to Chapel Street, Soho; and when John Martin's people left for Store Street in 1795, Burnham took the chapel in Grafton Street vacated by them, where he remained till his death, 30 Oct. 1810, aged 62. He was buried at Tottenham Court Chapel. The inscription on his gravestone is given in full in Wilson's ‘Dissenting Churches,’ with an account of Burnham. His ‘Funeral Sermon,’ preached by William Crawford of Ewer Street, Southwark, including some account of Burnham's life, was published in 1810. Burnham was the author of a small volume of ‘New Hymns’ printed in 1783; it was subsequently enlarged, and in 1803 was reprinted with considerable additions, numbering 452 hymns. Nine of these appear in ‘Songs of Grace and Glory,’ 1871. Burnham also published ‘The Triumphs of Free Grace’ in 1787, including an account of his experience and call to the ministry; and in 1806 ‘Five Interesting Letters,’ and an ‘Elegy on the Death of Lord Nelson.’ A portrait of Burnham appears in some copies of his hymn-book. He was succeeded at Grafton Street by John Stevens, afterwards of Meards Court, Soho.

[Crawford's Funeral Sermon for R. Burnham, 1810; Burnham's own account of himself in his Triumphs of Free Grace, 1787; and Wilson's Dissenting Churches, iv. 25–9.]

J. H. T.