Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cruso, Timothy

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CRUSO, TIMOTHY (1656?–1697), presbyterian minister, was probably born about the middle of 1656. His family resided at Newington Green, Middlesex; he had a brother, Nathaniel. He studied for the ministry in the Newington Green Academy, under Charles Morton, ejected from Blisland, Cornwall, who left England in 1685, and afterwards became vice-president of Harvard University. While at this academy Cruso had as a fellow-student Daniel Defoe, who immortalised his surname by the ‘Adventures’ published in 1719. After leaving Morton, Cruso graduated M.A. in one of the Scotch universities (not Edinburgh). When a lad of eighteen, designed for the ministry, he was impressed by the dying counsels of Oliver Bowles, B.D. (d. 5 Sept. 1674), who advised him never to trouble his hearers ‘with useless or contending notions, but rather preach all in practicals.’ He settled in London (before 1688) at Crutched Friars, as pastor of a congregation which from the formation of the presbyterian fund in 1690 was connected with its board. Having a good voice and graceful manner, in addition to a sound judgment, he soon acquired distinction as a preacher, and secured a large auditory. In 1695 Francis Fuller [q. v.] was his assistant at Crutched Friars. Cruso held aloof from the doctrinal disputes which broke the harmony of the ‘happy union’ between the presbyterians and independents in the first year of its existence (1691), and which led to the removal of Daniel Williams, D.D. (in 1694), and the withdrawal of other presbyterian lecturers, from the Pinners' Hall merchants' lectureship. Cruso was chosen to fill one of the vacancies. His own orthodoxy was solid and unimpeachable, but not restless. It has been hinted that he appreciated the pleasures of the table; if so, it was doubtless in an honest way, like Calamy and other genial divines of the dissenting interest. But Matthew Mead, the independent, no lax judge, says of him: ‘If I may use the phrase in fashion, he lived too fast, not as too many do who shorten their lives by their debaucheries and sinful excesses, but as a taper which wastes itself to give light to others.’ He died on 26 Nov. 1697, aged 41. He was buried in Stepney churchyard. He was married, and had issue. The inscription on his portrait (drawn by T. Foster, and engraved by R. White) says, ‘ætat. 40, 1697.’ He had an agreeable countenance, but was of insignificant stature. By a majority of one vote his congregation chose as his successor Thomas Shepherd, afterwards independent minister at Bocking, Essex. The election was overruled, and William Harris, D.D., a presbyterian, was appointed. A split ensued, and the congregation dwindled till its extinction in 1777. An elegy to Cruso's memory was published in 1697, fol., by J. S. [?John Shower, his fellow-student], who complains of the ‘barbarous verse’ of others who had attempted the same theme. He published: 1. ‘The Christian Lover,’ 1690, 8vo. 2. ‘The Blessedness of a Tender Conscience,’ 1691, 8vo. 3. ‘God the Guide to Youth,’ 1695, 8vo. 4. ‘Plea for Attendance at the Lord's Table,’ 1696, 8vo. 5. ‘Sermons at Pinners' Hall,’ 1697 8vo, 1698 8vo, 1699 8vo (edited by Matthew Mead). Also funeral sermons for Mary Smith, 1688, 4to (anon.), and Henry Brownsword, 1688, 4to; five separate 4to sermons in 1689, all dealing more or less with the revolution of that year; and a sermon on ‘An Early Victory over Satan,’ 1693, 4to. Some of his publications, bearing only the initial of his christian name, are often catalogued under ‘Thomas’ Cruso. S. Palmer, of the ‘Nonconformist's Memorial,’ had the manuscripts of some of Cruso's Pinners' Hall lectures. His sermons on the rich man and Lazarus, ‘preached at Pinners' Hall in 1690’ (sic; but the true date is 1696), were reprinted Edin. 1798, 12mo, with preface by R. Culbertson of Leith.

[Funeral Sermon by Matthew Mead, 1698; Prot. Diss. Mag. 1799, p. 467; Theol. and Bib. Mag. 1804, p. 138 sq., 1805, p. 383 sq.; Walter Wilson's Dissenting Churches, 1808, i. 56 sq.; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, iii. 467; Bogue and Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, 2nd ed., 1833, iii. 467; James's Hist. Litig. Presb. Chapels and Charities, 1867, p. 22; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 2, 114, 165; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. x. 169, 3rd ser. ix. 108; Walter Wilson's manuscript account of Dissenting Academies, in Dr. Wilson's Library.]

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