Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ellys, Anthony

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ELLYS, ANTHONY (1690–1761), bishop of St. David's, born at Yarmouth in Norfolk, was baptised on 8 June 1690. His father and grandfather were respectable merchants in that town, and in their turn mayors of the borough. He was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1712, M.A. in 1716, and D.D. in 1728, on the occasion of a royal visit to that university. He became a fellow of his college and took holy orders. In 1719, his father then being mayor, the Yarmouth corporation appointed him minister of St. George's Chapel in his native town. On account of his excellent chances of other promotion the customary salary was doubled. But in a year he found more lucrative openings. He became in 1721 a chaplain to Lord-chancellor Macclesfield, in 1724 vicar of St. Olave's, Jewry, and canon of Gloucester, and in 1729 vicar of Great Marlow also, without surrendering any of his earlier preferments. In 1736 he published 'A Plea for the Sacramental Test as best Security for the Church established, and very conducive to the Welfare of the State.' In 1752 he published anonymously some 'Remarks on Mr. Hume's Essay concerning Miracles,' which, though 'written in a sensible and genteel manner,' 'did not excite the attention they deserved.' In October 1752 he was appointed bishop of St. David's, and consecrated on 28 Jan. in the following year (Stubbs, Reg. Sacrum Angl. p. 117). His appointment was by some attributed to the reputation which he had gained as being engaged on a great work in defence of the protestant reformation. Some objected to the nomination of an upholder of the Test Act as 'detrimental to liberty.' But Archbishop Herring, to whose advice Ellys's preferment was due, replied that the 'stick had been bent rather too far on the side of liberty,' and that it was time to 'give it now a bent to the contrary side.' Moreover, George II had urged the archbishop not to allow the 'evening of his days' to be 'disquieted by church affairs,' and Herring 'did his best to make things easy.' Yet Ellys was a 'moderate whig,' though his whiggism is described as tempered by 'a zealous attachment to our ecclesiastical establishment.' Ellys continued to hold his canonry and his city living in commendam, and he is praised for the regularity with which he went 'every Sunday morning in the winter season' from his house in Queen Square to preach to his parishioners. He gave so little countenance to the scheme of John Jones of Welwyn for establishing a seminary for clerical education in his diocese that the books offered by Jones to the bishop were transferred to the presbyterian academy at Carmarthen (Nichols, Lit, Anecd. i. 625, 631). But the 'Defence of the Reformation' never appeared from the press, and this want of energy or confidence seems to have disgusted the bishop's friends and patrons. He published nothing more in his lifetime but a few sermons, preached on special occasions before the lords, the commons, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He died at Gloucester on 16 Jan. 1761, and was buried in the south aisle of that cathedral. His age is erroneously described on his monument as sixty-eight. He married Anne, eldest daughter of Sir Stephen Anderson of Eyworth, Bedfordshire, and left one daughter, who married unhappily and became insane. Dr. Dodd wrote some verses on his death, and a manuscript volume of poems by his widow, mostly on the same subject, is still extant. After his death his friends published his 'Tracts on the Liberty spiritual and temporal of the Protestants of England,' which was either a fragment or the whole of the long-expected great work. The first part, which appeared in 1763, was for the greater part a polemic against popery, though his plea for the test was also reprinted in it. The second part, issued in 1765, was a treatise on constitutional liberty, which shows a certain amount of historical knowledge and great zeal for the revolution settlement.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, i. 625, 631. ii. 414, 454, 720. 725, iv. 481; Biographia Britannica (Kippis); Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 386; Monthly Review, xxix. 117-34: Gent Mag. (1796), lxvi. 737, 1012; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, iii. 601; Graduati Cantab.; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books.]

T. F. T.