Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gilbert, Joseph (1779-1852)

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GILBERT, JOSEPH (1779–1852), congregational divine, born in the parish of Wrangle, Lincolnshire, on 20 March 1779, was son of a farmer who had come under the influence of Wesley. After receiving some education at a free school on the confines of the parishes of Wrangle and Leake, he was apprenticed to a general shopkeeper at Burgh. On the expiration of his term he became assistant in a shop at East Retford, Nottinghamshire, of which he by-and-by became proprietor. Here he began to associate with a small body of congregationalists, for whom he sometimes preached. In 1806 he gave up business and entered Rotherham College. In 1808, at the request of Dr. Edward Williams [q. v.], its principal, he published his first book, a reply to a work by the Rev. William Bennet, entitled ‘Remarks on a recent Hypothesis respecting the Origin of Moral Evil, in a Series of Letters to the Rev. Dr. Williams, the author of that Hypothesis.’ His college course finished, he became minister at Southend, Essex. After a residence of eighteen months there he was appointed classical tutor in Rotherham College. On 8 Dec. 1818 he was ordained pastor of the Nether Chapel, Sheffield, still retaining the tutorship, spending the Sundays and Mondays in Sheffield and the rest of the week at Rotherham. In July 1817 he became minister of Fish Street Chapel, Hull, during his pastorate of which he published, in 1825, a ‘Life of Dr. Williams,’ his old friend and preceptor. In November 1825 he removed to James Street Chapel, Nottingham. A new meeting-house was built for him in April 1828 in Friar Lane, Nottingham, and in this he ministered thenceforth. In 1835 he delivered in London the course of congregational lectures by which he is now best known, entitled ‘The Christian Atonement, its Basis, Nature, and Bearings, or the Principle of Substitution illustrated as applied in the Redemption of Man’ (London, 1836). His health giving way, he resigned his charge in November 1851, and he died on Sunday, 12 Dec. 1852.

He was twice married, in May 1800 to Miss Sarah Chapman, daughter of a surgeon at Burgh, and in December 1813 to Ann, eldest daughter of the Rev. Isaac Taylor of Ongar [see Gilbert, Mrs. Ann].

In addition to the works already mentioned he published during his Rotherham tutorship a sermon on ‘The Power of God in the Soul of Man.’ After his death one of his sons issued ‘Recollections of Discourses’ which he preached in the years of 1848–50, with ‘A Biographical Sketch’ by his widow prefixed (small 8vo, London, 1853).

[Biographical sketch, as above.]

T. H.