Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gilpin, Richard
GILPIN, RICHARD, M.D. (1625–1700), nonconformist divine and physician, second son of Isaac Gilpin of Strickland-Kettle, in the parish of Kendal, Westmoreland, and Ann, daughter of Ralph Tonstall of Coatham-Mundeville, Durham, was born at Strickland, and baptised at Kendal on 23 Oct. 1625. He was educated at Edinburgh University, graduating M.A. on 30 July 1646, and studying first medicine, then divinity. Neither the date nor the manner of his ordination is known. He began his ministry at Lambeth, continued it at the Savoy as assistant to John Wilkins, afterwards bishop of Chester (Calamy), and then returning to the north preached at Durham. In 1650 William Morland had been sequestered from the rectory of Greystoke, Cumberland, worth 300l. a year. For about two years the living had been held by one West, a popular preacher, who died of consumption. Gilpin succeeded him in 1652 or early in 1653. No fifths were paid to Morland. In the large parish of Greystoke there were four chapels, which Gilpin supplied with preachers. His parish was organised on the congregational model, having an inner circle of communicants and a staff of deacons. The presbyterian system, which it seems that Gilpin would have preferred, had not been adopted in Cumberland. In August 1653 Gilpin set on foot a voluntary association of the churches of Cumberland and Westmoreland, on the lines of Baxter's Worcestershire ‘agreement’ of that year, but giving to the associated clergy somewhat larger powers than Baxter approved. The organisation worked smoothly and gained in adherents; the terms of agreement were printed in 1656; in 1658 Gilpin preached (19 May) before the associated ministers at Keswick. He used his opportunities of influence with great judgment and disinterestedness, always acting as a peacemaker. His chief trouble was with the quakers, who abounded in his district; one of his relatives at Kendal, bearing his own surname, had been for a short time a quaker. Gilpin was in the habit of giving medical advice as well as spiritual counsel to his flock. By his purchase of the manor of Scaleby Castle, some twenty miles north of Greystoke, beyond Carlisle, he acquired a position in the county which gave him a lead in public affairs. His reputation for learning, scientific as well as scholastic, was recognised in his appointment as visitor to the college at Durham, for which Cromwell issued a patent on 15 May 1657.
At the Restoration Gilpin was one of the most prominent religious leaders in the north of England. In the redistribution of ecclesiastical preferment he was not overlooked. He was offered the see of Carlisle, for which his capacity for organisation admirably fitted him. Calamy ascribes his refusal to his modesty, reinforced by the recollection that his kinsman, Bernard Gilpin [q. v.], had declined the same dignity at the hands of Elizabeth. The explanation is probably correct, as he had no inflexible ideas on the subject of church government. He preached at Carlisle at the opening of the assize on 10 Sept. 1660. When Richard Sterne became bishop (2 Dec.), Gilpin was not called upon to vacate his living. He resigned it on 2 Feb. 1661 in favour of the sequestered Morland, retired to Scaleby, and preached there in his large hall. He is also said to have preached occasionally at Penruddock, a village in Greystoke parish, where John Noble, one of his deacons, gathered in his own house a nonconformist congregation, afterwards ministered to by Anthony Sleigh (d. 1702).
Shortly after the passing of the Uniformity Act (1662) Gilpin removed to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to minister to the hearers of the ejected lecturer, Samuel Hammond [q. v.] As early as 1663 Bishop Cosin complained of him. He did not wait for the indulgence of 1672, but openly disregarded the Conventicle Acts (1664, 1670) and the Five Mile Act (1665). Consequently he was several times presented for holding a conventicle, but escaped with fines, and does not seem to have been interfered with after 4 Aug. 1669. At Newcastle he acquired considerable repute as a physician ‘among persons of rank and quality;’ to legalise his practice he graduated M.D. at Leyden on 6 July 1676. Calamy describes his preaching in enthusiastic terms. He was a born orator, and though he never used notes his discourses were remarkable for method, as well as rich in pathos. His ‘skill in government’ was taxed by ‘a numerous congregation of very different opinions and tempers.’ Calamy says (Abridgment, 1702, p. 415) ‘he left them in peace; tho' fearful of what hath since happ'ned among them’ [see Bradbury, Thomas; Madame Partis, mentioned in that article, was Gilpin's daughter]. From 1694 to 1698 Gilpin had as assistant William Pell [q. v.], ejected from Great Stainton, Durham. Pell was followed by Timothy Manlove (d. 3 Aug. 1699), and Manlove by Bradbury.
Early in February 1700 Gilpin was seized with a feverish cold; his last sermon ‘he rather groan'd than spake,’ the text (2 Cor. v. 2) being strangely appropriate. He died on 13 Feb., and was buried on 16 (Barnes) or 21 (Heywood) Feb. in All Saints' Church, Newcastle. He was of short stature, with a mobile countenance; his likeness is given in Grosart's edition of the ‘Dæmonologia,’ from a painting in the possession of a descendant, Dr. Gilpin of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was twice married; his second wife, who survived him, was Susanna, daughter of William Brisco of Crofton, Yorkshire. She removed to Scaleby Castle, and died on 18 Jan. 1715. His children were: (1) William, born 5 Sept. 1657, remained a churchman, became recorder of Carlisle (1718), was noted for artistic and antiquarian tastes, married Mary, daughter of Henry Fletcher of Tallantire, Cumberland, and was buried 14 Dec. 1724; (2) Isaac, born 12 July 1658, died 21 Feb. 1719; (3) Susanna, born 17 Oct. 1659, married Matthias Partis; (4) Anne, born 5 Dec. 1660, married Jeremiah Sawrey of Broughton Tower, Lancashire; buried 11 April 1745; (5) Elizabeth, born 3 Aug. 1662; (6) Richard, born 4 May 1664, died young; (7) Mary, born 28 Dec. 1666; (8) Dorothy, born 13 Aug. 1668, married, first, Jabez Cay, M.D., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; secondly, on 29 Dec. 1704, Eli Fenton; died April 1708; (9) John, born 13 Feb. 1670, merchant at Whitehaven, made a fortune in the Virginia trade; married Hannah, daughter of Robert Cay of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; buried 26 Nov. 1732; (10) Frances, born 27 July 1671, died young; (11) Bernard, born 6 Oct. 1672, died young in Jamaica; (12) Frances, born 27 Jan. 1675, died young; (13) Thomas, born 27 July 1677, died 20 June 1700.
- ‘The Agreement of the Associated Ministers and Churches of Cumberland and Westmerland’ (sic), &c., 1646, 4to (anon.).
- ‘The Temple Rebuilt,’ &c., 1658, 4to (sermon, Zach. vi. 13, to associated ministers).
- ‘Disputatio Medica Inauguralis de Hysterica Passione,’ &c., 1676, 4to.
- ‘Dæmonologia Sacra; or, a Treatise of Satan's Temptations,’ &c., 3 pts., 1677, 4to; 2nd edit. Edinburgh, 1735, 8vo; new edition, by A. B. Grosart, Edinburgh, 1867, 8vo (a work of religious experience, the first title somewhat misleading).
- ‘The Comforts of Divine Love,’ &c., 1700, 8vo (funeral sermon for Manlove). Posthumous was
- ‘An Assize Sermon … at Carlisle,’ &c., London and Newcastle, 1700, 4to (preached in 1660, see above). Among Gilpin's manuscripts was a treatise on the ‘Pleasantness of the Ways of Religion,’ which Calamy desired to see in print; it has since perished. The communion cups of the church of the Divine Unity, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which bore the inscription, ‘Church Plate, Dr. Richard Gilpin, Pastor, 1693,’ were sold some years back ‘to provide a set of more modern pattern.’
[Memoir, by Grosart, prefixed to Dæmonologia Sacra, 1867; Memoirs by W. Gilpin, 1879; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 154 sq.; Continuation, 1727, i. 226; Walker's Sufferings, 1714, ii. 306; Monthly Repository, 1811, pp. 514 sq.; Cat. Edinb. Graduates, 1858, p. 65; George Fox's Journal, 1694, p. 123; Thomas Story's Journal, 1747 (interview with Gilpin in 1691); Memoir of Ambrose Barnes, ed. Longstaffe (Surtees Soc.), l. 153; Turner's Northowram Register (Heywood's and Dickenson's), 1881, pp. 99, 197, 244; List of Chapels claimed by Presbyterians (Tooting Case), 1887, p. 48; Mearns's English Ulster, 1888, p. 34; information from the Rev. F. Walters, Newcastle.]