Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kelburn, Sinclare

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KELBURN, SINCLARE (1754–1802), Irish divine, only son of the Rev. Ebenezer Kelburn, minister of Plunket Street presbyterian church, Dublin, and Martha Sinclare, was born in Dublin in 1754. Entering Trinity College there he graduated A.B. in 1774, and then went to Edinburgh University to study theology and medicine. Having been licensed to preach he received a call from the third presbyterian congregation of Belfast (now Rosemary Street Church), and on 8 Feb. 1780 was ordained there as assistant and successor to the Rev. William Laird. The volunteer movement was then at its height, and Kelburn became one of its most ardent promoters, sometimes appearing in his pulpit on Sundays in the uniform of his corps, with his musket standing beside him. On one occasion 450 volunteers were quartered all night in his church, and he preached to them on the following day. His first publication, ‘The Morality of the Sabbath defended’ (Belfast, 1781), was a rejoinder to a sermon preached by his neighbour, the Rev. Dr. Crombie, in which the volunteers had been recommended to meet on Sundays for drill. He soon acquired a high reputation as a preacher. In 1790 he published ‘The Duty of Preaching the Gospel explained and recommended’ (Dublin, 1790). His largest and most important work was ‘The Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ asserted and proved, and the connection of this Doctrine with Practical Religion pointed out’ (Belfast, 1792). It reached a second edition. In 1797 he was arrested and lodged in Kilmainham prison on suspicion of being connected with the United Irishmen. On his liberation, after a lengthened incarceration, he had lost the use of both legs, and his health had otherwise suffered. In November 1799, at the request of his congregation, he resigned his pastoral charge. He died at Beersbridge, Belfast, on 31 March 1802, and was buried at Castlereagh, co. Down.

[Memoir prefixed to reprint of The Divinity of our Lord; Witherow's Historical and Literary Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland; obituary in Belfast Newsletter, 1802.]

T. H.