Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parry, William (1754-1819)

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945448Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 43 — Parry, William (1754-1819)1895Bertha Porter

PARRY, WILLIAM (1754–1819), congregational minister and tutor, was born on 25 Nov. 1754 at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, where his father was a deacon of the baptist congregation. About 1760 the family removed to London; his father engaged in the woollen business, and resided at Stepney. On the advice of the minister of the congregational church at Stepney, Samuel Brewer, William entered the academy at Homerton, as a candidate for the ministry, on 8 Feb. 1774. He was received into the church at Stepney on 29 April 1774; soon afterwards preached with success at Gravesend in Kent, and declined an invitation from the church there. In 1780 he finished his course, left Homerton, and was ordained to the ministry at Little Baddow in Essex. While there he kept a school, and helped to organise the ‘Benevolent Society for the Relief of Necessitous Widows and Children of Protestant Dissenting Ministers in the Counties of Essex and Herts,’ established at Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire on 26 Oct. 1789. In 1790 he actively aided in the dissenters' endeavours to obtain the repeal of the test and corporation acts, and published three letters to Lord Aylesford, chairman of a meeting of gentlemen and clergy held at Warwick on 2 Feb. 1790 to oppose the repeal of the acts. From that time he continued to publish tracts on subjects of religious and civil interest until within a few years of his death. In 1795 he supported the scheme for spreading the gospel in unenlightened parts of the county by the formation of the Essex Congregational Union. But his congregation fell off owing to the emigration to America of many of its leading members. He consequently accepted the tutorship of the academy of the Coward Trust, about to be removed in 1799 to Wymondley in Hertfordshire. This post he held for the rest of his life.

His lectures were noticeable for their simplicity and their avoidance of technical terms. Seventeen volumes of them in manuscript are in the Historical Library at New College, Hampstead. He died on 9 Jan. 1819, after a few weeks' illness, and was buried on 21 Jan. in the ground adjoining the congregational church at Hitchin. He was twice married—first, in 1780, to Rachel, daughter of Edward Hickman, minister of Back Street Independent Chapel, Hitchin, from 1758 to 1771; she died in 1791, leaving him with four children; and secondly, in 1793 or 1794, to Susannah, daughter of the Rev. William Lincoln of Bury, who survived him.

Parry's published works include:

  1. ‘Thoughts on such Penal Religious Statutes as affect the Protestant Dissenters,’ London, 1791.
  2. ‘Vindication of Public and Social Worship,’ London, 1792 (in answer to Gilbert Wakefield's ‘Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public and Social Worship’).
  3. ‘An Enquiry into the Nature and Extent of the Inspiration of the Writers of the New Testament,’ London, 1797, 1822.
  4. ‘Strictures on the Origin of Moral Evil,’ London, 1808 (in answer to Edward Williams's ‘Predestination to Life.’). It was replied to by Thomas Hill in ‘Animadversions on Parry's Strictures,’ when Parry retorted in
  5. ‘Vindication of Strictures on the Origin of Moral Evil,’ London, 1808.

[London Christian Instructor or Congregational Magazine, 1819, pp. 127, 257–61, 321–8, 385–92; manuscript Memorials of the Academical Institutions sustained by the Coward Trust, by the Rev. Samuel Newth, D.D., pp. 118–24 (in the Historical Library, MS. Division, of New College, Hampstead); Chaplin's Admonitions from the Dead (funeral sermon), and Turnbull's Address, passim; Memoir by Newton prefixed to 2nd edit. of Parry's Enquiry; Urwick's Nonconformity in Herts, pp. 606, 633, 650; Congregational Magazine, 1834, p. 132; Evangelical Magazine, 1818, p. 172. See also Coward College Correspondence MS. vol. i. letters 28 and 29, at New College.]

B. P.