Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pomfret, Samuel

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POMFRET, SAMUEL (1650–1722), divine, born at Coventry in 1650, was educated at the grammar school of Coventry and subsequently under Dr. Obadiah Grew [q. v.], and under Ralph Button [q. v.] at Islington. When he was about nineteen his mother died, and he attained religious convictions. After acting as chaplain to Sir William Dyer of Tottenham, and afterwards of High Easter, Essex, he served for two years in the same capacity on board a Mediterranean trader. Upon his return to England Pomfret preached a weekly lecture in Lincoln's Inn Fields, until he received a call to Sandwich, Kent, where he remained seven years. At length he was arrested for nonconformity, but escaped his captors on the way to Dover Castle. About 1685 he opened a service in a room in Winchester Street, London, which was so crowded that eventually the floor gave way. A new meeting-house, capable of holding fifteen hundred people, was then erected for him in Gravel Lane, Houndsditch. The church was invariably crowded, and Pomfret administered the sacrament to as many as eight hundred communicants. The zeal which he displayed in itinerant preaching wore out his health, but when unable to walk he had himself carried to his pulpit in a chair. He died on 11 Jan. 1722. His assistant from 1719, William Hocker, predeceased him by a month, on 12 Dec. 1721. Thomas Reynolds (1664–1727) [q. v.] preached funeral sermons on and issued memoirs of both. Pomfret's wife survived him, but all his children died before him. Pomfret only published two sermons (1697 and 1701). ‘A Directory for Youth,’ with portrait, was issued posthumously, London, 1722.

[Works and Sermon, with portrait, in Dr. Williams's Library; Memoir by Reynolds, prefixed to Funeral Sermon, 1721–2, 2nd ed. 1722; another edition, entitled ‘Watch and Remember,’ London, 1721–2, differs slightly; Wilson's Hist. of Diss. Churches, i. 165, 397, 473; Bogue and Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, ii. 341; Granger's Hist. of Engl., Continuation by Noble, iii. 158; Toulmin's Hist. of Prot. Dissenters, pp. 572, 245, 247; Meridew's Warwickshire Portraits, p. 48; Bromley's Cat. of Portraits, p. 226; Chaloner Smith's Brit. Mezz. Portraits, iv. 1701.]

C. F. S.