Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Richardson, Samuel (fl.1646)

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RICHARDSON, SAMUEL (fl. 1646), controversialist, of Northamptonshire birth, was probably a soldier and an army preacher in the early part of the civil wars. In ‘The Life of Faith’ he speaks of a Mistress Ann Wilson as having oft refreshed him in the days of his pilgrimage (The Life of Faith, p. 45). He became, apparently, a leading member of one of the seven baptist churches of London. In the three confessions of faith put forth by these churches in 1643, 1644, and 1646, Richardson's signature stands beside that of John Spilsbury, minister of the baptist congregation at Wapping, and he may have been an elder or Spilsbury's colleague there. He ardently supported the action of the army and the government of Cromwell, to whom he had open access. For a time he had scruples as to the title of ‘Protector,’ and told Cromwell of them to his face (Plain Dealing, p. 70); but, becoming convinced, he tried hard to reconcile Vavasor Powell [q. v.] and others to the protectorate. He was possibly the Samuel Richardson who on 21 July 1653 was appointed one of the committee for the hospitals of the Savoy and Ely House (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Interreg. Council Books, I. 70, p. 80; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. i. 386b; see also Middlesex County Records, iii. 97). His works show a remarkable freedom and boldness of thought.

He wrote:

  1. ‘Newes from Heaven of a Treaty of Peace, or a Cordiall for a Fainting Heart,’ 1643, 16mo.
  2. ‘The Life of Faith, in Justification, in Glorification, in Sanctification, in Infirmities, in Times Past, in all Ordinances,’ &c., 1643, 16mo.
  3. ‘Some brief Considerations on Dr. Featley his Book, intituled “The Dipper Dipt,”’ &c., London, February 1645–6.
  4. ‘Fifty Questions propounded to the Assembly, to answer by the Scriptures whether Corporal Punishment may be inflicted upon such as hold different Opinions on Religion,’ London, May 1647.
  5. ‘Justification by Christ alone a Fountaine of Life and Comfort,’ London, June 1647; reprinted in W. Cudworth's ‘Christ alone exalted,’ London, 1745, 12mo; in this work Richardson refers to an earlier publication by him entitled ‘The Saint's Desire,’ and concluded with separate answers to objections of Huet and Dr. Homes to that work; Richardson's tone is strongly Arminian, and contradicts the opinion that Richardson was a Calvinist (Tracts on Liberty of Conscience, p. 238, Hanserd Knollys Soc.).
  6. ‘The Necessity of Toleration in Matters of Religion,’ London, September 1647; reprinted by the Hanserd Knollys Society in 1846.
  7. ‘An Answer to the London Ministers' Letter from them to His Excellency and his Counsell of War; as also an Answer to John Geree's Book, intituled “Might overcoming Right,” with an Answer to the Book intituled “The Armies' Remembrancer” … also a Discovery of that Learning and Ordination these Ministers have, and the Vanity and Insufficiency thereof …,’ London, January 1649.
  8. ‘The Cause of the Poor pleaded,’ London, 1653; a plea for providing the poor with work.
  9. ‘An Apology for the present Government and Governour, with an Answer to severall Objections against them, and 20 Queries propounded for those who are unsatisfied to consider. …,’ London, September, 1654.
  10. ‘Plain Dealing, or the unvailing of the Opposers of the Present Government and Governors, in answer of several Things affirmed by Mr. Vavasor Powell, &c. …,’ London, 1656.
  11. ‘A Discourse of the Torments of Hell … with many infallible Proofs that there is not to be a Punishment after this Life for any to endure that shall not end,’ 1658 and 1660, 12mo; reprinted in ‘The Phœnix,’ ii. 427; 4th edit. London, 1754. To this last two answers appeared respectively by John Brandon [q. v.] in Tὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον, London, 1678, and by Thomas Lewis [q. v.], in ‘The Nature of Hell,’ London, 1720. To Richardson are also conjecturally ascribed ‘An exact and full Relation of all the Proceedings between the Cavaliers and the Northamptonshire Forces at Banbury,’ January 1643–4, signed ‘R. S.;’ ‘The King's March with the Scots, and a List of the 3 Lords, &c. … that submit to the Parliament upon the surrender of Newark,’ London, May 1646; and ‘Oxford agreed to be surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax,’ London, June 1646.

[Tracts on Liberty of Conscience (Hanserd Knollys Soc.); Wilson's Dissenting Churches in London, i. 410; Barclay's Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth, p. 148; Dexter's Congregationalism, p. 103; Vinton's Richardson Memorial; Featley's Dipper Dipt, p. 4.]

W. A. S.