Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tallents, Francis

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TALLENTS, FRANCIS (1619–1708), ejected divine, eldest son of Philip Tallents, whose father, a Frenchman, accompanied Sir Francis Leake to England after saving his life, was born at Pilsley in the parish of North Wingfield, Derbyshire, in November 1619. His father dying when he was fourteen, Tallents was sent by an uncle, Francis Tallents, to the free schools at Mansfield and Newark, where he was said to have not silver but golden ‘talents’ (cf. Cox, Churches of Derbyshire, i. 385, iv. 481). Tallents entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 1635, but removed to Magdalene College to become sub-tutor to the sons of Theophilus, earl of Suffolk. In 1642 he travelled abroad with his pupils, and resided for a time at Saumur. On his return he was chosen fellow and tutor of Magdalene. He received presbyterian ordination at St. Mary's Woolnoth, London, on 29 Nov. 1648. In October 1649 he was chosen one of the twelve graduates who had power to preach without episcopal license.

In 1652 Tallents was invited by the mayor and aldermen, and urged by Baxter, to become lecturer and curate at St. Mary's, Shrewsbury. His nomination was dated 4 Jan. 1653, and the committee of plundered ministers added 50l. to his income. At the Restoration the commissioners appointed to restore deposed ministers were petitioned to allow him to remain, his predecessor, one Prowde, concurring. On 10 Oct. 1661 he received confirmation of his office, but the next year was several times imprisoned in Shrewsbury Castle for preaching, and, on his refusal to receive further ordination, he was ejected in September 1662. After that he regularly attended worship at St. Mary's, only preaching himself at different hours, and thus he escaped molestation. From February 1671 to about 1674 he resided with his pupil, John Hampden the younger [q. v.], near Paris. On his return he joined with John (d. 1699), eldest son of John Bryan, D.D. [q. v.], in ministering to the presbyterian congregation at Oliver Chapel, High Street, Shrewsbury. An indictment was framed against him for holding a conventicle in December 1680, but he was able to prove an alibi, having spent the whole of the winter in France. He was under suspicion after Monmouth's rebellion in 1685, and was lodged in Chester Castle, but was soon released, and on James II's progress to Shrewsbury in September 1686 he joined in the presentation to him of a purse of gold in recognition of the Indulgence (see Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. iv. 376). He died at Shrewsbury on 11 April 1708, aged nearly eighty-nine, and was buried on the 15th in St. Mary's Church. He composed his own epitaph.

Tallents was four times married: first to Anne (d. 1658), daughter of Gervase Lomax; secondly, to Martha (d. 1663), daughter of Thomas Clive of Walford, near Baschurch; thirdly, in 1673, to Mrs. Mary Greenhill, a widow, of Harrow-on-the-Hill (Chester, London Marriage Licences, p. 1313). His fourth wife was buried at St. Mary's on 11 March 1702. By his first wife only had he issue—a son Francis, born on 7 Sept. 1656, admitted to Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1672, graduated thence B.A. 1675, M.A. 1679. He became chaplain to Sir D. Gauden, the sheriff of London, was acquainted with Pepys, and died in early life (Graduati Cantabrigienses, p. 459; Pepys, Diary, iv. 331).

Besides a sermon preached at the funeral of Philip Henry [q. v.], republished in ‘Eighteen Sermons,’ London, 1816, 8vo, Tallents published: 1. ‘A View of Universal History,’ London, 1685, fol., a series of chronological tables which he had engraved on sixteen copper-plates in his own house. 2. ‘A Sure and Large Foundation,’ 1689?; a copy of this was given by him to the school library at Shrewsbury, in 1696, but the work is not otherwise known; and 3. ‘A Short History of Schism,’ London, 1705, 8vo. This was answered by ‘S. G.,’ i.e. Samuel Grascome, in ‘Moderation in Fashion, or an Answer to a Treatise,’ &c., 1705, 8vo. Tallents followed with 4. ‘Some few Considerations upon S. G.'s Large Answer to the Short History,’ &c., London, 1706, 8vo, and Grascome rejoined in ‘Schism triumphant, or a Rejoinder to a Reply,’ &c., London, 1707, 8vo.

The manuscript journal of Tallents's travels, formerly in the possession of Job Orton [q. v.], was owned by the Rev. John Brickdale Blakeway [q. v.] in 1825, and was used by him in compiling the ‘History of Shrewsbury.’ Two letters from Baxter to Tallents are in the Alfred Morrison collection.

[Owen and Blakeway's Hist. of Shrewsbury, i. 482, 486, ii. 379–83, 539; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, iii. 152, 153–5; A Short Account of the Life of Mr. Francis Tallents, added to a funeral sermon preached by Matthew Henry, 1709.]

C. F. S.