Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whitaker, William (1629-1672)

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WHITAKER, WILLIAM (1629–1672), puritan divine, son of Jeremiah Whitaker [q. v.], was born at Oakham, Rutland, in 1629, and in his fifteenth year was admitted a member of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he became noted for his skill in the classical and oriental languages. Richard Holdsworth [q. v.], master of the college, set him the task of translating Eustathius upon Homer, and he performed it in a highly creditable manner. He took the degree of B.A. in 1642. Two years later he was admitted a fellow of Queens' College by virtue of a parliamentary ordinance, and in 1646 he graduated M.A. as a member of that college. In 1652 he took orders and became minister of Hornchurch, Essex. He succeeded his father in the living of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, in 1654, and he was one of the London ministers who drew up and presented to the king the memorial against the oppression of the Act of Uniformity. After his ejectment he gathered a private congregation, which assembled in a small meeting-house in Long Walk, Bermondsey. For many years his house was full of candidates in divinity, and he had many foreign divines under his care. He died in 1672.

He has two sermons in Annesley's 'Morning Exercises,' and in 1674 eighteen of his sermons, which had been taken in shorthand, were published by his widow, with a dedication to Elizabeth, countess of Exeter, and a sketch of the author's character by Thomas Jacomb, D.D.

[Funeral Sermon by Samuel Annesley, LL.D., 1673; Addit. MS. 5883, f. 164; Calamy's Life of Baxter, ii. 25; Silvester's Life of Baxter, pp. 285, 430, pt. iii. 87, 95; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, 2nd edit. pp. 157, 431; Dunn's Seventy-five Eminent Divines, p. 70.]

T. C.