Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Green, Samuel Gosnell

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1524413Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Green, Samuel Gosnell1912Charles Welsh

GREEN, SAMUEL GOSNELL (1822–1905), baptist minister and bibliophile, born at Falmouth on 20 Dec. 1822, was eldest son of the family of five soas and four daughters of Samuel Green, baptist minister, of Falmouth and afterwards of Thrapston and London, by his wife Eliza, daughter of Benjamin Lepard, of cultured Huguenot descent. From 1824 to 1834 Green was with his family at Thrapston, and when they moved to Walworth in 1834 he was sent to a private school at Camberwell, where his literary tastes were encouraged. After leaving school, and until the age of nineteen, he worked in the printing-office of John Haddon in Finsbury, and then acted as tutor in private schools at Cambridge and Saffron Walden.

In 1840 he entered Stepney College (now Regent's Park College) to prepare for the baptist ministry, and graduated B.A. in the University of London in 1843. After ministerial posts at High Wycombe in 1844 and at Taunton in 1847, he became, in 1851, classical and mathematical tutor at Horton (now Rawdon) College, Bradford, and was from 1863 to 1876 president there. He impressed his students as a scholar of broad sympathies and a stimulating teacher (Prof. Medley in Centenary of Rawdon College, 1904; Rev. James Stuart in Watford Observer, Sept. 1905).

As a preacher Green proved a special favourite with children. Long connected with the Sunday School Union, where he succeeded his father as editor of the monthly ‘Notes on Lessons,’ he was elected in 1894 a vice-president of the union. His addresses and lectures to children on the Bible and his contributions to the ‘Union Magazine’ were afterwards separately published under various titles. He also wrote for children ‘The Written Word’ (12mo. 1871), a book of merit; ‘The Apostle Peter’ (1873; 3rd edit. 1883), and ‘The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah’ (2 vols. 1876–7). As the first Ridley lecturer at Regent's Park College in 1883, Green delivered the substance of his excellent ‘Christian Ministry to the Young.’

In 1876 Green came to London to serve as editor, and in 1881 as editorial secretary, of the Religious Tract Society. Thenceforth his main energies were devoted to literary work, in which towards the end of his long life he was aided by his elder son, Prof. S. W. Green. His most important work was his ‘Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament,’ published in 1870 (revised editions in 1880, 1885, 1892, and 1904), which was followed in 1894 by a primer which had also a wide circulation. A companion volume on the Hebrew of the Old Testament appeared in 1901. In 1898 he published his Angus lecture on ‘The Christian Creed and the Creeds of Christendom’; in 1903 ‘A Handbook of Church History,’ a compact and comprehensive manual; in 1904 a revised edition of Dr. Angus's ‘Bible Handbook’ (new and posthumous edition 1907), bringing that useful work up to date. In a revised edition of the English Bible (1877), designed by Joseph Gurney (1804–1879) [q. v.] , Green, with Dr. George Andrew Jacob, headmaster of Christ's Hospital (1853–68), was responsible for the New Testament. For the Religious Tract Society's series of ‘Pen and Pencil Sketches’ he wrote wholly or in part ‘Pictures from England’ (1879 and 1889), ‘France’ (1878), ‘Bible Lands’ (1879), ‘Germany’ (1880), ‘Scotland’ (1883; new edit. 1886), and ‘Italy’ (1885).

Green was president of the Baptist Union at Portsmouth in 1895, and delivered from the chair two addresses, which were published. He also read a paper on ‘Hymnody in our Churches,’ a subject in which he was deeply interested. For John Rylands (1801–1888) [q. v.] of Manchester he printed for private circulation an admirable anthology, ‘Hymns of the Church Universal’ (1885), and was chairman of the editorial committee of the ‘Baptist Hymnal.’

An appreciative and widely read critic of secular literature, he was the adviser of John Rylands's widow, of Stretford near Manchester, in various literary and benevolent schemes from the time of her husband's death in 1888. He and his third son, J. Arnold Green, assisted Mrs. Rylands in the erection of the John Rylands Library, Manchester, which was opened in 1899.

In 1900 Green received the honorary degree of D.D. from the University of St. Andrews. Retaining his vitality to the last, he died at Streatham on 15 Sept. 1905, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. He married in October 1848, at Abingdon, Berkshire, Elizabeth Leader, eldest daughter of James Collier; she died on 23 May 1905, having issue three sons and one daughter. His third son, J. Arnold Green, born on 23 Aug. 1860, died on 13 Sept. 1907.

A presentation portrait in oils by H. A. Olivier, subscribed for in 1900 by students of Rawdon and other friends, was handed by Green to the college at its annual meeting in June 1905.

Besides the works mentioned and other smaller religious and educational works, Green published: 1. ‘Religious Hindrances to Religious Revival,’ 1845. 2. ‘The Working-Classes of Great Britain, their Present Condition, &c.,’ 1850. 3. ‘Clerical Subscription and National Morality’ (Bicentenary Lectures), 1862. 4. ‘What do I believe?’ 12mo. 1880; Welsh translation, 1882. 5. ‘The Psalms of David and Modern Criticism,’ 1893. 6. ‘The Story of the Religious Tract Society,’ 1899.

[Memoir by Rev. James Stuart in the Watford Observer, Sept. 1905, reprinted and extended in the Baptist Handbook, 1906; Christian World, 21 Sept. 1905; Athenæum, 23 Sept. 1905, p. 403; personal information kindly supplied by Professor S. W. Green.]

C. W.