Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Hall, Christopher Newman

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1525242Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Hall, Christopher Newman1912Augustus Robert Buckland

HALL, CHRISTOPHER NEWMAN (1816–1902), congregationalist divine, born at Maidstone on 22 May 1816, was son of John Vine Hall [q. v.], proprietor of the 'Maidstone Journal,' by Mary, daughter of James Teverill of Worcester. Educated at Rochester and at Totteridge, he entered his father's printing house at fourteen, working successively as compositor, reader, and reporter. In 1837 he went to Highbury College, in training for the congregational ministry, graduated B.A. at London University in 1841, and in 1842 was ordained pastor of Albion Church, Hull. There he gathered a largo congregation, was in demand as a preacher, and in 1834 issued his first publication, a sermon on ’Christian Union.' His tract ’Come to Jesus,' issued in 1848, made his name widely known. Over 4,000,000 copies in some forty languages or dialects were circulated during the author's life. In 1854 Hall became minister of Surrey Chapel, Blackfriars, the scene of Rowland Hill's labours. His success was pronounced. As a mental discipline, he read for the degree of LL.B. at London University, which with a law scholarship he obtained in 1856. During the American civil war he was conspicuous for his advocacy of the northern cause, and in 1866 he was appointed chairman of the Congregational Union. He was warmly welcomed on visiting Canada and the United States in 1867, was made D.D. of Amhurst University, and afterwards declined the offer of a pastorate in Chicago. During the controversy attending the education act of 1870 Hall sought to effect a reconciliation between W. E. Forster, the minister in charge of the measure, and nonconformist members of the Birmingham League, who distrusted Forster's policy. Hall was also the means of bringing Gladstone, with whom he became well acquainted, into conference with representative nonconformists. Throughout his career he sought to promote closer relations between church and dissent. In 1876 the congregation of Surrey Chapel moved to Christ Church, Westminster Bridge Road, built, mainly through Hall's exertions, at a cost of 64,000l. In 1892 he resigned his pastorate, and in the same year received the D.D. degree from Edinburgh University. He died in London on 18 Feb. 1902, and was buried at Abney Park cemetery.

Hall was an accomplished preacher, a man of wide sympathies, artistic feeling and evangelical fervour. For many years his work was done amid circumstances of great trial. He married, on 14 April 1846, Charlotte,, daughter of Dr. Gordon of Hull. They separated in 1870. Litigation followed. Hall filed and withdrew a petition for divorce in 1873, but was successful in a second suit, which he initiated in 1879, when a counter-charge of adultery against him was withdrawn. A decree nisi was made absolute on 17 Feb. 1880. On 29 March 1880 he married Harriet Mary Margaret, eldest daughter of Edward Knipe, of Water Newton, Huntingdonshire, who survived him. There were no children of either marriage. Busts in terra cotta and bronze by Edward Onslow Ford [q. v. Suppl. II] were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1878 and 1885 respectively. Hall, in addition to many tracts, minor works, and several volumes of verse, containing seven hymns in 'common use' (Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology), published:

  1. 'The Author of "The Sinner's Friend,"' 1860, a brief memoir of his father, whose autobiography he edited in 1865.
  2. ’Plain Truths Plainly Put,' 1861.
  3. ’Sermons,' Boston and New York, 1868.
  4. 'Homeward Bound and other Sermons,' 1869.
  5. 'From Liverpool to St. Louis,' 1870.
  6. ’Prayer: its Reasonableness and Efficacy,' 1875.
  7. 'The Lord's Prayer: a Practical Meditation,' 1883.
  8. 'Gethsemane: or Leaves of Healing from the Garden of Grief,' 1891.
  9. ’Atonement, the Fundamental Fact of Christianity,' 1893.
  10. 'Newman Hall: an Autobiography,' 1898.

[Hall's Autobiography, 1898; The Times, 9 Aug. 1879, 18 Feb. 1880, 19 Feb. 1902; T. W. Reid's Life of W. E. Forster, 1888, i. 539-42.]

A. R. B.