Elys, Edmund (DNB00)

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ELYS, EDMUND (fl. 1707), divine and poet, was born at Haccombe, Devonshire, in or about 1631, being the son of Edmund Elys, rector of East Allington in the same county, by his wife Ursula, daughter of John Carew of Haccombe. After receiving some preliminary instruction from William Hayter at Exeter, he entered Balliol College, Oxford, as a commoner in Lent term 1651, was admitted probationer fellow of that house 29 Nov. 1655, having taken his B.A. degree on 16 Oct. previously, and proceeded M.A. 11 June 1658. He resigned his fellowship 1 Nov. 1659, in which year he succeeded his father in the rectory of East Allington. Writing in 1707 he refers to his fathers death as having involved him 'in a labyrinth of afflictions; some of them lie hard upon me to this day.' During 1659 he adds: 'I was made a prisoner to Major Blackmore in Exeter upon suspicion (of what I was not falsly suspected) that I was a close enemy to the Com-mon Wealth of England, and that I desir'd the prosperity of a design to destroy it by an insurrection, &c.' In 1666 other ' prodigious afflictions fell on me ' (The Quiet Soul, 2nd ed.) His living was under sequestration in 1677, and he found himself 'forced to abscond about London.' In 1680 he was confined in the King's Bench and other prisons. On the accession of William III, Elys, for refusing to take the oaths, was deprived of his rectory. He retired to Totnes, where he was living in 1707, aged 72, a martyr to asthma (ib.) Elys was learned and well-meaning, but his fantastic mode of living and writing drew down on him the ridicule of those whom he wished to convince. Although he does not appear ever to have joined the society, he was a warm friend of the quakers, whose principles he defended in numerous leaflets. A list of these pieces, which were mostly printed at quaker presses, will be found in Joseph Smith's 'List of Friends' Books,' i. 572-5. His poems present a series of tiresome conceits strung together in execrable rhvthm. He is author of:

  1. 'Dia Poemata : Poetick Feet standing upon Holy Ground; or, Verses on certain Texts of Scripture. With Epigrams, &c. By E. E.,' 8vo, London, 1655.
  2. 'An Alphabet of Elegiack Groans upon the truly lamented Death of that Rare Exemplar of Youthful Piety, John Fortescue, of the Inner Temple, Esquire. By E. E.,' 4to, London, 1656.
  3. 'Divine Poems. With a short description of Christian Magnanimity. By E. E.,' 8vo, Oxford, 1658.
  4. 'Miscellanea: sive Meditationes, Orationes,' &c., 8vo, [? Oxford] 1658: another edition, enlarged, 4to, Oxford, 1662.
  5. 'The Quiet Soul; or, The Peace and Tranquillity of a Christian's Estate. Set forth in two Sermons [on Matt. xi. 29],' Oxford, 1659 ; 2nd edition, Exeter, 1707, 4to.
  6. 'An Exclamation to all those that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, against an Apology written by an ingenious person [Thomas Sprat] for Mr. Cowley's lascivious and prophane verses. By a dutiful son of the Church of England,' 4to, London, 1670.
  7. 'Omnes qui audiunt Evangelium idque verum agnoscunt, sunt gratiae et salutis capaces. Thesis in Academia Oxoniensi explicata 1662: cui accesserunt animadversiones in aliqua Jansenii atque etiam Calvini dogmata veritati praedictae adversa,' 8vo, London, 1677.
    1. 'A Vindication of the Doctrine concerning the Light within, against the Objections of George Keith in his Book entituled “The Deism of W. Penn and his Brethren expos'd,” ' 4to, London, 1699. Other tracts in answer to Keith.
  8. 'Socinianismus purus pu-tus Antichristianismus: seu omnimodae Socinianismi iniquitatis demonstratio,' 8vo, London, 1701.
  9. 'Animadversiones in aliqua Philippi Limburgii Dogmata,' 8vo, London, 1702.
  10. 'Animadversiones in aliqua C. Jansenii, Guilielmi Twissi, Richardi Baxteri, et Gerardi de Vries, Dogmata, quse Doctrinae Evangelicae de Benevolentia Divina Hominibus per Christum exhibita advertantur,' 8vo, London, 1706. Elys republished 'The Opinion of Mr. Perkins and Mr. Bolton and others concerning the Sport of Cock-fighting,' 4to, Oxford, 1660, in order to show that such sport 'is not a recreation meet for Christians, though so commonly used by those who own that name ' (printed also in 'Harleian Miscellany,' vol. vi. eds. 1744, 1808). He also edited in 1694 'Letters on Several Subjects ' by Dr. Henry More, of whose writings he was an enthusiastic admirer and with whom he frequently corresponded. His portrait, at the age of twenty-eight, was engraved by Faithorne, 1662.

    [Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 470-5; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 186, 214; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 2nd ed. iii. 298 ; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, i. 112.]

    G. G.