Hallett, Joseph (1691?-1744) (DNB00)

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HALLETT or HALLET, JOSEPH, III (1691?–1744), nonconformist minister, eldest son of Joseph Hallett (1656–1722) [q. v.], was born at Exeter in 1691 or 1692. He was educated at his father's academy. Among his class-mates was John Fox (1693–1763) [q. v.], who describes him as ‘a very grave, serious, and thinking young man,’ ‘most patient of study,’ and reading more than any other student. From 1710 he acted as assistant tutor. Early in that year he was attracted by the ‘Advice for the Study of Divinity’ in Whiston's ‘Sermons and Essays,’ 1709, 8vo. He wrote to Whiston, cautioning him not to direct the answer to himself, since if it were known that he ‘corresponded with Whiston he would be ruined.’ Whiston, whose reply is dated 1 May 1710, seems to have thought his correspondent was the father; Fox tells us it was the son, and adds that Hallett was the first who at Exeter ‘fell into the unitarian scheme,’ the term being used in Whiston's sense. On 6 May 1713 Hallett was licensed to preach. An ordination at Chudleigh, Devonshire (18 June 1713), led to a correspondence between Hallett and Fox, in which Hallett expressed ‘high notions’ of ministerial authority and the apostolic succession, confirming Fox in the opinion that Hallett had ‘a great propensity to rule and management.’ On 19 Oct. 1715 Hallett was ordained at Exeter along with John Lavington, afterwards the leader of presbyterian orthodoxy in the West of England. He is probably the Hallett who, according to Evans's list, was minister for a time to a congregation of four hundred people at Martock, near South Petherton, Somersetshire. He signed the disclaimer of Arianism (6 May 1719) drawn up by his father, and took part in the controversy which divided the Exeter assembly, aiming to reconcile the unity of God with a recognition of the Son as subordinate deity.

On his father's death (1722) he succeeded him as colleague to Peirce at the Mint Meeting. When Peirce died (1726) his place was taken by Thomas Jeffery, formerly a student at the elder Hallett's academy. Fox describes Hallett as ‘a popular preacher, learned and laborious,’ and characterises his publications as having ‘much more of clergy than of the mother in them.’ He attempted to steer, with Clarke, a middle course between Arianism and orthodoxy. His conjectural emendations of the received text of the Hebrew scriptures were in very many instances confirmed as various readings by Kennicott. He died on 2 April 1744.

He published: 1. ‘The Belief of the Subordination of the Son … no characteristick of an Arian,’ &c., Exeter, 1719, fol. 2. ‘Reflections on the … Reasons why many citizens of Exeter,’ &c., 1720, 8vo. 3. ‘The Unity of God not inconsistent with the Divinity of Christ,’ &c., 1720, 8vo. 4. ‘A Funeral Sermon for the Rev. James Peirce,’ &c., 1726, 8vo. 5. ‘Index Librorum MSS. … et Versionum … Novi Fœderis,’ &c., 1728, 8vo. 6. ‘A Free and Impartial Study of the Holy Scriptures … being Notes … Discourses, and Observations,’ &c., 1729, 8vo; 2nd vol. 1732, 8vo; 3rd vol. 1736, 8vo (his main work). 7. ‘A Defence of a Discourse on the Impossibility of Proving a Future State by the Light of Nature,’ &c., 1731, 8vo (in answer to Henry Grove [q. v.]). 8. ‘A Paraphrase and Notes on … Philemon,’ &c., 1731, 4to (anon.). 9. ‘A Paraphrase … on the Three Last Chapters of … Hebrews,’ &c., 1733, 4to. 10. ‘The Consistent Christian,’ &c., 1738, 8vo (against Chubb, Woolston, and Morgan), also some other tracts in the Arian controversy and against the Deists.

[Whiston's Memoirs, 1753, pp. 127 sq.; Fox's Memoirs in Monthly Repository, 1821, pp. 131 sq.; Murch's Hist. Presb. and Gen. Bapt. Churches in West of Engl., 1835, pp. 386 sq.; Christian Reformer, 1836, p. 34; manuscript list of ordinations in records of Exeter Assembly.]

A. G.