Hensman, John (DNB00)

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HENSMAN, JOHN (1780–1864), divine, son of Thomas and Anne Hensman, born at Bedford on 22 Sept. 1780, was educated at Bedford grammar school, whence he proceeded with an exhibition to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1797. Ninth wrangler in 1801, he was elected a fellow. Taking orders, he for a time assisted the Rev. Charles Simeon at Cambridge. In 1803 he became curate to James Vaughan, rector of Wraxall, Somerset, and married his rector's sister, Elizabeth, on 16 Sept. 1808. The next year he went to Clifton, near Bristol, as curate in charge of the parish church, the living being at that time under sequestration. Clifton had then only one small church with a chapel of ease in Dowry Square, and was little more than a village with a few wealthy inhabitants. During the next few years it increased rapidly, and, chiefly owing to Hensman's exertions, the old church, which had been rebuilt in the seventeenth century, was replaced by the present parish church, consecrated on 12 Aug. 1822. When in the course of that year the sequestration was removed and the incumbent returned, Hensman, at the bishop's request, took charge of Dowry Chapel as curate. In 1830 his friends built Trinity Church, Hotwells, for him; it was consecrated on 10 Nov. He held the incumbency from 10 Jan. following till 8 Oct. 1844, when he accepted the perpetual curacy of Christ Church, Clifton; the church here was built for him. In March 1847 he was instituted to the living of Clifton on his own presentation. He was instrumental in building St. Paul's Church, consecrated on 8 Nov. 1853, and St. Peter's, consecrated 10 Aug. 1855. On the completion of fifty years of his Clifton ministry, a chapel of ease was built as a memorial of him, and was consecrated in December 1862. He was for some years an hon. canon of Bristol Cathedral. He died at Clifton on 23 April 1864, exactly fifty-five years from the day on which he preached his first sermon at Clifton. He was buried at Wraxall. Hensman was highly esteemed, not only in his parish and in the adjoining city of Bristol, but more widely as one of the wisest and oldest members of the evangelical party. He declined all part in controversy, nor did he in his sermons, which were persuasive rather than eloquent, ever touch on any disputes about doctrine or practice. He was always gentle and forbearing. His wife predeceased him in November 1860. He left one daughter, Harriet, married to her cousin, the Rev. Edward P. Vaughan, rector of Wraxall.

[Private information and personal knowledge.]

W. H.