Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holloway, Benjamin

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HOLLOWAY, BENJAMIN (1691?–1759), divine, born at Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, about 1691, was the son of Joseph Holloway, ‘brasiator’ (maltster), of that town. After passing through Westminster School, he was admitted a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, on 4 Feb. 1707–8, under Dr. Anstey (College Admission Book), and went out LL.B. in 1713. He took holy orders. In July 1723, being then located at Bedford, he sent a letter to Dr. John Woodward giving an ‘Account of the Pits for Fullers-Earth’ at Wavendon, near Woburn, printed in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ (xxxii. 419–21). On 30 Nov. of that year Holloway was elected F.R.S. on the recommendation of Sir Hans Sloane. In 1726 he published a translation of Woodward's ‘Naturalis Historia Telluris,’ 8vo, London, 1726, with a long introductory account of Woodward's works. It was translated into French by Jean Pierre Niceron in 1735, and into Italian in 1739. Woodward introduced him to John Hutchinson [q. v.], many of whose views he adopted. Between 1724 and 1730 he was presented by Reynolds, bishop of Lincoln, to the rectory of Middleton-Stoney, Oxfordshire, a preferment which he retained until his death. From Middleton he addressed some interesting letters to Sloane, which are preserved in the British Museum, Additional MS. 4048, ff. 66–77. Sloane helped him in some ‘Critical Annotations on the Book of Ecclesiastes,’ which were ready for the press in 1732, but never appeared. On 17 March 1726 Holloway was presented by the crown to the second portion of Waddesdon rectory, Buckinghamshire (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, i. 502), which he resigned on his preferment by the Duke of Marlborough (26 March 1736) to the rectory of Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire (Edward Marshall, Woodstock Manor and its Environs, pp. 309–11). On 8 Oct. in the same year he preached a visitation sermon at Woodstock, afterwards published as ‘The Commemorative Sacrifice,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1737. It was extracted from two other works, an ‘Answer at large’ to Hoadly's book on the Sacrament, and ‘A Summary of Ninety-two Errors, Inconsistencies, Misrepresentations, &c.,’ in the same book, both of which he hoped to publish. In December 1739 he was allowed to hand over the rectory of Bladon to his son. During the same year he published three sermons on ‘The Nullity of Repentance without Faith.’ In 1740 he had prepared a supplement entitled ‘The true Doctrine of Repentance vindicated from certain false Glosses [by Matthew Tindal] on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Addressed to the Gentlemen of the University of Oxford.’ The vice-chancellor, Theophilus Leigh, objecting to his doctrine that Melchisedec was a manifestation of Christ before his incarnation, refused to allow it to be printed at the university press, and obliged Holloway to withdraw from Oxford. Holloway thereupon printed it in London (Gent. Mag. x. 264). Towards the close of 1744 he was acting as private tutor to the future Lord Spencer at the house of his father, the Hon. John Spencer. William Jones in his ‘Memoirs of Bishop Horne,’ 1795 (pp. 40–3), gives a pleasing account of the esteem in which Holloway was held by the family. Horne was advised by Holloway when reading for ordination, and based one of his most effective sermons on Holloway's manuscript animadversions upon the ‘Divine Legation.’ Holloway died at Middleton-Stoney on 10 April 1759, and was buried there on the 13th (parish register). He has been confused with his son, Benjamin Holloway, M.A., of Lincoln College, Oxford, afterwards rector of Bladon, and of Ardley, Oxfordshire, in 1753.

Holloway wrote, in addition to the books already noticed: 1. ‘Remarks on Dr. Sharp's Pieces on the Words Elohim and Berith, showing, among other things, that the Chaldee, Syriac, Samaritan, and Arabic Dialects were all anciently one Language,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1751. A ‘Short Reply,’ 8vo, London, 1751, was forthwith written by George Kalmar to this ‘puzzled Piece.’ 2. ‘Originals physical and theological, sacred and profane. Or an Essay towards a Discovery of the first descriptive Ideas in Things, by Discovery of the simple or primary Roots in Words; as the same were, from the Beginning rightly applied by Believers, and afterwards perverted by Infidels, …’ 2 vols. 8vo, Oxford, 1751. 3. ‘Letter and Spirit, or Annotations upon the Holy Scriptures according to both,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1753 (only the first volume published). 4. ‘The Primævity and Pre-eminence of the Sacred Hebrew above all other Languages, vindicated from the repeated attempts of the Reverend Dr. Hunt to level it with the Arabic and other Oriental Dialects,’ &c., 8vo, Oxford, 1754. Sharp in his ‘Discourses touching the Antiquity of the Hebrew Tongue and Character,’ 8vo, London, 1755, criticised this work, and accused Holloway of unfairly adapting some correspondence with Bishop Chandler of Durham. Whenever Holloway found himself out of practice in writing Latin, he used to read over the ‘Moriæ Encomium’ of Erasmus, which he declared never failed to restore his facility (William Jones, Memoirs, loc. cit.)

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Ward's Lives of the Gresham Professors, pp. 289, 296; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886.]

G. G.