Horbery, Matthew (DNB00)

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HORBERY, MATTHEW (1707?–1773), divine, born at Haxey, Lincolnshire, about 1707, was the son of Martin Horbery, vicar of Haxey and rector of Althorpe in the same county. After attending schools at Epworth and Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, he matriculated at Oxford from Lincoln College on 26 May 1726, graduated B.A. on 26 Jan. 1729–30, and M.A. 26 June 1733 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, ii. 690). In July 1733 he was elected to a Lincolnshire fellowship at Magdalen College (Bloxam, Reg. of Magd. Coll. iii. 230). He took holy orders, and his preaching, which was aided by a fine voice and person, gained him a great reputation in the university. Garrick, who often heard him preach at Lichfield, said ‘that he was one of the best deliverers of a sermon he had ever heard.’ A defence which he published of Daniel Waterland, who had been attacked by John Jackson, an Arian clergyman, appeared in 1735, with the title, ‘Animadversions upon a late pamphlet intituled Christian Liberty asserted, and the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity vindicated, by a Clergyman in the Country,’ 8vo, London, 1735. Horbery thus secured some fame as a theologian. Smalbroke, bishop of Lichfield, made him his chaplain, collated him to a canonry of Lichfield on 26 July 1736 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 588, &c.), and presented him to the vicarage of Eccleshall, to the perpetual curacy of Gnosall, and in 1740 to the vicarage of Hanbury, when he resigned Gnosall (Shaw, Staffordshire, i. 77). But, despite these preferments, Horbery's unpractical habits kept him in continual pecuniary difficulties. He commenced B.D. on 22 April 1743, and in the following year published ‘An Enquiry into the Scripture-Doctrine concerning the Duration of Future Punishment … occasion'd by some late Writings, and particularly Mr. Whiston's Discourse of Hell-Torments,’ 8vo, London; Oxford (printed), 1744 (reprinted, with an introductory notice by G. Osborn, in 1878). This able treatise was written at the solicitation of Smalbroke. On 4 July 1745 Horbery became D.D., and in 1756 was presented by his college to the rectory of Standlake, Oxfordshire. On the death in 1768 of Thomas Jenner, president of Magdalen, Horbery declined an invitation to stand for the post. He died at Standlake on 22 June 1773, aged 66. His wife was Sarah Taylor, daughter of the vicar of Chebsey, Staffordshire. For her benefit, eighteen of Horbery's sermons were published at Oxford in 1774 by her nephew, Jeoffry Snelson, vicar of Hanbury, and were pronounced by Dr. Johnson to be ‘excellent’ (cf. Van Mildert, Life of Waterland, p. 316). A collected edition of Horbery's published works was issued from the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in two octavo volumes in 1828. His library was sold for 120l., while two hundred of his manuscript sermons were disposed of for six hundred guineas.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 558–63; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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