Ness, Christopher (DNB00)

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NESS or NESSE, CHRISTOPHER (1621–1705), divine and author, born on 26 Dec. 1621 at North Cave, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was son of Thomas Ness, a husbandman there. He was educated at a private school at North Cave, under Lazarus Seaman, and entered St. John's College, Cambridge, on 17 May 1638. He graduated B.A. and M.A. When twenty-three years old he retired into Yorkshire, where he became a preacher of independent tenets successively at Cliffe or South Cliffe Chapel in his native parish, in Holderness, and at Beverley, where he taught a school. On Dr. Winter's election as provost of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1651, Ness was chosen as his successor in the living of Cottingham, near Hull, though it does not appear that he ever received episcopal orders. In 1656 he became a preacher at Leeds, and in 1660 he was a lecturer under the vicar, Dr. Lake, afterwards Bishop of Chichester; but his calvinism clashed with the ‘arminianism’ of Dr. Lake, and on St. Bartholomew's day in 1662 he was ejected from his lectureship. After this he became a schoolmaster and private preacher at Clayton, Morley, and Hunslet, all in Yorkshire. At Hunslet he took an indulgence as a congregationalist in 1672 (Turner, Nonconformist Register, 1881, p. 113), and a new meeting-house was opened by him on 3 June 1672 (Heywood, Diaries, ed. Turner, 1881, i. 290, and iii. 212). He was excommunicated no less than four times, and when in 1674 or 1675 a writ de excommunicato capiendo was issued against him, he removed to London, where he preached to a private congregation in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. In 1684 he had to conceal himself from the officers of the crown, who had a warrant for his arrest on the charge of publishing an elegy on the death of his friend John Partridge, another nonconformist minister (Wilson, Dissenting Churches, ii. 527). He died on 26 Dec. 1705, aged exactly 84 years, and was buried at Bunhill Fields cemetery.

His chief published works are: 1. ‘A History and Mystery of the Old and New Testaments,’ fol. 1696. 2. ‘A Protestant Antidote against the Poison of Popery.’ 3. ‘The Crown and Glory of a Christian.’ 4. ‘A Christian's Walk and Work on Earth until he attain to Heaven,’ 2nd edit. 1678–9. 5. ‘A Church History from Adam, and a Scripture Prophecy to the End of the World.’ 6. ‘An Antidote against Arminianism,’ a small work in high repute with Calvinists, first published in 1700, and which reached its sixth edition in 1838, being ‘revised and corrected, with many additions, notes, &c., by J. A. Jones, Minister of the Gospel, Mitchell Street, St. Luke's, London.’ To this is prefixed the portrait of Ness, ‘engraved by Mr. Russell from an original.’ (A new edition of this work was published in 1847 at London and Cambridge.) This little work embodies in a brief form the doctrines on election, predestination, &c., as taught by the Rev. John Owen, Toplady, and other authorities, and it is now very scarce. John Dunton the bookseller says that Ness wrote for him ‘The Life of Pope Innocent XI,’ of which the whole impression was sold in a fortnight.

[Short account of the author prefixed to the sixth edition of Ness's Antidote; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, iii. 413–5; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, 1868, p. 302; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 799, and Continuation, 1727, p. 945.]

E. W.