Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/363

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Johnson, to whom the fort surrendered on 24 July 1759.

Prideaux married Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Edward Rolt and sister of Sir Edward Bayham-Rolt, baronet, of Spy Park, Wiltshire, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. His elder brother, Sanderson Prideaux, a lieutenant in Colonel Moreton's marines (see Home Office Mil. Entry Book, vol. xv.), having died at Cartagena in 1741, Prideaux's elder son, John Wilmot Prideaux, became heir to the baronetcy, to which he succeeded, as seventh baronet, on the death of his grandfather in August 1766; he was father (by his third wife) of the last two holders of the baronetcy, which became extinct in 1875. One of Prideaux's daughters became an actress, playing chiefly at Bath. She appeared at the Haymarket once at least, in 1789 (Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ix. 85).

[Burke's Baronetage; Foster's Peerage, s.v. ‘Lisburne;’ Home Office Military Entry Book, vol. xv. et seq.; Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe (1884), vol. ii. In some army lists Prideaux's christian name is wrongly given ‘James.’ Two letters to Haldimand during the Niagara expedition are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 21728, ff. 25, 27.]

H. M. C.

PRIESTLEY, JOSEPH, LL.D. (1733–1804), theologian and man of science, eldest of six children of Jonas Priestley (1700–1779), a cloth-dresser, by his first wife, Mary (d. 1739), only child of Joseph Swift of Shafton, near Wakefield, was born at Fieldhead, a wayside farmhouse in the parish of Birstall, West Eiding of Yorkshire, on 13 March 1733. A lithograph of his birthplace (removed in 1858) was executed by Hanhart in 1864. His father became bankrupt in 1777. Timothy Priestley [q. v.] was a younger brother. His parents were members of the congregational church at Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike; but his grandfather, Joseph Priestley (1661–1745), a woollen manufacturer, attended the parish church at Birstall. Joseph was taught by his mother the Westminster catechism, which he could repeat at four years of age. From 1742 he was adopted by his father's eldest sister, Sarah (d. 1764), who had married John Keighley (d. 1745) of the Old Hall, Heckmondwike. Keighley was a man of substance. In early life a strong opponent of dissent, he was brought round by a sermon he had attended with a view to a prosecution. His wife entertained all dissenting ministers in the neighbourhood, and though a strong Calvinist made honest heretics very welcome. Priestley described her in 1777 as 'in all respects as perfect a human character as I have yet been acquainted with' (Works, iii. 539).

At Batley grammar school (from 1745) he was well grounded in Latin; began Greek, learned the shorthand invented by Peter Annet [q. v.], wrote to Annet suggesting improvements, and sent some commendatory verses, which Annet prefixed to a new edition. Subsequently he became a pupil of John Kirkby (1677-1754), congregational minister of Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike, who had previously taught him Hebrew 'on holidays.' He had no taste for lighter reading, but early showed a turn for experiment. At the age of eleven, his brother tells us, he bottled up spiders to see how long they would live without fresh air.

His aunt wished to make him a minister, and he 'readily entered into her views;' but his health stood in the way; there were symptoms of consumption, and in 1749 (when Kirkby closed his school) it seemed unadvisable to proceed further with his education. He had some thoughts of medicine. A mercantile uncle proposed to put him into a counting-house at Lisbon. With this view he began to teach himself French, German, and Italian, and was able to reply to some of his uncle's foreign correspondents. He sought instruction in algebra and mathematics from George Haggerston (d. 1792), congregational minister at Hopton. All was ready for his voyage, when his health improved, and it was decided that he should study at a dissenting academy. For two years he had been teaching Hebrew to John Tommas, baptist minister at Gildersome, and had acquired the rudiments of Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. Before he was twenty he had read the Hebrew bible twice through, once with points and once without (Works, xvi. 423). His aunt would have sent him to Plasterers' Hall Academy, London, under Zephaniah Marryat, D.D. (1685-1754), but he 'resolutely opposed' the condition of subscribing every six months to 'ten printed articles of the strictest Calvinistic faith' (for these 'Homerton articles' see Monthly Repository, 1811, pp. 219 sq.; see also Cibder, John, D.D.) He was accordingly entered at Daventry Academy, at its opening, near the end of 1751, and was the first student who began his theological training under Caleb Ashworth [q. v.], a connection of his family. In consequence of his proficiency he was exempted from all the studies of the first, and most of those of the second, year.

He was already drifting away from orthodox opinion. Haggerston, who inclined to the Baxterian compromise between Calvinism and Arminianism, had given his views a liberal tone. He owed more to the conversation of John Walker (1719-1805), who preached as