Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parry, Joshua

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PARRY, JOSHUA (1719–1776), dissenting divine, was born at Llangan, on the border of the county of Pembroke, on 17 June 1719 (O.S.). His family had long owned considerable property in Wales; but Parry's father was one of twenty-one children, and the patrimonial estate of Penderry, near Narberth, Pembrokeshire, passed to an elder brother. Parry's parents died in his infancy. He was first taught by a private tutor at Haverfordwest. Later he was a pupil of John Eames [q. v.], at the Fund Academy, Moorfields, where he had for fellow-students John Canton [q. v.] the electrician, Dr. John Hawkesworth [q. v.], and others who became noted. The young man had literary aspirations, and from 1738 or thereabouts contributed to the newly founded ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (Hawkins, Life of Johnson, 2nd edit. p. 49).

In 1738 Parry went to live with Dr. Johnson's friend, Mr. Ryland, in Moorfields, and continued writing under assumed names for periodicals. In 1741 he was acting as minister at Midhurst, Sussex, and on 3 March 1742 took up his residence at Cirencester as minister of the presbyterian church founded by Alexander Gregory in 1662. Here Parry formed a lifelong friendship with Allen Bathurst, first earl Bathurst, whose letters from London (Memoir of Parry) kept him informed of political events. Parry preached the sermon on Lord Bathurst's death in September 1765, and wrote the article on him for the ‘Biographia Britannica’ (cf. a letter from Andrew Kippis, Memoir, p. 308). He declined in 1748 an invitation to succeed Edmund Calamy at Crosby Square, London, and in 1757 and 1766 similar invitations to become assistant, and afterwards successor, to Dr. Samuel Chandler, of the Old Jewry dissenting church. He remained at Cirencester until his death, on 6 Sept. 1766. He was buried in the ground attached to his chapel, where a plain stone without inscription marks his grave.

Parry married, in 1752, Sarah, daughter of Caleb Hillier of Upcott, Devonshire, and Withington, Gloucestershire, who, with two sons and two daughters, survived him. She died in 1786. His eldest son, Dr. Caleb Hillier Parry, and his grandsons Dr. Charles Henry Parry and Sir William Edward Parry, are separately noticed. The daughter Amelia married Sir Benjamin Hobhouse [q. v.] Parry possessed much literary ability, which he dissipated in fugitive pieces—political, metaphysical, and satirical. He was author of ‘Political Essays and Satires,’ some of them signed ‘Philopatria;’ ‘Evidences of Christianity,’ 1742; ‘Erastes, an Ethic Poem in defence of Love; with Advice to Lovers, a Fragment,’ 1749; ‘An Answer to Hervey's Theron and Aspasio,’ 1757; ‘A Confession of Faith,’ 1757 (printed in the ‘Memoirs’); ‘A Poem to the Memory of Major-General James Wolfe,’ 1759. Most of these were published anonymously or pseudonymously. ‘Seventeen Sermons on Practical Subjects’ were published posthumously, Bath and London, 1783. Among the essays appended to the ‘Memoir of Parry’ (1872) are: ‘Natural Theology: a Free Discourse on the Being and Attributes of the Deity;’ ‘On the Moral Sense;’ ‘A Short Defence of Christianity’ (written 1743); ‘A Satire on King George the Second, in a Letter to His Majesty [1746], directed against that Party Spirit which sees no Good in the existing Order of Things, and discovers in the best Intentions the most obnoxious Purposes.’

[Memoir of Parry, with original Essays and Correspondence, London, 1872, contains a portrait from a pencil sketch taken about 1750 by James Ferguson, the astronomer; Kippis's Biogr. Brit. p. 9; Murch's Presbyterianism in the West of England, pp. 29, 30; Gent. Mag. September 1776, p. 436; Monthly Review, lxix. 443.]

C. F. S.