Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parsons, Andrew

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PARSONS, ANDREW (1616–1684), dissenting minister, was son of John Parsons of Milton, Somerset (Harl. Soc. Publ. v. 192; Lee, History of Thame). He entered Christ Church, Oxford, matriculating on 20 June 1634, in his eighteenth year, and proceeded B.A. on 8 July 1635, and M.A. on 20 April 1638. Returning to his native county, he was beneficed there for some years before the outbreak of the civil wars. Being driven to London, he is said to have been sent to Wem, Shropshire, ‘by Pym when that town was garrisoned by the parliament’ (Calamy). But he does not appear to have been appointed to the rectory before 23 June 1646, when it was sequestered, and he was presented to it by the committee for plundered ministers (cf. Addit. MS. 15671, ff. 263b, 267 a).

In 1648 he signed the attestation of the ministers of Shropshire to the truth of Jesus Christ, in imitation of the action of the London ministers. Under the Commonwealth he represented Wem as a member of the classical presbytery of Prees in the province of Shropshire (Diaries and Letters of Philip Henry, p. 34). As a royalist presbyterian he ‘ran hazards when Charles passed with his army to Worcester;’ and he sent a horse and arms to aid Sir George Booth [q. v.] in his rising in Cheshire (Calamy).

Parsons was in possession of Wem at the Restoration, but was prosecuted in August 1660 for alleged seditious preaching against the king ‘since June 24 last’ (State Papers, Dom. Car. II, xi. 117). According to Neal (iv. 271), he was fetched from his home in December by six soldiers (see Calamy, Account, p. 555; Sylvester, Reliq. Baxt. iii. 94). Parsons was tried at Shrewsbury before Lord Newport, Serjeant Turner, and others on 28 and 29 May 1662 (Calamy erroneously dates this second trial 1661). He was fined 200l., and ordered to be imprisoned till the fine was paid (see also Conformists' Fourth Plea, p. 32). Parsons remained in prison three months, his living being ‘presently’ sequestered by the chancellor of Lichfield. His pardon was then secured by Lord Newport. On 11 Sept. 1662 his fine was remitted, and he was thereupon discharged from prison (State Papers, Dom. Car. II, entry book 7, No. 236).

Parsons stayed in Shropshire till 1663 (Diaries and Letters of Philip Henry, p. 127). Removing to London, he became assistant to Thomas Wadsworth at the Maid Lane presbyterian conventicle in Globe Alley, Southwark, 1672–6 (Wilson, Dissenting Churches, iv. 154; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. vii. 15). On the death of Wadsworth, Richard Baxter succeeded to the pastorate, and Parsons was called to the White Hart Yard congregation (Bridge Street, Covent Garden). Afterwards Baxter also ministered at White Hart Yard. ‘During the time that Mr. Baxter held the meeting-house (to 1682, when his congregation was dispersed), Mr. Andrew Parsons preached there on one part of the day till the severity of the times compelled him to desist’ (Wilson, iii. 566). He died on 1 Oct. 1684 (see Life of Philip Henry, p. 257), and was buried in London.

Parsons wrote: ‘Serviceable Counsel to an afflicted people, in a letter to the distressed inhabitants of Wem in the county of Salop, after the dreadful fire which consumed that market town, March 3, 1676–7,’ London, 1677.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Neal's Puritans, iv. 271; and authorities given above.]

W. A. S.