Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pestell, Thomas

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PESTELL, THOMAS (1584?–1659?), divine, was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, whence he graduated B.A. in 1605 and M.A. in 1609. He became vicar of Packington, Leicestershire, in 1613, and a year or two later chaplain to Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex [q. v.] He gained a reputation as a preacher, and published a sermon, ‘The Good Conscience,’ in 1615, with a dedication to Sir Philip Stanhope of Shelford, Nottinghamshire. Two other sermons, entitled ‘The Car[e]les Calamitie’ (1615) and ‘The Poor Man's Appeale’ (1623), were licensed for the press; and a fourth, ‘God's Visitation,’ preached at Leicester, appeared in 1630. He was soon afterwards appointed a royal chaplain, and preached before the king. In 1640 he preached before the council at York. In 1644 he resigned his living at Packington to his son Thomas, and, during the early days of the civil wars, complained that he was five times robbed and plundered of his goods and cattle. In 1650 he contributed two poems to ‘Lachrymæ Musarum’ on the death of Henry, lord Hastings, and in 1652 commendatory verse to Benlowes's ‘Theophila.’ In 1659 he collected some sacred verse and sermons preached before the war in ‘Sermons and Devotions, Old and New, revewed and publisht … with a Discourse of Duels,’ dedicated to Thomas, viscount Beaumont, and Robert, ‘heir to Mr. Rich. Sutton of Tongue in Leicestershire.’ He doubtless died very soon afterwards.

A collection of unprinted poems by Pestell or his father was lent by a descendant to Nichols, who printed many of them in his ‘History of Leicestershire.’ Nichols's excerpts include an elegy on Francis Beaumont. The volume of verse entitled ‘Scintillulæ Sacræ,’ of which two copies are among the Harleian MSS. (Nos. 6646 and 6922), is attributed to Pestell, but some part at least is probably by his son Thomas.

He married a daughter of Mrs. Katherine Carr. His elder son, Thomas Pestell (1613–1701), born at Cole-Orton, Leicestershire, was admitted pensioner of Christ's College, Cambridge, 29 Aug. 1628. Migrating to Queens', he graduated B.A. in 1632 and M.A. in 1636. He rather than his father seems to have written a Latin comedy, entitled ‘Versipellis,’ which was acted at Cambridge in 1638. It was not printed. Pestell succeeded his father at Packington in 1644, and was ejected in 1646 by the Westminster assembly; he was subsequently rector of Markfeld and confrater of Wigston's Hospital, Leicester. He contributed verses to ‘Lachrymæ Musarum’ (1650) in memory of Henry, lord Hastings.

The second son, William (d. 1696), who graduated B.A. in 1634 and M.A. in 1638 from Queens' College, Cambridge, became in 1644 rector of Cole-Orton, whence he and his wife were driven by the parliamentary soldiers under Sir John Gell. He appears to have resumed his benefice at the Restoration, and in 1667 was instituted to Ravenstone in addition. He was buried at Cole-Orton. He was author of a poetic ‘Congratulation to his sacred Majesty on his Restoration,’ 1661.

[Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 737–8, 927, 940; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum, in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 24488, f. 328.]

S. L.