Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Petto, Samuel

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PETTO, SAMUEL (1624?–1711), puritan divine, born about 1624, was possibly son of Sir Edward Peto, who died 24 Sept. 1658, by his wife Elizabeth, a daughter of Sir Greville Verney (cf. Pedigree in Dugdale's Warwickshire, i. 472, Harl. Soc. xii. 173). He entered as a sizar at Catharine Hall, Cambridge, 15 June 1644, matriculated 19 March 1645, and graduated M.A. About 1648 he was appointed rector or ‘preacher of the word’ at Sandcroft, one of the ten parishes of the deanery or township of South Elmham, Suffolk. In May 1658 the council recommended him to the trustees for the maintenance of ministers for a grant of 50l. per annum (State Papers, Interregnum, Council Book I, pp. 78, 589). He was strongly independent, even favouring unordained preaching. He left Sandcroft before the enforcement of the act of uniformity. The living was vacant 15 Jan. 1661–2, ‘per cessionem.’

Petto then removed to Wortwell, Norfolk, near Harleston, and preached at Redenhall, Harleston, Wortwell, and Alburgh. In 1672, on the Declaration of Indulgence, he was licensed as a congregational teacher at his own house at Wortwell-cum-Alburgh, and at the house of John Wesgate at Redenhall-cum-Harleston, near Sandcroft (Browne, Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk, pp. 335, 488). He also helped in the ministry of the neighbouring congregational church at Denton. He removed to Sudbury before 1675, and became, previous to 1691, pastor of the Friars' Street independent chapel there (cf. The Independents of Sudbury, p. 53).

Petto was held in great respect in the district. He died in 1711, and was buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Sudbury, 21 Sept.

Petto published: 1. ‘The Voice of the Spirit, or an Essay towards a Discoverie of the Witnessings of the Spirit,’ London, 1654. 2. ‘Roses from Sharon, or sweet Experiences gathered up by some precious Hearts whilst they followed in to know the Lord,’ London, 1654, printed with No. 1 (with John Martin, minister at Edgefield, Norfolk, and Frederick Woodal of Woodbridge). 3. ‘The Preacher sent, or a Vindication of the Liberty of Public Preaching by some Men not Ordained,’ London (30 Jan.), 1657–8. 4. ‘A Vindication of the Preacher sent, or a Warrant for Public Preaching without Ordination,’ London, 1659 (with Woodal, in reply to Matthew Poole's ‘Quo Warranto’). 5. ‘The Difference between the Old and New Covenant stated and explained,’ London, 1674 (reprinted at Aberdeen, 1820, as ‘The Great Mystery of the Covenant of Grace’). 6. ‘Infant Baptism of Christ's Appointment,’ London, 1687. 7. ‘Infant Baptism vindicated from the Conceptions of Sir Thomas Grantham [q. v.],’ London, 1691. 8. ‘A Faithful Narrative of the Wonderful and Extraordinary Fits which Mr. Thomas Spatchet, late of Dunwich and Cookly, was under by Witchcraft, as a Misterious Providence,’ London, 1693 (Petto was an eyewitness of the events described). 9. ‘The Revelation unvailed …,’ London, 1693; (reprinted with ‘Six Several Treatises,’ infra, Aberdeen, 1820). Calamy also credits Petto with ‘Two Scripture Catechisms, the one shorter and the other larger,’ 1672. He communicated an account of a parhelia observed in Suffolk, 28 Aug. 1698, to the Royal Society (‘Transactions,’ No. 250, p. 107); joined with John Manning in publishing, in 1663, ‘Six several Treatises of John Tillinghast;’ prefixed ‘The Life of Mrs. Allen Asty’ to a sermon by Owen Stockton, London, 1681 (reprinted by Religious Tract Society, as ‘Consolation in Life and Death’).

[W. W. Hodson's Story of the Independents of Sudbury; Calamy's Account, p. 648, Continuation, p. 796; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, iii. 285; Notes and Queries, vii. xii. 129; Suckling's Suffolk, i. 183; David's Nonconformity in Essex, p. 372; Hanbury's Memorials, i. 357; information kindly supplied by C. K. Robinson, master of Catharine Hall, Cambridge, by the Rev. W. Morley Smith, rector of St. Cross, and by George Unwin, esq., of Chilworth, Surrey, a descendant.]

W. A. S.