Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pike, John Deodatus Gregory

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PIKE, JOHN DEODATUS GREGORY (1784–1854), baptist, eldest son of John Baxter Pike, was born at Edmonton on 6 April 1784. His mother, a daughter of James Gregory, a London merchant, claimed descent from Oliver Cromwell. The father, John Baxter Pike (1745–1811), descended from an artisan family of old standing in Lavington, Wiltshire, was the son of Thomas Pike, a class-leader among the early methodists. His mother was his father's second wife, Eleanor (Baxter). He attracted the notice of Archbishop Secker and Richard Terrick, bishop of London, and was ordained a deacon in the Anglican church, but subsequently came under the influence of Dr. Andrew Kippis and turned unitarian preacher (1777). Later he fluctuated between presbyterianism and advanced rationalist views, but for a time devoted his energies to a boarding-school, first at Stoke Newington, then at Edmonton. About 1791, however, he was practising as a doctor in London, while his wife conducted a boarding-school for young ladies at Enfield. Subsequently he appears to have taught ‘geography and belles-lettres’ in the school at Enfield. He died at Edmonton on 11 Dec. 1811, and was buried in a family vault at East Barnet. His wife died at Edmonton in 1838. A man of active mind and various interests, Pike contributed to the ‘Monthly Magazine’ letters on horticulture, poultry-farming, and kindred subjects (notes supplied by E. C. Marchant, esq.)

After being educated, chiefly at home, John Deodatus was from 1802 to 1806 at Wymondley (baptist) College, Hertfordshire, and became a baptist. On leaving college he acted for three years as classical assistant in the school of his uncles, G. and R. Gregory, at Lower Edmonton. In June 1809 he attracted some notice at the annual association of general baptist churches held at Quorndon, Leicestershire, by urging the formation of a baptist missionary society. In 1810 he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church, Brook Street, Derby, and, to supplement his income, kept a boarding-school for a few years. A new chapel was opened in April 1815 three times as large as the first; in four years it was enlarged; and in 1842 it was wholly rebuilt on a new site.

In the early days of his pastorate a native missionary at Serampore had been supported by Pike's church. At the annual association at Boston, Lincolnshire, in June 1816, his earlier proposal was accepted, and the General Baptist Missionary Society formed. He was appointed first secretary, and issued a small pamphlet on missions on behalf of the committee. In 1819 he undertook a preaching tour in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, to excite a missionary spirit, and undertook the training of young missionaries in his family. From January 1822 he was editor of the ‘Missionary Observer,’ which was appended to ‘The General Baptist Repository.’ He died suddenly at Derby on 4 Sept. 1854. By his wife Sarah (d. 1848), daughter of James Sandars of Derby, whom he married on 22 June 1811, Pike had four sons—all of whom became baptist ministers—and two daughters.

Pike showed some independence of thought amid many strongly marked prejudices. He opposed catholic emancipation. His religious books and tracts had a wide circulation here and in America. It was estimated that over six hundred thousand copies of his works were circulated in America, and at least eight hundred thousand at home. The copyrights of the most popular he presented to the Religious Tract Society and American Tract Society in 1847. The chief were:

  1. ‘A Catechism of Scriptural Instruction for Young Persons,’ 1816.
  2. ‘The Consolations of Gospel Truth,’ London, 1817; 2nd edit. Derby, 1818; vol. ii. Derby, 1820; a selection entitled ‘True Happiness’ was issued at Derby and London, 1822 and 1830, 32mo.
  3. ‘Persuasives to Early Piety,’ Derby, 1819; London and Derby, 1821 and 1830; also by the Religious Tract Society, London, no date, and the American Tract Society, New York, no date. An abridgment was published at Derby in 1837, and a French translation by the Toulouse Book Society in 1841. This was Pike's most popular work. ‘A Guide for Young Disciples of the Holy Saviour,’ 1823, was a sequel.
  4. ‘Swedenborgianism depicted,’ 1820; answered by the Swedenborgian Robert Hindmarsh [q. v.]
  5. ‘Religion and Eternal Life,’ Derby and London, 1834; by the American Tract Society, New York, 1835.
  6. ‘Christian Liberality in the Distribution of Property,’ Religious Tract Society, London, 1836.

‘A Memoir and Remains,’ with portrait, of Pike was edited by his sons, John Baxter and James Carey Pike, London, 1855, 8vo. ‘Sermons and Sketches,’ with short memoir abridged from the former, was published in London in 1861, 16mo; and in 1862 and 1863 a complete edition of his works, with biographical sketch, was published in parts.

[Memoir and Remains above mentioned; General Baptist Magazine; Repository and Missionary Observer, 1854, pp. 463–8; Amos Sutton's Mission to Orissa, 1833, pp. vii. 1–10. For John Baxter Pike see Young's Annals of Agriculture, ii. 230; Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 251; Reuss's Alphabetical Register; Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816; Monthly Magazine, 1800–1810, passim.]

C. F. S.