Rotheram, John (1725-1789) (DNB00)

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ROTHERAM, JOHN (1725–1789), theologian, second of the three sons of the Rev. William Rotherham—as the father spelt his name—master of the free grammar school of Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, was born there on 22 June 1725, and was educated at his father's school. He was entered at Queen's College, Oxford, as batler, on 21 Feb. 1744–5, being partly maintained by his elder brother, the Rev. Thomas Rotheram, professor in Codrington College, Barbados. He graduated B.A. in 1748–9, and then proceeded to Barbados as tutor to the two sons of the Hon. Mr. Frere, arriving in the island on 20 Jan. 1749–50. In 1751 he accepted the post of assistant in Codrington College.

While dwelling with the Frere family Rotheram wrote his first work: ‘The Force of the Argument for the Truth of Christianity drawn from a Collective View of Prophecy,’ 1752, which was prompted by a controversy between Sherlock, bishop of London, and Dr. Conyers Middleton [q. v.] His increased leisure when connected with the college enabled him to produce the larger volume: ‘A Sketch of the One Great Argument, formed from the several concurring Evidences for the Truth of Christianity’ (1754 and 1763). For these ‘services to religion’ he was, though absent in the colonies, created M.A. on 11 Dec. 1753 by special decree of Oxford University. In 1757 he returned to England.

Rotheram accepted, on arriving in London, the curacy of Tottenham in Middlesex, and held it until 1766. From 1760 to 1767 he enjoyed a Percy fellowship at University College, Oxford, and he was also one of the preachers at the royal chapel, Whitehall. His talents attracted the attention of Richard Trevor [q. v.], bishop of Durham, who bestowed on him the rectory of Ryton, where he remained from February 1766 to 1769. On 30 Oct. 1769 he was appointed by the same patron to the valuable rectory of Houghton-le-Spring, which he continued to hold until his death, and from 1778 to 1783, when he resigned the benefice in favour of his nephew, Richard Wallis, he was vicar of Seaham. He was chaplain to Bishop Trevor, on whom he preached a funeral sermon at Newcastle on 27 July 1771, and to Trevor's successor in the see; he was elected proctor in con- vocation in 1774, and he was a trustee of Lord Crewe's charity.

His health declining after the death of his brother Thomas at Houghton in 1782, he was struck by palsy at Bamburgh Castle, when visiting Archdeacon Sharp, and died there on 16 July 1789. His remains were laid near the grave of his brother, in the chancel of Houghton church, and a marble tablet was erected to his memory.

Besides the two works noticed and single sermons, Rotheram published: 1. ‘An Apology for the Athanasian Creed’ (anon.), 1760; 2nd edit. with his name in 1762. This was answered anonymously in 1773, probably by the Rev. William Adams (1706–1789) [q. v.] 2. ‘An Essay on Faith and its Connection with Good Works,’ 1766 (4th edit. corrected, 1772; new edit. 1801), the substance of a course of sermons before the university of Oxford; the portion dealing with ‘The Origin of Faith’ was published separately in 1761 and 1763. 3. ‘Three Sermons on Public Occasions before the University of Oxford,’ 1766, all previously published separately. 4. ‘An Essay on Establishments in Religion, with Remarks on the Confessional’ (anon.), 1767; reprinted in the ‘Churchman Armed,’ 1814, i. 183–276, and answered by the Rev. Caleb Fleming and others (Gent. Mag. 1780, p. 508). 5. ‘An Essay on the Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man,’ 1781. 6. ‘An Essay on Human Liberty,’ 1782.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. viii. 193–5, ix. 247–9, 687; Gent. Mag. 1789, ii. 764; Radcliffe Letters (Oxford Hist. Soc. ix.) p. 27; Surtees's Durham, i. 177–8, 271.]

W. P. C.