Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sherman, James

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SHERMAN, JAMES (1796–1862), dissenting divine, son of an officer in the East India Company, was born in Banner Street, St. Luke's, London, on 21 Feb. 1796. After some education from dissenting ministers, he spent three years and a half as apprentice to an ivory-turner, but the employment impaired his health, and he entered, on 6 Nov. 1815, the Countess of Huntingdon's college at Cheshunt. He preached his first sermon in London in Hare Court chapel, Aldersgate Street, in 1817, and on 26 Nov. 1818 he was ordained to the ministry in Sion Chapel, Whitechapel. After preaching for some time in the Countess of Huntingdon's chapel at Bath, he was appointed permanent minister of her chapel at Bristol, where he made the acquaintance of Hannah More and of Mrs. Schimmelpenninck [q. v.] In April 1821 he removed to Castle Street chapel, Reading. In August 1836 he became the congregational minister of Surrey Chapel, Blackfriars, London, in succession to Rowland Hill [q. v.], with whom he had been on friendly terms for many years. The numbers of the congregation, which had much declined, again rose under his ministry. He retired from Surrey Chapel in May 1854, owing to failing health. He then took charge of a new congregational church at Blackheath, Kent, which he opened on 11 July 1854; but his strength was gone, and, after a visit to Egypt, he returned to 12 Paragon, Blackheath, where he died on 15 Feb. 1862. He was buried in Abney Park cemetery on 22 Feb. In his memory a bursary for poor students was founded by his friends at Cheshunt College. He married first, on 10 Jan. 1822, Miss Grant of Bristol, who died on 1 Jan. 1834, and secondly, on 3 March 1835, Martha, daughter of Benjamin Tucker of Enfield; she died on 18 May 1848 (The Pastor's Wife, a memorial of Mrs. Sherman, by J. Sherman, 1848).

Sherman was a popular preacher, and was reckoned in power of persuasion only second to Whitefield. Through the forty years of his ministry crowds attended whenever he preached. Even in his failing years at Blackheath he soon attracted a thousand hearers. The conversions under his ministration were numerous; a sermon which he preached in Surrey Chapel in 1837 caused eighty-four persons to join his church. Among his published works were:

  1. ‘A Guide to Acquaintance with God,’ 1826; 17th edit. 1835.
  2. ‘A Plea for the Lord's Day,’ 1830 (twenty editions were published within a brief period).
  3. ‘A Scripture Calendar for reading the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice during the Year,’ 1836.
  4. ‘Memoir of W. Allen, F.R.S.,’ 1851.
  5. ‘Memorial of the Rev. R. Hill,’ 1851.

[Congregational Year Book, 1863, pp. 263–6; Allom's Memoir of J. Sherman, 1863 (with portrait); Pen and Ink Sketches of Poets, Preachers, and Politicians, 1846, pp. 228–32; Metropolitan Pulpit, 1839, ii. 206–20.]

G. C. B.