Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Simpson, John (1746-1812)

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SIMPSON, JOHN (1746–1812), biblical critic, youngest son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Simpson, was born at Leicester on 19 March 1746. After being at school at Kibworth, Leicestershire, under John Aikin (1713–1780) [q. v.], and at Market Harborough, he entered Warrington academy in 1760 (see for his account of its tutors Monthly Repository, 1813, pp. 166, 229). In 1765 he migrated to Glasgow University, where he was a pupil of William Leechman [q. v.] Leaving Glasgow in 1767, he spent some years in home study. In April 1772 he succeeded Thomas Bruckshaw as junior minister of High Pavement Chapel, Nottingham. He became sole minister on the death of John Milne in the following September; in 1774 George Walker (1735–1807) [q. v.] became his colleague. Simpson and Walker got back a section of the congregation which had seceded in 1760. In August 1777 Simpson removed to Walthamstow, Essex, to assist Hugh Farmer [q. v.] as afternoon preacher. He resigned this office in 1779, retired from active duty, married, and removed to Yorkshire, living at Cottingham, East Riding; Little Woodham, near Leeds; and Leeds itself. In 1791 he settled at Bath for the remainder of his days. He died on 18 Aug. 1812, and was buried on 31 Aug. at Lyncomb, near Bath. He married, in 1780, Frances, daughter of Thomas Woodhouse of Gainsborough, and widow of Watson of Cottingham, and left one son, John Woodhouse Simpson of Rearsby, Leicestershire.

Simpson lived much among his books, and made few friends; among them was Joseph Stock (d. 1812), bishop of Waterford, the translator of Job and Isaiah. He published a few sermons and a number of essays. Those on topics of biblical criticism were collected as ‘Essays on the Language of Scripture,’ Bath, 1806, 8vo; enlarged, Bath, 1812, 8vo, 2 vols. Of these the most important is ‘An Essay on the Duration of a Future State of Punishments and Rewards,’ 1803, 8vo; an argument for universal restoration, commended by Priestley in his last days. Other publications include: 1. ‘An Essay to show that Christianity is best conveyed in the Historic Form,’ Leeds, 1782, 12mo. 2. ‘Thoughts on the Novelty, the Excellence, and the Evidence of the Christian Religion,’ Bath, 1798, 8vo. Posthumous were: 3. ‘Two Essays … on the Effects of Christianity … on the Sabbath,’ &c., 1815, 8vo. 4. ‘Sermons,’ 1816, 8vo (ed. by his son).

[Funeral Sermons by Hunter and Jervis, 1813; Monthly Repository, 1814, pp. 80 sq.; Rutt's Memoirs of Priestley, 1832, i. 50, 215, ii. 530; Carpenter's Presbyterianism in Nottingham [1862], pp. 160 sq.]

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