Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vincent, Nathaniel
VINCENT, NATHANIEL (1639?–1697), nonconformist divine, was probably born in Cornwall about 1639 (cf. epist. ded. to A Present for such as have been Sick).
His father, John Vincent (1591–1646), son and heir of Thomas Vincent of Northill, Cornwall, born in 1591, matriculated from New College, Oxford, on 15 Dec. 1609, became a student at Lincoln's Inn in 1612, and, afterwards taking orders, was beneficed in Cornwall. Of nonconformist leanings, he was driven thence by his bishop, as well as from so many other livings that it was said no two of his seven children were born in the same county. Coming to London in 1642, he was nominated by the committee of the Westminster assembly to the rich rectory of Sedgefield, Durham, but died after holding it but two years, in 1646. His widow, Sarah Vincent, petitioned on 1 Nov. 1656 and in April 1657 for 60l. which her husband had lent to the parliament (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656, pp. 146, 147, 185, 191, 329; Addit. MS. 15671, cf. ff. 38, 42, 55, 69, 114, 124, 140, 148, 150, 219, 227, 238, 251). Their eldest son, John, who inherited his grandfather's estate of Northill, is confused by Wood with a son of Augustine Vincent [q. v.] (Athenæ Oxon. vol. i. p. xxxv). The second son, Thomas, is separately noticed.
Nathaniel, the third son, entered Oxford University as a chorister on 18 Oct. 1648, aged 10. He matriculated from Corpus Christi College on 28 March 1655, graduated B.A. from Christ Church on 13 March 1655-6, M. A. on 11 June 1657, and was chosen chaplain of Corpus Christi College. He was appointed by Cromwell one of the first fellows of Durham University, but never lived there. At twenty he was preaching at Pulborough, Sussex, and at twenty-one was ordained and presented to the rectory of Langley Marish, Buckinghamshire. Thence he was ejected on St. Bartholomew's day, 1662, after which he lived three years as chaplain to Sir Henry and Lady Blount at Tittenhanger, Hertfordshire. About 1666 Vincent went to London. There his preaching at once attracted attention, and a meeting-house was shortly built for him in Farthing Alley, Southwark, where he gathered a large congregation. In spite of fines and rough handling by soldiers sent to drag him from his pulpit, he continued boldly preaching during the stormy times. In July 1670, soon after his marriage, he was confined in the Marshalsea prison. He was removed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, on 22 Aug. (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom., Addenda, 1660-70, p. 546). He remained six months in prison. In 1682 he was again arrested, brought before magistrates at Dorking, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, after which he was to be banished the country. A flaw, however, was perceived in the indictment, and, after the section expenditure of 200l., Vincent was released, but so weakened from illness that he was long unable to preach (Letter to his Congregation, 24 June 1683). He was again arrested in February 1686, this time on an improbable charge of being concerned in Monmouth's rebellion (Wood, Life and Times, ed. Clark, iii. 179). Some of his books were written in prison; thus 'his pen was going when his tongue could not.'
Vincent died suddenly on 22 June 1697, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. He was buried at Bunhill Fields (Inscriptions on Tombs in Bunhill Fields, 1717, p. 34). His funeral sermon was preached by Nathaniel Taylor. His wife Anna and six children were living in 1682. A daughter Anna married, on 4 Dec. 1695, Dennis Herbert, jun., of London (Harl. Soc. Publ. xxiv. 217).
Wood's encomium on Vincent is unusually high: 'He was of smarter, more brisk, and florid parts than most of his dull and sluggish fraternity can reasonably pretend to; of a facetious and jolly humour, and a considerable scholar.' He wrote: 1. 'The Conversion of a Sinner Explained and Applied,' London, 1669, 8vo; with which is published 2. 'The Day of Grace' (same date). 3. 'A Covert from the Storm,' London, 1671, 8vo (written in prison). 4. 'The Spirit of Prayer,' London, 1674, 8vo; republished, 1677, 8vo; 5th edit. 1699; other edits. Saffron Walden, ed. J. H. Hopkins, 1815, London, 1825. 5. 'A Heaven or Hell upon Earth,' London, 1676, 8vo. 6. 'The Little Child's Catechism, whereunto is added several Short Histories,' 1681, 12mo. 7. 'The True Touchstone,' London, 1681, 8vo. 8. 'The More Excellent Way,' London, 1684. 9. 'A Warning given to secure Sinners,' London, 1688, 8vo. 10. 'The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ: a Catechism,' London, 1691, 8vo. 11. 'A Present for such as have been Sick' (sermons preached after his recovery from sickness), London, 1693. 12. 'The Cure of Distractions in attending upon God.' 13. 'The Love of the World cured.' 14. 'Worthy Walking.' The dates of the last three do not appear. Sermons by Vincent are in Annesley's 'Continuation of Morning Exercises,' London, 1683, and in his 'Casuistical Morning Exercises,' London, 1690; reprinted in vols. iv., v., and vi. of Nichols's edition, London, 1814-5, 8vo. Vincent was much in request for preaching funeral sermons; five or six were printed in quarto. He edited the 'Morning Exercise against Popery' (London, 1675, 4to), twenty- five sermons preached in his pulpit at Southwark by eminent divines.
Another Nathaniel Vincent, of Clare College, Cambridge, graduated M.A. in 1660, and was created S.T.P. and D.D. per literas regias in 1679 (Cantabr. Grad. p. 400), was appointed chaplain in ordinary to Charles II, and on 4 Oct. 1674 gave great offence to the king by preaching before him a sermon, 'The Right Notion of Honour' (London, 1685, 4to), in long periwig and holland sleeves (cf. Wood, Life and Times, ii. 297). He ceased to be a royal chaplain on Charles's death (cf. Addit. MS. 15949, ff. 7, 8).[Clark's Indexes, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 280, pt. ii. p. 308; Foster's Alumni (1500-1714); Neal's Puritans, iii. 521; Calamy's Continuation, i. 30; Alumni Westmon. p. 129; Burrows's Visitation, pp. 171, 173, 369, 477; Bloxam's Reg. of Magd. Coll. v. 208; Palmer's Nonconf. Mem. i. 304; Wood's Athenae Oxon. iv. 617 ; Wilson's Hist. of Diss. Churches, iv. 304 (this is the most accurate account); Cal. State Papers, Dom. Add. 1660-70 pp. 273, 388, 464, 1671 p. 556; Taylor's Funeral Sermon, 1697, 4to; Wood's Life and Times (Oxford Hist. Soc.), ii. 561 ; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. p. 46; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 267.]