Seminar Archive 2010

1. 20 January 2010
‘Mercy Doddridge and the posthumous publication of Philip Doddridge’s works’
Tessa Whitehouse (Queen Mary, University of London)

On Doddridge’s death in 1751, the final three volumes of his Family Expositor remained unpublished. This unusual work of biblical translation, paraphrase and commentary was popular with dissenters, students, families, and members of the Established Church from the first volume’s publication in 1739 until the middle of the nineteenth century. This paper uses the previously unstudied correspondence of his widow, Mercy Doddridge, to unravel the complicated publishing history of this important and much-reprinted work. As well as providing extraordinarily precise details of the arrangements between booksellers and copyright holders, the correspondence offers insights into anxieties surrounding the posthumous publication and promotion of The Family Expositor, a work intended to consolidate and extend Doddridge’s reputation for learning and practical piety within and beyond the dissenting community.

2. 17 February 2010
‘Mary Love's manuscript life of Christopher Love: The Restoration career of a Presbyterian martyr’
Professor Sylvia Brown (University of Alberta)

The life of one of the most incendiary of the Presbyterian divines active during the civil wars, Christopher Love, came to a dramatic end when he was executed by the Commonwealth in August 1651 for conspiring with Royalists in exile. Sometime after, his widow Mary Love wrote an account of his life and death, ostensibly for publication. This paper surveys internal, manuscript, and print evidence for the textual career of Mary Love’s life of her husband. Although never printed, it seems to have been intended for publication at a strategic moment for Presbyterians: after the restoration of Charles II but before their exclusion from the new religious settlement defined by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. The life and death of this ‘rebellious’ Presbyterian who was martyred for loyalty to the King might well have seemed an exemplary figure for Presbyterians of the moment, and a help in rehabilitating their reputation as faithful subjects. Yet, despite a flurry of Love-related printed pamphlets around the Restoration, Mary Love’s life of her husband seems not to have made it to the printer. This paper also suggests why this might have been so, considering evidence for its continued post-Restoration life in manuscript circulation.

3. 17 March 2010
‘David Bogue, Robert Morrison, and the planting of dissent in China’
Dr Chris Daily (SOAS)

Robert Morrison, sent alone to China by the London Missionary Society in 1807, spent his missionary career planting a foothold in East Asia for the benefit of evangelicalism and constructed the foundation upon which the Protestant religion in China rested. Although he introduced a form of British Protestantism into China, surprisingly scholarship has failed to produce a critical examination of his life or mission. Daily’s research addresses this gap, against hagiographical tendencies in the scholarship which had previously ‘narrativised’ his work in China, by employing a critical methodology that seeks to identify the ideological agendas which defined and determined Morrison’s goals and outcomes. This work focuses on illuminating the preparations, assumptions, and strategies that influenced the planning of the first China Mission and consequently shaped Morrison’s goals and achievements in China. Such a focus leads Daily to assess the influence of Dr. David Bogue, who served as the tutor at the LMS’s Gosport Academy from 1802-1825, where Morrison received his missionary training.

This paper analyses Bogue’s influence on Morrison’s mission in order to expose the theological and ideological foundations, influenced by British dissent, underlying the first Protestant mission to China (and the earliest form of Chinese Protestantism) and to demonstrate critically the many ways in which Robert Morrison must be seen within the historical context of the LMS and the intellectual context of David Bogue and his dissenting academy. While the paper provides a new and fruitful way of understanding early Protestant missions in China, in particular, it also raises many questions concerning an entire generation of British missionary pioneers and the dissemination of a dissenting tradition worldwide.

4. 21 April 2010
‘From Uniformity to Disunity: Political and Theological Controversy at the Dissenters’ Academies, 1660-1720’
Mark Burden (Queen Mary, University of London)

Following the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, nonconformists found new ways to educate their children in university learning. Rather than send their sons to the universities, they established private academies across England, for the study of a wide range of academical subjects, including the learned languages, logic, ethics, natural philosophy, mathematics, and theology. Until recently, it was not possible for the political and intellectual significance of the earliest of the dissenters’ academies to be explored in detail. However, Mark Burden’s research has enabled a considerable body of manuscript and printed evidence relating to the early academies to be identified and contextualized for the first time. Previous accounts of the academies operating in the period 1660-1720 have generated a simplistic impression that tutors were passive victims of persecution, who succeeded against the odds in pioneering distinctively modern forms of learning. However, although tutors were affected by religious legislation, including the Act of Uniformity, the Toleration Act, and the Schism Act, they also contributed a range of conflicting views to many other political controversies. Furthermore, although some tutors produced new scientific works, many were intellectually unadventurous, using or adapting existing university textbooks and systems of learning. In theology, most remained orthodox, although the presence of Arian beliefs in some early eighteenth-century academies was to have important long-term consequences. A careful study of student notebooks and political pamphlets by tutors and students reveals that unity of educational method or belief was never a feature of the early academies, and that the strength of conflicting ideological forces had important political and social consequences for early eighteenth-century dissent.

5. 16 June 2010
‘New College, Hackney and the Liberal Dissenting Academies, 1751-96’
Stephen Burley (Queen Mary, University of London)

New College, Hackney was perhaps the most ambitious of the eighteenth-century liberal academies. Founded in 1786 amidst considerable hope and expectation, it flourished for a short period before closing amidst a storm of controversy a decade later. This paper attempts to recover the chequered history of New College from the rich archival and printed materials – the sermons, correspondence, memoirs, journals, minute books, reports, notebooks, and resolutions – held in Dr Williams’s Library, and in other collections around the country. In addition, by situating New College within the broader traditions of liberal nonconformist education in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the paper explores the role played by New College and other liberal academies in pioneering teaching practices that continue to inform higher education today.

6. 14 July 2010
‘Competition and co-operation in the funding of the northern dissenting academies, 1786-1860’
Dr Simon Dixon (Queen Mary, University of London)

This paper explores an enduring problem faced by dissenting academies throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: that of funding. It focuses on the development of a succession of academies by orthodox dissenters in the north of England between 1786 and 1860. In the first half of the nineteenth century there was a transition to larger collegiate institutions with two or more tutors, a higher number of students, and larger and more impressive buildings. The growth of the academies during the nineteenth century placed an increased pressure on the ministers and laymen who ran them to raise sufficient funds to meet the costs incurred from boarding students, paying tutors and constructing and maintaining buildings. The extent of the challenge they faced is reflected in the frequency with which the different institutions entered into debt during the period. The paper examines where the money came from for establishing and running academies, the fundraising strategies employed by academy committees, the cost of educating students, the payment of tutors, expenditure on buildings, and the causes of and responses to debt. It considers the regular appeals for funds issued by academy committees in relation to other calls on the benevolence of nineteenth-century nonconformists, such as missionary societies and other philanthropic endeavours. As a result, the paper sheds new light on an important and under-researched aspect of the history of the dissenting academies.