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Mr. Shields went to Jamaica, where he shortly afterwards died. * (P)
The next account that we have of Embroiderers'-Hall, is in the beginning of the eighteenth century, when it was occupied by Mr. Richard Pain, who gathered a church of the Baptist denomination at this place, about the year 1700, After a few years he removed to Brewers'-Hall, Aldermanbury, and from thence to several other places, as will be seen in the course of this work. We know nothing of Embroiderers'-Hall after Mr. Pain left it.
ABERDASHERS’-Hall is situated in Staining-lane, near Wood-street, Cheapside. The company, named “ Merchant Haberdashers," was incorporated a brotherhood of St. Katherine, its patroness, Anno 1447, and was confirmed by the 17th of Henry VII. Anno 1501. This hall, which was a good brick-building, was appropriated to religious pur
* Biographia Scoticana, p. 567-587. (P) WORKS.-1. The Hind let loose.—2. Mr. Renwick's Life, and a Vindication of his dying Testimony.--3. His own impartial Relation.-4. The Renovation of the Covenant at Borland-hill.. 5. Several Lectures and Sermons.--6. Vindication of the solemn League and Covenants.-7. Several Religious Letters, both before and after the Revolution.-8. An Essay on Church-Communion ; published after his death by Mr. Linnings — There are three poeket volumes of his journals still preserved in manuscripte
poses in the reign of King Charles II. and first let to Mr. Richard Stretton, an ejected minister in the county of Sussex. The present meeting-house it is apprehended was erected for Mr. Stretton. It is a small, inconvenient building, of an oblong formi, with three galleries of unequal dimensions. Mr. Stretton's church, which was of the Presbyterian denomination, occupied it about sixty years, when it became extinct, about the year 1734. The last pastor was Dr. Theophilus Lobb. This congregation was never large. Its pastors, though men of great respectability, and serious preachers, were none of them popular, and though occasional revivals took place, yet in the end they could not keep the interest from decaying, till its low state brought on'a dissolution. After this event, the meeting-house was let to the Independent church then meeting, at Girdlers'-Hall, under the Rev. Robert Wright, and which meets at Haberdashers’-Hall to this day. Of this society we shall speak more particularly hereafter. The Presbyterian church, like all the Dissenting churches of that period, was strictly Calvinistical ; and the two last pastors ranked with the Independents.
The names and order of succession of the ministers of this society, were as follows:
RICHARD STRETTON, M. A. was descended from the Stretton's of Stretton, in Leicestershire, and born about the
year 1632, at Claybrook, in that county. After suitable instruction in grammar-learning, he was sent to New-College, Oxford, of which he became chaplain, as Dr. Gunning, afterwards Bishop of Exeter, had been some time before. He was ordained to the ministry by the presbytery, at Arundel, Oct. 26, 1658; and in the same year became assistant to the celebrated Dr. Francis Cheynel, at Petworth, in Sussex. Dr. Cheynel being ejected from that living at Michaelmas, 1660, to make room for Dr. King, Bishop of Chichester, Mr. Stretton still continued to officiate there till the November following, having two friends who were intimate with the Bishop, and prevented his appointing any other person. Through them the Bishop offered Mr. Stretton a hundred pounds a-year, and the choice of any vacant prebend in his gift, if he would continue as his curate there; but not being satisfied to conform, he declived the offer, and another person being sent down to the place, he quitted it.
After this, our Divine came to London, where he providentially met with Mr. James Nalton, who took him to Lord Fairfax, then in want of a chaplain. His lordship removing to his seat in Yorkshire, took Mr. Stretton along with him, and treated him with great kindness, as did all the family. His piety, prudence, and excellent behaviour, so endeared him to Lord Fairfax, that he settled a handsome annuity upon him for life, to be continued to his wife. While in this situation he had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with several worthy persons in the neighbourhood, and among others, with Judge Rokely, who continued ever after his firm friend. Mr. Stretton continued in this family till the death of Lord Fairfax, when he removed to Leeds, where he exercised his ministry among the Dissenters for about six or seven years. In the year 1677, he removed to London, where he gathered a congregation, which met at Haberdashers'-Hall. llere he contracted an acquaintance with some eminent Divines of the episcopal communion,
particularly Dr. Tillotson, who once insisted
bis preaching for him at St. Lawrence's church ; for which liberality of conduct, however, the doctor was reproved by the Bishop of London.
In the year 1683, Mr. Stretton suffered six months imprisonnient in Newgate for refusing the Oxford oath ; being the first of ten ministers imprisoned there on the same account. Though he had not been at his own house for the space of ten weeks, yet, so vigilant were the spies and informers, that upon the very first morning after his return, he was seized by the city-marshal, at five o'clock, his papers secured, and himself carried before the king and council. Some would have had his papers looked into, but the king said he believed there was no treason there. Upon this he was dismissed, and taken before the Lord-Mayor, who treated him very civilly, and who would have persuaded him to take the Oxford oath ; but not being satisfied to do this he was committed. While in Newgate, Mr. Smith, the ordinary, treated him with respect, and desired his assistance in the chapel, in preparing the condemned prisoners for death. Captain Richardson, the keeper, also behaved to him with civility, at which some were offended. Sir Roger L'Estrange, who was then the mouth of the fiery party, in one of his papers published about that time, reflected on the keeper for perinitting Stretton the Jesuit, to visit Captain Walcot, who then lay under sentence of condemnation. During his imprisonment, Mr. Stretton had a son removed by death. In his illness he had a strong desire to see his father, but no interest that he could make was sufficient to procure him this liberty.
Upon his release, Mr. Stretton continued to preach privately to his congregation as opportunity offered ; and when King James granted public liberty, he freely made use of it, but never joined in any address of thanks upon that occasion. For the liberty granted by act of parliament after the Revolution, he was very thankful, and endeavoured to make the
best improvement of it in his power. Mr. Wood, the Oxonian, observes of Mr. Stretton, that “ he held forth among the godly for a time in an antiquated dancing-school, without the North-gate of Oxon, in the winter season, 1689, King William III. being then in the throne;" but this, it is apprehended must have been a mistake, Mr. Stretton being then a minister in London. The same author is also mistaken in supposing our Divine to have travelled beyound sea ;(9) he having inforined Dr. Calamy more than once, that Lambeth-ferry-boat was the largest vessel he ever was in.
After the death of Dr. Annesley, Mr. Stretton took the management of the Morning Lecture, preached once a fortnight in different places about the metropolis. When there were doctrinal and personal differences among the Dissenters, he was active in his endeavours for peace. He delighted in doing good, and was a zealous promoter of works of charity. To bis poor brethren in the country, he proved a generous helper, and was a principal person in setting on foot and supporting the fund for assisting them and their poor congregations. He also greatly encouraged pious and ingenious youths, who had an inclination for the ministry, and was at great labour and expense iu supplying them with proper books; as also in furnishing libraries in Scotland, and private academies in England. In encouraging ufeful publications he was very active, and sent many books to foreign countries. Amongst his papers was found a letter
(e) Wood attributes to him, but without any foundation, the following piece. “A true Relation of the Cruelties and Barbarities of the French upon the English Prisoners of War; being a Journal of their Travels from Dinan, in Britanny, to Toulon, and back again. With a Description of the Situation and Fortifications of all the eminent Towns on the Road, of their Prisons and Hospitals, the Number and Names of them that died, with the Charity and Sufferings of the Protestants. Lond. 1690. quarto. Published under the name of Richard Stretton, an Eye Witness of these Things." Fatti Oxon, vol. ii. p. 122.