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BAGNIO-COURT. -Particular Baptist, Extinct.
F the society that met at what was called The BAGNIO, in Newgate-street, we have already given a large account under the article Curriers'-Hall. In the present place it will be sufficient to observe, that it was gathered in the reign of Charles I. by the famous Mr. HANSERD KNOLLYS, and met first at Great St. Helen's, in Bishopsgate-street. Being turned out from thence by the intolerant proceedings of the Presbyterians, he opened another meeting-house in Finsbury-fields. After being driven about for many years by persecution, he at length fixed at Broken Wharf, Thamesstreet, where he preached at the time of the Revolution. A few years afterwards, he removed his people to the Bagnio in Newgate-street, where they were without a pastor in 1704. Mr. David Crossley being chosen to that service soon afterwards, removed with the congregation to Curriers', Hall, Cripplegate, where they assembled, under a succes sion of pastors, till the close of the century, when they again removed to Red-cross-street, where they are now become absorbed with Mr. Franklin's church.
Towards the beginning of the eighteenth century, there stood a meeting-house in the Old-Bailey, but the existence of it is now scarcely known. It is mentioned in a list of licensed places, in London, in 1738, and was occupied by a congregation of the Presbyterian persuasion. The history of this society is now entirely lost. It must have been raised, however, subsequently to 1695, as it is not enumerated in a list of churches now before us, of that date. We possess no further information respecting the meeting-house, but have for some time supposed it not improbable that it was at this place that the celebrated Mr. Thomas Emlyn preached to a small society that he gathered among persons of his own sentiments, but which being weakened by deaths, dissolved in his own lifetime. Whether our conjecture in this respect be right, we kpow not; but as we shall have no other opportunity of introducing an account of him in this work, we shall seize that which now offers, being unwilling to omit altogether a person who attained to such distinguished eminence in his day,
THOMAS EMLYN, was born at Stamford, in Lincolnshire, in the year 1663. His parents were frequenters of the established church, and particularly intimate with Doctor Richard Cumberland, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough ; but, being inclinable to the principles of the nonconformists, chose to bring up their son to the ministry in that connexion. With this view, after he had gone through a preparatory course of grammar learning, in the year 1078, he was sent
for academical education to Mr. Shuttleworth, at Sulby, near Welford, in Northamptonshire. In the year 1679, he was admitted at Emanuel College, in the University of Cambridge ; but returned again to Mr. Shuttleworth, with whom he continued, on the whole, for a term of four years. Not finding, however, in his academy, all the advantages · which he was desirous of enjoying, particularly in the article of books, he wished to be placed in some other seminary, where he might be furnished with greater means of improvement. Accordingly, in 1682, he removed to Mr. Doolittle's academy, which was kept in the neighbourhood of London, in which he was near the public scene, and had access to a variety of books, and the benefit of literary conversation.
Mr. Emlyn made his first appearance, in the character of a preacher, at Mr. Doolittle's meeting-house in London, in 1682. In the year 1683, he became chaplain to the Countess of Donegal, who then lived in London, and in the year following went over with her and her family to Belfast, in Ireland, where she was soon married to Sir William Franklin, and lived in great state and splendour. Here he had a very liberal and handsome allowance, and was treated with every mark of civility and respect. Sir William, who had a good estate in the West of England, offered him a considerable living in that country ; but this offer he declined, on account of bis dissatisfaction with the terms of ministerial conformity, though at that time he entertained no scruples on the subject of the Trinity. And that he was no bigot he sufficiently proved by constantly attending the service of the church both parts of the day, and by his frequently officiating for the minister of the parish, with whom he was on a footing of great intimacy, and who was frequently his auditor in the evening when he preached in the Countess's hall. To explain the circumstance of his frequently officiating in the parish church, it should be mentioned, that, without any subscription, he had from the
bishop of the diocese a licenee to preach, Facultatis exercendæ Gratia. While Mr. Emlyn was in this situation he paid a visit to Dublin, where he preached once to the congregation of which Mr. Daniel Williams, and Mr. Joseph Boyse, were then pastors ; to whom his services were so acceptable, that they were afterwards induced to invite him to settle among them.
Towards the latter end of King James's reign, the north of Ireland was thrown into such a state of confusion and disorder, that the family of Sir William Franklin and the Countess of Donegal broke up; an event that was also accelerated by some domestic differences. In consequence of this state of things, Mr. Emlyn returned to London toe wards the latter end of the year 1688, where he found Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Daniel Williams, whom the tyrannical and violent proceedings of the popish administration had driven from his flock in Dublin, and who had for some time come to a determination to relinquish his pastoral connexion with them. That determination was known before Mr. Emlyn quitted Ireland, and it led Mr. Boyse to inquire of him by letter, whether he was willing to becoine Mr. Williams's successor, and to desire him tự take Dublin in his way to England. But he declined the proposal. Iu Mr. Emlyn's journeyings from Ireland to London, he bed frequently preached in the parish churches of the towns through which he passed ; and at Liverpool, in particular, being seen in a clerical garb at the door of his ipn, one Saturday evening, by the minister of the place, he was requested by him to give his parishioners a sermon on the following day, which he accordingly did. When he passed that way some time afterwards, the minister of the place being dead, several of the inhabitants who had heard him before desired him to preach to them the next Sunday ; which service he performed so much to their satisfaction, that they offered to use their interest with the patron, to procure for him the
living : but his views of things obliged him to refuse their kind offer.
After Mr. Emlyn had returned to London, being out of employment, he was in the year 1699, invited by Sir Robert Rich, one of the lords of the Admiralty, to his seat near * Beccles, in Suffolk, and prevailed upon by him to officiate as minister to a Dissenting congregation at Lowestoff, in that county. In this place ho continued for about a year and a half, but declined accepting the invitation of the people to become their pastor, having determined not to undertake the duties of that office in any congregation with whom there was not a probability of his continuing for some length of time. While he continued at Lowestoff, he maintained a friendly intercourse with the parish minister, accompanying him when making collections for public charities, and frequently taking several of his people along with him to church; by which means a perfect harmony was preserved between the members of the establishment and the Dissenters. During his residence here, likewise, he contracted an intimate acquaintance with Mr. William Manning, a nonconformning minister in the neighbourhood. As they were both of an inquisitive turn, they had frequent meetings, in which they jointly examined into the principal points of religion, and mutually conimunicated to each other their respective sentiments. Dr. Sherlock's Vindication of the Trinity having been published about this time, their thoughts were much engaged on the consideration of that subject; and the more they inquired into it, the more did they see reason at first to doubt of, and afterwards to differ from, the commonly received opinion. Mr. Manning embraced the Socinian creed, and used all his powers of persuasion to bring Mr. Emlyn to concur with him ; but without effect. The interpretations given by the Socinians to the scriptures, appeared to him to be so forced and unnatural, that he could not be persuaded to admit them ; nor did he alter his VOL. III.