ALSOP, VINCENT (c. 1630–1703), English Nonconformist divine, was of Northamptonshire origin and was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. He received deacon’s orders from a bishop, whereupon he settled as assistant-master in the free school of Oakham, Rutland. He was reclaimed from indifferent courses and associates here by a very “painful” minister, the Rev. Benjamin King. Subsequently he married Mr King’s daughter, and “becoming a convert to his principles, received ordination in the Presbyterian way, not being satisfied with that which he had from the bishop”. He was presented to the living of Wilby in Northamptonshire; but was thence ejected under the act of Uniformity in 1662. After his ejection he preached privately at Oakham and Wellingborough, sharing the common pains and penalties of nonconformists,—e.g. he was imprisoned six months for praying with a sick person. A book against William Sherlock, dean of St Paul’s, called Antisozzo (against Socinus), written in the vein of Andrew Marvell’s Rehearsal Transprosed, procured him much celebrity as a wit. Dr Robert South, no friend to nonconformists, publicly pronounced that Alsop had the advantage of Sherlock in every way. Besides fame, Antisozzo procured for its author an invitation to succeed the venerable Thomas Cawton (the younger) as independent minister in Westminster. He accepted the call and drew great multitudes to his chapel. He published other books which showed a fecundity of wit, a playful strength of reasoning, and a provoking indomitableness of raillery. Even with Dr Goodman and Dr Stillingfleet for antagonists, he more than held his own. His Mischief of Impositions (1680) in answer to Stillingfleet’s Mischief of Separation, and Melius Inquirendum (1679) in answer to Goodman’s Compassionate Inquiry, remain historical landmarks in the history of nonconformity. Later on, from the entanglements of a son in alleged treasonable practices, he had to sue for and obtained pardon from King James II. This seems to have given a somewhat diplomatic character to his closing years, inasmuch as, while remaining a nonconformist, he had a good deal to do with proposed political-ecclesiastical compromises. He died on the 8th of May 1703, having preserved his “spirits and smartness” to the last.
See Wood’s Athenae (Bliss) iv. 106; Calamy’s Life of Baxter, ii. 487; Wilson’s History and Ant. of Dissenting Churches, iv. 63-66. (A. J. G.)