Brook, Benjamin (DNB00)

BROOK, BENJAMIN (1776–1848), nonconformist divine and historian, was born in 1776 at Nether Thong, near Huddersfield. As a youth he was admitted to membership in the independent church at Holmfield, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Robert Gallond. In 1797 he entered Rotherham College as a student for the ministry. In 1801 he became the first pastor of the congregational church at Tutbury, Staffordshire. Here he pursued his studies, with great research, into puritan and nonconformist history and biography, and published the works on which his historical repute chiefly rests. Resigning his ministerial duties in 1830, from failing health, he went to reside at Birmingham, still continuing his favourite studies, and publishing some of their fruits. He was a member of the educational board of Springhill College, opened August 1838. At the time of his death he was collecting materials for a history of puritans who emigrated to New England. He died at the Lozells, near Birmingham, on 5 Jan. 1848, in his 73rd year. He is said to have been one of the last who retained among the congregationalists the old ministerial costume of shorts and black silk stockings. He published:

  1. 'Appeal to Facts to justify Dissenters in their Separation from the Established Church,' 2nd ed. 1806, 8vo (3rd ed. 1815, 8vo, with title 'Dissent from the Church of England justified by an Appeal to Facts').
  2. 'The Lives of the Puritans … from the Reformation under Q. Elizabeth to the Act of Uniformity, in 1662,' 1813, 3 vols. 8vo (a most careful and valuable collection, from original sources).
  3. 'The Reviewer reviewed,' 1815, 8vo (in answer to an article in the 'Christian Observer ' on the 'Lives').
  4. 'The History of Religious Liberty from the first Propagation of Christianity in Britain to the death of George III,' 1820, 2 vols. 8vo.
  5. 'Memoir of the Life and Writings of Thomas Cartwright, B.D. … including the principal ecclesiastical movements in the reign of Q. Elizabeth,' 1845, 8vo (this is inferior to his 'Lives;' Brook was better in biography than in general history).

[Congregational Year-Book, 1848, p. 214; Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, 1839, p. 161 private information.]

A. G.