Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Darracott, Risdon

DARRACOTT, RISDON (1717–1759), independent minister, was born at Swanage 1 Feb. 1716–17. His father, Richard Darracott, was the pastor of the dissenting chapel in that town, and his mother, married in 1714, was Hannah Risdon, both of whom were descended from families long connected with Bideford in Devonshire. At the early age of twenty-three she died in childbirth of Risdon Darracott, her second child, on 10 Feb. 1716–17. When the boy was about five years old his father removed to Chulmleigh in Devonshire, and after training his son under his own eye for some time placed him in the care of the Rev. William Palke, the dissenting minister of South Molton. About 1732 Darracott was sent to the college at Northampton which was presided over by Doddridge, and while there his father died. He was intended for the nonconformist ministry, and commenced his labours in the village of Hardingstone, near Northampton. For a short time in 1738 he preached after his father's death from his pulpit at Chulmleigh, but the congregation were not unanimous in their choice of a pastor, and Darracott's first regular charge was at the Market Jew Street Chapel, Penzance in Cornwall. In this town he was stationed from the autumn of 1738 to the beginning of the following year, when he was seized by illness and was removed soon afterwards to Barnstaple to regain his health. Early in 1741 he was selected by the dissenting congregation at Wellington in Somersetshire as its minister, and in that station he remained for the rest of his days, labouring energetically both in that town and in the surrounding neighbourhood. His bodily constitution was not strong, and after many attacks of illness he died at Wellington on 14 March 1759. His funeral sermon was preached at Wellington on 15 April by his old friend the Rev. Benjamin Fawcett of Kidderminster, and was duly printed, passing through four impressions at least. Darracott's tract, entitled ‘Scripture Marks of Salvation,’ is said to have been published in 1755, but the dedication to his friends at Wellington, which is prefixed to the copies in the British Museum, is dated 2 April 1756. The seventh edition was issued in 1777, and the fifty-fifth edition appeared in 1815. He married, in December 1741, Katherine Besley of Barnstaple, a member of a family long in a good position in the north of Devonshire. She survived until 28 Dec. 1799, when her body was removed from Romsey to Wellington in order that she might be buried near her husband. In 1813 there was published ‘The Star of the West; being Memoirs of the Life of Risdon Darracott, by James Bennett of Romsey,’ and a second edition, slightly enlarged, was produced in 1815. To the volume was prefixed a print of Darracott, ‘James Sharp, pinxit, Blood, sc.,’ and the dedication was to Mrs. Katherine Comley, his ‘only immediate descendant.’ Darracott left one child, who married John Comley of Romsey, by whom she had a daughter, who married the Rev. James Bennett, the author of the memoir and father of the present physician, Sir James Risdon Bennett. Darracott was the friend and correspondent of Doddridge, Whitefield, Walker of Truro, Fawcett of Kidderminster, and James Hervey, some of whose letters will be found in the above-mentioned memoir, but many unpublished letters to him from other eminent clerical and lay evangelicals are in the possession of Sir J. R. Bennett. The substance of some of these is contained in Charles Stanford's ‘Life of Philip Doddridge.’

[Star of the West, passim; Stanford's Doddridge, passim; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis, iii. 1148, 1358.]

W. P. C.