Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Amner, Richard

AMNER, RICHARD (1736–1803), a presbyterian (otherwise unitarian) divine, and born in 1736, was one of several children of Richard and Anne Amner, of Hinckley, Leicestershire, his baptism, in the register of the presbyterian (otherwise unitarian) meeting-house there, being set down for 26 April 1737. He entered the Daventry Academy, to prepare for a dissenting pulpit, in 1755; he stayed there seven years, accepting the charge of the unitarian chapel in Middlegate Street, Yarmouth, 21 July 1762 (Browne's Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk). Here his theology did not prove to be in harmony with the theology of his congregation; and, preaching to them for the last time on 5 March 1764, he moved to Hampstead, London, where he commenced duty the following year, 1765. He published three books whilst at Hampstead : 1. ‘A Dissertation on the Weekly Festival of the Christian Church’ (anonymous), 1768. 2. ‘An Account of the Positive Institutions of Christianity,’ 1774. 3. ‘An Essay towards the Interpretation of the Prophecies of Daniel,’ 1776. In 1777 he left to be pastor at Coseley, Staffordshire; he retained this charge till the end of 1794, when, retiring from the ministry to devote himself entirely to study in Hinckley, his native town, he became one of the contributors to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (Nichols's Preface to General Index to Gent. Mag. from 1787 to 1818). He published his fourth, and last, volume there, ‘Considerations on the Doctrines of a Future State,’ in 1797, and died 8 June 1803, aged 67.

George Steevens lived at Hampstead during the twelve years that Amner preached there; and in 1793 (Amner having removed in 1777, sixteen years before), when Steevens brought out his renowned edition of Shakespeare, it was found that he had put Amner's name to gross notes to which he was ashamed to put his own. Allibone gives an erroneous account of this literary scandal, which procured much sympathy for Amner in its day.

[Park's Hampstead, p. 237; Wilson's MSS. in Dr. Williams's Library; Horne's Introduction to the Crit. Study of the Holy Scriptures, p. 339; Orme's Bibliotheca Biblica, p. 12; Gent. Mag. June 1803; Chalmers's Gen. Biog. Dict. art. ‘Amner;’ Nichols's Illustrations of Literature, viii. 335; Steevens's Shakespeare, xii. 503; Monthly Magazine, xv. 594; Monthly Review, l. 159; Nichols's Leicestershire, iv. 747; Christian Life, vol. ix. No. 350; British Critic, O.S. xiii. 294 et seq.]

J. H.