Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Annesley, Samuel
ANNESLEY, SAMUEL (1620?–1696), one of the most eminent of the later puritan nonconformists, was the son of John Aneley (sic) of Hareley, in Warwickshire; this spelling of his father's name was accentuated by Anthony à Wood in order to support his baseless representation that Samuel Annesley, by slightly altering his name, falsely sought relationship with the first Earl of Anglesey. As a matter of fact, he was acknowledged as the earl's full nephew, and when the Countess of Anglesey was dying she asked to be buried in his grave. Annesley was born ‘about the year 1620’ at Kellingworth, near Warwick. Deprived of his father in his fourth year, the care of his education devolved on his mother, who was ‘a very prudent and religious woman.’ In Michaelmas term, 1635, he was admitted a student in Queen's College, Oxford, and there he proceeded successively B.A. and M.A. He seems to have been naturally slow and sluggish while at the university, but to have ‘supplied this defect in nature by prodigious application.’ He was from his youth ‘inclined to the ministry.’ Like others he must have had a twofold ordination. First Anthony à Wood informs us ‘he took holy orders from a bishop.’ Secondly, Calamy adduces a certificate of presbyterian ordination, dated 18 Dec. 1644, and subscribed by seven presbyterian ministers. The latter stated that he was appointed chaplain on ‘a man of war called the Globe.’ It is possible, however, that Anthony à Wood was misinformed, seeing that in 1644 he was just of age to receive orders. In the Globe he was chaplain to the Earl of Warwick, then admiral of the parliament's fleet.
‘In process of time his own behaviour and the great interest he had with such as were then in power’ procured him one of the prizes of the church, viz. Cliffe in Kent. Here he succeeded Dr. Griffith Higges, who was ejected for his loyalty to the king and treason to the Commonwealth. Cliffe was an important post; for besides its income of nearly 400l. per annum ‘a great jurisdiction belonged to the incumbent, who held a court wherein all matters relating to wills, marriage contracts, &c., were decided.’ The parishioners were devoted to their ejected clergyman, and were disposed to show their esteem by rude and rough misconduct towards his successor. Annesley told them ‘that if they conceived him to be biassed by the value of so considerable a living, they were exceedingly mistaken; that he came among them with an intent to do good to their souls, and that he was resolved to stay, how ill soever they used him, till he had fitted them for the reception of a better minister; which whenever it happened, he would leave them, notwithstanding the great value of the living.’
On 26 July 1648 he preached the fast sermon before the House of Commons, which Anthony à Wood vehemently attacks and supporters of the parliament highly praise.
‘About this time’ he was ‘honoured with the title of doctor of laws by the university of Oxford.’ Nearly contemporaneously he was again at sea with the Earl of Warwick, ‘who was employed in giving chase to that part of the English navy which went over to the then prince, afterwards King Charles II.’
The parishioners of Cliffe being not only reconciled but greatly attached to Annesley, he resigned the living that he might keep the promise he had made to them ‘when they were in another disposition.’ In 1657 he was nominated directly by Cromwell ‘lecturer of St. Paul's,’ and in 1658 was presented by Richard Cromwell to the vicarage of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. This presentation becoming ‘useless,’ he, in 1660, procured another ‘from the trustees for the maintenance of ministers,’ being also a commissioner for ‘the approbation and admission of ministers of the Gospel after the presbyterian manner.’ This second presentation growing equally out of date with the first, he, on 28 Aug. 1660, procured a third presentation from Charles II. But even this did not hold him long at St. Giles, for in 1662 he chose to be one of the illustrious band of the ejected two thousand. His undoubted relative, the Earl of Anglesey, did all he could to induce him to conform, but in vain. He preached semi-privately wherever opportunity was given him. His nonconformity ‘created him,’ says Neal, ‘troubles, but no inward uneasiness.’ His goods were distrained for, as the phrase ran, ‘keeping a conventicle.’ That ‘conventicle’ was at the meeting-house in Little St. Helen's. He was spared to ‘a good old age.’ He died on 31 Dec. 1696, and his funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Daniel Williams, while Daniel Defoe (who was a member of his congregation) wrote a pathetic and melodious elegy on his death. ‘He had the reputation,’ concludes the ‘Biographia Britannica,’ ‘of being a warm, pathetic preacher, as well as a pious, prudent, and very charitable divine, laying by the tenth part of his income, whatever it was, for the use of the poor.’ The ‘notorious’ John Dunton was his son-in-law (see his Life and Errors). More memorable still, his daughter Ann, as wife of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, became the mother of the Wesleys. His writings consisted of sermons separately published, and in the various ‘Morning Exercises’ and certain minor biographical things.