Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burgess, Daniel
BURGESS, DANIEL (1645–1713), presbyterian minister, was born at Staines, Middlesex, in 1645. His father, Daniel Burgess, who, after holding the livings of Staines and of Sutton Magna, Wiltshire, was appointed rector of Collingbourn Ducis, Wiltshire, through the influence of his brother Isaac Burgess, high sheriff of the county, was ejected in 1662, and was probably the author of the sermon on Eccl. xii. 1 (1660, fol.) mentioned by Watts and Allibone. Burgess was placed under Busby at Westminster School in 1654, and entered commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1660. He studied hard, but did not graduate, declining to conform. The statement that he took orders at Oxford needs confirmation; deacon's orders he may have had, but more probably only the license of a presbytery. Leaving the university, he acted as domestic chaplain to Foyl of Chute, Wiltshire, and afterwards to Smith of Tedworth. In 1667 Roger Boyle, first earl of Orrery, lord president of Munster, took him to Ireland, where he remained seven years. He was head master of the school founded by Lord Orrery at Charleville, co. Cork, and had pupils from the Irish nobility and gentry. He afterwards acted as chaplain to Lady Mervin, near Dublin [? Susanna, daughter of Sir William Balfour, widow of Baron Glenawley (d. April 1679), and wife of Henry Mervyn of Trelick, county Tyrone (Archdall, Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, 1789, ii. 300).] He was ordained by the Dublin presbytery. At Dublin he married. In 1674 his father's state of health took him to Marlborough; he preached there and in the neighbourhood, and was sent to Marlborough gaol. He came to London in his fortieth year (1685), and ministered to a large congregation at a hired meeting-place in Brydges Street, Covent Garden. He had influential friends; the Countess of Warwick chose him as tutor for her grandson, the future Lord Bolingbroke: in July 1688 Rotheram, one of the new barons of exchequer, took him as his chaplain on the Oxford circuit (letter in 5th Rep. of Hist. Manuscripts Commission, p. 378; Burgess is described as 'a man of extraordinary ripe parts'), and in 1695 he preached the funeral sermon for the Countess of Ranelagh. His congregation moved in 1695 to a meeting-house in Russell Court, Drury Lane, and in 1705 a meeting-house was built for him in New Court, Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields. Before it was paid for differences arose in his congregation, ending in a large secession from his ministry. On 1 March 1710 the Sacheverell mob gutted Burgess's meeting-house, and made a bonfire of its pulpit and other fittings. The government offered a reward of 100l. for the apprehension of the rioters, and repaired the building. Burgess's fame as a preacher was great, and his exuberant animation was something new in the London pulpit. He was a conspicuous example of pith and vivacity at a time when a dry dignity was beginning to be exacted of preachers as a virtue. Swift, who admits his ability, unjustly taxes him with mixing unction with ‘incoherence and ribaldry' (Tatler, 10 Sept. 1709). Tom Brown, who takes his Indian to Russel] Court, deals chiefly with the congregation, but his hint of Burgess's ‘pop-gun way of delivery’ is in harmony with his style of composition. It is full of epigram, terse, quaint, clear, and never meaningless or dull. Caulfield reproduces it curious contemporary print of Burgess and his congregation. Among current stories of his pulpit wit the best is that which makes him say that the Jews were called Israelites because God did not choose that. his people should be called Jacobites. His very sensible discourse on ‘Foolish Talking and Jesting described and condemned' (Eph. v. 4), 1694, 16mo, is of moment in view of his own practice and repute. Briefly, he contends that ‘no jesting is lawful but what is medicinal, and restorative of spirits for nobler thoughts’ (p. 69). In theology he was Calvinistical.
Burgess’s last years were damped by the defection from his flock and by sickness. ‘If I must be idle,’ he said, ‘I had rather be idle under ground than idle above ground.’ He died on 26 Jan. 1713, and was buried on 31. Jan. in the church of St. Clement Danes. Matthew Henry preached his funeral sermon.
Of Burgess's publications Bogue and Bennett give, after Henry, an imperfect list of thirty-two without gates, beginning with ‘Soliloquies’ which he printed in Ireland, and ending with a Latin defence of nonconformity, ‘Appellatio ad Fratres exteros.’ Among his works are: 1. ‘A Call to Sinners,’ 1689, 8vo (written at the request of Baron Rotheram, for the use of condemned criminals). 2. ‘Seasonable Words for English Protestants,’ 1690, 4to. 3. ‘The Characters of a Godly Man,’ 1691, 8vo. 4. ‘Eighteen Directions for Saving Conversion to God,’ 1691, 8vo. 5. ‘The Death and Rest, Resurrection and blessed Portion of the Saints’ (Dan. xii. 13), 1692, 12mo. 6. ‘A Discourse of the Death and Resurrection of good Men’s Bodies,’ 1692, 8vo. 7. ‘The Confirming Work of Religion,’ 1693, Svo. 8. ‘The Sure Way to Wealth . . . even while Taxes rise and Trades sink,’ 1693, 8vo. 9. ‘Rules for hearing the Word of God,’ &c., 2nd ed. 1693, 8vo. 10. ‘Holy Union and Holy Contention, &c.’ 1695, 8vo. 11. ‘Rules and Motives to Holy Prayer,’ 1696, 8vo. 12. ‘Causa Dei; or Counsel to the Rich,’ 1697, 8vo. 13. ‘The Golden Snuffers’ [Ex. xxxvii. 23], 1697, 12mo (a favourite illustration with him, see Foolish Talking, p. 93. This was the first sermon preached to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners). He superintended the third edition (?1681) of Robert Fleming's ‘The Fulfilling of the Scripture.' The famous whig tract, ‘The Craftsmen: a Sermon . . . composed by the late Daniel Burgess, and intended to be preached by him in the High Times, but prevented by the Burning of his Meeting House,’ in ‘Indep. Whig,’ ii. 236, and separate, 2nd ed. 1720, 8vo, is by Thomas Gordon. Burgess married a Mrs. Briscoe, and had two daughters and a son.
Daniel Burgess, M.A. (d. February 1747), son of Daniel Burgess (d. 1718), seems to have had the status of a minister, for ‘Daniel Burgess’ appears among the signatures to the non-subscribers’ advices for peace at Salters’ Hall, 10 March 1719; but in 1702 he received a government appointment, and in 1714 was sent to Hanover as secretary and reader to the Princess Sophia. He held the same post to the Princess of Wales, and, according to Calamy, ‘of his own head’ made the Hrst motion to Viscount Townshend for an English regium donum, which was paid (500l. half-yearly) through him from April 1723. He published ‘A Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, occasioned by his Son’s Letter to the Earl of Halifax,’ 1715, 8vo (anon.); and ‘A Short Account of the Roman Senate,’ 1729, 4to.
[Henry’s Funeral Sermon for Burgess, 1713; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, p. 872; Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714. ii. 92 (wrongly numbered 94), 336, 373; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, 1802, pp. 296, 330; Prot. Diss. Mag. vol. vi.; Bogue and Bennett’s Hist. of Dissenters, 1809, ii, 270 seq.; Salmon's Chron. Hist. 1733, p. 320; T. Brown's Works, 9th ed. 1760, iii. 100; Caulfield’s Portraits, 1819, i. 52; Calamy’s Hist. Account of my own Life, 2nd ed. 1830, ii. 465 seq.; Walter Wilson's MSS. in Dr. William's Library.]