Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bury, Samuel

BURY, SAMUEL (1663–1730), presbyterian minister, son of Edward Bury (1616–1700) [q. v.], was born at Great Bolas, Shropshire, where he was baptised on 21 April 1663. He was educated at Thomas Doolittle's academy, then at Islington. Here he was contemporary with Matthew Henry, who entered in 1680, and remained long enough to contract a strong friendship with Bury. Edmund Calamy (1671–1732) [q. v.], who entered in 1682, speaks of Bury as a student of philosophy, not divinity. Bury's first settlement was at Bury St. Edmunds, prior to the date of the Toleration Act, 1689. In 1690 a house in Churchgate Street was bought, and converted into a place of worship. The congregation was considerable, and Bury became a recognised leader of Suffolk dissent. In Tymms's ‘Handbook of Bury St. Edmunds’ it is stated that Daniel Defoe was an attendant on his ministry.

In 1696 we find Bury engaged in collecting a list of the nonconforming ministers; Oliver Heywood supplied him (14 Aug.) with the names in Yorkshire and Lancashire, through Samuel Angier. On 11 Aug. 1700, John Fairfax, ejected from Barking-cum-Needham, Suffolk, died (aged seventy-six) at his house in that parish; Bury preached two funeral sermons for him, and Palmer rightly infers, from expressions in the one at the actual funeral at Barking, that, by an unusual concession, it was delivered in the parish church.

The still existing chapel in Churchgate Street was built in 1711, and opened 30 Dec. Bury preached the opening sermon. Bury, who was tortured with stone, went with his wife to Bath in the autumn of 1719, on a journey of health. Just before he set out on his return home, he received overtures from Lewin's Mead, Bristol. This was the larger of the two presbyterian congregations in Bristol, and it had been vacant since the death of Michael Pope in 1718. It counted 1,600 adherents. Some of its members had been sheriffs of the city; others were ‘persons of condition; divers very rich, many more very substantial, few poor. The whole congregation computed worth near 400,000l.’ Bury agreed to go to Bristol for six months ‘to make a tryal of the waters there.’ He arrived there on 8 April 1720. In little more than a month he lost his wife. His stay at Bristol was permanent; he got as assistant (probably in 1721) John Diaper, who succeeded him as pastor, and resigned in 1751. Under Bury's ministry the congregation increased both in numbers and in wealth. In the Hewley suit, 1830–42 [see Bowles, Edward], great pains were taken by the unitarian defendants to collect indications of concession to heterodox opinion on the part of Bury, as a representative presbyterian of his time. James has shown that the ‘Exhortation’ at Savage's ordination, quoted to prove (which it does not) opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine of election, was not by Bury, but by John Rastrick, M.A., of Lynn (d. 18 Aug. 1727, aged seventy-eight). The strength of the unitarian case is in a farewell letter from Bury to his Lewin's Mead congregation. He here says, ‘I never was prostituted to any party, but have endeavoured to serve God as a catholic christian,’ and speaks of requirements which have no good Scripture warrant, as making ‘apocryphal sins and duties.’ The address is essentially practical, avoiding controversy, and the strain is fervently evangelical. Bury died 10 March 1730, and was buried in St. James's churchyard, where formerly was an altar tomb with Latin epitaphs to Bury and his wife (given in Corry and Evans's Bristol, 1816, ii. 181). The parish register has the entry, ‘Burialls 1729, March 15. Mr. Samll. Bury. Tom [i.e. tomb] a techer lewends mead meating.’ His portrait hangs in the vestry at Bury St. Edmunds. He married, on 29 May 1697, Elizabeth [q. v.], second daughter of Captain Adams Lawrence, of Linton, Cambridgeshire.

Bury published: 1. ‘A Scriptural Catechism, being an Abridgment of Mr. O. Stockton's, design'd especially for the use of charity schools in Edmund's-Bury,’ 1699 (not seen). 2. ‘A Collection of Psalms, Hymns, &c.,’ for private use, 3rd ed. 1713 (not seen). 3. ‘Θρηνωδία. The People's Lamentation for the Loss of their Dead Ministers, or Three Sermons occasioned by the death of the late Reverend and Learned Divines, Mr. John Fairfax and Mr. Timothy Wright,’ 1702, 8vo. 4. ‘A Funeral Sermon for the Rev. Mr. Samuel Cradock,’ &c. 1707, 8vo. 5. ‘Two sermons preach'd at the opening of a new erected Chappel in St. Edmunds-Bury,’ &c., 1712, 8vo. 6. ‘A Funeral Sermon for Robert Baker, Esq.,’ &c., 1714, 8vo. 7. ‘The Questions’ at the ordination of S. Savage, printed with John Rastrick's ‘Sermon’ on the occasion, 1714, 8vo. 8. ‘An Account of the Life and Death of Mrs. Elizabeth Bury, &c., chiefly collected out of her own Diary,’ Bristol, 1720, 8vo, 4th edit. 1725, 8vo.

[Tong's Life of Matthew Henry, 1716, p. 27; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, 1803, iii. 250; Toulmin's Histor. View of Prot. Diss., 1814, p. 584; Calamy's Histor. Account of My Own Time, 1830, i. 106; Prot. Diss. Mag. 1794, p. 235; Murch's Hist. of Presb. and Gen. Bapt. Churches in W. of Eng., 1835, p. 107 sq.; Historical Illustrations and Proofs, in Shore v. Attorney-Gen. [by Joseph Hunter], 1839, p. 17; Hunter's Life of O. Heywood, 1842, p. 389; James's Hist. Presb. Chapels and Charities, 1867, pp. 165 sq., 634 sq., 675, 679; Browne's Hist. of Congregationalism in Norf. and Suff., 1877, pp. 420, 498, 518; Bristol Times and Mirror, 13 April 1885; extract from Register of Bolas Magna, per Rev. R. S. Turner; Evans's MS. List of Congregations, in Dr. Williams's Library; manuscript minute-book of Churchgate Street Chapel, Bury St. Edmunds; and Bury's publications, noted above.]

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