Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dunn, Samuel (1798-1882)

DUNN, SAMUEL, D.D. (1798–1882), an expelled Wesleyan methodist minister, was born at Mevagissey in Cornwall, 13 Feb. 1798. His father, James Dunn, the master of a small trading vessel, made the acquaintance of the Rev. John Wesley in 1768, and became a class leader; with his crew he protected Dr. Adam Clarke [q. v.] from the fury of a mob in Guernsey in 1786, and he died at Mevagissey, 8 Aug. 1842, aged 88. The son Samuel received his education at Truro, under Edward Budd, who was afterwards the editor of the ‘West Briton.’ In 1819 he was admitted a Wesleyan methodist minister, and after passing the usual three years of probation, was received as a full minister, and volunteered for service in the Shetland Islands, where, in conjunction with the Rev. John Raby, he was the first minister of his denomination, and suffered many hardships. While here he wrote an interesting series of articles descriptive of the Orkney and Shetland islands (Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1822–5). He was afterwards stationed at Newcastle, Rochdale, Manchester, Sheffield, Tadcaster, Edinburgh, Camborne, Dudley, Halifax, and Nottingham successively, and at all these places proved a most acceptable preacher. His first work, entitled ‘Subjects and Modes of Baptism,’ was printed at Pembroke in 1821; thenceforward, throughout a long life, his pen was never idle. Upwards of seventy books have his name on their title-pages, a full account of which is given in Boase and Courtney's ‘Bibliotheca Cornubiensis,’ i. 124–7, iii. 1163. He wrote against atheism, popery, Socinianism, and unitarianism, and in defence of methodism. His best works are, ‘A Dictionary of the Gospels, with maps, tables, and lessons,’ published in 1846, which went to a fourth edition in the same year, and ‘Memoirs of seventy-five eminent Divines whose Discourses form the Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and Southwark,’ which appeared in 1844. He was also a contributor to many theological magazines and reviews. Until 1847 he continued in harmony with the Wesleyan methodists, but at that date he was accused of having, in conjunction with the Rev. James Everett and the Rev. William Griffith, jun., taken part in the publication of the ‘Fly Sheets.’ The pamphlets so called advocated reforms in the Wesleyan governing body, reflected on the proceedings of the conference and its committees in unmeasured terms, and complained of the personal ambition of Jabez Bunting, D.D. and Robert Newton, D.D., two of the past presidents of the association. What part the three ministers had taken, if any, in the ‘Fly Sheets’ has never been discovered, as on being questioned with others on the matter they declined to reply. Certain it is, however, that in 1849 Dunn commenced the publication of a monthly magazine called the ‘Wesley Banner and Revival Record,’ which, following the example set by the ‘Fly Sheets,’ continuously pointed out the errors of methodism and suggested reforms. At the conference held at Manchester in 1849 the three ministers were desired to discontinue the ‘Wesley Banner,’ and to give up attacking methodism. They, however, refused to make any promises and were expelled on 25 July. Their expulsion gave them a wide popularity. Many meetings of sympathy with them were held, more particularly one in Exeter Hall on 31 Aug. 1849. These expulsions were very damaging to the Wesleyan methodist connexion, as between 1850 and 1855 upwards of a hundred thousand members were lost, and it was not until 1855 that it began to recover from this disruption. The literature connected with these events is very extensive, and the interest taken in the matter was so general that in a short time twenty thousand copies were sold of a small pamphlet entitled ‘Remarks on the Expulsion of the Rev. Messrs. Everett, Dunn, and Griffith. By the Rev. William Horton.’ From this time forward Dunn led a very peaceful life; for some time he itinerated and preached in the pulpits of various denominations. From 1855 to 1864 he lived at Camborne in Cornwall, where he ministered to the Free Church methodists. Having written very numerous articles in many American publications he was in course of time created a D.D. of one of the United States universities, and after that event called himself minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America. He died at 2 St. James's Road, St. Mary Usk, Hastings, 24 Jan. 1882.

[Wesleyan Methodist Mag. (1849); Minutes of the Wesleyan Conference, 1848–51; Smith's Wesleyan Methodism (1861), iii. 70, 500–29; Wesley Banner, 1849–52, 4 vols.; Chew's James Everett (1875), pp. 366, 387, 395, 409, 415–25, 431–3; Boase's Collectanea Cornubiensia, pp. 218–19; Illustrated London News, 15 Sept. 1849, pp. 187–8, with portrait; Times, 1 Sept. p. 5, 3 Sept. p. 4; West Briton, 26 Sept. 1851, p. 5.]

G. C. B.