Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eames, John

EAMES, JOHN (d. 1744), dissenting tutor, was a native of London, and it is not improbable that he was a son of John Eames, born at Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire, 29 Jan. 1644–5, the only son of James Eames, inn-holder. He was admitted at Merchant Taylors' School on 10 March 1696–7, and was subsequently trained for the dissenting ministry. He preached but once, being deterred from further efforts by diffidence and by difficulty of elocution, and seems never to have been ordained. In 1712 Thomas Ridgley, D.D., became theological tutor to the Fund Academy, in Tenter Alley, Moorfields, an institution supported by the congregational fund board. Eames was appointed assistant tutor, his subjects being classics and science. On Ridgley's death (27 March 1734) he succeeded him as theological tutor, handing over his previous duties to Joseph Densham, one of his pupils. His reputation as a tutor, especially in natural science, was very great; there is no list of his pupils, but it appears that Archbishop Secker attended his classes (in 1716–17, at the time when he was turning his thoughts towards medicine as a profession). He enjoyed the friendship of Sir Isaac Newton, through whose influence he was elected fellow of the Royal Society, whose transactions he was employed in abridging. Dr. Isaac Watts, for whom he edited a popular manual of astronomy and geography, describes him as ‘the most learned man I ever knew.’ He is probably the only layman who ever held the theological chair in a nonconformist academy; it appears that the presbyterian board was in the habit of sending students to the Fund Academy, but none were sent while Eames was theological tutor. Of his theological work there is no trace; on 13 Feb. 1735 he took part with Samuel Chandler [q. v.] and Jeremiah Hunt, both very liberal divines, in an arranged debate with two priests of the Roman communion, at the Bell Tavern in Nicholas Lane. Eames, who was unmarried, died suddenly on 29 June 1744, a few hours after giving his usual lecture.

He published nothing of his own, but was concerned in the following: 1. ‘The Knowledge of the Heavens and Earth made easy,’ &c., 1726, 8vo, by Isaac Watts, edited by Eames. 2. ‘The Philosophical Transactions, from 1719 to 1733, abridged. By John Eames and John Martyn,’ 1734, 4to, 2 vols.; being vols. vi. (in 2 parts) and vii. of the series. 3. ‘A General Index of all the matters contained in the seven vols. of the Philosophical Transactions abridged,’ 1735, 4to (seems to have been the work of Eames and Martyn).

[Biog. Brit. (Kippis), i. 175; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, 1808, ii. 73, 367; Toulmin's Mem. of Neal, prefixed to Hist. of the Puritans, 1822, i. p. xxvi (Chandler's ‘Account of the Conference,’ 1735, does not mention Eames); Bogue and Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, 1833, ii. 216; Robinson's Register of Scholars, Merchant Taylors' School, 1882, i. 225, 337; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, p. 43; Calendar of Associated Theological Colleges, 1887, p. 46.]

A. G.