Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Etheridge, John Wesley

ETHERIDGE, JOHN WESLEY (1804–1866), Wesleyan minister, was born at Youngwoods, a farmhouse four miles from Newport, Isle of Wight, on 24 Feb. 1804. His father was a lay preacher among the methodists, and had been urged by Wesley to enter the regular ministry, but refused. His mother was Alley Gray, daughter of an old naval officer. As a youth Etheridge was thoughtful and studious. He was privately educated and began to preach in 1826. Towards the end of 1827 the president of the conference sent him to Hull to assist the Rev. Dr. Beaumont, whose health had broken down. At the Bristol conference in August 1831 Etheridge was received into full connexion, being then second minister in the Brighton circuit. During that year he married Eliza Middleton, by whom he had one child, a daughter, who under her father's teaching became a remarkable Hebrew scholar and linguist. He took peculiar delight in the sacred literature and languages of the East, and most of his works related to these subjects. During several years of feeble health he lived at Caen and Paris, and availed himself of their libraries for carrying on his favourite studies. The university of Heidelberg in 1847 conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D. as a recognition of his exact scholarship and contributions to learning. Etheridge resumed circuit work on his recovery to health, and laboured successfully in Bristol, Leeds, and London. From 1853 he lived in Cornwall, and discharged ministerial duties at Penzance, Truro, Falmouth, St. Austell, and Camborne. Two volumes of biography were written by him for the Wesleyan conference, ‘Life of Dr. Adam Clarke’ in 1858, and ‘Life of Dr. Thomas Coke’ in 1860. Etheridge had an intense love of work, and was patient, modest, and gentle. He died at Camborne on 24 May 1866, aged 62. His principal works are:

  1. ‘The Apostolic Ministry and the Question of its Restoration considered,’ 1836.
  2. ‘Horæ Aramaicæ: Outlines of the Shemitic Language,’ 1843.
  3. ‘History, Liturgies, and Literature of the Syrian Churches,’ 1846.
  4. ‘The Apostolical Acts and Epistles, from the Peschito, or Ancient Syriac,’ &c., 1849.
  5. ‘Jerusalem and Tiberias; a Survey of the Religious and Scholastic Learning of the Jews,’ &c., 1856.
  6. ‘The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch, &c.; from the Chaldee,’ in 2 vols., vol. i. 1862, vol. ii. 1865.

[Smith's Memoirs, &c., 1871; Minutes of the Methodist Conference, 1866.]

W. B. L.