Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fawcett, John (1740-1817)

FAWCETT, JOHN, D.D. (1740–1817), baptist theologian, was born 6 Jan. 1740, at Lidget Green, near Bradford. In early life he was powerfully impressed by the preaching of Whitefield, and after spending some years in secular life entered on the work of a baptist minister, and was settled at Wainsgate in 1764, and afterwards at Hebden Bridge, both in the parish of Halifax. To the duties of a minister he added those of a teacher, conducting an academy during a great part of his ministry. From the earnestness of his Christian spirit, his vigour as a preacher, and his force of character, he rose steadily among his brethren, and might have removed to a more conspicuous sphere, but remained in the neighbourhood of Halifax to the end. He was regarded as the first man of his denomination in that part of the country. At one time he endeavoured to add to his establishment an institution for the training of baptist ministers, but it did not prove a success. From time to time he published books on practical religion, which were well received, including a collection of hymns, an essay on ‘Anger,’ ‘The Life of Oliver Heywood,’ ‘Advice to Youth,’ ‘History of John Wise,’ and the ‘Sick Man's Employ.’ The largest of his literary undertakings, and that by which he was best known, was a ‘Devotional Commentary on the Holy Scriptures.’ This work was finished in 1811. It came out in two large volumes, and was sold at five guineas. About the same time he received the degree of D.D. from an American college. His object was to bring out clearly and powerfully from every chapter of Scripture such views as were best adapted to promote a devotional spirit, and each part of his exposition was followed by a paragraph of ‘aspirations,’ intended to guide the feelings of readers. Fawcett, whose health had long been feeble, died 25 July 1817, in his seventy-seventh year.

[An Account of the Life, Ministry, and Writings of the late Rev. John Fawcett, D.D., by his son.]

W. G. B.