Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Frend, William
FREND, WILLIAM (1757–1841), reformer and scientific writer, was born on 22 Nov. 1757 at Canterbury, being the second son of George Frend, one of its principal tradesmen, an alderman, and twice its mayor. His mother was buried in the cloister yard, Canterbury, on 7 Feb. 1763, and his father married at the cathedral, on 25 Sept. 1764, Jane Kirby, who proved a kindly mother to her stepchildren (Canterbury Cath. Registers, Harl. Soc., pp. 95, 145). He was educated at the king's school in that city until 1771, and among his companions were his cousin Herbert Marsh, afterwards bishop of Peterborough, and Charles Abbott, afterwards Lord Tenterden. His father destined him for business, and he was sent to St. Omer to learn the French language, and then to a mercantile house in Quebec, where he remained for a few weeks, during which time he served as a volunteer at the beginning of the troubles with the American colonies. On his return home he expressed a wish to enter the church, and on the recommendation of Archbishop Moore he was entered as a minor pensioner at Christ's College, Cambridge, on 18 Dec. 1775, when Paley was one of the college tutors. After gaining various college prizes he took the degree of B.A. in 1780, being second wrangler and Smith's prizeman, and thus secured the favour of Dr. Caryl, master of Jesus College, by whose advice he migrated thither as a pensioner on 24 May 1780. Through the same interest Frend was elected foundation scholar on 6 June 1780 and fellow on 23 April 1781, from which year he also held the office of tutor. At the close of 1780 he was admitted deacon in the church of England, and advanced to the priesthood in 1783, when he was presented to the living of Madingley, near Cambridge, where he officiated zealously until June 1787. During this period of his life the post of tutor to the Archduke Alexander of Russia was offered to him, but the position was declined, although accompanied with a salary of 2,000l. per annum, a suitable establishment, and a retiring pension of 800l. a year for life. In 1787 he became a convert to unitarianism. He published his ‘Address to the Inhabitants of Cambridge’ in favour of his new creed, and he exerted himself very vigorously in support of the grace introduced into the senate house on 11 Dec. 1787 for doing away with subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles on taking the degree of M.A. For these offences he was removed by Dr. Beadon from the office of tutor by an order dated 27 Sept. 1788, and his appeal from this ejectment was dismissed by the visitor, the Bishop of Ely, by a decree dated 29 Dec. 1788. To relieve his mental anxiety and to deliberate calmly on the future, he took, in company with an old schoolfellow called Richard Tylden, a lengthy tour in France, the Low Countries, Germany, and Switzerland. When he returned home he resumed the study of Hebrew, which his travels had interrupted, and became so proficient as to be deemed ‘in the opinion of learned Jews better versed in that language than any English christian of his day.’ Priestley devised in 1789 a plan for a new translation of the scriptures, and through 1790 Frend was engaged on translating the historical books of the Old Testament. He also became very intimate with Robert Robinson, the learned dissenting minister of Cambridge, who died in 1790, and he corrected the press of Robinson's posthumous volume of ‘Ecclesiastical Researches.’ In 1793 he wrote a tract, printed at St. Ives but sold at Cambridge, entitled ‘Peace and Union recommended to the Associated Bodies of Republicans and Anti-republicans,’ in which he denounced many of the existing abuses and condemned much of the liturgy of the church of England. On 4 March certain members of the senate met on the invitation of the vice-chancellor, Dr. Isaac Milner, at his lodge in Queens' College, resolved that Frend should be prosecuted in the vice-chancellor's court, and deputed a committee of five to conduct the proceedings. On 23 April a summons was issued by that official requiring Frend's presence in the law schools on 3 May to answer the charge of having violated the laws and statutes of the university by publishing the pamphlet. After several sittings and a long and able defence, the vice-chancellor and heads gave their decision on 28 May that the authorship had been proved and that Frend had offended against the statute ‘de concionibus.’ Gunning, in his ‘Reminiscences’ (i. 280–309), reprints an account of the trial, and, while condemning the tone of the pamphlet, describes the proceedings as a party move and vindicates the tract from the accusation of sedition. He adds that the vice-chancellor was biased against the accused, and that the undergraduates, among whom S. T. Coleridge was conspicuous, were unanimous in his favour. Two letters from Dr. Farmer to Dr. Parr on this trial are in Parr's ‘Works’ (i. 447–8), and in the same set (viii. 30–2) is a long letter from Frend on the treatment which Palmer of Queens', another reformer, had just received. Frend was ordered to retract and confess his error, and as he declined was ‘banished from the university’ (30 May). An appeal against the sentence followed, but it was unanimously affirmed by the delegates on 29 June, and on 26 Nov. 1795 the court of king's bench discharged a rule which Frend had obtained for restoring him to the franchises of a resident M.A. The master and fellows of Jesus College decided, on 3 April 1793, that in consequence of this pamphlet he should not be allowed to reside in the college until he could produce satisfactory proofs of good behaviour. He thereupon appealed to the visitor, but on 13 July the appeal was dismissed, nor was he more successful in his application to the king's bench for a mandamus requiring the visitor to hear and determine the appeal. In spite of these proceedings he enjoyed the emoluments of his fellowship until his marriage, and remained, while he lived, a member of his college and of the senate of the university. Many years later, in 1837, Frend furnished Crabb Robinson with some anecdotes about his trial, and said that the promoters wished to expel him from the university, but that he demanded a sight of the university roll, when on reference to the original document it was discovered that an informality existed which made his expulsion invalid. On leaving Cambridge he came to London, and maintained himself by adding the profits of teaching and writing to his fellowship. In 1806 he exerted himself actively in the formation of the Rock Life Assurance Company, to which he was appointed actuary. A severe illness in 1826 compelled him to tender his resignation, which was accepted in the ensuing year, and an annuity of 800l. per annum was conferred upon him. His health subsequently recovered, and he resumed his active life until 1840, when he was attacked by paralysis, under which he lingered with almost total loss of speech and motion, though with the ‘smallest possible decay of mind or memory.’ He died at his house, Tavistock Square, London, on 21 Feb. 1841. As a unitarian and a whig he gloried in the spread of the opinions which he advocated. All reformers, such as Burdett and Horne Tooke, were numbered among his friends, and he maintained an active correspondence with the chief supporters of radicalism. He was frequently consulted by Palmer in support of his claim for a public grant for his services in improving the transmission of letters. Frend thought that the rate of postage should be reduced to a fixed charge of 2d. or 1d., and drew up a statement to that effect which reached a member of Peel's cabinet, but nothing came of it at that time. Disinterested benevolence and chivalrous assertion of his opinions were the leading traits in his character. He had been a pupil of Paley, and among his own pupils were E. D. Clarke, the traveller, Copley (afterwards Lord Lyndhurst), and Malthus; he was himself the last of ‘the learned anti-Newtonians and a noted oppugner of all that distinguishes Algebra from Arithmetic.’ In 1808 he married a daughter of the Rev. Francis Blackburne, vicar of Brignall in Yorkshire, and granddaughter of Archdeacon Blackburne. They had seven children, and their eldest daughter, Sophia Elizabeth, married in the autumn of 1837 Professor De Morgan.
Frend's works dealt with many subjects. His publications were: 1. 'An Address to the Inhabitants of Cambridge and its Neighbourhood ... to turn from the false Worship of Three Persons to the Worship of the One True God,' St. Ives, 1788. The second edition was entitled 'An Address to the Members of the Church of England and to Protestant Trinitarians in General,' &c., and it was followed by 'A Second Address to the Members of the Church of England,' &c. These were reprinted in 'Six Tracts in Vindication of the Worship of One God,' and in other unitarian publications, and were answered by the Rev. H. W. Coulthurst, by George Townsend of Ramsgate in two tracts in 1789, and by Alexander Pirie in a volume issued at Perth in 1792. Frend responded in 'Thoughts on Subscription to religious tests . . . in a letter to the Rev. H. W. Coulthurst,' and in 'Mr. Coulthurst's blunders exposed, or a review of his several texts.' For these pamphlets Frend was expelled from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (An Account of some late Proceedings of the Society, 1789). 2. 'Peace and Union recommended,' &c., 1793; 2nd ed. 1793, in which he described the evils of the then parliamentary system and of the game and poor laws, and explained the necessity for numerous reforms. The peccant passages are set out in the second edition in single inverted commas. His trial was described by himself in 'An Account of the Proceedings in the University of Cambridge against William Frend,' 1793, and in 'A Sequel to the Account,' &c., which dealt with the application to the court of king's bench in 1795. John Beverley [q. v.] also published accounts of the proceedings in 1793. 3. 'Scarcity of Bread: a plan for reducing its high price,' 1795, two editions. He urged subscriptions by the rich for the relief of the poor. 4. 'Principles of Algebra, 1796 (with a very long appendix by Baron Maseres); pt. ii. 1799. 5. 'A Letter to the Vice-chancellor of Cambridge, by Wm. Frend, candidate for the Lucasian Professorship,' 1798. 6. 'Principles of Taxation,' 1799, advocating a graduated system of income-tax. 7. 'Animadversions on Bishop Pretyman's Elements of Christian Theology,' 1800, to which Joshua Toulmin replied in a preface to his 'Four Discourses on Baptism.' 8. 'The Effect of Paper Money on the Price of Provisions,' 1801, which was provoked by the controversy between Sir Francis Baring and Walter Boyd. 9. 'The Gentleman's Monthly Miscellany,' which lived for a few months of 1803, and was edited in whole or in part by Frend. 10. 'Evening Amusements, or the Beauty of the Heavens Displayed.' It lasted from 1804 to 1822, 'an astronomical elementary work of a new character, which had great success; the earlier numbers went through several editions.' 11. 'Patriotism: an Essay dedicated to the Volunteers,' 1804. 12. 'Tangible Arithmetic, or the Art of Numbering made Easy by means of an Arithmetical Toy,' 1805. 13. 'A Letter on the Slave Trade,' 1816. 14. 'The National Debt in its True Colours,' 1817. Reprinted in the 'Pamphleteer,' ix. 415-32. He advocated its extinction by an annual sinking fund. 15. 'Memoirs of a Goldfinch,' a poem, with notes and illustrations on natural history and natural philosophy (anon.), 1819. 16. 'Is it Impossible to Free the Atmosphere of London in a very considerable degree from Smoke?' 1819. A few copies only for friends, but it was reproduced in the 'Pamphleteer,' xv. 61-5. 17. 'A Plan of Universal Education,' 1832. A fragment of a volume, 'Letters on a hitherto Undescribed Country, 'written some years before but never published. Frend, besides contributing two articles to 'Tracts on the Resolution of Affected Algebraick Equations,' edited by Baron Maseres in 1800, and one tract to the same editor's 'Scriptores Logarithmici,' vol. vi. 1807, suggested other matters to him in the same publications. Maseres in his 'Tracts on the Resolution of Cubick and Biquadratick Equations,' published voluminous supplements to his appendix to Frend's 'Principles of Algebra.'[Gent. Mag. 1841, pt. i. pp. 541-3; Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Soc. v. 144-51, by De Morgan; Howell's State Trials, xxii. 523, 723; C. H. Cooper's Annals of Cambr. iv. 447-52; Baker's St. John's, Cambr. ed. Mayor, ii. 736; Dyer's Robinson, pp. 312-18; Crabb Robinson's Diary, i. 373, iii. 143, 192, 401; Rutt's Life and Corresp. of Priestley, ii. 24, 81-3, 94-5; Memoir of Augustus de Morgan, pp. 19-24, 39-40, 78-82, 109-10; [Mrs. Le Breton's] Memories of Seventy Years; Sidebotham's King's School, Canterbury, pp. 80-1.]