Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hanmer, Jonathan

1344949Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24 — Hanmer, Jonathan1890Bertha Porter

HANMER, JONATHAN (1606–1687), ejected minister, younger son of 'John Hanmer, alias Davie' (who died in April 1628), and Siblye (née Downe) his wife (Barnstaple par. reg.), was born at Barnstaple in Devonshire, and baptised there on 3 Oct. 1606. He was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1624, and graduated B.A. in 1627, and M.A. in 1631. He was ordained on 23 Nov. 1632; was instituted to the living of Instow, Devonshire, in the same year; afterwards held the vicarage of Bishops Tawton in the same county, and from 1646 to 1662 was lecturer in the church at Barnstaple. He gained a high reputation as a preacher, but declined an invitation to preach before Bishop Hall of Exeter at his triennial visitation (February 1635). In 1646, when Blake, vicar of Barnstaple, was temporarily suspended, a petition was signed by the mayor and other residents of the town to the Devonshire committee of commissioners for the approbation of public preachers, requesting the appointment in Blake's absence of 'Mr. Hughes or Mr. Hanmer.' Dr. Walker (Sufferings of the Clergy, p. 196) speaks without authority of Hanmer as a 'factious lecturer,' who 'encumbered' Blake.

Hanmer was ejected from both vicarage and lectureship on the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662, and afterwards, in conjunction with Oliver Peard, founded the first nonconformist congregation in Barnstaple. The Oxford Five-mile Act necessitated frequent changes of abode, and he laboured in London, Bristol, Pinner, and Torrington, as well as Barnstaple. It is not known how long he presided over his newly gathered congregation, with whom, however, he communicated either in person or by letter to the time of his death. Previous to the building of a meeting-house in 1672, near the castle, the congregation met in a private malthouse or warehouse, where two or three confidential friends were ready to give notice of the approach of informers. Hanmer was a scholar and a man of generous views. The clergy of the established church seem to have held him in respect after his ejectment. The Bishop of Exeter (Seth Ward) signed an order in 1665 addressed to some of Hanmer's former parishioners requiring them to pay tithes due at the time of his removal. He is described in 1665 in the 'Bishop's certificate of Hospitals, Alms-Houses … and Nonconformists in Barum 'as living' a private life in Barnstaple, no way disturbing the peace of Church or State' (Tenison MS. 639, fol. 408, in Lambeth Library). He took an active interest in the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, particularly among the Indians. It is not certain that either he or his son was imprisoned for nonconformity. Hanmer died at Barnstaple on 18 Dec. 1687, and was buried in the parish churchyard 21 Dec. His wife Catharine died in May 1660. Besides his son John (see below) he had at least six children. His daughter Katherine (8 Aug. 1653–2 June 1694) married on 5 Oct. 1673 William Gay (1649–1695), second son of John Gay of Frithelstock. They settled in Barnstaple, and John Gay the poet [q. v.] was their youngest child.

Hanmer published:

  1. 'Τελείωσις, or an Exercitation upon Confirmation,' London, 1657, with imprimatur by Joseph Caryl, preceded by letters of recommendation by G. Hughes, Richard Baxter, and Ralph Venning. Baxter, though 'utterly unacquainted' with Hanmer, mentions the book in his 'Narrative' as 'judiciously and piously written,' and states also that it 'was very well accepted when it came abroad.' On being asked for more scripture proof of the duty of confirmation than was brought forward by Hanmer, Baxter wrote his treatise entitled 'Confirmation, the way to Reformation and Reconciliation.' Francis Fulwood of West Alvington also wrote an appendix to his 'Discourse of the Visible Church,' London, 1658, after reading the 'Exercitation.' A second edition of Hanmer's book appeared in 1658, and contains an explanatory appendix.
  2. 'Άρχαιοσκοπία, or a View of Antiquity,' London, 1677, containing accounts of ten of the fathers. The book seems to have been hurriedly published in consequence of the appearance early in 1677 of Dr. William Cave's 'Apostolici' (Seller, Remarques relating to the State of the Church). The title-page bears the initials 'J. H., M.A.,' which have been variously interpreted. Wood (Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iv. 564, 590) and Watt (Bibl. Brit.) ascribe the authorship to John Howe, the 'British Museum Catalogue' suggests Howe, while Lowndes (Bibl. Man.) says James Howell. A. S. (i.e. Abednego Seller) published in 1678 'Remarques relating to the State of the Church of the First Centuries: Wherein are intersperst Animadversions on J. H.'s "View of Antiquity,"' and dedicated his work to Dr. Cave. Calamy (Continuation, p. 306), in describing a number of manuscripts left by Hanmer, makes mention of 'Remarks on Mr. S.'s "Exceptions" to Mr. H.'s "View of Antiquity."'

Cave speaks slightingly of Hanmer's work in the preface to his 'Ecclesiastici' published in 1783.

Hanmer drew up for his congregation in Barnstaple a confession of faith, and rules of conduct, mainly in unison with the articles of the church of England.

Hanmer, John (1642–1707), nonconformist minister, son of the above, born at Bideford in October 1642, was educated at Barnstaple and was admitted a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, 30 June 1659. He remained at Cambridge six or seven years, and 'by favour obtained his degree [in. 1662] without the usual compliance in that case' (Palmer, Nonconformist's Memorial, ii. 111).

He was unable to conform to the established church, and after some years assisted his father and other ministers who were preaching at Barnstaple in secret. After his ordination in 1682 he became assistant to Oliver Peard, once his father's colleague; in May 1692 was chosen co-pastor, and on 9 Sept. 1696 undertook the sole charge. After 1700 his health failed, disagreements arose between him and his assistant (William, son of Oliver Peard) on the question of salary, and a secession took place in 1705. The larger part of the congregation remained at the castle under Peard, and Hanmer's friends worshipped at a private house on the quay, till the Cross Street Chapel was built. Hanmer died 19 July 1707, aged 65. He was a successful preacher, a good scholar, and moderate in his views. He had some poetical talent, and is said to have written a version of the 89th Psalm in English verse. His widow, Jane, daughter of Richard Parminster, merchant, of Barnstaple, died on 19 Aug. 1736, aged 77. His only child, Rebecca, married, on 30 Oct. 1706, Robert Tristram, merchant, of Exeter, whose father was an ardent nonconformist in Barnstaple.

A memorial-stone to Hanmer and members of his family was removed from the churchyard in 1870 and taken to the congregational church in Cross Street. On it is the coat of arms of the Hanmers of Hanmer, Flintshire.

[Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, ii. 6, 7, 111, 112; Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 58515, p. 52, pp. 94, 142; Gardiner's Cursory View, Barnstaple, 1828, pp. 2, 5, 6, 7, 19, 21, 28, 29, 35, 45; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, pp. 194, 195, 196; Gribble's Memorials of Barnstaple, 1830, p. 511; Sylvester's Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, 1696, p. 193; Jonathan Hanmer's works as above; Calamy's Continuation, pp. 339, 340; Thompson's manuscript History of Protestant Dissenting Congregations (in Dr. Williams's Library), ii. 35; Walter Wilson's MS. Collections (in Dr. Williams's Library), p. 38; Towgood's MS. Account of Congregations in Devonshire, in Dr. Williams's Library; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Cat. of Dr. Williams's Library; information and copies of parish registers from the Rev. J. Ingle Dredge and Thomas Wainwright, esq.]

B. P.