Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Myers, Frederic

MYERS, FREDERIC (1811–1851), author and divine, was born at Blackheath 20 Sept. 1811. After being carefully educated by his father, Thomas Myers [q. v.], then on the staff of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, he entered Clare Hall, Cambridge, as a scholar in 1829. The following year he gained the Hulsean essay prize, and he became in 1833 Crosse scholar and graduated B.A. Shortly afterwards he was elected a fellow of his college, and in 1836 gained the Tyrwhitt Hebrew scholarship. He was ordained in 1835 to the curacy of Ancaster in Lincolnshire. In 1838 he was appointed perpetual curate of the newly formed district parish of St. John's, Keswick, and in this, his sole preferment, he remained till his death. Besides the charm of scenery and the attraction of congenial neighbours—Wordsworth was still living at Rydal Mount—the new incumbent found a satisfaction in being able, in a recently constituted parish, to form his own methods of spiritual oversight. The thoroughness with which he devoted himself to the work may be judged from the fact that his 'Lectures on Great Men,' which have repeatedly issued from the press, were originally prepared for delivery as simple parish lectures. In the spring of 1850 his health began to fail, and he died at Clifton 20 July 1851.

Myers married, in October 1839, Fanny, youngest daughter of J. C. Lucas Calcraft, esq. After her death, which took place in January of the following year, he married in 1842 Susan Harriet, youngest daughter of John Marshall, esq., of Hallsteads, Cumberland, M.P. for Yorkshire before the division of the county in 1832. By her Myers left a family. The youngest son, Arthur Thomas Myers, M.D., died in London on 8 Jan. 1894, aged 42; he was the author of the article 'James Esdaile' in this 'Dictionary.' The most important of Myers's published works was 'Catholic Thoughts,' in four books, on the church of Christ, the church of England, the Bible, and theology. The first part was privately printed in 1834, and the whole, after being reprinted at intervals in 1841 and 1848, still for private circulation, was published in a collected form in 1873, with the author's name, in the series of 'Latter-Day Papers' edited by Bishop Ewing; it was again issued in 1883, with an introduction by the author's son, Mr. F. W. H. Myers. In the preface Myers states his conviction 'that the primary Idea of the Church of Christ is that of a Brotherhood of men worshipping Christ as their revelation of the Highest; and that equality of spiritual privileges is so characteristic of its constitution, that the existence of any priestly Caste in it is destructive of it; and also that the faith which it should make obligatory on its members is emphatically faith in Christ Himself, … and very subordinately only in any definite theoretic creed.' the book had a fate unusual in theological controversy, in that the demand for its publication came most strongly thirty or forty years after it was written. As a literary work it is characterised by singular grace and lucidity of style.

Myers also published:

  1. The Hulsean prize essay for 1830, on ' Miracles,' printed in 1831.
  2. ' An Ordination Sermon, preached at Buckden,' 1835.
  3. 'Four Sermons, preached before the University of Cambridge,' Keswick, 1846; reprinted, with two others, 1852.
  4. 'Lectures on Great Men,' 1848, of which eight editions have since appeared.

[Introduction to Catholic Thoughts, by F. W. H. Myers, 1883; Funeral Sermons in St. John's Church, Kendal, 27 July 1851, by the Revs. T. D. H. Battersby and H. V. Elliott; Gent. Mag. 1851 pt. ii. p. 327; Contributions to the Religious Thought &c.,by J. M. Wilson, 1888, p. 32; information from members of the family.]

J. H. L.