Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Needler, Benjamin

882073Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40 — Needler, Benjamin1894Bertha Porter

NEEDLER, BENJAMIN (1620–1682), ejected minister, son of Thomas Needler, of Laleham, Middlesex, was born on 29 Nov. 1620. He was admitted to Merchant Taylors' School on 11 Sept. 1634, was head scholar in 1640, and was elected to St. John's College, Oxford, on 11 June 1642, matriculating on 1 July. He was elected fellow of his college in 1645, but appears to have been non-resident, as his submission is not registered. Joining the presbyterian party, he was summoned to assist the parliamentary visitors of the university in 1648, and was by them created B.C.L. on 14 April of the same year. On 8 Aug. he was appointed to the rectory of St. Margaret Moses, Friday Street, London. It is not known whether he took episcopal orders or not. He was one of the ministers in London who in January 1648–9 signed the ‘Serious and Faithful Representation’ to General Fairfax, petitioning for the life of the king and the maintenance of parliament. On his marriage in 1651 with Marie, sister of Nathanael Culverwell [q. v.], Needler resigned his fellowship at St. John's College.

In August 1662 he was ejected from his rectory by the Act of Uniformity, and afterwards retired to North Warnborough in Hampshire, where he preached privately till the time of his death. He was buried at Odiham, near Winchfield, on 20 Oct. 1682. Needler had several children. The baptisms of six are recorded in the registers of St. Margaret Moses between January 1651–2 and May 1662, and the burials of two of them in 1658 and 1659 respectively.

He was an able preacher, and, according to Baxter, a very humble, grave, and peaceable divine (Sylvester, Reliq. Baxt. iii. 94). He published ‘Expository Notes with Practical Observations towards the opening of the five first Chapters of Genesis,’ London, 1655, and three sermons which are reprinted in various editions of ‘Morning Exercises’ (cf. these of 1660, 1661, 1675, 1676, 1677, and 1844). Dunn speaks highly of all these sermons. Needler also wrote some verses on the death of Jeremiah Whitaker, which were published in Simon Ashe's funeral sermon on Whitaker, entitled ‘Living Loves between Christ and Dying Christians,’ London, 1654.

Culverwell Needler (fl. 1710), son of Benjamin (baptised 5 March 1656 at St. Margaret Moses), was appointed additional writing clerk to the House of Lords on 25 March 1679, and later on clerk-assistant to the House of Commons, which latter post he retained till December 1710, when he was ‘disabled by palsie.’ He published ‘Debates of the House of Commons in January 1704,’ London, 1721 (2nd ed.)

[Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), vol. iv. col. 48; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), vol. ii. col. 110; Robinson's Reg. of Merchant Taylors' School, i. 136; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Burrows's Reg. of Visitors of Univ. of Oxford (Camden Soc.), p. 550; Wilson's Hist. of Merchant Taylors' School, pp. 257–8, 295–8, 303, 315, 732, 825–6, 1195; Dunn's Divines, p. 17; Lords's Journals, x. 428 a, xiii. 487 a; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. ii. p. 172, App. iv. p. 143; parish register of Odiham per the Rev. W. H. Windle, of St. Margaret Moses per the Rev. C. Lloyd Engström.]

B. P.