Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Poynder, John

POYNDER, JOHN (1779–1849), theological writer, born in 1779, was eldest son of a tradesman in the city of London. His mother belonged to the evangelical school in the church of England, and from her he inherited his religious tendencies. For some time he attended a school at Newington Butts, kept by Joseph Forsyth [q. v.] He desired in early life to be ordained in the English church, but circumstances forced him to enter a solicitor's office. For nearly forty years he was clerk and solicitor to the royal hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlehem, and for three years he was under-sheriff of London and Middlesex. The Rev. William Jay [q. v.] of Bath was his friend for over fifty years, and moved by a sermon of Jay and another by Claudius Buchanan [q. v.], the Indian missionary, Poynder set himself to rouse proprietors of East India stock to a sense of the iniquity of the company's policy in encouraging idolatry. For many years he contended almost singlehanded in the court of proprietors at the East India House for the prohibition of the custom which permitted nearly six hundred widows to be immolated every year at the suttee, and the practice was at last stopped by the action of Lord William Bentinck. He investigated the amount of the profits made by the company from the worshippers and pilgrims at the temples of Juggernaut, Gya, and Allahabad, and succeeded in abolishing the pilgrim tax. He never desisted from the crusade until his death, at Montpelier House, South Lambeth, on 10 March 1849. He married at Clapham church, on 15 Sept. 1807, Elizabeth Brown, who died at South Lambeth on 22 Sept. 1845, aged 60. They had several sons and daughters. One of the sons, Frederick, graduated B.A. of Wadham College, Oxford, in 1838, and was afterwards chaplain of Bridewell Hospital, and second master of Charterhouse School (Gardiner, Wadham Coll. Reg. ii. 358). Poynder's library was sold by Sotheby & Co. on 10 Jan. 1850 and two following days. The collection comprised ‘the first four editions of Shakespeare’ and many volumes with autograph letters and memoranda, including the ‘Phænomena et Diosemeia’ of Aratus Solensis, with autograph and annotations of Milton.

Poynder is best known by his ‘Literary Extracts from English and other Works, collected during Half a Century,’ 1844, 2 vols.; a second series in one volume appeared in 1847. They contain numerous observations by Richard Clark (1739–1831) [q. v.], the city chamberlain, on incidents in the political and social life of London. Poynder's own reflections are indicated by the word ‘Miscellaneous.’

Poynder's other works, most of which relate to his doctrinal convictions, include: 1. ‘Christianity in India,’ 1813; a series of letters sent to the ‘Times’ under name of Laicus, with those of his opponent, ‘An East India Proprietor.’ 2. ‘Brief Account of the Jesuits’ (anon.) 1815; also included in the ‘Pamphleteer,’ vi. 99–145. 3. ‘History of the Jesuits, with a Reply to Mr. Dallas's Defence of that Order’ (anon.), 1816, 2 vols. 4. ‘Popery the Religion of Heathenism, being Letters of Ignotus in the “Times”’ (anon.), 1818; 2nd edit., with new title and author's name, 1835 (Halkett and Laing, Pseud. Literature, ii. 1973); on the publication of the second edition, called ‘Popery in alliance with Heathenism,’ Cardinal Wiseman addressed to him some printed letters of remonstrance. 5. ‘The Church her own Enemy,’ 1818. 6. ‘Human Sacrifices in India,’ substance of speech at the courts of the East India Company, 21 and 28 March,’ 1827. 7. ‘Speech at Court of East India Company, 22 Sept. 1830, on its Encouragement of Idolatry,’ 1830. 8. ‘Friendly Suggestions to those in Authority,’ 1831. 9. ‘Life of Francis Spira,’ translated, 1832. 10. ‘State of Ireland reconsidered, in answer to Lord Alvanley,’ 1841. 11. ‘Word to the English Laity on Puseyism,’ 1843 (followed by ‘A second Word’ in 1848). 12. ‘Idolatry in India: six Letters on the Continuance of the Payment to the Temple of Juggernaut,’ 1848. He frequently contributed to the ‘Christian Observer’ and the ‘Church and State Gazette.’

[Gent. Mag. 1807 pt. ii. p. 887, 1845 pt. ii. p. 544, 1849 pt. i. p. 547; Christian Observer, July 1847 (a fragment of autobiography) and 1849, pp. 354–7; Literary Extracts, ii. 733 and 2nd ser. pp. 17–31; Church and State Gazette, 1849, p. 181; Rev. W. Jay's Autobiogr., pp. 446–448.]

W. P. C.