Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Say, Samuel

SAY, SAMUEL (1676–1743), dissenting minister, second son of Gyles Say, by his second wife, was born in All Saints' parish, Southampton, on 23 March 1676. Gyles Say (1632–1692), who was of Huguenot ancestry by the mother's side, was educated at Southampton grammar school, was presented to the vicarage of Catherington, Hampshire, on 24 March 1656, and to the vicarage of St. Michael, Southampton, on 23 Nov. 1657; was ordained by presbyters on 8 May 1660, refused conformity in 1662, and preached as a nonconformist at Southampton and Wellow, Hampshire (1672–80), London (1680–7), and Guestwick, Norfolk (1687–92). Samuel was educated at schools in Southwick, Hampshire (to 1689), and Norwich (1691–2), whence he proceeded (1692) to the London academy of Thomas Rowe [q. v.] Isaac Watts was his fellow-student and intimate friend.

After acting as chaplain for three years to Thomas Scott of Lyminge, Kent, he ministered for a short time at Andover, Hampshire, then at Great Yarmouth (from 6 July 1704), and in 1707 settled at Lowestoft, Suffolk, where he ministered for eighteen years, but was not ordained pastor. He declined in 1712 a call to the independent congregation at Norwich. In 1725 he became co-pastor with Samuel Baxter at Ipswich. In 1734, after much hesitation, he accepted the care of the congregation at Long Ditch (now Princes Street), Westminster, which had been without a pastor since the death of Edmund Calamy in 1732. His ministry was successful. He died on 12 April 1743, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. He married (1719) Sarah Hamby (d. February 1744, aged 70). Her uncle, Nathaniel Carter (1635–1722) of Great Yarmouth, married a granddaughter of Oliver Cromwell, and founded an important dissenting trust. Say's only child, Sarah, married Isaac Toms (1709–1801), dissenting minister at Hadleigh, Suffolk.

Two years after Say's death appeared his ‘Poems … and two Critical Essays,’ &c., 1745, 4to, edited by William Duncombe [q. v.]; the poems are youthful rubbish, with a version of the opening of ‘Paradise Lost’ in Latin hexameters; the essays are respectively on rhythm in general, and on the rhythm of ‘Paradise Lost.’ In ‘Letters by several Eminent Persons’ (1772, vol. ii.), edited by John Duncombe [q. v.], are two letters by Say, and a reprint of his ‘Character’ of Mrs. Bendish, which first appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1760, p. 423). The ‘Say Papers,’ edited in the ‘Monthly Repository,’ 1809–10, by Robert Aspland, from manuscripts then in the possession of Say's grandson, Samuel Say Toms, contain many curious documents, among them a petition from ‘Sophia Selchrig,’ widow of Alexander Selkirk [q. v.] His portrait was engraved by C. Hall after a drawing by Jonathan Richardson.

[Funeral Sermon by Obadiah Hughes, 1743; Sketch of the Life, in Protestant Dissenters' Magazine, 1794, pp. 297 sq. 345 sq. 403 sq.; Brief Memoir and Say Papers in Monthly Repository, 1809–10; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1814, iv. 91 sq. (portrait); Browne's Hist. Congr. Norf. and Suff. 1877, pp. 241, 391, 521, 529, 538; Christian Reformer, 1834, p. 816; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, p. 242. For Gyles Say, Memoir in Monthly Repository, 1809, pp. 475 sq. (cf. pp. 7–8); Calamy's Continuation, 1727, ii. 517.]

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