Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Saywell, William

SAYWELL, WILLIAM (1643–1701), controversialist, born in 1643, was son of Gabriel Saywell (d. 1688), rector of Pentridge, Dorset. After a few months passed at Cranbourne school, he proceeded in 1659 to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was admitted a sizar. He graduated A.B. in 1663, A.M. 1667. On 2 April 1666 he was elected a fellow of his college. In 1669 he was incorporated M.A. at Oxford. In 1679 he proceeded D.D., and on 8 March in the same year was installed a prebendary of Ely. On the 9th of the following December, on the promotion of Humphrey Gower [q. v.] to the mastership of St. John's College, he was elected his successor as master of Jesus College in the same university. On 28 Nov. 1672 he was appointed chancellor of the diocese of Chichester, and on 22 Jan. 1681 was collated to the archdeaconry of Ely. He gave to Jesus College 100l. for the adornment of the hall, and also 200l. for the purchase of advowsons. He died in London on 9 June 1701, and was buried in the chapel of his college on the 14th. Saywell appears as a contributor to the ‘Hymenæus Cantabrigiensis’ in 1683 and to the ‘Academiæ Cantabrigiensis Affectus’ in 1685, compositions which show him to have possessed some taste and skill as a writer of Latin verse; but his reputation is mainly that of a staunch theologian of what was afterwards known as the evangelical school, equally opposed to presbyterianism and to popery.

His works are: 1. ‘The Original of all Plots in Christendom: with the Danger and Remedy of Schism,’ London, 1681. 2. ‘A Serious Inquiry into the Means of an Happy Union; or, What Reformation is necessary to prevent Popery?’ London, 1681. 3. ‘Evangelical and Catholick Unity maintained in the Church of England; or, an Apology for her Government, Liturgy, Subscriptions,’ London, 1682 [written in reply to Baxter's ‘Answer to the Accusations’]. 4. ‘The Reformation of the Church of England justified, according to the Canons of the Council of Nice and other General Councils,’ Cambridge, 1688 [published without author's name]. 5. ‘The Necessity of adhering to the Church of England as by Law established; or, the Duty of a good Christian, and particularly of Parents and Masters of Families under the present Toleration,’ Cambridge, 1692.

[Baker's History of St. John's College, ed. Mayor; Admissions of St. John's College, by same editor; Hutchins's Dorset, iii. 443.]

J. B. M.