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

SNATT, WILLIAM (1645–1721), nonjuring divine, born at Lewes in 1645, was the son of Edward Snatt, minister and usher of the Southover free school, Lewes. There in 1629 the elder Snatt had John Evelyn, the diarist, as a pupil. William matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 14 Dec. 1660, and graduated B.A. in 1664. He was collated to the rectory of Benton, Sussex, in 1672, obtained a prebend in Chichester Cathedral in 1675, and the rectory of Cliffe St. Thomas, Sussex, in the same year. He subsequently became vicar of Seaford in 1679, and of Cuckfield and Bishopstone in 1681. A devout and consistent high churchman, he resigned all his preferments rather than take the oaths to William and Mary. He came to London, where he found friends in Hilkiah Bedford [q. v.] and Jeremy Collier, and, like other nonjurors, incurred the suspicion of ‘popery.’ This hostile feeling was confirmed in April 1696, when, in company with Collier and Cook, Snatt attended Sir William Parkyns [q. v.] and Sir John Friend [q. v.] on the scaffold. These men had been found guilty of high treason in conspiring to assassinate William III. Snatt and Collier, however, joined in pronouncing absolution, performing the ceremony with the imposition of hands. The nonjurors subsequently printed the confession of the criminals, in which the title ‘Church of England’ was appropriated to themselves. This provoked a remonstrance from the two archbishops and ten bishops, and on 7 April the grand jury of Middlesex presented Snatt, Collier, and Cook for perpetrating a great affront to the government and a scandal to the church of England. Collier absconded, and issued pamphlets in his defence; but Snatt and Cook were committed to Newgate. They were tried before the king's bench, and, though ably defended by Sir Bartholomew Shower [q. v.], were found guilty of serious misdemeanour on 2 July. Such, however, were ‘the lenity of the government and his Grace of Canterbury's moderation in interceding for the delinquents,’ that they were released on bail in the following August. Snatt continued to live in London, where he died in reduced circumstances on 30 Nov. 1721, a ‘true confessor’ of his ‘distressed and afflicted church.’

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Hist. Reg. 1721, Chron. Diary, p. 44; Evelyn's Diary, iii. 350; Calamy's Life, i. 382; A Letter to the Three Absolvers, 1696, folio; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, iv. 40, 45, 75, 80; Macaulay's History; Lathbury's Hist. of the Nonjurors, pp. 168 sq.]

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