Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Spinckes, Nathaniel

SPINCKES, NATHANIEL (1653-1727), nonjuror, was born in 1653 at Castor in Northamptonshire, where his father, Edmund Spinckes, was rector of the parish. His mother was Martha, eldest daughter of Thomas Elmes of Lilford, to whom Edmund Spinckes was chaplain. Nathaniel received his early education from a neighbouring clergyman, Samuel Morton, rector of Haddon. On 9 July 1670 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge; in 1673 he migrated to Jesus College, where he was elected scholar on the Rustat foundation. He graduated B.A. in 1674, and M.A. in 1677. On 21 May 1676 he was ordained deacon by the bishop of London (Dr. Henry Compton) in the chapel of London House, and on 22 Dec. 1678 priest by the bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Thomas Barlow) at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. He acted for some time as chaplain to Sir Richard Edgcomb in Devonshire. Thence he moved to Petersham, and became in 1681 chaplain to John Maitland, second earl and first duke of Lauderdale [q. v.], forming a lifelong friendship with his fellow chaplain, George Hickes [q. v.] On the death of the Duke of Lauderdale in August 1682, he removed to London and became curate and lecturer at St. Stephen's, Walbrook. In 1685 he was presented by the dean and chapter of Peterborough to the rectory of Peakirk-cum-Glynton in the north corner of Northamptonshire. There he married Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Rutland, 'a citizen of London.' On 21 July 1687 he was installed in the prebend of Major Pars Altaris in Salisbury Cathedral, and on 24 Sept. 1687 was instituted to the rectory of St. Martin's, Salisbury, of which Francis Hill was patron, and three days later was 'licensed to preach' at Stratford-sub-Castle. After the Revolution he declined to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, and was deprived of all his preferments in 1690. He had inherited a small patrimony from his father, who died in 1671, but this was not sufficient to maintain his family, and he was in straitened circumstances; but he received pecuniary aid from the more wealthy nonjurors.

Spinckes's high character and varied learning gave him a leading position among the nonjuring divines; he was entrusted with the management of the fund raised by the deprived bishops; and on Ascension day 1713 he was consecrated bishop, together with Jeremy Collier and Samuel Hawes, by his friend Dr. Hickes, suffragan-bishop of Thetford, assisted by two Scottish bishops, Dr. Archibald Campbell and James Gadderar [q. v.], at Hickes's own private chapel in St. Andrew's, Holborn. In the dispute about the 'usages' which divided the small party of the nonjurors into two sections, Spinckes was the leader of the 'non-usagers,' that is, of those who advocated the retention of the prayer-book as it was, instead of returning to the first prayer-book of Edward VI, as the 'usagers,' the chief of whom was Jeremy Collier, desired to do. Spinckes died 28 July 1727, and was buried in the cemetery of the parish of St. Faith, on the north side of St. Paul's, in London, his wife surviving him only one week. Of a large family, two alone survived their parents: William, who became a successful and wealthy merchant; and Anne, who married Anthony Cope.

Among the many friends of Spinckes was the pious Robert Nelson, who bequeathed to him 100l. To the fourth edition of his best-known work, 'The Sick Man visited,' 1731, a portrait of him by Vertue, from a painting by Wollaston, is prefixed, which represents him as a man of & stout face and figure, in gown and bands. Beneath the portrait is the following inscription: 'The Rev. Mr. Spinckes. This very eminent divine was venerable of aspect, orthodox in truth, his adversaries being judges. He had uncommon learning and superior judgement. His patience was great, his self-denial greater, his charity still greater. His temper, sweet and unmoveable beyond comparison.' He was generally regarded by his contemporaries as one of the saints of the nonjuring party, and, though he took a leading and uncompromising part in the controversies of the day, he never seems to have made a personal enemy.

Spinckes was an excellent linguist, being a proficient in Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and French, and having some knowledge of oriental languages. He was a voluminous writer. His chief publications were: 1. 'The Essay towards a Proposal for Catholick Communion, &c., answered Chapter by Chapter' [against reconciliation of the church of England with the church of Rome, proposed by Mr. Bassett], 1705. 2. 'The New Pretenders to Prophecy re-examined, and their Pretences shown to be Groundless and False,' 1705. 3. 'Mr. Hoadly's Measures of Submission to the Civil Magistrates enquired into and disproved,' pt. i. 1711; pt. ii. 1712. 4. 'The Sick Man visited, and furnished with Instructions, Meditations, and Prayers,' 1st ed. 1712; 2nd ed. 1718; 3rd ed. 1722; 4th ed. 1731. 5. 'The Case truly stated; wherein "The Case re-stated" is fully considered 7 [that is, the case between the church of Rome and the church of England]. 'By a Member of the Church of England,' 1714. 6. 'A Collection of Meditations and Devotions in Three Parts,' 1717. 7. 'The Case farther stated between the Church of Rome and the Church of England, wherein the Chief Point about the Supremacy is fully discussed in a Dialogue between a Roman Catholic and a member of the Church of England,' 1718. 8. 'No Sufficient Reason for Restoring the Prayers and Directions of King Edward VI's First Liturgy,' 2 parts, 1718. 9. 'No Just Grounds for introducing the New Communion Office, or denying Communion to those who cannot think themselves at liberty to reject the Liturgy of the Church of England for its sake. In answer to a late Appendix and to Dr. Brett's Postscript,' 1719. 10. 'The Article of Romish Transubstantiation inquired into and disproved from Sense, Scripture, Antiquity, and Reason,' 1719. 11. 'The Church of England Man's Companion in the Closet, with a Preface by N. Spinckes,' 1721; a manual of private devotions collected, probably by Spinckes himself, from the writings of Laud, Andrewes, Ken, Hickes, Kettlewell, and Spinckes, which reached a fifteenth edition in 1772, and was republished in 1841.

Besides these works, Spinckes wrote a preface to his friend Hickes's 'Sermons on Several Subjects,' 2 vols. published in 1713, aad also published a volume of posthumous discourses by Hickes, with a preface, in 1726. He is said to have assisted in the publication of Grabe's Septuagint, of Newcourt's 'Repertorium,' of Howell's 'Canons,' of Potter's 'Clemens Alexandrinus,' and of Walker's 'Sufferings of the Clergy.'

[Life of Spinckes by John Blackbourne; Life prefixed to The Sick Man visited; Life prefixed to Church of England-Man's Companion in the Closet, by F. Paget; Spinckes's Works, passim; Hickes's Works, passim; Lathbury's History of the Nonjurors; Kettlewell's Life by Francis Lee, &c.; Kettlewell's Life, &c., by author of Nicholas Ferrar (1895); Hearne's Collections, ed. Doble (Oxf. Hist. Soc.)]

J. H. O.