Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Worthington, Hugh
WORTHINGTON, HUGH (1752−1813), Arian divine, was born at Leicester on 21 June 1752. His father, Hugh Worthington, son of John Worthington (d. 1757), tanner, near Stockport, was born on 11 June 1712; was educated at Glasgow (M.A. May 1735); and ministered at Leek, Staffordshire (1735−8), Newington Green (1738−41), being also librarian at Dr. Williams's Library, and Great Meeting, Leicester (1743−97). He married a daughter of Benjamin Andrews Atkinson (d. 1765), presbyterian minister (1713−42) in London, and died 29 Oct. 1797. His portrait has been engraved (Memoirs by his son in ‘Protestant Dissenter's Magazine,’ 1797, pp. 401, 444).
Worthington, having been grounded by his father, entered Daventry Academy in 1768, under Caleb Ashworth [q. v.] On completing his course he was chosen (1773) classical tutor, but on a visit to London at Christmas he at once achieved fame as a preacher, was invited as assistant at Salters' Hall to Francis Spilsbury the younger (d. 3 March 1782), and began his ministry there on 1 Jan. 1774. His duty was that of afternoon preacher. In connection with Abraham Rees [q, v.], he maintained a Sunday evening lecture at Salters' Hall; he was also one of the Tuesday morning lecturers (till 1795), and a Wednesday evening lecturer. On Spilsbury's death he was chosen pastor (ordained 15 May 1782); on the first Sunday of the month he preached in the morning and celebrated the Lord's Supper. On other Sunday mornings he preached at Highbury Grove (1793–6) and at Hanover Street (1796–1803).
In 1785 he was elected a trustee of Dr. Williams's foundations, and in 1786 he was one of a committee of nine for establishing a new college in London. He undertook the departments of classics and logic, lecturing from September 1786 at Dr. Williams's library, Red Cross Street, and from September 1787 at Hackney. He resigned in the spring of 1789. Later in the year he projected an association to stay the progress of Socinianism among liberal dissenters. A three days' conference of Arian divines, including Habakkuk Crabb [q. v.], Benjamin Carpenter (1752–1816) of Stourbridge, and John Geary of Beaconsfield, was held at Chapel House, Oxfordshire. Inability to agree on the question of inspiration rendered the plan abortive (Monthly Repository, 1813, p. 571).
Worthington's popularity as a preacher, sustained in London with no diminution for nearly forty years, is unexampled among liberal dissenters of any school, and was the undisguised envy of more radical thinkers. An unfriendly critic describes ‘his upright posture, his piercing eye, his bold and decisive tone, his pointed finger, the interest he gave to what he delivered, and the entire nothingness of what he often said’ (ib. 1817, p. 91). Another describes his voice as ‘hard and dry, pungent and caustic,’ and says his manner was ‘full of bustle,’ and ‘even his spectacles were not idle’ (Christian Reformer, 1823, p. 29). His sermons were read, but the peroration was delivered without book. His last sermon was preached on 11 July 1813. He left London for Worthing, suffering from a pulmonary disorder which for many years had affected his health. He died at Worthing on 26 July 1813. His body was brought to his residence, Northampton Square, London, and lay in state on 5 Aug. at Salters' Hall. He was buried (6 Aug.) in Bunhill Fields; the funeral service, attended by two thousand people, was conducted by Thomas Taylor (d. 23 Oct. 1831), the last person who remembered Doddridge. Funeral sermons were preached by James Lindsay (d. 14 Feb. 1821) and Henry Lacey at Salters' Hall; John Evans (1767–1827) [q. v.], Joshua Toulmin [q. v.], Jeremiah Joyce [q. v.], and William Bengo Collyer [q. v.], who succeeded him at Salters' Hall. He married (1782) Susanna (d. March 1806), eldest daughter of Samuel Statham, dissenting minister of Loughborough, and had two daughters, who died in infancy.
Besides many separate sermons, he published: 1. ‘An Essay on the Resolution of Plane Triangles,’ 1780, 8vo. 2. ‘Memoir of Habakkuk Crabb,’ prefixed to ‘Sermons,’ 1796, 8vo. Posthumous was 3. ‘Sermons … at Salters' Hall between 1800 and 1810,’ 1822, 8vo, from the notes of Mrs. Wilkinson of Enfield; 2nd edit. 1823, 8vo (with additions). He had left fifteen hundred manuscript sermons, mostly in shorthand. He edited his father's ‘Discourses,’ 1785, 8vo, and assisted Butcher in ‘The Substance of the Holy Scriptures Methodised,’ 1801 and 1813, 4to.[Funeral Sermons by Lindsay and by Evans; Obituary by E[dmund] B[utcher] [q. v.] in Monthly Repository, 1813, p. 545; Memoir by J[eremiah] J[oyce] in Universal Magazine, 1813, ii. 150, reprinted in Monthly Repository, 1813, p. 561, also separately 1813; Memoirs by Benjamin Carpenter, 1813; Memoir by V. R. X. [John Kitcat] in Christian Moderator, 1826, p. 185; Monthly Repository, 1806 p. 43, 1814 p. 53, 1815 pp. 693, 746, 1822 p. 196, 1823 p. 319 (critique by ‘N.,’ i.e. John Kentish [q. v.]; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, ii. 61; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, p. 172.]