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Gifford, James (1740?-1813) (DNB00)

GIFFORD, JAMES, the elder (1740?–1813), unitarian writer, son of James Gifford, mayor of Cambridge in 1757, was born at Cambridge about 1740. Educated at Rugby, he entered the army at the age of eighteen, and, as captain of the 14th foot, served in Canada at the beginning of the American war. After giving up his commission he retired about 1788 to Girton, near Cambridge. A considerable legacy was left to him by Mrs. Elizabeth Rayner (d. 1800), a munificent patroness of the unitarians, to whose opinions Gifford had become attached through a perusal of the writings of John Jebb, M.D. [q. v.] His controversial publications brought him into friendly relations with George Dyer [q. v.], William Frend [q. v.], Theophilus Lindsey [q. v.], and others of the same school of thought. He died at Girton on 21 Jan. 1813, aged 73, and was buried in All Saints' Church, Cambridge, where there is a monument to his memory and that of his parents. He married, at Boston, U.S.A., Elizabeth Cremer, a native of Bury St. Edmunds, who died at St. Helier, Jersey, on 16 April 1840, aged 94. Among his children were (1) James, the younger [q. v.]; (2) William, major-general in the army, who died at Swansea on 9 Aug. 1825, aged 55; (3) Juliana Elizabeth, friend of Cobden, who died at St. Helier on 19 April 1858, aged 84; (4) George, captain in the army; (5) Lucius Henry, his sixth son, lieutenant R.N., who died 21 Sept. 1812, aged 29; (6) Theophilus John, his seventh son, lieutenant in the army, who died 14 March 1811, aged 23. He published: 1. ‘A Short Essay on the Belief of an Universal Providence,’ &c., Cambridge, 1781, 8vo. 2. ‘An Elucidation of the Unity of God, deduced from Scripture and Reason,’ Cambridge, 1783, 8vo; 5th edit., 1815, 8vo (edited by his son William). 3. ‘A Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury,’ &c., 1785 (dated 27 Jan.); 3rd edit., 1815, 8vo, printed as appendix to 5th edit. of No. 2. 4. ‘Reflections on the Necessity of Death and the Hope of a Future Existence’ (not seen).

[Particulars by Benjamin Mardon, Christian Reformer, 1845, p. 821; Kell's Memoir of Rear-Admiral James Gifford, Christian Reformer, 1854, p. 21 sq.; Kell's Memoir of Miss J. E. Gifford, Christian Reformer, 1858, p. 729 sq.; Monthly Repository, 1825, p. 499; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. v. 288; communication by George S. J. Gifford; monument at All Saints', Cambridge; information from Miss Isabella Gifford.]

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