Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gould, George

GOULD, GEORGE (1818–1882), baptist minister, eldest son, by a second marriage, of George Gould, a Bristol tradesman, was born at Castle Green, Bristol, on 20 Sept. 1818. After passing through (1826–32) a severe boarding school, he became clerk to a wine merchant at the end of 1832, and in 1836 was articled to an accountant. A serious illness in the winter of 1836–7, and the example of a friend who was preparing for the ministry of the church of England, led his thoughts in the same direction. To his disappointment he found he could not conscientiously subscribe the articles. His father was a baptist deacon, and resolving after inquiry to join the same denomination, he was baptised at Counterslip Chapel, Bristol, on 5 Nov. 1837. On the following 24 Dec. he preached his first sermon at Fishponds, near Bristol, and became a student of the Bristol Baptist College in September 1838. In 1841 he was chosen pastor of a small baptist congregation in Lower Abbey Street, Dublin. Thence he removed in 1846 to South Street Chapel, Exeter. On 29 July 1849 he entered on the pastorate at St. Mary's Chapel, Norwich, in succession to William Brock, D.D. [q. v.] His preaching evidenced strong thought and much biblical knowledge; on the platform he sometimes displayed remarkable eloquence. In 1857 his church was divided on the question of admitting the non-baptised to communion; a secession followed, and a bill in chancery (May 1858) was filed by a trustee, the Rev. William Norton of Egham Hill, Surrey. The master of the rolls gave judgment (28 May 1860) in favour of Gould and the majority of his church, who had advocated open communion. Gould's volume on the case is an important contribution to the earlier history of dissent, being filled with extracts from original records. In 1868 new school-rooms and a lecture-room were required at St. Mary's, and provided at a cost of 3,700l. In 1874 Gould was elected on the first school board for Norwich, and was thrice re-elected. During the floods of November 1878 he formed a committee of relief. He was president of the baptist union in 1879. His nonconformity was of an uncompromising type; he was one of the founders in 1844 of the ‘anti-state-church association,’ the parent of the ‘liberation society.’ Though somewhat guarded in intercourse, his friendships were wide and generous. He had a large library. One of his favourite books was Sir Thomas Browne's ‘Religio Medici.’ Having preached for the last time on 5 Feb., he died of erysipelas on 13 Feb. 1882, and was buried on 16 Feb. at the Rosary, Norwich, the Rev. W. N. Ripley, rector of St. Giles, taking part in the funeral service. He lost the sight of his left eye in 1873. He married (May 1843) Elizabeth, younger daughter of Samuel Pearce, of South Molton, Devonshire, who survived him, with four of their eight children. His eldest son, George Pearce Gould, M.A., minister (1880), of Cotham Grove Baptist Chapel, Bristol, is his biographer. He published, besides single sermons and addresses: 1. ‘Outline of the Ecclesiastical History of Ireland,’ prefixed to Belcher and Fuller's ‘History of the Baptist Irish Society,’ 1844, 8vo. 2. ‘India; its History, Religion, and Government,’ &c., 1858, 8vo (anon.). 3. ‘Open Communion and the Baptists of Norwich,’ &c., 1860, 8vo. 4. ‘Documents relating to the Settlement of the Church of England by the Act of Uniformity of 1662,’ &c., 1862, 8vo (edited by Gould; has introductory essay on ‘English Puritanism’ by Peter Bayne). Posthumous was 5. ‘Sermons and Addresses,’ &c., 1883, 8vo.

[Memoir (with portrait) prefixed to Sermons, 1883; Todd's Brief Historical Sketch of St. Mary's Baptist Church, Norwich, 1886; Browne's Hist. Cong. Norf. and Suff. 1877, p. 553; personal recollection.]

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