Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Higginson, Edward

HIGGINSON, EDWARD (1807–1880), unitarian divine, was born at Heaton Norris, Lancashire, on 9 Jan. 1807. His father was Edward Higginson (b. 20 March 1781, d. 24 May 1832), unitarian minister and schoolmaster at Stockport (1801–10) and Derby (1811–31), who married as his first wife Sarah Marshall (d. 10 Aug. 1827, aged 45) of Loughborough, Leicestershire. He was educated in his father's school, and in September 1823 entered Manchester College, York, as a divinity student. In August 1828 he settled as minister of Bowl Alley Lane Chapel, Hull. From 1829 he taught a school in addition to his other duties. He removed in 1846 to Westgate Chapel, Wakefield, West Riding, taking his school with him. In 1858 he became minister of High Street Chapel, Swansea, Glamorganshire, a position which he resigned from failing health in 1876. While at Swansea he assisted in the tutorial work of the presbyterian college, Carmarthen, and at the end of 1875 was offered the principalship. From 1877 to 1879 he was president of the Royal Institute of South Wales. He was a man of great industry and much independence of mind. In his own denomination he ranked among its conservative scholars, his theological position being akin to that of Samuel Bache [q. v.], who married his sister. His preaching was not attractive, but his ‘Spirit of the Bible’ was widely known and read. He died at Swansea on 12 Feb. 1880. He married first, on 25 Dec. 1839, Lydia (d. 8 Feb. 1856, aged 42), youngest daughter of Flower Humble of Newcastle-on-Tyne; secondly, on 5 July 1857, Emily, daughter of George Thomas of Carmarthen, and left issue.

He published, besides separate sermons and tracts: 1. ‘Orthodoxy and Unbelief,’ &c., 1832, 8vo. 2. ‘The Sacrifice of Christ,’ &c., Hull, 1833, 12mo; 2nd edition, 1848. 3. ‘Christ Imitable,’ &c., 1837, 12mo. 4. ‘The Spirit of the Bible,’ &c., 1853–5, 8vo, 2 vols.; 2nd edition, 1863, 8vo, 2 vols. 5. ‘Astro-Theology,’ &c., 1855, 12mo. 6. Six Essays on ‘Inspiration,’ &c., 1856, 8vo. 7. ‘The Morals of Belief,’ &c., 1860, 8vo. 8. ‘A Short Memoir of the Rev. R. B. Aspland,’ &c., 1869, 8vo. 9. ‘A Catechism without Questions,’ &c. [1869?], 8vo. 10. ‘Ecce Messias,’ 1871, 8vo. 11. In conjunction with his wife he published ‘The Fine Arts in Italy,’ &c., 1859, 8vo, a translation from the French of A. J. Coquerel. He frequently contributed theological and critical articles to the ‘Christian Reformer,’ edited by his friend Robert Brook Aspland [q. v.]; in 1857 and 1858 he wrote anonymously in this magazine a series of semi-autobiographical sketches, under the title ‘A Minister's Retrospect;’ from 1876 he contributed to the ‘Christian Life,’ edited by Robert Spears.

[Monthly Repository, 1827, p. 695; Unitarian Chronicle, 1832, pp. 138 sq.; Christian Reformer, 1856 p. 192, 1857 p. 528; Autobiog. Sketch in Christian Life, 21 Feb. 1880.]

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