Open main menu

IVIMEY, JOSEPH (1773–1834), baptist minister and historian, eldest of eight children of Charles Ivimey (d. 24 Oct. 1820) by his wife Sarah Tilly (d. 1830), was born at Ringwood, Hampshire, on 22 May 1773. His father was a tailor, of spendthrift habits. Ivimey was brought up under Arian influences, but his convictions led him towards the Calvinistic baptists, and on 16 Sept. 1790 he received adult baptism from John Saffery at Wimborne, Dorsetshire. He followed his father's trade at Lymington, Hampshire, whither he removed on 4 June 1791. In April 1793 he sought employment in London; he finally left Lymington in 1794 for Portsea, Hampshire. Here he became an itinerant preacher, visiting in this capacity many towns in the district. Early in 1803 he was recognised as a minister, and settled as assistant to one Lovegrove at Wallingford, Berkshire. He was chosen pastor of the particular baptist church, Eagle Street, Holborn, on 21 Oct. 1804, and was ordained on 16 Jan. 1805. From 1812 he acted on the committee of the Baptist Missionary Society. On 19 April 1814 the Baptist Society for Promoting the Gospel in Ireland was formed. Ivimey was the first secretary (an honorary office); he visited Ireland in May 1814, and retained the secretaryship till 3 Oct. 1833. In 1817, and again in 1819, he made missionary journeys to the Channel islands. At Portsea, on 18 Aug. 1820, his father and mother received adult baptism at his hands. He was a conscientious minister, but his strictness caused in 1827 a secession of some fifty or sixty members from his church. His views on religious liberty were not equal to the strain of Roman catholic emancipation; on this ground he had opposed the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and at length separated himself from the ‘three denominations,’ after their meeting at Dr. Williams's Library on 20 Jan. 1829, to promote the emancipation of Roman catholics. He warmly advocated the abolition of colonial slavery; and, to commemorate the abolition, foundation-stones of Sunday-school premises and almshouses, in connection with Eagle Street Church, were laid on 12 Nov. 1833. Ivimey died on 8 Feb. 1834, and was buried on 15 Feb. at Bunhill Fields. A tablet to his memory was placed in the boys' schoolroom at Eagle Street. He married, first, on 7 July 1795, Sarah Bramble (d. 1806), by whom he had two sons and four daughters: a son and daughter survived him; secondly, on 7 Jan. 1808, Anne Price (d. 2 Jan. 1820), a widow (whose maiden name was Spence) with three children; by her he had no issue. Ivimey was a rapid writer, and from 1808, when he began to publish, a very prolific one. His historical account of English baptists was projected in 1809, primarily with a biographical aim. The work swelled to four volumes 8vo (1811–30), and contains a great deal of information, to be used with caution. George Gould [q. v.] has severely criticised its ‘blunders and contradictions,’ asserting that Ivimey is apt to get into ‘a maze of mistakes’ except when he follows Crosby.

Other of his publications are: 1. ‘The History of Hannah,’ &c., 1808, 12mo. 2. ‘A Brief Sketch of the History of Dissenters,’ &c., 1810, 12mo. 3. ‘A Plea for the Protestant Canon of Scripture,’ &c., 1825, 8vo. 4. ‘The Life of Mr. John Bunyan,’ &c., 1825, 12mo. 5. ‘Communion at the Lord's Table,’ &c., 1826, 8vo (against open communion, in reply to Robert Hall). 6. ‘Pilgrims of the Nineteenth Century,’ &c., 1827, 12mo (intended as a continuation of Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress’). 7. ‘Letters on the Serampore Controversy,’ &c., 1831, 8vo. 8. ‘The Triumph of the Bible in Ireland,’ &c., 1832, 8vo. 9. ‘The utter Extinction of Slavery,’ &c., 1832, 8vo. 10. ‘John Milton; his Life and Times,’ &c., 1833, 8vo; republished in America. Also many single sermons and tracts, including funeral sermons for William Button and Daniel Humphrey (both 1821); memoirs of Caleb Vernon (1811), William Fox of the Sunday School Society (1831), and William Kiffin (1833); and anti-papal pamphlets (1819, 1828, 1829). He contributed to the ‘Baptist Magazine’ from 1809, using generally the signature ‘Iota;’ from 1812 he was one of the editors. He edited, among other works, the 4th edition, 1827, 12mo, of ‘Persecution for Religion,’ by Thomas Helwys [q. v.] , originally published 1615; Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress … with … Notes,’ &c., 1821, 12mo, and the 1692 ‘Life of … John Bunyan,’ &c., 1832, 12mo.

[Memoir, by George Pritchard, 1835; Monthly Repository, 1829, pp. 426 sq.; Gould's Open Communion, 1860, pp. xcvii sq.]

A. G.