Kingsbury, William (DNB00)


KINGSBURY, WILLIAM (1744–1818), dissenting minister, was born in Bishopsgate Street, London, on 12 July 1744. On the death of his father, Thomas Kingsbury, in 1753, he was placed at Merchant Taylors' School, but some two years later received a nomination from Sir John Barnard [q. v.] for Christ's Hospital. Leaving there in 1758 he entered the congregational academy at Mile End, where he studied under John Conder [q. v.] and Thomas Gibbons [q. v.] After much mental conflict he was converted towards the close of 1760, preached his first sermon at Bethnal Green in August 1763, and was ordained minister to the independent congregation at Southampton on 8 Aug. 1765. There he remained some forty-five years, attracting a large congregation by the evident earnestness of his preaching. In 1770, when John Howard the philanthropist was at Southampton, Kingsbury laid the foundations of a lifelong intimacy with him, and contributed some particulars to the life of Howard by James Baldwin Brown the elder [q. v.] Another close friend was John Newton [q. v.], the intimate of the poet Cowper. Kingsbury was a strong supporter of the movement which developed into the London Missionary Society, and in 1796 he drew up by request a circular letter of appeal to the independent churches throughout the country. Some disparaging remarks let fall in a sermon by Richard Mant, D.D., rector of All Souls', Southampton, in this same year, drew from Kingsbury his one controversial work, ‘The Manner in which Protestant Dissenters perform Prayer in Public Worship vindicated,’ London, 1796, 12mo; the tract rapidly passed through two editions. In 1809 Kingsbury, who had since 1772 conducted a small school in addition to his pastoral duties, found himself unequal to his work. He formally resigned his pastorate on 29 July in that year, when a stipend of 200l. per annum, of which he would only accept 120l., was offered him. He died at Caversham on 18 Feb. 1818, and a mural tablet was erected to his memory in the independent chapel at Southampton. Kingsbury married in November 1768 a Miss Andrews, daughter of Mordecai Andrews, an independent minister in London, by whom a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Sarah, who married one Jameson, survived him. A memoir, together with a devotional diary kept by Kingsbury during the latter years of his life, was published by John Bullar of Southampton in 1819.

Kingsbury published, besides the work mentioned above, a number of funeral sermons. A copy of one, which is not mentioned in the British Museum Catalogue, on the ‘Life, Labors, and Departure of the Rev. Edward Ashburner,’ delivered at Poole in Dorset, 6 July 1804, is in Dr. Williams's Library. Another sermon, published in 1789, on ‘The Sickness and Recovery of King Hezekiah,’ was ‘occasioned by the happy recovery of his Majesty’ (George III).

[Life by Bullar; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, i. 190, ii. 549, iii. 503; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, p. 190; Brown's Life of Howard, p. 101; Darling's Cyclop. Bibl. 1732; Morison's Missionary Fathers.]

T. S.