Kingston, Richard (DNB00)

KINGSTON, RICHARD (fl. 1700), political pamphleteer, was born about 1635. According to his own statements he was a M.A. of some university, and was ordained by the Bishop of Galloway, 17 July 1662, at Westminster, but Matthew Smith [q. v.] in 1700, when engaged with Kingston in a bitter political controversy, charged him, with some show of justification, with having forged his letters of orders (Smith, Reply to a Modest Answer, p. 11). All the proof Kingston could bring of their validity was a certificate signed by one Thomas Beesly, asserting that he had been ordained at the same time, but Beesly had in 1700 been dead three years. Smith, among other charges, tells a scandalous story of Kingston's conduct in the west of England; but he does not seem to have had any benefice in the diocese of Exeter, as is thereby implied.

In 1665 Kingston became minister at St. James's, Clerkenwell, and worked hard during the plague, but he resigned this preferment before 17 Sept. 1667. In 1678 he received the living of Henbury in Gloucestershire, and on 6 Feb. 1681–2 was made chaplain in ordinary to Charles II. He asserts that a prebend and a rectory were added to Henbury. What the prebend was is uncertain, but he seems in 1688 to have been rector of Raydon in Suffolk. Kingston also states that he suffered for preaching against the Romanists. He remained at Henbury, where he had a small estate, till the revolution, when he sold his property and came up to London. He was soon lured by a pension to write for the government, but his pension fell into arrears and he suffered extreme poverty. A petition from him dated 1699 states that 600l. was due to him, that he had assisted as a witness at the conviction of three traitors, that he had brought 1,225l. into the treasury by the seizure of French silks, and that he had printed thirteen books on behalf of the government at his own expense.

In 1700 Kingston attacked Smith, who had just published his ‘Memoirs of Secret Service,’ and a violent controversy ensued. Kingston always attributed Smith's works to Tom Brown (1663–1704) [q. v.] Kingston also intervened in the controversy which raged in 1707–9 about the so-called French Prophets. In 1707 his attack on Dr. John Freind's vindication of the Earl of Peterborough's conduct in Spain appeared, and he was promptly arrested by an order of the House of Lords. He was, however, released, 19 Jan. 1707–8, and the attorney-general was instructed to prosecute him. Kingston was married (perhaps he was the man who married Elizabeth Webb at St. James's, Clerkenwell, 28 Jan. 1667–8, see Regist. of St. James's, Clerkenwell, Harl. Soc. 138, cf. 189), and in 1699 had nine children. An engraved portrait of Kingston is said by Bromley to have formed the frontispiece to the ‘Pillulæ Pestilentiales,’ but it has disappeared from the copy in the British Museum.

Kingston wrote: 1. ‘Pillulæ Pestilentiales, a Sermon at St. Paul's,’ London, 1665. 2. ‘The Cause and Cure of Offences,’ a sermon, London, 1682, 4to. 3. ‘Vivat Rex,’ a sermon preached before the Mayor of Bristol after the discovery of the Rye House plot, London, 1683, 4to. 4. ‘God's Sovereignty and Man's Duty asserted,’ London, 1688. 5. ‘A True History of the several Designs and Conspiracies against his Majesties Sacred Person and Government from 1688 to 1697,’ London, 1698. 6. ‘Tyranny detected, and the late Revolution justified,’ London, 1699. 7. ‘A Modest Answer to Captain Smith's Immodest Memorial of Secret Service,’ London, 1700. 8. ‘Impudence, Lying, and Forgery detected and Chastiz'd,’ London, 1700, an answer to Smith, and the chief source of information respecting Kingston's history. 9. ‘A Discourse on Divine Providence,’ London, 1702. 10. ‘Impartial Remarks upon Dr. Freind's Account of the Earl of Peterborough's Conduct in Spain,’ London, 1706. 11. ‘Enthusiastick Impostors no Divinely Inspired Prophets,’ part i. 1707, part ii. 1709. 12. ‘Apophthegmata Curiosa, or Reflections, Sentences, and Maxims,’ London, 1709. Kingston also mentions that he wrote a work called ‘Cursory Remarks.’

[Pink's Clerkenwell, pp. 68, 283, 619–21 (citing Notes and Queries); Luttrell's Brief Hist. Rel. vi. 257–8; Bromley's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, p. 136; Matthew Smith's Works; Kingston's Works.]

W. A. J. A.