Overton, John (1764-1838) (DNB00)

OVERTON, JOHN (1764–1838), writer on sacred chronology, was born in 1764 at Thetford in Lincolnshire, the son of a cottager. He had in his early years a strong desire to study astronomy; the opportunity of gratifying it came when, through the joint influence of the rector of the parish and Thomas Cholmondeley, afterwards first baron Delamere, he received an appointment in the excise. The telescopes he used in his observations were of his own construction. In 1812 he began to apply astronomical results to biblical chronology, especially to the questions arising out of the scriptural genealogies of Christ, and published in 1817 'The Genealogy of Christ elucidated by Sacred History … with a new System of Sacred Chronology and the true Meaning of the Weeks in Daniel,' 2 vols. He printed the book himself at his house at Grayford in Kent, and issued it as 'an antidote to the venomous pen of Volney.' At Foot's Cray and Paul's Cray he founded Sunday schools. In 1820 appeared 'The Books of Genesis and Daniel' (in connection with modern astronomy) defended against Count Volney and Dr. Francis; also 'The Sonship of Christ,' against John Gorton and the Rev. Mr. Evans, being supplementary matter to 'The Genealogy of Christ.' This book has for its frontispiece an engraved portrait of the author, 'æt. 57;' he was then living in King's Road, Chelsea, whither he had removed from Kent in 1827. The conclusions of these two works were afterwards summarised in a pamphlet, 'A View of Sacred History and its Chronology in connexion with Modern Astronomy,'

Other pamphlets by Overton are: 'The Chronology of the Apocalypse investigated and defended,' 1822; 'An Inquiry into the Truth and Use of the Book of Enoch as to its Prophecies, Visions, and Accounts of Fallen Angels,' 1822; 'Strictures on Dr. Chalmers's Discourse on Astronomy,' Deptford, 1828, 8vo; and 'The Apocalyptic Whore of Babylon considered not the Pope of Rome,' 1830. He was a contributor to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for forty years.

Overton died at Rose Cottage, King's Road, Chelsea, on 1 Dec. 1838.

[Overton's Works; Gent. Mag. 1839, i. 102.]

C. P.