Oxley, Joseph (DNB00)


OXLEY, JOSEPH (1715–1776), quaker, eldest son of John Oxley and Ann Peckover of Fakenham, Norfolk, was born at Brigg in Lincolnshire on 4 Nov. 1715. His parents dying before he was eight years old, he was brought up by an uncle, Edmund Peckover. After five years at a school at Sankey in Lancashire, he was apprenticed to a clockmaker at Scarborough. When about twenty-three he took a situation in London. Soon after he attended a large meeting held by George Whitfield [q. v.] on Kennington Common, and, being extremely short in person, was almost crushed to death, until noticed 'by a gentlewoman in a coach, who fanned him.' This event, he says, led to his conversion, and he shortly became a minister of the Society of Friends, making continual visits in that capacity to Scotland, Ireland, and all parts of England.

In 1741 Oxley returned to Fakenham and opened a shop. On 28 June 1744 he married Elizabeth Fenn of Norwich, where he established himself as partner in a prosperous woollen manufacture. In 1753 his wife died, and on 5 Jan. 1757 he married, at Huntingdon, Mary Burr, like himself a minister.

In July 1770 Oxley sailed for America, where he visited the meetings in many states. His letters, published by John Barclay as No. 5 of his 'Select Series,' under the title 'Joseph's Offering to his Children: being Joseph Oxley's Journal of his Life, Travels, and Labours of Love in the Faith and Fellowship of our Lord Jesus Christ,' London, 1837, contain much interesting information about the colonies of Virginia, Maryland, and New England. The work was reprinted in vol. ii. of the 'Friends' Library,' Philadelphia, 1838, &c.

Oxley returned to Norwich in April 1772, and died there suddenly on 22 Oct. 1775. He was buried in the Friends' burial-ground at Norwich.

[Journal mentioned above; Janney's Hist. of Friends, iii. 392; Piety Promoted, pt. ix. 1796, pp. 43-7; Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books.]

C. F. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.213
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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19 i 12 Oxley, Joseph: for Whitfield read Whitefield