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Osborn
Osborn
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from Chillington. He employed informers, and illegally consigned numbers of quakers from meetings to prisons as ‘rioters and conventiclers.’ Osborn and some others procured a counsel to plead their case, and defeated Waldron at quarter sessions. Some land was then bought and a large meeting-house built at Ilminster, three miles from Chillington, mainly at the expense of Osborn and his family.

In 1673 Osborn moved to Chard, where he was again frequently distrained upon. On 12 July 1675 his wife died. About three years after he married again. On 23 Sept. 1680, the day appointed for the Somerset quarterly meeting at Ilchester, the friends met in the house of an innkeeper named Abbott, the house usually rented by them from the gaolkeeper being full of prisoners. After the meeting for worship they divided as usual for separate business meetings—women upstairs, men below—when Captain Waldron appeared with his troop, took down many names, and, treating the assembly as two conventicles, fined Abbott 40l. Assisted by Osborn and other friends, the innkeeper brought an action at common law against Waldron at Wells assizes, but without success. A month after Captain Waldron came on Sunday to Ilminster while Osborn was preaching, and carried him and sixty-nine others before Sir Edward Phillips. The latter, although ‘no friend to dissenters,’ allowed Osborn time to explain the case, with the result that only six, of whom Osborn was one, were committed to prison. They appeared at Bath, and were remanded until the next sessions; but through the influence of Lord Fitzhardinge, who represented that the quakers were clothiers and large employers of labour, about eighty altogether were released. Osborn was returned to prison, but allowed considerable liberty, and discharged at the next sessions. On 28 April 1685 Osborn and three other Somerset quakers drew up an address (Besse, Sufferings, i. 644) to the members for the county, in which the ill-treatment of their sect was set forth, and the king's speech at Breda quoted as a guarantee for liberty of conscience. It seems to have been fruitless, since another address was presented at the Wells assize early in the following year from the prisoners in Ilchester gaol. After his release Osborn continued preaching among the Somerset villages, whose inhabitants joined the quakers in large numbers. He held a meeting of five hundred persons in the market-house at Wellington; and at Spiceland, Collumpton, Okehampton, and Crediton he also preached. He was prominent in the business meetings of his society, and at the Somerset quarterly meeting in 1697 was desired to procure a schoolmaster for the quaker school, removed in that year to Sidcot, where it still flourishes.

On 26 Oct. 1711, in his sixty-ninth year, Osborn completed his autobiography, published (London, 1723) under the title of ‘A Brief Narrative of the Life, Labours, and Sufferings of Elias Osborn.’ On 13 Dec. 1718 he wrote of his inability through age and deafness to be present at the funeral of William Penn [q. v.], ‘than whom he never loved any man better,’ and on 29 June 1720 he died in his own house at Chard, being buried in the quaker burial-ground there on 5 July following. ‘Testimonies’ from his monthly and quarterly meetings confirm his repute as a gifted minister, a discriminating disciplinarian, whose purse and heart were open to the poor. Osborn wrote, besides his autobiography, the introduction to ‘Some Remains of that Ancient and Worthy Servant of Christ, Daniel Taylor of Bridport,’ &c., London, 1715. He had four children by each marriage. His eldest son, Elias, born at Chillington 15 June 1668, settled at Bristol, and died there 3 Aug. 1703. The second, Timothy, born 30 April 1670, died at Ilminster 15 Nov. 1704.

[Autobiography; Besse's Sufferings, i. 610, 642, 645, 649; Tanner's Three Lectures on Bristol Friends, p. 126; Kendall's Letters, ii. 120; Registers at Devonshire House.]

C. F. S.

OSBORN, GEORGE (1808–1891), president of Wesleyan conference, was born at Rochester in 1808. His father, George Osborn (1764–1836), was a draper in Rochester, a class-leader among the Wesleyan methodists for twenty-one years, and a steward of the Rochester circuit (Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, October 1839, pp. 785–803). George was educated at Dr. Hulett's school at Brompton, and, entering the Wesleyan ministry in 1828, was in the following year appointed to the Brighton circuit, where he laboured successfully for two years. He was conspicuous as a debater very early in life, and rose rapidly in the estimation of his co-religionists. London in 1836–42 and 1851–68, Manchester in 1842–5 and 1848–51, and Liverpool in 1845–48 had the benefit of his ministerial services. Although an enthusiastic methodist, he was catholic in his sentiments, was friendly with the ministers of all evangelical denominations, and in 1845 was one of the founders of the evangelical alliance. In 1851 he was appointed one of the Wesleyan foreign missionary secretaries, and retained that office for seventeen years. The