Priestley became minister of Hunter's Croft congregational church, Manchester. His chapel was enlarged during his ministry. He is described as ‘a strong preacher, careless of personal dignity, and of abounding audacity’ (Mackennal). Many stories are told of his pulpit eccentricities. His deacons accused him of ‘irregularities,’ the fact being that he eked out on inadequate maintenance (60l. a year) in sundry ways of trade. He was said to have an interest in ‘the liquor business,’ and it was alleged that he made packing-cases on Sunday nights. He retorted that he never began till the clock struck twelve. He made many electrical machines for sale, under his brother's directions, and constructed for his brother an electrical kite, 6 feet 4 inches wide, which folded up so as to be carried like a fishing-rod. His relations with his father were not cordial, though there was no breach. He visited him at Warrington in 1762, and excited the amusement of the leaders of dissenting culture. He refused to join the petitions (1772-3) for relaxation of the Toleration Act, except upon the odd condition that concealment of heresy should be made a capital offence. In 1774 he was in London, preaching at Whitefield's Tabernacle, Moorfields. His brother, who was then living with Lord Shelburne, told him it mortified him to hear people say ‘Here is a brother of yours preaching at the Tabernacle.’ In 1782 the two Priestleys were appointed to preach the ‘double lecture’ (24 Aug.) at Oldbury, Worcestershire; Joseph wished his brother to decline, and on his refusal to give way, himself withdrew, his place being taken by Habakkuk Crabb [q. v.]
Priestley's Manchester ministry terminated in his formal dismissal on 14 April 1784, only two hands being held up in his favour. He removed to Dublin, where he remained some two years. He then received a call to succeed Richard Woodgate (d. 28 June 1787) as minister of Jewin Street independent church, London. Here he remained till his death. He issued a periodical, ‘The Christian's Magazine, or Gospel Repository,’ designed to counteract unitarianism. It seems to have reached but three volumes (1790-2, 8vo); the first is dedicated to Lady Huntingdon [see Hastings, Selina]. whose friendship he enjoyed. It contains a biography of Scott, his tutor, which was reprinted in 1791, 8vo. On his brother's death he preached at Jewin Street, 29 April 1804, and printed (1804, 8vo) a funeral sermon, with appendix of ‘authentic anecdotes,’ the authenticity of some of which has been disputed (Univ. Theol. Mag. 1804, pp. 295 seq.; Rutt, Memoirs of Priestley, 1831, i. 31). He had more imagination than his brother, and probably shared his defects of memory. His advertised ‘Animadversions’ on his brother's theological views do not seem to have been published. He published also an annotated ‘Family Bible,’ 1793? fol.; 1804, 2 vols, 4to; the ‘Christian's Looking-Glass,’ 1790-2, 12mo; ‘Family Exercises,’ 1792, 8vo, and a few single sermons. He died at Islington on 23 April 1814, and was buried at Bunhill Fields on 29 April. His funeral sermon was preached by George Burder [q. v.] Two engraved portraits of Priestley are mentioned in Bromley. His son William (1768-1827) was independent minister at Fordingbridge, Hampshire.
[Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London. 1810, iii. seq.; Yates's Memorials of Dr. Priestley, 1860, p. 16; Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire, 1868, p. 243; Halley's Lancashire, 1869, ii. 448 seq.; Turner's Nonconformity in Idle, 1875, p. ll9; Sutton's Lancashire Authors, 1876, p. 96; Mackennal's Life of Macfadyen, 1891, p. 101; Peel's Nonconformity in Spen Valley, 1891, pp. 145, 153 seq., 158; Nightingale's Lancashire Nonconformity (1893}, v. 116 seq. (portrait).]
PRIESTMAN, JOHN (1805–1866), quaker, son of Joshua and Hannah Priestman, was born at Thornton, near Pickering, Yorkshire, where his ancestors—sturdy yeomen and quakers—had been settled for more than two hundred years. He was educated at the Friends' school, Ackworth, Yorkshire, and apprenticed to an uncle, a tanner at York, but at nineteen joined his brother-in-law, James Ellis, in the Old Corn Mill, Bradford. Together they founded the first ragged school in Bradford, in a room at the top of one of their mills. The teacher's salary was privately defrayed by them.
Priestman was one of the founders in 1832 of the Friends' Provident Institution, a society whose conspicuous success was due to economic management and the temperate habits of the members, and he remained on the board of directors until his death. In early life Priestman became a free-trader, and entered warmly into the anti-corn law agitation. He represented Bradford at many of the conferences called by the league, and used all his influence to keep alive the agitation in the north of England.
Priestman and his partner, Ellis, actively resisted the collection of church-rates. For refusal to pay the rate for 1835 they were summoned before the magistrates, and pleaded with such cogency the illegality of the impost that the rate was not levied again in their parish. Chiefly from a desire to utilise the