Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sedgwick, Daniel

SEDGWICK, DANIEL (1814–1879), hymnologist, was born of poor parents in Leadenhall Street, London, on 26 Nov. 1814. After serving an apprenticeship, he became a shoemaker. In 1839 he married and joined the strict baptist congregation at Providence Chapel, Grosvenor Street, Commercial Road. Already in 1837 he had given up shoemaking to commence dealing in secondhand books. He gradually worked up a connection among collectors, mainly of theological literature. His customers included George Offor [q. v.], William Bonar, the collector of hymn-books, and Alexander Gardyne, whose collection of Scottish poetry is now in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. His shop was at 81 (afterwards renumbered 93) Sun Street, Bishopsgate. In 1840 he taught himself writing, and acquired a neat and clear hand, but never gained any facility in literary composition. In 1859 he commenced publishing reprints of the rarer hymn-writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, under the general title of ‘Library of Spiritual Song.’ The first of the thirteen issues consisted of the hymns of William Williams (1717–1791) [q. v.] Pursuing his studies in hymnology, he produced in 1860 ‘A Comprehensive Index of many of the Original Authors and Translators of Psalms and Hymns,’ with the dates of their various works, chiefly collected from the original publications (2nd edit. enlarged 1863). Thenceforth he was recognised as the foremost living hymnologist. He was consulted by men of all opinions—by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, when compiling ‘Our own Hymn-book,’ 1866, and Josiah Miller, when writing ‘Singers and Songs of the Church.’ ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’ owed from its earliest days something to his assistance; and when Sir Roundell Palmer (Lord Selborne) was compiling his ‘Book of Praise’ in 1862 the sheets were submitted to Sedgwick's inspection, when he identified the majority of the compositions. In fact, hardly a hymn-book appeared in his later days in which his aid was not acknowledged. His manuscripts, which are now preserved in the Church House, Westminster, were used in Julian's ‘Dictionary of Hymnology.’ He died at 93 Sun Street on 10 March 1879, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery. His wife survived him; he had no issue.

Sedgwick prepared indexes of authors for the English editions (on the title-pages of which he figures as editor) of the American works: ‘Pure Gold for the Sunday School,’ 1877, and ‘The Royal Diadem Songs for the Sunday School,’ 1877, both by R. Lowry and W. H. Doane. His six catalogues of scarce religious poetry are of bibliographical value.

[Information kindly supplied by W. T. Brooke, esq.; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. 1892, ii. 409, 451; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892, pp. 1036–7; Bookseller, May 1879, p. 424; The Earthen Vessel, July 1879, p. 199; Roundell Palmer's Book of Praise, 1863, preface, p. v; C. H. Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn-book, 1866, preface, p. ix; Hymns Ancient and Modern, Biggs's edition, 1867, preface, p. x.]

G. C. B.