Robert Barclay

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Robert Barclay
2nd [[Governor of East Jersey]]
In office
September 1682 – 3 October 1690
Deputy Thomas Rudyard, Gawen Lawrie, Lord Neill Campbell, Andrew Hamilton
Preceded by Philip Carteret
Succeeded by Edmund Andros (Dominion of New England)
Personal details
Born 23 December 1648
Gordonstoun, Moray
Died 3 October 1690 (aged 41)
Ury House, Kincardineshire
Nationality Scottish
Spouse(s) Christian Molleson
Children Robert, Patience, Catherine, Jane, Christian, David, John
Alma mater Scots College, Paris
Occupation Writer, Apologist, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic, later Quaker

Robert Barclay (23 December 1648 – 3 October 1690) was a Scottish Quaker, one of the most eminent writers belonging to the Religious Society of Friends and a member of the Clan Barclay. He was also governor of the East Jersey colony in North America through most of the 1680s, although he himself never resided in the colony.

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Barclay was born at Gordonstoun in Moray, Scotland. His father Col. David Barclay of Urie had served under Gustavus Adolphus, and pursued a somewhat tortuous course through the troubles of the civil war. His mother was Katherine Gordon (1620–1663) the daughter of Sir Robert Gordon 1st Bart of Gordonstoun (1580–1654). He was the eldest of five children.

Robert was sent to finish his education at the Scots College, Paris, of which his uncle[1] was Rector, and made such progress in study as to gain the admiration of his teachers, specially of his uncle, who offered to make him his heir if he would remain in France, and join the Roman Catholic Church.

Joining the Society of Friends[edit]

In 1667, however, he followed the example of his father, and joined the recently formed Society of Friends after returning to Scotland. Soon afterwards he began to write in defence of the movement, by publishing in 1670 Truth cleared of Calumnies, and a Catechism and Confession of Faith (1673). In 1670 he had married another Quaker, Christian Mollison (c.1651–1722), daughter of Gilbert Mollison of Aberdeen. They had seven children: three sons (Robert, David and John) and four daughters (Patience, Catherine, Christian and Jean).[2][3]

The essential view which Barclay maintained was that all people can be illuminated by the Inward Light of Christ which is the author of the Scriptures and will lead them into all truth. His works have often been reprinted. He was an ardent theological student, a man of warm feelings and considerable mental powers, and he soon came prominently forward as the leading apologist of the new doctrine, winning his spurs in a controversy with one William Mitchell. The publication of fifteen Theses Theologiae (1676) led to a public discussion in Aberdeen, each side claiming a victory. The most prominent of the Theses was that bearing on immediate revelation, in which the superiority of the Inward Light of Christ to reason or scripture is sharply stated. He was noted as a strong supporter of George Fox in the controversies that tore into Quakers in the 1670s. His greatest work, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, was published in Latin at Amsterdam in 1676, and was an elaborate statement of the grounds for holding certain fundamental positions laid down in the Theses. It was translated by its author into English in 1678, and is claimed to be "one of the most impressive theological writings of the century".[4] It is a weighty and learned work, written in a dignified style, and was eagerly read.

The Apology, however, failed to arrest the persecution to which the Quakers were exposed, and Barclay himself, on returning from Europe, where he travelled extensively (once with William Penn and George Fox), and had several interviews with Elisabeth, Princess Palatine, was several times thrown into prison, but soon regained his liberty, and was in the enjoyment of Court favour.

Political influence[edit]

In later years he had much influence with James II, who as Duke of York had given New Jersey to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. After Carteret's death his half (East Jersey) was sold in 1682 to twelve people, eleven of whom were members of the Society of Friends. One of the eleven Quaker proprietors was William Penn, and after expanding to include a larger number of proprietors, the group elected Barclay to be the governor. He is said to have visited James with a view to making terms of accommodation with William of Orange, whose arrival was then imminent.

His latter years were spent at his estate of Ury, where he died.

Descendants[edit]

Barclay's descendants include David Barclay of Youngsbury (1729 – 1809) was an English Quaker merchant and banker. He is also known as a philanthropist and abolitionist. His legacy was as one of the founders of the present-day Barclays Bank, a century ahead of its formation under that name, and in the brewing industry. He was the son of David Barclay (1682–1769) ("David Barclay of Cheapside"), second son of this Robert Barclay and Priscilla Freame, daughter of the banker John Freame.[5][6] Priscilla Wakefield, née Priscilla Bell (1751–1832) was an English Quaker, educational and feminist economics writer, and philanthropist. Her mother was Barclay's granddaughter.[7]

Works[edit]

  • 1670: Truth cleared of Calumnies, wherein a book, entitled, A Dialogue between a Quaker and a Stable Christian, (printed at Aberdeen, and, upon good ground, judged to be writ by William Mitchel, a preacher near by it, or at least that he had a chief hand in it,) is examined, and the disingenuity of the Author, in his representing the Quakers, is discovered; here is also their case truly stated, cleared, demonstrated, and the Objections of their opposers answered according to truth, scripture, and right reason; to which are subjoined, Queries to the Inhabitants of Aberdeen, which might also be of use to such as are of the same mind with them elsewhere in the world.
  • 1671: William Mitchell unmasked, or the Staggering instability of the pretended Stable Christian discovered; his omissions observed, and weakness unvailed, &c.
  • 1672: Seasonable warning and serious exhortation to, and expostulation with, the inhabitants of Aberdeen, concerning this present dispensation and day of God’s living visitation towards them.
  • 1673: A Catechism and Confession of Faith, approved of, and agreed to by the general assembly of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, Christ himself chief speaker in and among them, which containeth a true and faithful account of the principles and doctrines which are most surely believed by the churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland, who are reproachfully called by the name of Quakers, yet are found in the one faith with the primitive church and saints, &c.
  • 1674: The Anarchy of the Ranters and other Libertines, &c.
  • 1675: Theses Theologicae (trans. "Theological Theses")
  • 1676: Theologiae vere Christianae Apologia (trans. "Theology of the Truth of Christian Apology")
  • 1676: An Apology for the true Christian Divinity, as the same is held forth and preached by the people called, in scorn, Quakers; being a full Explanation and Vindication of their Principles and Doctrines, by many Arguments deduced from Scripture and right reason, and the testimonies of famous Authors, both ancient and modern, with a full Answer to the strongest Objections usually made against them; presented to the King; written and published, in Latin, for the information of Strangers, by Robert Barclay; and now put into our own Language, for the benefit of his Countrymen.
  • 1676: Quakerism Confirmed; being an answer to a pamphlet by the Aberdeen Students, entitled Quakerism Canvassed, written in conjunction with George Keith
  • 1677: An Epistle of Love and Friendly Advice to the Ambassadors of the several Princes of Europe met at Nimeguen, to consult the peace of Christendom so far as they are concerned. Written in Latin, but published also in English for the benefit of his countrymen
  • 1677: Treatise on Universal Love
  • 1679: Apology for the true Christian Divinity Vindicated
  • 1679: Vindication of his Anarchy of the Ranters
  • 1686: The Possibility and Necessity of the Inward and Immediate Revelation of the Spirit of God, towards the foundation and ground of true Faith, proved in a Letter written in Latin to a person of Quality in Holland, and now also put into English
  • 1686: A true and Faithful Account of the most material Passages of a Dispute between some Students of Divinity (so called), of the University of Aberdeen, and the People called Quakers, held in Aberdeen, in Scotland, in Alexander Harper his close, (or yard), before some hundred of Witnesses, upon the 14th day of the second month, called April, 1675, there being John Lesley, Alexander Sherreff, and Paul Gellie, Master of Arts, opponents; and defendants, upon the Quakers’ part, Robert Barclay and George Keith: Preses for moderating the meeting, chosen by them, Andrew Thomson, Advocate; and by the Quakers, Alexander Skein, sometime a Magistrate of the City: published for preventing misreports, by Alexander Skein, John Skein Alexander Harper, Thomas Merser, and John Cowie. To which is added, Robert Barclay’s Offer to the Preachers of Aberdeen, renewed and reinforced.
  • 1692: Works (folio)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ His uncle was Robert Barclay (1611/12–1682), see ODNB article by Brian M. Halloran, ‘Barclay, Robert (1611/12–1682)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1], accessed 3 December 2007.
  2. ^ Christian Barclay: see ODNB article by Gordon DesBrisay, ‘Barclay, Robert, of Ury (1648–1690)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [2], accessed 3 December 2007. and - for children: P. G. M. Dickson, ‘Barclay, David (1682–1769)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 10 Aug 2008
  3. ^ Through his son David, Robert Barclay was the 4x great grandfather of the artist Robert Polhill Bevan
  4. ^ "one of the most impressive theological writings of the century and often marked by the eloquence of lofty moral convictions’." said by Leslie Stephen, according to The age of Dryden by Richard Garnett, on Googlebooks p226.
  5. ^ Adam Kuper (30 October 2009). Incest & Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England. Harvard University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-674-03589-8. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Dickson, P. G. M. "Barclay, David (1682–1769)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37149.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Ann B. Shteir, ‘Wakefield , Priscilla (1750–1832)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 24 October 2008.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Philip Carteret
Governor of East Jersey
1682–1688
Succeeded by
Edmund Andros