Edmund Calamy (historian)

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Edmund Calamy
Edmund Calamy.jpg
Edmund Calamy the Younger
Born (1671-04-05)5 April 1671
London, England
Died 3 June 1732(1732-06-03) (aged 61)
Education University of Oxford
Known for Nonconformist churchman and historian

Edmund Calamy (5 April 1671 – 3 June 1732) was an English Nonconformist churchman and historian.


A grandson of Edmund Calamy the Elder, he was born in the City of London, in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury. He was sent to various schools, including Merchant Taylors', and in 1688 proceeded to the university of Utrecht. While there, he declined an offer of a professor's chair in the University of Edinburgh made to him by the principal, William Carstares, who had gone over on purpose to find suitable men for such posts.

After his return to England in 1691 he began to study divinity, and on Richard Baxter's advice went to Oxford, where he was much influenced by William Chillingworth. He declined invitations from Andover and Bristol, and accepted one as assistant to Matthew Sylvester at the meeting court house, Blackfriars(1692).[1] He was offered a good position in Bristol with £100 but refused to leave London, settling with Thomas Reynolds in Hoxton square, assistant deacon to Joseph Howe. Resolved on his arminianim, Calamy wanted to be ordained into the Catholic church, on a full accommodation between Presbyterians and independents. Calamy's claim to fame came because he encouraged 5 ejected ministers, of whom he was the historian, and Daniel Williams to be ordained in secret; but with the tacit foreknowledge of Lord Somers.

In June 1694 he was publicly ordained at Samuel Annesley's meeting-house in Little St Helen's, and soon afterwards was invited to become assistant to Daniel Williams in Hand Alley, Bishopsgate. On 19 December 1695, he married Mary, daughter of Micahel Watts (1636-1708), a merchant haberdasher. Although in charge of the congregation he dissented from full ordination.

In October 1702 he was chosen one of the lecturers in Salters' Hall to replace Nathaniel Taylor, but refused a permanent post. He remained Williams' assistant until June 1703. Finally, 1703 he succeeded Vincent Alsop as pastor of a large congregation in Tothill Street, Westminster.

His friendship with Dr Williams was important for his development as a historian. He was appointed one of the original trustees of the Presbyterian Fund in 1703. And on the foundation of Dr Williams Charity, was his legacy trustee. This enabled the construction of the library in Red Cross Street, Calamy preaching the sermon on 28 October 1731. Although Calamy was an authoritative historian of the religion, the family papers are said to have been lost in 1870, on the death of his great-grandson. What remains as a source of his life in the Autobiography. Subsequent Victorian editions of his original publications were re-appraised and in 1830 a more fundamental interpretation of the original publications.

In 1709 Calamy made a tour through Scotland with the approval of Charles Spencer, later Earl of Sunderland. He preached in New Church, Edinburgh. He was conferred with honorary doctorates, and had the degree of Doctor of Divinity conferred on him by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Calamy's first wife died, and he married again on 14 February 1716, to Mary Jones. She was from an old independent military family, a niece of Adam Cardonel, secretary to the Duke of Marlborough. Calamy was a moderate Presbyterian, following the Baxterian theology, of the civil war diarist, Richard Baxter.

He died on 3 June 1732, having been married twice and leaving six of his thirteen children to survive him. His eldest son, was Edmund Calamy (1698-1755). He was buried on 9 June at St Mary's Aldermanbury.


Calamy's forty-one publications are mainly sermons, but his fame rests on his nonconformist biographies. His great hero was Baxter, of whom he wrote three distinct memoirs.

His first essay was a table of contents to Baxter's Narrative of his life and times, which was sent to the press in 1696; he made some remarks on the work itself and added to it an index, and, reflecting on the usefulness of the book, he saw the expediency of continuing it, as Baxter's history came no further than the year 1684. Accordingly, he composed an abridgment of it, with an account of many other ministers who were ejected in 1662 after the restoration of Charles II.; their apology, containing the grounds of their nonconformity and practice as to stated and occasional communion with the Church of England; and a continuation of their history until the year 1691. This work was published in 1702. The most important chapter (ix.) is that which gives a detailed account of the ministers ejected in 1662; it was afterwards published as a distinct volume. He afterwards published a moderate defence of Nonconformity, in three tracts, in answer to some tracts of Benjamin Hoadly.

In 1713 he published a second edition (2 vols.) of his Abridgment of Baxter's History, in which, among various additions, there is a continuation of the history through the reigns of William and Anne, down to the passing of the Occasional Bill. At the end of volume 1 is subjoined the reformed liturgy, which was drawn up and presented to the bishops in 1661. Volume 2 is an expansion of chapter ix. of the 1702 edition giving greater detail about ministers ejected in 1662.

In 1718 he wrote a vindication of his grandfather and several other persons against certain reflections cast upon them by Laurence Echard in his History of England. In 1719 he published The Church and the Dissenters Compar'd as to Persecution, and in 1727 appeared his Continuation of the Account of the ejected ministers and teachers, a volume which is really a series of emendations of the previously published account.


His eldest son Edmund Calamy IV was a Presbyterian minister in London and died 1755; another son (Edmund, the fifth) was a barrister who died in 1816; and this one's son (Edmund, the sixth) died in 1850, his younger brother Michael, the last of the direct Calamy line, surviving till 1876.


  1. ^ Calamy, "An historical Account of my life, with some reflections on the times i have lived in, 1671-1731, ed. J.T.Rutt, 2nf ed.,(1830), 300-1.


External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Calamy, Edmund (1671-1732)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.