Newcome Cappe

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Newcome Cappe (21 February 1733 – 24 December 1800), was an English unitarian divine.[1] He served as the pastor of the York Unitarian Chapel, located in York, England. Cappe published various sermons and after his death his second wife, Catharine Cappe published many more.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born at Leeds, West Yorkshire, the eldest son of the Rev. Joseph Cappe, minister of the nonconformist congregation at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, who married the daughter and coheiress of Mr. Newcome of Waddington, Lincolnshire. He was educated for the dissenting ministry. For a year (1748–49) he was with John Aikin at Kibworth, Leicestershire; then for three years he studied with Philip Doddridge at Northampton, East Midlands, and for another space of three years (1752–55) he lived in Glasgow, Scotland, profiting by the instruction of William Leechman.[1]


Cappe was chosen in November 1755 as the co-pastor with the Rev. John Hotham of the York Unitarian Chapel at St. Saviourgate, York. After Hotham's death the following May, Cappe became the sole pastor to the congregation and remained in this position until his death. In 1788, when he was a widower with six grown-up children, he married Catherine Harrison (born 1744).[notes 1]


The writings of Cappe which appeared during his lifetime were minor. Among them were sermons preached on the days "of national humiliation" in 1776, 1780, 1781, 1782 and 1784. An earlier sermon delivered 27 November 1757, after the victory of Frederick the Great at the battle of Rossbach on 5 November 1757, was of a very rhetorical character and passed through numerous editions. In 1770, he published a sermon in memory of the Rev. Edward Sandercock,[2] and in 1785, he published his sermons.

In 1783, he printed a pamphlet of Remarks in Vindication of Dr. Priestley in answer to the "Monthly Reviewers". A Selection of Psalms for Social Worship and An Alphabetical Explication of some Terms and Phrases in Scripture, the first an anonymous publication, and the second "by a warm well-wisher to the interests of genuine christianity", were printed at York in 1786, and are known to have been compiled by Cappe. The second of them was reissued in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1818. A more elaborate work, Discourses on the Providence and Government of God, was published by him in 1795; a second edition appeared in 1811, and a third in 1818.

After his death, his widow Catherine (died 1821) collected and edited many volumes of his discourses, consisting of:

  • Critical Remarks on many important Passages of Scripture, 1802, 2 vols.
  • Discourses chiefly on Devotional Subjects, 1805
  • Connected History of the Life and Divine Mission of Jesus Christ, 1809
  • Discourses chiefly on Practical Subjects 1815[1]

To the first and second of these publications she prefixed memoirs of his life by herself, and the second contained an appendix of a sermon on his interment by the Rev. William Wood, and a memoir from the Monthly Review February 1801, pp. 81–4, by Charles Wellbeloved.


In October 1759, he married Sarah, the eldest daughter of William Turner, a merchant of Hull, East Yorkshire. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) in the spring of 1773, leaving six children behind her. His second wife, an ardent promoter of education and of unitarian principles, was Catharine, daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Harrison, vicar of Catterick, North Yorkshire, and they were married at Barwick-in-Elmet, Leeds, on 19 February 1788. She died suddenly on 27 July 1821, aged 78. She was the author of several tracts on charity schools. Catherine was the benefactor of the poet Charlotte Richardson.[3]

His eldest son, Joseph Cappe, M.D., died in February 1791; his youngest son, Robert Cappe, M.D., died on 16 November 1802 while on a voyage to Livorno, Tuscany.

The large old mansion in which he lived is described by Robert Davies, in his Walks through York, as situated in Upper Ousegate, and in it he gathered together men of letters. A literary club which he founded in 1771 existed for nearly twenty years.

Later life[edit]

Cappe was frequently ill, and in 1791 he was seized by a paralytic stroke. This was followed by several other attacks of similar nature until his strength failed, and he died at York.


  1. ^ a b c "Cappe, Newcome". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ A Sermon [on Acts ix. 6] preached at ... York ... on occasion of the death of the Reverend Edward Sandercock. To which is prefix'd a short discourse deliver'd at his funeral. A. Ward. 1770. pp. 15–. 
  3. ^ J. R. de J. Jackson, ‘Richardson , Charlotte (1775–1825)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 15 Nov 2016

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Cappe, Newcome". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 


  1. ^ For Newcome's widow, see Unitarianism, Philanthropy and Feminism in York, 1782–1821: The Career of Catherine Cappe by Helen Plant. York: University of York, Borthwick Paper 103, 2003.