Belsham, Thomas

Belsham, Thomas a Socinian divine of note, was born at Bedford, England, April 15, 1750. In 1778 he was settled as pastor of a dissenting congregation at Worcester, from which, however, he removed in 1781 to take charge of the Daventry Academy. Here his sentiments underwent a change so far that, in 1789, he avowed himself a Unitarian of the school of Priestley. He resigned his station, and immediately took charge of Hackney College, a Unitarian institution, which in a few years sunk for want of funds. In 1805 he became minister of Essex Street Chapel, London, where he remained during the rest of his life. He died at Hampstead, Nov. 11, 1829. After Dr. Priestley he was regarded as the leader of Unitarianism in England. The "Unitarian Society for promoting Christian Knowledge" was founded at his suggestion. He aided largely in preparing the Improved Version of the N.T. (Unitarian; Lond. 1808, 8vo). His principal writings are, A Calm Inquiry into the Scripture Doctrine concerning the Person of Christ, etc. (Lond. 1811, 8vo): — Evidences of Christianity: — Epistles of Paul translated, with Exposition and Notes (Lond. 1822, 2 vols. 4to); Discourses Doctrinal and Practical; Review of American Unitarianism (1815, 8vo): Letters to the Bishop of London in Vindication of the Unitarians (1815, 8vo). His Life and Letters, by J. Williams, was published in 1833 (Lond. 8vo). — Darling, Cyclop. Bibliographica, 1, 238; Allibone, Dictionary of Authors, 1, 163; Christian Examiner, 15, 69; Bennett, Hist. of Dissenters (Lond. 1839, 8vo).

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