Lindsey, Theophilus an eminent English Unitarian minister, was born at Middlewich, in Cheshire, June 20, 1723 (O.S.). He entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1741, and, after taking his degrees, was elected fellow in 1747. About this time he commenced his clerical duties at an Episcopal chapel in Spital Square, London. Later he became domestic chaplain to Algernon, duke of Somerset, after whose death he traveled two years on the Continent with Algernon's son. On his return, about 1753, he was presented to the living of Kirkby Wiske, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and in 1756 he removed to that of Piddletown, in Dorsetshire. In 1760 he married a step- daughter of his intimate friend archdeacon Blackburne, and in 1763, chiefly for the sake of enjoying his society, took the living of Catterick. Lindsey, who had felt some scruples respecting subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles even while at Cambridge, began now to entertain serious doubts concerning the Trinitarian doctrines, and by 1769 his association with the Reverend William Turner, a Presbyterian minister at Wakefield, and Dr. Priestley, then a Unitarian minister at Leeds, gave a more decided coloring to his Antitrinitarian views, and he actually began to contemplate the duty of resigning his living. He was induced to defer that step by an attempt which was made in 1771, by several clergymen and gentlemen of the learned professions, to obtain relief from Parliament in the matter of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, and in which he joined heartily, traveling upwards of 2000 miles in the winter of that year to obtain signatures to the petition which was prepared. The petition was presented on the 6th of February 1772, with nearly 250 signatures, but, after a spirited debate, its reception was negatived by 217 to 71. It being intended to renew the application to Parliament at the next session, Lindsey still deferred his resignation, but when the intention was abandoned he began to prepare for that important step. He drew up, in July 1773, a copious and learned "Apology," and, notwithstanding the attempts of his diocesan and others to dissuade him from the step, he formally resigned his connection with the Established Church, and, selling the greatest part of his library to meet his pecuniary exigencies, he proceeded to London, and on the 17th of April 1774, began to officiate in a room in Essex Street, Strand, which, by the help of friends, he had been enabled to convert into a temporary chapel. His desire being to deviate as little as possible from the mode of worship adopted in the Church of England, he used a liturgy very slightly altered from that modification of the national church-service which had been previously published by Dr. Samuel Clarke. This modified liturgy, as well as his opening sermon, Lindsey published. His efforts to raise a Unitarian congregation proving successful, lie commenced shortly afterwards the erection of a more permanent chapel in Essex Street, which was opened in 1778. His published "Apology" having been attacked in print by Mr. Burgh, an Irish M.P., by Mr. Bingham, and by Dr. Randolph, Lindsey published a "Sequel" to it in 1776, in which he answered those writers. In 1781 he published The Catechist, or an Inquiry into the Doctrine of the Scriptures concerning the only True God and Object of Religious Worship; in 1783, A Historical View of the State of the Unitarian Doctrine and Worship Reform the Reformation to our own Times, an elaborate work, which had been several years in preparation; and in 1785, anonymously, An Exanination of Mr. Robinson of Cambridge's Plea for the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by a late Member of the University. In 1788 he published Vindicise Priestleicane, a defense of his friend Dr. Priestley, in the form of an address to the students of Oxford and Cambridge; and this was followed, in 1790, by a Second Address to the Students of Oxford and Cambridge relating to Jesus Christ and the Origin of the great Errors concerning him. In 1782 he invited Dr. Disney, who then left the Established Church for the same reasons as himself, to become his colleague in the ministry at Essex Street; and in 1793, on account of age and growing infirmities, he resigned the pastorate entirely into his hands, publishing on the occasion a farewell discourse (which he felt himself unable to preach) and a revised edition, being the fourth, of his liturgy. In 1795 he reprinted, with an original preface, the Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever which Dr. Priestley had recently published in America in reply to Paine's Age of Reason; and in 1800 he republished in like manner another of Priestley's works, on the knowledge which the Hebrews had of a future state. Lindsey's last work was published in 1802, entitled Conversations on the Divine Government, showing that everything
is from God and for good to all. He died on the 3d of November 1808. Besides copious biographical notices of Lindsey, which were published in the Monthly Repository and Monthly Magazine of December 1808, the Reverend Thomas Belsham published, in 1812, a thick octavo volume of Memoirs, in which he gives a full analysis of Lindsey's works and extracts from his correspondence, together with a complete list of his publications. Two volumes of his sermons were printed shortly after his death. Sec Engl. Cyclop. s.v.; Robert Hall, in his Works (11th ed. 1853). 4:188 sq.; London Quarterly Review, 8:422 sq.