Pearce, Zachary

Pearce, Zachary D.D., an eminent British divine and scholar, and a prelate of the English Church, was born at London in 1690. He was the son of a distiller in Holborn, and went to Westminster Grammar School; thence he passed to Trinity College, Cambridge. where he obtained a fellowship. At Cambridge Pearce was best known as a polite classical scholar, and it was in 1716, before he took orders, that he published his edition of Cicero De Oratore. He inscribed it, at a friend's suggestion, to lord chief justice Parker, afterwards earl of Macclesfield, though he was not known to him, and this circumstance led to a friendship and patronage which were of the greatest use to him. The lord chief justice, being made lord chancellor soon after, took Mr. Pearce into his family as his domestic chaplain. Preferment now opened up to him. He was presented to the living of Stapleford Abbots in Essex, St. Bartholomew, near the Royal Exchange, and finally of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London. The last appointment was in 1723. He was made dean of Winchester in 1739, in 1748 bishop of Bangor, and in 1756 bishop of Rochester, with the deanery of Westminster annexed. Bishop Pearce, though well fitted for the episcopal dignity, was a man of great modesty and humility, and as anxious to avoid preferments, and to resign them when forced upon him, as most men were to gain and hold them. His anxiety to retire from the high station to which he was thus involuntarily raised was so sincere, as well as strong, that at length, in 1768, the government yielded to his repeated request, and allowed him to resign the more valuable appointment, his deanery, in favor of Dr. Thomas; Pearce retaining, however, the bishopric, to the retiring from which there existed some objections of an ecclesiastical nature. He died at Little Eating Jan. 29, 1774. Bishop Pearce was as distinguished for his charity and munificence as for his learning. He enriched the Widow's College, in the immediate neighborhood of his palace at Bromley, by a donation of £5000. His tracts on theological subjects are numerous and valuable. Of these the principal are, A Commentary on the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles (2 vols. 4to), greatly praised by Dr. Adam Clarke and other eminent Biblical scholars: — Letters to Dr. Conyers Middleton, in Defence of Dr. Waterland: — A Reply to Woolston on the Miracles; of which Leland says that it was a work deservedly much esteemed: — A Review of the Text of Milton: — and an edition of Longinus On the Sublime, with a Latin translation annexed; and another of Cicero's Offices; also, four volumes of Sermons, etc. See his Life prefixed to his Commentary; Jones, Christ. Biog. s.v.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, vol. ii, s.v.; Perry, Hist. of the Church of England, 3:331, 333.

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