Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rowland Hill, Today's "Life" in the DNB

Posted by David Reimer

On Wednesday I posted a brief introduction to the open access resources of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Today's "Life of the Day" could be of interest to those who visit this blog.

Rowland Hill (1744–1833), "evangelical preacher", was a younger contemporary of Whitefield and the Wesleys. He was a fascinating character:
His theology meant that he was out of favour with the Methodists; his activities were regarded with suspicion by the Church of England authorities; and his temper led him to quarrel even with the countess of Huntingdon.
Aside from that, however, his later London ministry saw him involved in a wide range of activities at Surrey Chapel:
Surrey Chapel was the largest of its kind in London and could accommodate 3000 people. ... The chapel was the focus for Hill's missionary and philanthropic work. Attached to it were thirteen Sunday schools for over 3000 children (Hill was one of the earliest supporters of the movement in London). In addition there was a Dorcas Society for the relief of poor married women, an almshouse for poor women, and a school of industry for poor girls. On the River Thames, Hill was one of the promoters of a floating chapel. He supported the London Missionary Society and raised large sums of money on his preaching tours. ... While living in Gloucestershire he met Dr Edward Jenner, and Hill became a keen advocate of vaccination. He wrote a tract on the subject, in 1806 opened a clinic attached to Surrey Chapel, and personally vaccinated thousands of children.
The link to his brief biography will be available from the Lives of the Week page until August 29.