Biography of Rev. Benjamin Beddome

The entry for Benjamin Beddome in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is by W B Lowther, and revised by Karen E Smith. It is as follows:

Beddome, Benjamin (17171795), Particular Baptist minister and hymn writer, the son of John Beddome (d 1757), Baptist minister, and Rachel Brandon, was born at Henley in Arden, Warwickshire, on 23 January 1717. He was baptized in 1739 at the Baptist church at Prescott Street, Goodman's Fields, London, by Samuel Wilson. He studied under Bernard Foskett at Bristol Academy, where he established a close friendship with Caleb Evans and John Ash, and later at the Independent academy at Mile End in Middlesex. In 1740 he became pastor at the Baptist church in Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, where he remained for 55 years. He was ordained in 1743, when Joseph Stennett preached the sermon and Bernard Foskett gave the charge. On 11 December 1749 he married Elizabeth Boswell (17321784), daughter of Richard Boswell, Baptist deacon of Bourton, at Gloucester; they had three sons, John, Benjamin, and Foskett, all of whom predeceased him.

Beddome is best-known as a writer of hymns, of which he composed more than 800, published as Hymns Adopted to Public Worship or Family Devotion in 1818. His hymns were intended to be sung after his sermons, as they illustrated the truths on which he had been preaching. He was a noted preacher, whose labours were 'unremitted and evangelical', and, 'though his voice was low, his delivery was forcible and demanded attention' (Rippon, 32021). He was a leader in the Midland Baptist Association and wrote an association letter in 1765. He also wrote an Exposition on the Baptist Catechism (1752; repr. 1776). Three posthumous volumes of his sermons were also printed. In 1770 he was awarded an MA degree by Providence College in Rhode Island in recognition of his literary gifts.

Beddome died at Bourton, the scene of his lifelong labours, on 23 September 1795, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried in the Baptist meeting-house graveyard there. According to the Cambridge Intelligencer (12 September 1795), which noticed his death, he was a BD.

Gravestone of Benjamin Beddome

Benjamin died on Sept 3rd, aged 79, according to the memorial plaque in Bourton-in-the-water. That would mean that he was born in 1716 (or that they got his age wrong!) Since Benjamin was born in January, the birth date might vary by a year anyway, as at that time, the year started in March rather than January.

In 1770, Providence College Rhode Island conferred on Benjamin Beddome title of A.M (rather than BD).

Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth actually had seven sons. Four died before he did, and three survived him.

His hymns were published after his death, as well as the sermons.

But apart from that...

In fact, this information may be taken from the Memoir at the front of a book of Benjamin Beddome's sermons, published in 1835. That says "The Rev. Benjamin Beddome [ was born ] January 23, (old style) 1717". That would make him born in 1718! The same Memoir also says that he died "September 3, 1795, in the 79th year of his age". Assuming that means he died aged 78, it would still make him born in 1717 (new style), which contradicts their original statement. I think people got muddled!

There are two memorials to Benjamin Beddome, one inside, and this rather moss-covered memorial stone to Rev Benjamin Beddome in the Old Burying Ground, Bourton on the Water. The inscription reads: Sacred to the Memory of Benjamin Beddome Born 1717 Died 1795 For 52 years Pastor of the Baptist Chapel Interred near this spot where the chapel formerly stood. This stone was erected by his great grandchildren." This is firmly taking the 1717 birth year. But "great grand children"! Not perhaps an authoritative source...