Rev. Samuel Ogden

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 23:307-08.

SAMUEL OGDEN, an English divine, was born at Manchester, in 1716, and was educated at the free-school there. In 1733 he was admitted a poor scholar of King's college, Cambridge, whence he removed for a Manchester exhibition to St. John's in 1736. In the following year he took the degree of B.A. and in 1739 was elected fellow. He was ordained deacon at Chester in 1740; and in the following year he took his degree of M.A. and was ordained priest by the bishop of Lincoln. In 1744 he was elected master of the free-school at Halifax in Yorkshire. In 1753 he resigned his school, and went to reside at Cambridge; and at the ensuing commencement he took the degree of D.D. The late duke of Newcastle, who was chancellor of the university, having been present at the exercise he performed for the degree, was so much satisfied with it, that he soon after presented him with the vicarage of Damerham in Wiltshire, which was tenable with his fellowship. In 1764, Dr. Ogden was appointed Woodwardian professor. In June 1766 he was presented to the rectory of Lawford in Essex, and in the following month to that of Stansfield in Suffolk. He died March 23, 1778, in the sixty-second year of his age, and was buried in St. Sepulchre's church, Cambridge, of which he had the cure, and where he preached most of his published sermons. In common life there was a real or apparent rusticity attending Dr. Ogden's address, which disgusted those who were strangers to his character; but this prejudice soon wore off, as the intimacy with him increased; and, notwithstanding the sternness, and even ferocity, he would sometimes throw into his countenance, he was in truth one of the most humane and tender-hearted men ever known. To his relations who wanted his assistance, he was remarkably kind in his life, and in the legacies he left them at his death. His father and mother, who both lived to an exceeding old age, owed almost their whole support to his piety. During the latter part of Dr. Ogden's life he laboured under much ill health. About a year before he died he was seized with a paralytic fit as he was stepping into his chariot, and was judged to be in immediate and extreme danger, but he sustained this shock with cheerfulness, and calmly gave the necessary orders on the event of his dissolution. Such is the character given of Dr. Ogden by his learned friend Dr. (afterwards bishop) Halifax, originally prefixed to an edition of his Sermons, with a Vindication of his Writings against some late Objections, 1780, 2 vols. 8vo. It seems to be fully confirmed by the testimony of very opposite sentiments, Mr. Cole, to whom we are so often indebted for memoranda of the eminent men of that university, and Mr. Gilbert Wakefield. The latter, who heard Dr. Ogden preach most of the discourses since published, says that "his person, manner, and character of composition, were exactly suited to each other. He exhibited a large black, scowling, grisly figure, a ponderous body with a lowering visage, embrowned by the horrors of a sable perriwig. His voice was growling and morose; and his sentences desultory, tart, and snappish." Mr. Wakefield adds that his "uncivilized appearance, and bluntness of demeanour, were the grand obstacles to his elevation in the church." The duke of Newcastle would have brought him to court to prefer him; but found, as he expressed it, that the doctor was not a "producible" man. In all these particulars Mr. Cole agrees, as in some other singularities. Mr. Cole informs us that Dr. Ogden's father had been in the army, and when he retired lived at Mansfield, where he married. Some time before his death he went to Mansfield, and put up a monument to his father, in gratitude for having given him a good education, as he expressed it, and left the bulk of his fortune to the family into which his father married. His Arabic books he left to Mr. Craven, of St. John's, the Arabic professor, who very disinterestedly refused the residuary legateship, which Dr. Ogden had long designed for him. Dr. Ogden's reputation as a divine rests on two small volumes of sermons, collected by Dr. Halifax, whose Vindication of them, above mentioned, respects the remarks of Mr. Mainwaring, in a Dissertation on the composition of sermons, prefixed to his own sermons, 1780, 8vo. Dr. Halifax's vindication is warm, zealous, and friendly, like his character of Dr. Ogden, but not altogether satisfactory as to the principle objections to the style of his author; and even if allowed to be elegant, Dr. Ogden's sermons are of very slight texture, and rather hortatory than instructive or doctrinal.