Peckwell, Henry

Evangelical clergyman, the son of a Chichester gentleman of the same name. While apprenticed to a city silk merchant, he came under the influence of Whitefield's Tabernacle in London. He attended St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford, where he matriculated in 1770. Following ordination, he attracted the attention of the Countess of Huntingdon, who made him one of her chaplains. He was presented to the rectory of Bloxham-cum-Digby, Lincs, in 1776 and was present there in 1779 when listed as a subscriber to Middleton's Biographia Evangelica. He also acted as chaplain to the Dowager Marchioness of Lothian. His preaching in prominent pulpits in London in the 1780s was widely appreciated by Henry Venn and other evangelicals.

When excluded from pulpits in his home town of Chichester, he acquired a house from his father and converted it into a place of worship, opened in 1774. He preached here and elsewhere in Sussex chapels connected with Lady Huntingdon. He also had a house in London which he used as a base for his evangelical preaching at the Westminster chapel of the Connexion built for him, and elsewhere. Lady Huntingdon offered him the superintendency of her college at Trevecca in 1772, which he declined.In 1784 he founded an institution called the Sick Man's Friend Society, for relieving the sick poor of all denominations, for which he preached numerous charity sermons. With a self-taught interest in medicine, his curiosity led to his death through a wound to his hand while engaged in a post-mortem examination on the body of a woman in Westminster. He died in August 1787.

His published works include a collection of hymns with an interest in children (1777) and other hymns arising from his work with the Sick Man's Friend Society. He also wrote anonymously as a 'Friend to Civil and Religious Liberty' on the effects of persecution and bigotry among Christian worshippers (1786).

  • Oxford DNB