Berridge, John

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Evangelical clergyman, born on 1 March 1717 (NS) at Kingston-on-Soar, Notts. He graduated from Clare College, Cambridge in 1739 and was elected a fellow in 1740, continuing in residence until 1757. He was ordained in 1745, serving the parish of Stapleford, Cambs. from 1750 to 1755, then Everton, Beds. until his death. He had an experience of spiritual rebirth in 1757 and after his first meeting with John Wesley in 1758, became more evangelical and made his parish the centre of an itinerant ministry in the East Midlands. Later, under the influence of George Whitefield and Lady Huntingdon, he became a Calvinist (expounded in The Christian World Unmasked (1773)and attacked Wesley's theology. With the support of Lady Huntingdon he was appointed chaplain to the earl of Buchan. He preached frequently at Whitefield's Tottenham Court Road Tabernacle.

He has been described as 'academically brilliant' and 'more eccentric' than William Grimshaw. Wesley described him in 1759 as 'one of the most simple as well as most sensible men of all whom it has pleased God to employ in reviving primitive Christianity'; but protested at his alterations to his own and Charles Wesley's hymns in his Collection of Divine Songs (1760). Berridge included few of them in his later collection Sion's Songs or Hymns (1785). His Cheerful Piety; or Religion without Gloom (1792) was frequently reprinted. Elizabeth Hurrell was one of his converts. He became increasingly asthmatic and died at Everton on 22 January 1793. Charles Simeon preached his funeral sermon.

  • Memoir in his Works, ed. Richard Whittingham (1838)
  • J.C. Ryle, The Christian Leaders of the Last Century (1869)
  • R. Butterworth, 'The Rev. John Berridge and his Hymn-book, 1760 and 1785' in WHS Proceedings, 11 pp.169-74
  • Charles Smyth, Simeon and Church Order (1940) pp.149-200
  • A.W. Harrison, The Evangelical Revival and Christian Reunion (1942) pp121-3
  • Nigel R. Pibworth, The Gospel Pedlar: the Story of John Berridge and the Eighteenth-Century Revival Welwyn, 1987)
  • A. Brown-Lawson, John Wesley and the Anglican Evangelicals of the Eighteenth Century (Bishop Auckland, 1994) pp.63-70
  • Nigel R. Pibworth, The Letters of John Berridge of Everton: a Singular Spirituality (2015)
  • Oxford DNB