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Crossman, Samuel (bap. 1625, d. 1684), Church of England clergyman, was baptized at Bradfield St George, Suffolk, on 28 September 1625, the son of Samuel Crossman (b. before 1600, d. after 1661), vicar of Bradfield St George, and his wife, Mary, daughter of Charles Willoughby of Bradfield St George. On 27 January 1642, aged sixteen, Crossman was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge. He graduated BA in 1645, proceeding MA in 1651. As both Samuel and his father were clergymen it is difficult to determine who served which cure. It seems likely that Samuel senior served at Bradfield St George until 1644 and then at Bradfield St Clare until his ejection in 1661, and that following ordination on 28 June 1647 by the seventh London classis Crossman himself became vicar of All Saints, Sudbury, Suffolk, pastor of a congregational church at Sudbury, and then rector of Dalham, Suffolk, and Little Henny, Essex. By September 1647, when a son, also Samuel, was baptized at Sudbury All Saints, Crossman had married his wife, Grace (d. in or after 1657). Crossman had five children in all, two sons and a daughter surviving him. He served as assistant to the Suffolk commission in December 1657 and was summoned to the Savoy conference in 1658. He was made BD in 1660.

Crossman was ejected in 1662 and subsequently, on 2 November 1662, he was imprisoned for preaching. Crossman's first publication, The Young Man's Monitor, was published in 1664. It is not known when Crossman decided to conform to the Church of England, but he was episcopally ordained deacon and priest at Norwich on 28 October 1665 as curate of St Gregory's and St Peter's, Sudbury. He became a chaplain to the king and on 19 December 1667 he became a prebendary of Bristol. On 30 December 1667 he was appointed vicar of St Nicholas's, Bristol. Crossman may well have been a controversial figure in Bristol, with its high concentration of dissenters. On 8 August 1677 he was cited in the consistory court and admonished for failure to read prayers according to canons. He then protested vigorously at his treatment in a statement of 12 September 1677, in which he complained of Bishop Carleton's treatment of him, particularly his praying for the corporation before the clergy, and his fears of being suspended. Among other good works he mentioned his tenure as treasurer, in which he claimed to have turned round the accounts, and he noted specifically his conformity in performing the liturgy. Many of Crossman's letters to Archbishop Sancroft dwelt on his difficulties with Bristol corporation's dissenting members. Perhaps it was these difficult circumstances which prompted him to solicit Sancroft for an Irish prebend in February 1678.

Carleton's death and the revelations of the Popish Plot transformed the situation in Bristol. Crossman was a believer of the plot and was instrumental in ensuring that Justice North was taken to hear William Bedloe's deathbed affirmation of his evidence. Crossman's sermons of this time seem to preach unity, such as that of 5 February 1682, A Humble Plea for the Quiet Rest of God's Ark. Crossman continued to write more devotional volumes: The Young Man's Calling (1678) was ‘a mixture of a treatise on godly living, uplifting tales and religious verse’ (Green, 440). Crossman was appointed dean of Bristol on 24 May 1683 and died there on 4 February 1684. He was buried in Bristol Cathedral. A few days before his death he penned The Last Testimony, and Declaration of the Reverend Samuel Crossman DD, which was dated 26 January 1683 (that is, 1684 NS) and was published with a preface from the tory civic leader and future MP, Sir John Knight, who wrote ‘it was this gentleman's lot … to fall under the lash and scandal of several reproaches: wherein he was so solicitous to clear himself’. In his testimony Crossman praised Charles II for his ‘most admired conduct of the government for our common good’, and referred to ‘whatever bold insolencies have been lately animated by some to the affronting the true line of succession’ (Crossman). Some of his contemporaries were not inclined to be charitable, the chancellor of the diocese, Henry Jones, telling Archbishop Sancroft, ‘Mr Crossman, our new Deane dyed this morning: a man lamented by few either of the citie or neighbourhood. He hath left a debt upon our Church of 300l’ (Bodl. Oxf., MS Tanner 129, fol. 70, cited in Calamy rev., 150).

In his will Crossman referred to his ‘present wife Catherine’, his sons Samuel and James, and his daughter Sarah, whom he appointed executor. At least two of Crossman's poems later became Anglican hymns. His widow may have survived until 1717 when the will of Catherine Crossman of Bristol, widow, was proved.

Stuart Handley


Venn, Alum. Cant. · Calamy rev. · Fasti Angl., 1541–1857 [Bristol] · IGI [parish registers of Bradfield St George, Suffolk] · J. Barry, ‘The politics of religion in Restoration Bristol’, The politics of religion in Restoration England, ed. T. Harris, R. Seaward, and M. Goldie (1990), 163–89 · CSP dom., 1677–8 · S. Crossman, The last testimony, and declaration of the Reverend Samuel Crossman DD [1684] · I. Green, Print and protestantism in early modern England (2000) · Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum … Thomae Tanner, ed. A. Hackman (1860), 889 · B. Willis, A survey of the cathedrals, 2 vols. (1742) · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/558, fols. 32–3 [Catherine Crossman, second wife?]


Bodl. Oxf., Tanner MSS, letters