Andrew Gifford, D.D., was born in Bristol, England, Aug. 17, 1700. He was converted in his boyhood, and baptized in his fifteenth year. At the academy where he was educated there were some students who became noted men afterwards; and among these was Dr. Secker, who became archbishop of Canterbury.
Mr. Gifford, perhaps about his twenty-fifth year, became assistant minister to the Rev. George Eaton, of Nottingham. He subsequently sustained for two years the same relation to the Rev. Bernard Foskett, of Bristol. On Feb. 5, 1729, he became pastor of the church meeting in Little Wild Street, London. There was a division in Mr. Gifford’s community in 1736, which led to the formation of a new church by the pastor and a majority of the members. Mr. Gifford and his friends erected a new meeting-house in Eagle Street, Red Lion Square, which was dedicated Feb. 20, 1737. During the ministry of Mr. Gifford this house was twice enlarged to accommodate the ever-increasing congregations.
Mr. Gifford early became celebrated for his acquaintance with and appreciation of ancient manuscripts and coins. His collection of rare coins was the most valuable in Great Britain; it attracted the attention of George II., who purchased it for his own cabinet. He became a recognized authority of national reputation upon subjects of this character. He was, of course, a member of the Antiquarian Society.
During a visit to Edinburgh he was honored with the freedom of that ancient city. In 1754 the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Marischal College, Aberdeen, In 1757 he was appointed assistant librarian of the British Museum. His personal friends, Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, Archbishop Herring, Speaker Onslow, and Sir Richard Ellys, procured him this important position. He did not permit the duties of his place in the Museum to interfere with his pastoral labors. He had in his new station the best opportunity conceivable for increasing his vast knowledge, and adding to the list of his distinguished friends. The Marquis of Lothian, the Earl of Halifax, Lord Dartmouth, Lord Buchan, and others of the nobility were occasionally seen in the congregation of Dr. Gifford.
He was a zealous Baptist, and he permitted no aristocratic associations to turn him from the teachings of the New Testament. He was a firm Calvinist, and on all proper occasions proclaimed the doctrines of grace. He was a warm friend of George Whitefield and the Countess of Huntingdon, and gloried in seeing souls brought to Jesus. He died June 19, 1784.
Dr. Gifford bequeathed his library, pictures, and manuscripts, with a vast collection of curiosities, to the Bristol Baptist College. In the library and museum of that institution these valuable gifts are still to be seen; and no doubt they will long continue to impart instruction to the living, and to increase veneration for the learned and saintly donor, whose pictures and bequests claim their admiration.
[William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988, p. 451. - jrd]
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