Joseph Priestley: Sermon

Scope and Content

'The Pleasure&Advantages of a good Conscience', a sermon on Acts xxiii.1, 12 folios. On p. 22 is the following list of occasions on which the sermon was preached: 'Leeds Nov. 17th 1771, Calne 1775; N[ew] M[eeting] B[irmingham] Aug. 1783'. At the end are a note from Swann Hurrell to Henry Bradshaw, 19 November 1883, and a copy in S. Hurrell's hand of the inscription upon the inkstand presented to J. Priestley in 1794 (printed in J.T. Rutt, ed., Works of Joseph Priestley, Vol. I, Pt. II, p. 225).

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was born at Fieldhead, Yorkshire, on 13 March 1733. He was educated at Batley Grammar School and at Heckmondwike, before entering Daventry Academy in 1751 to study for the presbyterian ministry. He became Minister at Nantwich, Cheshire, in 1758, and in 1761 was appointed Tutor in Languages and Belles-Lettres at Warrington Academy. He became Minister at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds, in 1767. Between 1772 and 1780 Priestley was the Librarian of the Earl of Shelburne. Thereafter, he was elected Junior Minister of the New Meeting, Birmingham, in 1780, and became the Morning Preacher at Gravel Pit, Hackney, in 1791. He emigrated to New York in 1794, and settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where he died on 6 February 1804. Priestley was a noted man of science, particularly in the field of chemistry, and carried out important work on oxygen.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Swann Hurrell, 1883.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Priestley in Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, Vol. XVI (London, 1909), pp. 357-376.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Custodial History

The sermon was passed on from Joseph Priestley to his granddaughter Irene Fitch (d. 1883), from whom it passed to her cousin Swann Hurrell.