Friday, March 13, 2015

Daniel Burgess: Tutor, Secretary, and Committed Presbyterian

Daniel Burgess was born to the noted Presbyterian minister, Daniel Burgess, and his wife, the former Mrs. Briscoe. Details of his early life, including his date of birth and early education, remain unclear. Nevertheless, due to his father’s reputation as a famous preacher it is likely Burgess was trained for the ministry, especially since Burgess appears to have added his signature to the nonconformists’ advice for peace at Salters’ Hall on 10 March 1719. By the time of the signing, Burgess had long been in the service of the house of Hanover possibly as an English reader to Electress Sophia. Burgess was also well established financially by 1713 even though he only received £20 in his father’s will. His father justified this paltry inheritance by stating that his son had “already had and received his portion and share and much more than any of the rest of my children can or will have” (Kilburn). In September 1714, Burgess was chosen to be the tutor and secretary of Princess Caroline, a role Burgess took seriously and would retain until around 1724. He was appalled by the poor state of the Caroline’s English and blamed his predecessor, Miss Crow, for Caroline’s lack of progress.
            In 1715, Burgess potentially authored the propaganda pamphlet, A letter to the bishop of Salisbury, occasion'd by his son's letter to the earl of Hallifax, by a good friend to the late ministers. At the time of publication, King George I’s coronation had caused a massive outbreak of “coronation riots,” which included the Sacheverell Riots, across England and led to the impeding impeachment of the earl of Oxford. The pamphlet strove to distinguish between the actions of the Sacheverellite mob and the earl and argued that the Treaty of Urtecht had guaranteed the protestant ascension King George. Due to the position of Burgess as secretary to the Princess of Wales, the propaganda could demonstrate a growing distance between the king and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
            One of the biggest moves of Burgess’s career occurred in 1713 when he managed to secure an annual £500 grant made from an allowance out of the Treasury for the widows of dissenting ministers. After discussing the notion with Charles, Viscount Townsend, the proposal made its way to Walpole and eventually the king who all agreed to accept. The grant was regularly transferred through Burgess to a secret committee made up of men such as Mr. William Tong, Mr. Jeremy Smith, Mr. Merril of Hampstead, Mr. Thomas Reynolds, Mr. Matthew Clarke, Dr. Joshua Oldfield, Mr. John Evans, Mr. William Harries, and Edmund Calamy, who in turn transferred the money to the widows or poor ministers. Walpole and subsequent governments used the award to their advantage by exerting influence over Presbyterian ministers who held seats they found hard to win come election. In at least one election, 1733, Burgess used his personal influence over Presbyterian congregations in favor of Walpole’s interests.
            By 1727, Burgess had become a pensioner of Princess Caroline. He remained in London in 1733, staying in an apartment in Somerset House, and was a shareholder of the fire office in Bristol. On 11 February 1747, Burgess the younger passed away and left behind one known daughter, Katherine. Little is known of the wife of Burgess except that she was potentially the sister of a Sarah Morris who received £10 in his will. Upon his death, Burgess left around £1450: £200 in legacies that went to his family and members of the household and the remaining £1250 in various stocks.  


Calamy, Edmund. An historical account of my own life, with some reflections on the times that I lived. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1829.

'House of Lords Journal Volume 20: 2 August 1715,' in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 20, 1714-1717 (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1767-1830), 136-144, accessed March 10, 2015,

Kilburn, Matthew. “Burgess, Daniel (d. 1747).” Matthew Kilburn In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, October 2009. (accessed March 13, 2015).

Monod, Paul Kleber. Jacobitism and the English People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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