[John Corrie, dissenting minister of Woodville, Birmingham.] Manuscript 'Biographical Sketch of John Corrie Esq.' by his widow, in the autograph of their daughter S. E. Hill, and with an Autograph Letter Signed by her filled with further information.
Corrie was the son of Rev. Josiah Corrie (1725-1800) of Kenilworth. He was educated at Daventry Academy and New College, Hackney. He was a schoolmaster and a Unitarian minister at the Old Meeting House (1817-19), and president of the Birmingham Philosophical Society, to which, in 1819, he introduced Maria Edgeworth, who notes in a letter her admiration for his 'very agreeable benevolent countenance, most agreeable voice'. In William Field's memoir of Dr Samuel Parr he is numbered among the 'clerical friends' in whose company Parr 'delighted'. He published at least six works, of which the first, 'An apology for the diversity of religious sentiments and for theological enquiries', was printed in Birmingham for a London bookseller in 1802. The last, 'Remarks on the bill for the more effectual relief of the destitute poor in Ireland'(1837), reflects Corrie's position as an Irish Poor Law commissioner, a post to which he was appointed, as the present memoir explains, through the efforts 'the present Lord Hatherton who had for many years been one of his most valuable friends'. The present item, entirely in Mrs Hill's hand, is 15pp., 4to, of which the memoir covers 11pp. and the letter 4pp. On 8 bifoliums. In very good condition, on lightly-aged paper. The letter, filled with extra biographical information, is on the last two leaves of the document. It is addressed from ' Rectory | Wedy. night', to her cousin Owen (son of her half-brother Josiah), and is signed 'S. E. Hill'. She explains that 'when I found the manuscript I thought I wd. rather keep the last copy of the Memoir which my dear Mother had looked over - & make another copy for your acceptance [...] My Mother dreaded the slightest appearance of herself forward - & even was reluctant to bring forward much of my Father's private life. So she has never alluded [in the memoir] to his second marriage - or more than alluded to the death of the first Mrs. Corrie - in 1804. She was a Miss Mary Read - a very clever & pretty woman as I have heard - her relations lived in Kidderminster, & my Mother was intimate with her.' (Regarding Corrie's two marriages, the memoir only states that his 'useful & honourable labours [...] were unhappily interrupted in the spring of 1804 - when a fatal event plunged him into the deepest distress'.) Further biographical information follows, including the following, which indicates Corrie's position within Birmingham's intellectual milieu: 'The friends to whom the removal to Woodville introduced my Father - some of them at least - were Mr. Watt - son of the great Mr. Watt (whom also my Father knew for the last years of his life - he died at Handsworth in 1816. -) Mr. Boulton - Mr. Galton - about whom we had some talk at West Gate lately - who lived at Duddeston near Birmingham & had scientific meetings there - Mr. Moilliet, too - the grandfather of the first Mr. Biggs was a valued friend. - And Dr. Parr - who lived at Hatton the latter years of his life - asked my Father often to visit him - & wrote to a Mr. Parkes, whom we knew - "how cruel was Fate in making Corrie a dissenting Minister he might have been a great credit to the Church of England". Colonel D'Aguilar was one of the "old pupils" who welcomed my Father affectionately in Dublin - another was Captain Brown - Mrs. Heman's brother. And we learned after my Father's death that Dr. Whately Abp. of Dublin - thought very highly of him.' She gives the location of her father's death before concluding with personal comments, including: 'Uncle Corrie was very much pleased with the Memoir which of course my Mother sent him - first - it was finished only a few months before his death & she was so gratified by his approval.' The memoir itself is on the first six leaves, and is headed: 'Biographical Sketch of John Corrie Esq. | 1841. | (By his widow)'. It begins: 'The high moral & intellectual excellence which distinguished the late Mr. Corrie - seem to claim some tribute to his memory - & his friends are anxious that such tribute should be paid. But a life like his, spent chiefly in retirement & almost un-marked by incident - affords few materials for biography.' Corrie's life is sketched out over the first seven pages, with the last part of the document consisting of an assessment of his character. Regarding the friends described in her daughter's letter Mrs Corrie writes: 'The removal to Woodville had a favourable influence on Mr Corrie's future life. It introduced him to new & excellent friends - whose kindness never varied, whose superiority he was well qualified to appreciate, and whose vicinity afforded means of frequent intercourse. To the same friends he was indebted for another privilege which he always valued highly, that of introduction to men of science & literature who visited the neighbourhood.' During her description of her husband's time (1833-1836) as an Irish Poor Law Commissioner, she reflects: 'Except for the separation from his family (which circumstances rendered unavoidable) the two years spent by Mr. Corrie in Dublin would have been years of peculiar enjoyment. In common with his fellow commissioners he had the sanguine hope of doing good - not merely to individuals but to a nation.'