Adoniram Byfield, A. M.—This pious divine was the son of Mr. Nicholas Byfield, another worthy puritan, and educated in Emanuel college, Cambridge. In the year 1642 he became chaplain to Sir Henry Colmly's regiment, in the parliament's army; and the year following was appointed scribe to the assembly of divines, being, according to Wood, "a most zealous covenanter."| Upon the first publication of the Directory, by order of the parliament, the profits arising from the sale of it were bestowed upon Mr. Byfield and Mr. Henry Roborough, the other scribe, who sold the copy, it is said, for several hundred pounds.» In the year 1646, when the " Confession of Faith" was drawn up by the assembly of divines, Mr. Byfield, Mr. Thomas Wilson, and Mr. Stanley Gower, were appointed to collect proofs of the various articles from scripture; all of which, upon the examination of the assembly, were inserted in the margin; and the year following, when it was printed, Mr. By field, by order of the house of commons, delivered a copy to each member of the house.*
* Prynnc's Cant. Doome, p. 151.
+ Mather's Hist, of Nfw England, b. iii. p. 2I7, 218.
t Athene Oxoo. vol. ii. p. 2S9.
S Fuller'. Church Hist. b. xi. p.£22.
He was rector of Fulham in Middlesex; and after the wars, he became rector of Collingborn-Ducis in Wiltshire. Upon his removal to the latter situation, he was nominated assistant to the commissioners in that county for ejecting ignorant and scandalous ministers. In this capacity he was not likely to escape the bitter censures of Dr. Walker; who endeavours to prove, that in the examination of Mr. Bushnell, he was not only too officious, but guilty of some illegal proceeding. The charges are supported, however, by very slender evidence, or rather no evidence at all.i Mr. Byfield is one of those few writers, says Granger, who have, by name, been stigmatized by Butler, in his " Hudibras." This may be true, and he might be, as he was in truth, a very pious, excellent, and useful divine. He observes, that Mr. Byfield was said to have been a broken apothecary; that he was of special note; and a very active zealot in the busy and boisterous reign of Charles I.; and then adds, that his portrait was published, "with a windmill on his head, and the devil blowing the sails."J The best of men have, in all ages, suffered the vile reproaches of the wicked, who frequently account them "the offscouring of all things." Mr. Byfield, with two or three others, assisted Dr. Chambers in compiling his "Apology for the Ministers of the County of Wiltshire," 1654. He died in the year 1660.^ Mr. Isaac Knight, his successor at Fulham, and Mr. Daniel Burgess, his successor at Collingborn, were both ejected nonconformists in 1662.| |