Frend, William

William Frend (1757-1841) began his studies at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1776 and after his graduation in 1780 became a fellow at Jesus College, teaching mathematics and philosophy. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1783 and served two parishes near Cambridge (Long Stanton and Madingley) during his tenure at Jesus College. As he developed friendships with Robert Robinson, George Dyer, and Robert Tyrwhitt in Cambridge in the 1780s (he and Dyer attended regularly at Robinson's Baptist congregation in St. Andrews's Street), Frend's orthodoxy gave way to Unitarianism and his politics embraced many of the radical tenets of reform. He resigned his livings in the two parishes near Cambridge in 1787 and in 1788 acknowledged his adherence to Unitarian doctrine in An Address to the Inhabitants of Cambridge. He followed that work with another bold pamphlet, Thoughts on Subscription to Religious Tests (1788), a work that cost him his tutorship at Jesus College but not his fellowship. He soon became friends with two of the leading Unitarians at that time, Theophilus Lindsey and Joseph Priestley. With the publication in February 1793 of Peace and Union Recommended to the Associated Bodies of Republicans and Anti-Republicans, Frend's heterodoxy could no longer be winked at by the authorities at Cambridge. He was tried by the university in May 1794 and was banished for his offenses, his expulsion from Jesus implemented that September (he still retained his fellowship at Cambridge, not relinquishing it until his marriage in 1808).  Frend published a defense of his actions in An Account of the Proceedings in the University of Cambridge Against William Frend (1793) and A Sequel to the Account (1795), by the time of the latter publication having removed from Cambridge to London, where he would eventually establish himself in the insurance business. He continued his participation in radical politics the remainder of the decade, publishing On the Scarcity of Bread (1795) about the time of his affair with Mary Hays, though they had begun a friendship through correspondence in 1792. Their affair was over by January 1796, about the time he began publishing an important work, his Principles of Algebra (1796-99).  He became an actuary at the Rock Life Assurance Company in 1806, and two years later (much to the dismay of Mary Hays) married Sara Blackburne, daughter of Francis Blackburne of Brignall and granddaughter of Archdeacon Francis Blackburne. He contributed many articles to the Monthly Repository and espoused progressive ideas about education in his Plan of Universal Education (1832) and his support of the Reform Bill. He died at his home in Tavistock Square in February 1841, just prior to the death of his long-time friend, George Dyer. Though Hays made much of her correspondence with and attachment to Frend in 1795 in her novel, Emma Courtney (1796), recently recovered portions of Eliza Fenwick's correspondence and passages in previously unseen diaries by Henry Crabb Robinson reveal that their relationship did not end at that time, but was renewed on several occasions through 1806, when it appears to have finally come to an end. Thus, Hays's bitterness over his marriage in 1808 was not the result of a bad ending to her affair in 1795 but rather the result of an on-again, off-again relationship for more than a decade that, for some reason, could never reach the fruition she so desired. 


Image: National Portrait Gallery, London