George Dyer

George Dyer (1755-1841) was educated at Christ’s Hospital, London, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he graduated with a B.A. in 1778. After spending several years (1779-85) as a Baptist tutor (both for Robert Robinson at Cambridge and at J. C. Ryland’s academy at Northampton) and as a Particular Baptist minister in Oxford (1781-82), Dyer became a Unitarian.  A final attempt at the ministry, this time as an assistant to John Prior Estlin in the Unitarian chapel at Lewin’s Mead, Bristol, failed to materialize in 1791, after which Dyer removed to London, employing himself in various kinds of literary labors the rest of his life.  A gentle but eccentric scholar who composed a considerable amount of poetry (much to the chagrin of his friends Charles Lamb, S. T. Coleridge, and Robert Southey), Dyer nevertheless produced some noteworthy writings, especially his early political works-Inquiry into the nature of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles (1789); The Complaints of the Poor People of England (1793); Dissertation on Theory and Practice of Benevolence (1795); Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Robert Robinson (1796); and of special interest to Flower during his imprisonment, An Address to the People of Great Britain on the Doctrine of Libel (1799). Dyer came to know Mary and Elizabeth Hays in 1792 through their friendship with Robert Robinson’s daughters, Mary and Ann. He also introduced Hays to William Frend that year, and may have been instrumental in bringing the two sisters into a circle of Unitarian ministers that included John Disney, Theophilus Lindsey, Hugh Worthington, and John Evans, all of whom corresponded with Mary Hays between 1792 and 1794. These letters, the majority of which are by Dyer (his letters continue into 1797), can now be found in the Mary Hays collection at Dr Williams’s Library and in the Hays collection in the Pforzheimer Collection, New York Public Library. Dyer also mentions Elizabeth Hays in his undated (c. 1806) letter to the Messrs Vernor and Hood about some writing she had sent Dyer for publication in the Lady’s Monthly Museum.