THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ANNET, PETER (1693-1769), English deist, is said to have been born at Liverpool. A schoolmaster by profession, he became prominent owing to his attacks on orthodox theologians, and his membership of a semi-theological debating society, the Robin Hood Society, which met at the “Robin Hood and Little John” in Butcher Row. To him has been attributed a work called A History of the Man after God’s own Heart (1761), intended to show that George II. was insulted by a current comparison with David. The book is said to have inspired Voltaire’s Saul. It is also attributed to one John Noorthouck (Noorthook). In 1763 he was condemned for blasphemous libel in his paper called the Free Enquirer (nine numbers only). After his release he kept a small school in Lambeth, one of his pupils being James Stephen (1758-1832), who became master in Chancery. Annet died on the 18th of January 1769. He stands between the earlier philosophic deists and the later propagandists of Paine’s school, and “seems to have been the first freethought lecturer” (J.M. Robertson); his essays (A Collection of the Tracts of a certain Free Enquirer, 1739-1745) are forcible but lack refinement. He invented a system of shorthand (2nd ed., with a copy of verses by Joseph Priestley).
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