Annet, English deist, is said to have been born at Liverpool. A
schoolmaster by profession, he became prominent owing to his attacks
on orthodox theologians, as well as for his membership of a semi-theological
debating society, the Robin Hood Society, which met at the Robin
Hood and Little John at Butcher Row. Annet was very hostile to the
clergy and to scripture, being a thoroughgoing deist in every way.
distinguished himself by being extremely critical of the character
and reputation of King David and the Apostle Paul. In 1739 he
wrote and published a pamphlet, Judging for Ourselves, or Freethinking
the Great Duty of Religion, a strong criticism of Christianity.
For writing this and similar pamphlets, he lost his teaching position.
him has also been attributed a work called A History of the Man
after God's own Heart (1761). King George II was insulted by a
current comparison with King David. The book is said to have inspired
Voltaire's Saul. It is also attributed to one John Noorthouck
1763 he was condemned for blasphemous libel in his paper called
the Free Inquirer. After his release he kept a small school in
Lambeth, one of his pupils being James Stephen (1758-1832), who
became master in Chancery. At age 68, Annet was sentenced to the
pillory and a year's hard labor. He died on the 18th of January
the Christian apologists substituted for the argument from miracles
the argument from personal witness and the credibility of Biblical
evidence, Annet, in his Resurrection of Jesus (1744), assailed
the validity of such evidence, and first advanced the hypothesis
of the illusory death of Jesus, suggesting also that possibly
Paul should be regarded as the founder of a new religion. In Supernaturals
Examined (1747) Annet roundly denies the possibility of miracles.
stands between the earlier philosophic deists and the later propagandists
Paine's school, and seems go have been the first freethought
lecturer (J. M. Robertson); his essays, A Collection of the Tracts
of a certain Free Enquirer, are forcible but lack refinement.
He invented a system of shorthand (2nd ed., with a copy of verses
by Joseph Priestley).