Dr East Apthorp (1733-1816) wrote a riposte to Edward Gibbon entitled Letters on the Prevalence of Christianity, before its Civil Establishment, with Observations on a late History of the Decline of the Roman Empire (London, J Robson,1778). In his Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, (1776-1788), Gibbon had been scathing about some aspects of the early Church, and was regarded as an enemy to Christianity. Apthorp dedicated his work to Dr Backhouse, Archdeacon of Canterbury. Apthorp was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but being a royalist, was uncomfortable in revolutionary America and moved to England, where he was Vicar of Croydon for 28 years. His defence of Christianity was appreciated by the Church of England, and Archbishop Cornwallis presented him with three livings in London; he resigned these preferments in 1793 when Dr Porteus, Bishop of London, granted him the rich prebend of Finsbury. He retired to Cambridge, and is buried in Jesus College Chapel.