(The). Preached in St. Katharine Cree church Leadenhall-street, London, in October, to commemorate “the wonderful escape” of Sir John Gayer, about 250 years ago, from a lion which he met with on being shipwrecked on the coast of Africa. Sir John was Lord Mayor in 1647.
Sir John Gayer bequeathed 200 for the relief of the poor on condition that a commemorative sermon was preached annually at St. Katharine Cree. It is said that Sir John was on his knees in prayer when the lion came up, smelt about him, prowled round and round him, and then stalked off.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894