Byrth, Thomas (DNB00)


BYRTH, THOMAS, D.D. (1793–1849), scholar and divine, was the son of John Byrth, of Irish descent, who married Mary Hobling, a member of an old Cornish family. He was born at Plymouth Dock (now called Devonport) on 11 Sept. 1793, and received his early education in that town and at Launceston, under Richard Cope, LL.D. For five years (1809–14) he served his apprenticeship to the Cookworthys, well-known chemists and druggists in the west of England, and during that period started, with other young men, the ‘Plymouth Magazine,’ which expired with its sixth number on 19 Nov. 1814. After this he passed some years as a schoolmaster, but in 1818 he matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. Hitherto he had been in sympathy with the Society of Friends, but on 21 Oct. 1819 he was baptised into the church of England at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth. He took his degrees of B.A. and M.A. in the spring of 1826, and was ordained to the curacy of Diptford, near Totnes, in April 1823, remaining there until 1825. After that he was at Oxford as a tutor, but this occupation ceased in 1827, when he became the incumbent of St. James, Latchford, near Warrington. In 1834 he was appointed to the more important and more lucrative rectory of Wallasey in Cheshire, where he died on Sunday night, 28 Oct. 1849, having preached two sermons that day. Dr. Byrth—he became B.D. on 17 Oct. 1839 and took his degree of D.D. two days later—was an evangelical in religion and a whig in politics. His scholarship was thorough, and he was possessed of poetic taste and antiquarian enthusiasm. He published many sermons and addresses, and was engaged in controversy with the Rev. J. H. Thom on the unitarian interpretation of the New Testament. In 1848 he edited the sermons of the Rev. Thomas Tattershall, D.D., incumbent of St. Augustine's Church, Liverpool, and prefixed to them a memoir of the author. His own ‘Remains,’ with a memoir by the Rev. G. R. Moncreiff, were published in 1851, and a sermon on his death, preached by the Rev. John Tobin in St. John's Church, Liscard, on 4 Nov. 1849, was published in the same year. He married on 19 June 1827 Mary Kingdom, eldest daughter of Dr. Stewart, and after Byrth's death a sum of 4,000l. was collected for the widow and their seven children. She died 20 Feb. 1879, aged 80. The west window in the present Wallasey Church is filled with stained glass in memory of Byrth.

[Memoir by Rev. G. R. Moncreiff; Gent. Mag. (March 1850), p. 324; Ormerod's Cheshire (new ed.), ii. 478.]

W. P. C.