Open main menu

CROMWELL, THOMAS [KITSON] (1792–1870), dissenting minister, was born on 14 Dec. 1792, and at an early age entered the literary department of Messrs. Longmans, the publishers. He commenced authorship in 1816 with a small volume of verse, ‘The School-Boy, with other Poems,’ which was four years afterwards followed by a few privately printed copies of ‘Honour; or, Arrivals from College: a Comedy.’ The play had been produced at Drury Lane on 17 April 1819, and was twice repeated (Genest, Hist. of the Stage, viii. 688). A more ambitious undertaking was ‘Oliver Cromwell and his Times,’ 8vo, London, 1821 (2nd ed. 1822), which is described by Carlyle (Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, 2nd ed. ii. 161 n.) as ‘of a vaporous, gesticulative, dull-aërial, still more insignificant character, and contains nothing that is not common elsewhere.’ A second drama, ‘The Druid: a Tragedy,’ 1832, was never acted.

Although originally a member of the church of England, of which his elder brother was a clergyman, Cromwell connected himself about 1830 with the unitarian body, and, being subsequently ordained, became in 1839 minister of the old chapel on Stoke Newington Green, where he officiated for twenty-five years. He also held during the greater part of his ministry the somewhat incompatible office of clerk to the local board of Clerkenwell, from which he retired with a pension. In 1864 he resigned the pulpit at Stoke Newington, and soon afterwards took charge of the old presbyterian congregation at Canterbury, over which he presided till his death on 22 Dec. 1870. He was buried on the 28th of that month in the little cemetery adjoining the chapel. During the last two years of his life he had acted as honorary secretary of the Birmingham Education League. By his wife, the daughter of Richard Carpenter, J.P. and D.L. for Middlesex, he had no issue.

Cromwell bore the character of a respectable antiquary, and of a man of much literary information. In December 1838 he became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a few years previous to his death accepted the doubtful honour of an Erlangen degree, that of Ph.D. He was also a master of arts, but of what university is not stated. His industry was incessant. Besides contributions to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ ‘Chambers's Journal,’ and other periodicals, he supplied the letterpress for the four volumes of Storer's ‘Cathedral Churches of Great Britain,’ 4to, London, 1814–19, as also for ‘Excursions through England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland,’ a series of pretty views published in numbers, 8vo and 12mo, London, 1818–[22]. His other works are: 1. ‘History and Description of the ancient Town and Borough of Colchester,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1825. 2. ‘History and Description of the parish of Clerkenwell,’ 8vo, London, 1828. 3. ‘Walks through Islington,’ 8vo, London, 1835. 4. ‘The Soul and the Future Life,’ 8vo, London, 1859, an attempt to revive the materialist theories of Dr. Priestley.

[Inquirer, 31 Dec. 1870, p. 852, 7 Jan. 1871, p. 13, 14 Jan. 1871, p. 28; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. ix. 198, 267, 347; Lewis's Hist. of Islington, p. 319.]

G. G.