Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gooch, Thomas

GOOCH, Sir THOMAS, D.D. (1674–1754), bishop of Ely, was the son of Thomas Gooch of Yarmouth, by Frances, daughter of Thomas Lone of Worlingham, Suffolk, where he was born 9 Jan. 1674. He entered Caius College, Cambridge, in 1691, and graduated B.A. in 1694, and M.A. in 1698. He was elected to a fellowship 9 July 1698, and seems to have resided and held various lectureships and college offices for some years. His first step of ecclesiastical promotion was his appointment as domestic chaplain to Henry Compton [q. v.], bishop of London, whose funeral sermon he preached at St. Paul's (1713). He was then successively chaplain in ordinary to Queen Anne; rector of St. Clement's, Eastcheap, and St. Martin Orgar's; archdeacon of Essex (1714–37); canon residentiary of Chichester (1719); lecturer at Gray's Inn; canon of Canterbury (1730–8); master of Caius College (from 29 Nov. 1716 to his death); vice-chancellor in 1717, when, owing partly to his exertions, the senate house was built; bishop of Bristol (12 June 1737), ‘where he stayed so short. a time as never to have visited his diocese’ (Cole); bishop of Norwich (17 Oct. 1738), ‘where he repaired and beautified the palace at a very great expense;’ bishop of Ely (January 1747–1748) to his death (14 Feb. 1753–4).

He succeeded to the baronetcy at the death of his brother William, governor of Virginia, in 1751; ‘although the bishop was the elder brother (it being most probably thought of by him), yet he was also put into the patent to succeed to the title in case the governor [i.e. his brother] should die without male issue’ (Cole).

He was three times married: first to Mary, daughter of Dr. William Sherlock, dean of St. Paul's, afterwards bishop of Salisbury; by her he had one son, Sir Thomas Gooch (1720–1781) of Benacre, Suffolk, who inherited a very large fortune from his maternal grandfather; secondly to Hannah, daughter of Sir John Miller of Lavant, Sussex, bart., by whom he had also one son, John; thirdly, when in his seventy-fifth year, to Mary, daughter of Hatton Compton, esq., great-granddaughter of Spencer Compton, second earl of Northampton [q. v.], and great-niece of Henry Compton, bishop of London [q. v.]

He was in many ways a typical bishop of the last century: courteous, dignified, and charitable in his conduct; attentive to the official work of his diocese, as well as to his parliamentary duties to his party. Cole (whose narrative must of course be received with caution) has a number of amusing anecdotes illustrative of Gooch's adroitness in his own personal advancement, and pertinacity in securing abundant preferment for his younger son. These characteristics are not borne out by his extant correspondence. It may also be remarked that a certain story, still repeated in combination rooms, of the device by which the master of Caius allowed a college living to lapse to the Bishop of Norwich (at a time when he held both offices), the result being the appointment of John Gooch, is not true. Cole sums up his character as follows: ‘He was of a kind and generous disposition … as I have hinted that he was a man of as great art, craft, and cunning as any in the age he lived in, so I must bear my testimony that he was as much of a gentleman in his outward appearance, carriage, and behaviour.’

He died at Ely House, Holborn, 14 Feb. 1753–4, but was buried at Cambridge in the college chapel, where there is a monument to him. There are portraits in the college lodge, in the university library. A third, by Heins, is at Benacre Hall, and a fourth, by Bardwell, is in the possession of Mr. A. Hartshorne. He is only known as an author by the publication of three sermons.

[Cole's MSS., Brit. Mus.; College Records; notes kindly supplied by Albert Hartshorne, esq., from Gooch's manuscripts in his possession.]

J. V.