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

KNOWLES, THOMAS, D.D. (1723–1802), divine, born at Ely in 1723, was son of one of the vergers and master of the works of Ely Cathedral. He received his education in Ely grammar school and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1743 and M.A. in 1747. He was elected a fellow of his college on 2 March 1748–9. On 10 Jan. 1748 he was instituted to the rectories of Ickworth and Chedburgh, Suffolk. He was also chaplain to Lady Hervey, baroness dowager of Ickworth. In 1752 he had a dispensation to hold with Ickworth the living of Feversham, Cambridgeshire. He was made D.D. by Archbishop Secker in 1753. From about 1771 till his death he was lecturer of St. Mary's, Bury, and on 10 Oct. 1779 he was collated to a prebend at Ely (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 362). In 1791 he became rector of Winston, Suffolk. He died on 6 Oct. 1802, and was buried in his church of Chedburgh. One of his daughters married Benjamin Underwood, rector of Great Barnet, and the other, Eliza, married Sir Edmund Lacon, afterwards baronet.

His principal publications are: 1. ‘The Existence and Attributes of God not demonstrable a priori, in Answer to the Argument of … Dr. Clarke and his Followers, and more particularly to a late Pamphlet, entitled “The Argument a priori, &c., stated and considered,”’ Cambridge, 1746, 8vo. This elicited ‘Some Thoughts concerning the Argument a priori,’ anon., London, 1748, 8vo. 2. ‘The Scripture Doctrine of the Existence and Attributes of God, as manifested by the Works of Creation and Providence. In twelve Sermons.’ With a preface, in answer to the pamphlet, entitled ‘Some Thoughts,’ &c., Cambridge, 1750, 8vo. 3. ‘An Answer to an Essay on Spirit,’ London, 1753, 8vo. 4. ‘Observations on the Divine Mission and Administration of Moses,’ London, 1762, 8vo. 5. ‘A preparatory Discourse on Confirmation,’ 6th edit. Ipswich, 1770, 8vo; 10th edit. Ipswich, 1784, 8vo. 6. ‘Letters between Lord Hervey and Dr. Middleton concerning the Roman Senate. Published from the original manuscripts,’ London, 1778, 4to. 7. ‘The Passion; or a Description of Christ's Sufferings,’ London, 1780, 12mo; 2nd edit. London, 1796, 12mo; a new edit., with additions by the Rev. Henry Hasted, M.A., London, 1830, 8vo. 8. ‘Primitive Christianity,’ London, 1789, 8vo. Capel Lofft wrote ‘Observations’ on the first part of this work, 1789, and James Edward Hamilton published ‘Strictures’ upon it, 1790. 9. ‘Advice to a young Clergyman upon his entering into Priest's Orders. In six Pastoral Letters,’ 2nd edit. London, 1797, 8vo.

[Addit. MSS. 5874 f. 21 b, 19167 f. 13; Hawes and Loder's Framlingham, p. 285; Cat. of the Library of John Holmes, ii. 97; Gent. Mag. 1802 pt. ii. p. 980; Tyms's Hist. of St. Mary's Church, Bury, pp. 131, 132; Nichols's Lit. Illustr. vi. 468.]

T. C.