Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Percival, Thomas (1719-1762)

PERCIVAL, THOMAS (1719–1762), antiquary, son of Richard Percival of Royton Hall, near Oldham, Lancashire, was born there on 1 Sept. 1719. He was brought up a presbyterian, but joined the church of England; was a whig in politics, and a warm advocate of the Hanoverian succession. In 1748 he wrote two able pamphlets in opposition to the high-church clergy and the nonjurors of Manchester. Their titles are: ‘A Letter to the Reverend the Clergy of the Collegiate Church of Manchester,’ &c., and ‘Manchester Politics: a Dialogue between Mr. Trueblew and Mr. Whiglove,’ &c. In 1758 he generously took part with some operative weavers in a dispute with their masters about wages, and in connection with this matter published ‘A Letter to a Friend occasioned by the late Dispute betwixt the Check-Makers of Manchester and their Weavers; and the Check-Makers' Ill-usage of the Author,’ Halifax, 1759, 8vo. His ‘Observations on the Roman Colonies and Stations in Cheshire and Lancashire’ were read to the Royal Society on 13 June 1751 (Phil. Trans. xlvii. 216), on which occasion Stukeley mentions Percival as ‘a learned person who lives in the north, and has taken a good deal of pains by travelling to search out the Roman roads and stations mentioned thereabouts.’ Nine years later he sent a shorter paper on the same subject to the Society of Antiquaries (Archæologia, i. 62). He discovered that Kinderton was the site of Condate (Watkin, Roman Cheshire). In the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ for 1752 (xlvii. 360) he has a curious ‘Account of a Double Child,’ a monstrosity born at Hebus (i.e. Hebers), near Middleton in Lancashire. Some of the plans of ancient remains given in Aikin's ‘Country round Manchester’ were drawn by him. He was elected F.R.S. on 25 Nov. 1756, and F.S.A. on 12 June 1760.

Percival died in December 1762, and was buried in St. Paul's Church, Royton. He married Martha, daughter of Major Benjamin Gregge of Chamber Hall, Oldham. She died in 1760, aged 45. Their only child and heir, Katherine, married Joseph Pickford of Alt Hill, Lancashire, afterwards known as Sir Joseph Radcliffe of Milnesbridge, Yorkshire, into whose possession Percival's collection of manuscript pedigrees and other papers passed.

The antiquary must be carefully distinguished from his namesake, Thomas Percival (1740–1804) [q. v.], the physician, with whom he is often confused.

[Byrom's Remains (Chetham Soc.), ii. 441, 461; Raines's Fellows and Chaplains of Manchester (Chetham Soc.), ii. 255; Gent. Mag. June 1823, p. 505; Butterworth's Oldham, 1817, p. xi; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 373, 440; Stukeley's Memoirs (Surtees Soc.), ii. 244; Hunter's Fam. Gen. Min. (Harleian Soc.) i. 119; Whitaker's Manchester, 4to, i. 94, 137; Collier's (Tim Bobbin) Works, ed. Fishwick, p. 117; Gough's British Topogr. i. 503; Baines's Lancashire; Sutton's Lancashire Authors; Raines's manuscripts in Chetham Library.]

C. W. S.