Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas, John (1712-1793)
THOMAS, JOHN (1712–1793), bishop of Rochester, born at Carlisle on 14 Oct. 1712, was the eldest son of John Thomas (d. 1747), vicar of Brampton in Cumberland, by his wife Ann, daughter of Richard Kelsick of Whitehaven, a captain in the merchant service. The younger Thomas was educated at the Carlisle grammar school, whence he proceeded to Oxford, matriculating from Queen's College on 17 Dec. 1730. Soon after his admission he received a clerkship from the provost, Joseph Smith (1670–1756) [q. v.] After completing his terms he became assistant master at an academy in Soho Square, and afterwards private tutor to the younger son of Sir William Clayton, bart., whose sister he afterwards married. On 27 March 1737 Thomas was ordained a deacon, and on 25 Sept. received priest's orders. On 27 Jan. 1737–8 he was instituted rector of Bletchingley in Surrey, a living in the gift of Sir William Clayton. He graduated B.C.L. on 6 March 1741–2, and D.C.L. on 25 May 1742, and on 18 Jan. 1748–9 he was appointed chaplain in ordinary to George II, a post which he also retained under George III. On 23 April 1754 he was made a prebendary of Westminster, and in 1762 he was appointed sub-almoner to the archbishop of York. On 7 Jan. 1766 he was instituted to the vicarage of St. Bride's, Fleet Street, London, and in 1768 he became dean of Westminster and of the order of the Bath. On 13 Nov. 1774 he was consecrated bishop of Rochester. He signalised his episcopacy by repairing the deanery at Rochester and rebuilding the bishop's palace at Bromley, which was in a ruinous state. He died at Bromley on 22 Aug. 1793, and was buried in the vault of the parish church of Bletchingley. He was twice married: first, in 1742, to Anne, sister of Sir William Clayton, bart., and widow of Sir Charles Blackwell, bart. She died on 7 July 1772, and on 12 Jan. 1776 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Baldwin of Munslow in Shropshire, and widow of Sir Joseph Yates [q. v.], judge of the court of king's bench. He left no children. Among other bequests he founded two scholarships at Queen's College for sons of clergymen educated at the grammar school at Carlisle, and during his lifetime he bestowed two similar scholarships on Westminster school.
Thomas's ‘Sermons and Charges’ were collected and edited after his death by his nephew, George Andrew Thomas, in 1796 (London, 8vo, 3rd ed. 1803). Several of his sermons were published separately in his lifetime. His portrait in the robes of the Bath, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, was formerly in the library of Queen's College. An engraving from it by Joseph Baker is prefixed to his ‘Sermons and Charges.’[Life of Thomas, by G. A. Thomas, prefixed to Sermons and Charges; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. 1816; Gent. Mag. 1793 ii. 780, 863, 955, 1794 i. 275; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. 1854, ii. 575, iii. 349, 366; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Welch's Alumni Westmon. 1852, p. 33; American Church Review, xix. 528; Manning's History of Surrey, ed. Bray, ii. 315; Stanley's Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 5th ed. p. 477; Chester's London Marriage Licences, col. 1330.]