Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas, William (1670-1738)

THOMAS, WILLIAM, D.D. (1670–1738), antiquary, was grandson of William Thomas (1613–1689) [q. v.], bishop of Worcester, being the only child of John Thomas by his wife Mary, whose father, William Bagnal, assisted in the escape of Charles II after the battle of Worcester. William was admitted to Westminster school in 1685, and thence was elected on 25 June 1688 to a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1691. He graduated B.A. in 1691, M.A. in 1695, B.D. in 1723, and D.D. in 1729. In 1700 he travelled in France and Italy, where he formed a close friendship with Sir John Pakington (1671–1727) [q. v.] Afterwards he obtained the living of Exhall, Warwickshire, through the interest of Lord Somers, to whom he was distantly related. He had a considerable estate at Atherstone in the same county, and another at the Grange, near Toddington, Gloucestershire. He removed to Worcester for the education of his numerous children in 1721, and in 1723 he was presented by John Hough [q. v.], bishop of Worcester, to the rectory of St. Nicholas in that city. With a view to the publication of a history of Worcestershire he transcribed many documents, besides visiting every church in the county, and his collections were of great service to Nash, who acknowledges his obligations to them. His industry was amazing, and he hardly allowed himself time for sleep, meals, and amusement. He died on 26 July 1738, and was buried in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral. He married Elizabeth, only daughter of George Carter, esquire, of Brill, Buckinghamshire.

His works are: 1. ‘Antiquitates Prioratus Majoris Malverne in agro Wicciensi, cum Chartis originalibus easdem illustrantibus, ex Registris Sedis Episcopalis Wigornensis,’ London, 1725, 8vo. 2. ‘A Survey of the Cathedral Church of Worcester, with an account of the Bishops thereof from the foundation of the see to the year 1660 [a mistake for 1610], also an appendix of many original papers and records, never before printed,’ London 1736, 4to; also with a new title-page, dated 1737. Thomas is best known as the editor of the second edition, ‘revised, augmented, and continued,’ of Sir William Dugdale's ‘Antiquities of Warwickshire,’ 2 vols. London, 1730, fol. His ‘Index of Places to Dugdale's “Warwickshire,” 2nd edit.’ fol., was privately printed by Sir Thomas Phillips at Middle Hill about 1844. Thomas contributed verses to the collection published by the University of Cambridge on the birth of the Prince of Wales, 1688.

In Nash's ‘Worcestershire’ (i. 177) there is a portrait of Thomas engraved in mezzotint by Valentine Green.

[Bromley's Catalogue of Engraved Portraits, p. 281; Cooke's Preacher's Assistant, ii. 337; Gough's British Topography, ii. 299, 385, 388, 391; Historical Register, vol. xxiii. Chron. Diary, p. 29; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, i. 114; Nash's Worcestershire, vol. ii. App. p. clxii; Upcott's English Topography, iii. 1259, 1342, 1346; Welch's Alumni Westmon. (Phillimore), pp. 210, 212.]

T. C.