Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thompson, Thomas (1708?-1773)

THOMPSON, THOMAS (1708?–1773), missionary and apologist for the African slave trade, son of William Thompson, was born at Gilling in the North Riding of Yorkshire about 1708. He was educated at Richmond school, and on 19 Feb. 1727–8 was admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge, whence he graduated B.A. in 1731–2 and proceeded M.A. in 1735. He was elected a fellow on 5 June 1738 and was appointed college curate at Fen Drayton, near Cambridge, on 5 May 1744. On 8 May 1745 he sailed for New York in the Albany, under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, to take charge of the churches in Monmouth county, New Jersey, his fellowship being declared vacant on 21 April 1746. At the close of 1751 he proceeded to the coast of Guinea in order to establish a mission there. Not meeting with much success, and being unable to endure the climate, he left Africa in 1756, and, after visiting the West Indies, returned to England. On 26 Aug. 1757 he was appointed vicar of Reculver in Kent, and on 1 Dec. 1761 vicar of Eleham in the same county, where he died on 5 June 1773.

Thompson was the author of: 1. ‘An Account of two Missionary Voyages,’ London, 1758, 8vo, which was translated into German by Johann Tobias Koehler, and published in 1767 in the first volume of his ‘Sammlung neuer Reisebeschreibungen aus fremden Sprachen’ (Göttingen, 8vo). 2. ‘The African Trade for Negro Slaves shown to be consistent with the Principles of Humanity and with the Laws of Revealed Religion,’ Canterbury, 1772, 8vo; for the latter work Thompson, without considering the subject very deeply, draws his arguments from Aristotle and his illustration from the Pentateuch. It drew a reply from Granville Sharpe [q. v.]

[Information kindly given by the master of Christ's College, Cambridge; Thompson's Works; Luard's Grad. Cantabr.; Gent. Mag. 1773, p. 303; Hasted's Hist. of Kent. iii. 345, 640.]

E. I. C.