Herring, Thomas (DNB00)

HERRING, THOMAS (1693–1757), archbishop of Canterbury, son of John Herring, rector of Walsoken, Norfolk, was born there in 1693. Educated at Wisbech school, he matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge, on 13 June 1710, and graduated B.A. in 1713. He removed on 23 July 1714 to Corpus Christi College, where he was elected a fellow in 1716, and ordained deacon. In 1717 he commenced M.A. and became tutor of his college; he proceeded B.D. in 1724, and D.D. 1728. In 1719 he was ordained priest, and successively served the parishes of Great Shelford, Stow-cum-Quy, and Trinity in Cambridge. His handsome and dignified appearance and his winning address made him conspicuous as a preacher. In 1722 Fleetwood, bishop of Ely, appointed him one of his chaplains and gave him the living of Rettendon in Essex, and shortly afterwards that of Barley in Hertfordshire. These appointments necessitated the vacating of his fellowship at Corpus. He was presented by the crown to the rectory of All Hallows the Great in London in 1724, but resigned before institution. In 1726 he was elected preacher at Lincoln's Inn, and shortly afterwards made a chaplain to the king. In 1728 he accompanied his majesty to Cambridge. In 1731 he was presented by Sir William Clayton to the valuable rectory of Bletchingley in Surrey, upon which he resigned Barley. On 31 Jan. 1732 he was appointed dean of Rochester. He was now amply provided for, but on 18 June 1737 he was promoted to the bishopric of Bangor, retaining the deanery of Rochester in commendam. He was consecrated 15 Jan. 1737–8, commenced a visitation of his diocese, and described his tour through Wales in charming letters to his friend William Duncombe [q. v.] In 1743 he was translated to York on the death of Archbishop Blackburn; his appointment was confirmed 21 April. Writing to Duncombe on 25 Sept. he mentions his progress through his new diocese, and makes the rather startling announcement—‘I am confident I have confirmed above thirty thousand people.’ While at York the rebellion of 1745 broke out. The archbishop, who was a thorough whig, made himself conspicuous by his zeal for the Hanoverian family, not only in sermons, but in stirring up the Yorkshire folks to form an association for the defence of the constitution and liberties of the kingdom. By his energies he raised 40,000l. in aid of the government. Nor did his zeal lose its reward. Archbishop Potter of Canterbury died in 1747, and Herring was translated to the primacy in November. In 1753, six years after his translation, Herring was attacked by a fever, from which he never thoroughly recovered. He retired to Croydon House, and seems to have paid little attention to public business. His letters to his friends (published by William Duncombe) in the closing years of his life are very interesting. His correspondents included Philip Doddridge, Drs. Stukeley, Thomas Birch, Nathaniel Forster, and Jortin. Letters to Birch and Forster are preserved in the British Museum (Add. MSS. 4310 ff. 62–8, 75, 11275 ff. 44–86). A number of his letters to John James Majendie are noticed in the Fifth Report of the Historical MSS. Commission (App. p. 322). He repeatedly mentions his wretched health from 1754 onwards. His last letter is dated 3 Jan. 1757. He died of dropsy on 13 March following. He was buried in St. Nicholas Chantry or Bishops' Chapel in Croydon Church.

Herring as a theologian was colourless. The practical side of religion alone appealed to him, and as a preacher he touched merely upon practical duties without impassioned appeals. He was tolerant to all shades of opinion, and is said to have sent a message to Hume not to be discouraged at the clamour raised against him when his history was published. His munificence was great. Besides much improving Bishopsthorpe, he laid out 6,000l. in repairing the houses at Lambeth and Croydon. By his will he left 1,000l. to the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, and also 1,000l. to the master and fellows of Corpus College, Cambridge, towards repairing or rebuilding the college. His publications consisted of a few single sermons, which were collected and published in 1 vol. 8vo, 1763, by his friend William Duncombe. His letters to William Duncombe from 1728 to 1757 were edited by the Rev. John Duncombe [q. v.], 12mo, London, 1777. Hogarth painted two portraits of Herring; there are also portraits by S. Webster of Thomas Hudson; all have been engraved.

William Herring (d. 1774), brother of the archbishop, also took orders, was rector of Bolton Piercy, and became prebendary of Apesthorpe, York, in 1744. He was appointed dean of St. Asaph in 1751, and died 23 March 1774. He was married in 1750 to Elizabeth Cotton in Lambeth Palace Chapel (Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. i. 83, iii. 167; Gent. Mag. 1774, p. 239; Reg. of Lambeth Palace Chapel).

[Jortin's Tracts, ii. 518; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. passim (see Index); Nichols's Lit. Illustr. iii. 451–65; Biog. Brit. Suppl.; Abbey's English Church and its Bishops, 1700–1800, ii. 37–40, London, 1887.]

R. H-r.