Accurate Discourse concerning the Guilt of Sin,’ &c., 1695, 8vo, though Calamy speaks as if it had been first printed in Gilbert's lifetime. It was written before 1678 and reprinted, 1708, 8vo, from Gilbert's manuscript; again reprinted, Edinburgh, 1720, 8vo. It teaches that pardon covers future as well as existing sin. He had a hand in the ‘Annus Mirabilis’ for 1661 and following years, and wrote the largest part of a Latin version (Amsterdam, 1677, 8vo) of Francis Potter's ‘Interpretation of the Number 666,’ Oxford, 1642, 4to.
By a misprint Chalmers calls him ‘William’ Gilbert, a blunder which has misled other writers. Thus Watt assigns to him ‘Architectonice Consolationis,’ &c., 1640, 4to, a funeral sermon on 1 Thess. iv. 18, for Jane Gilbert, by William Gilbert, D.D., rector of Orsett, Essex. There was also a William Gilbert, ejected from a lectureship at Witney, Oxfordshire, in 1662.
[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1691 i. 874, 893, 1692 ii. 511, 747, 783; additions in the editions of Tanner, 1721, ii. 916, and Bliss, 1820, iv. 406 sq.; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 109, 542, 573; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 146, ii. 718; Calamy's Own Life, 1830, i. 268 sq.; Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, 1779, ii. 509; Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial, 1802 i. 309, 1803 iii. 145; Chalmers's Gen. Biog. Dict. 1814, xv. 495.]
GILBERT, THOMAS (1720–1798), poor-law reformer, born in 1720, son and heir of Thomas Gilbert of Cotton in Staffordshire, was admitted at the Inner Temple in 1740, and called in 1744. In 1745 he accepted a commission in the regiment formed by Lord Gower, brother-in-law of the Duke of Bridgewater. He was for many years land-agent to Gower, and his brother, John Gilbert, acted for the duke in the same capacity. Through their interest he sat in parliament for Newcastle-under-Lyme from November 1763 to the dissolution in 1768, and for Lichfield from that year till 1795, when he retired to make room for Lord Granville Leveson Gower. In 1765 the sinecure place of comptroller of the great wardrobe was given to him, and he retained it until its abolition through Burke's bill reforming the civil list. He also held from the date of its foundation until his death the office of paymaster of the fund for securing pensions to the widows of officers in the navy. But his most important office was the chairmanship of committees of ways and means, to which he was appointed shortly after Pitt's accession to power on 31 May 1784. Gilbert was zealous in amending the poor-laws. He succeeded in 1765 in passing through the commons a bill for grouping parishes for poor-law purposes in large districts, such as hundreds, but it was rejected in the upper house by 66 votes to 59. In 1776 a committee of the House of Commons reported on the condition of the workhouses and almshouses, and Gilbert, after having worked at the subject energetically for many years, introduced into the commons three bills in 1782. The first two, on the amendment of the laws relating to houses of correction, and for enabling two or more parishes to unite together, passed into law; but the third, for reforming the enactments relating to vagrants, miscarried. Gilbert proposed in 1778 that during the war with the American colonies a tax of twenty-five per cent. should be levied upon all government places and pensions. James Harris, the author of ‘Hermes,’ ridiculed the tax, and called its author ‘a kind of demi-courtier, demi-patriot.’ George III told Lord North that it was utterly impracticable. Nevertheless it was carried in committee against Lord North, and in spite of the opposition of Burke and Fox, by a majority of eighteen votes, but on the report it was rejected by a majority of six. Horace Walpole mentions the current belief that this proposal was aimed at Rigby, who had refused to give a vacant place at Chelsea Hospital to the brother of its author's second wife. Gilbert endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to carry a general act for the improvement of highways, and succeeded in passing many local acts for roads in the midland counties. Through his advice the Duke of Bridgewater engaged the services of James Brindley [q. v.], and Gilbert joined with Brindley in purchasing an estate near Golden Hill in Staffordshire. He supported many of the canals then projected for the central districts of England, and he was one of the promoters of the Grand Trunk. In 1787 he introduced another poor-law bill, grouping many parishes together, taxing dogs, and imposing an additional charge for the use of turnpikes on Sundays. He also advocated the abolition of ale-houses in the country districts, except for the use of travellers, and the stricter supervision of such establishments in towns. His views for doing away with imprisonment for small debts were not adopted until many years later, but his propositions for encouraging the formation of friendly societies by grants from the parochial funds were largely provided for in an act passed in 1793. To promote the residence of the clergy he procured the passage of the act still known as ‘Gilbert's Act,’ enabling the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to lend capital sums for the erection of such houses on easy terms. His first wife was a Miss Phillips, to whom he had presented a lottery ticket which drew one of the