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Randolph, Thomas (1701-1783) (DNB00)

RANDOLPH, THOMAS (1701–1783), president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, son of Herbert Randolph, recorder of Canterbury, was born in that city on 30 Aug. 1701, and educated there in the king's school. On 19 Nov. 1715, being then little more than fourteen years of age, he was elected to a Kentish scholarship at Corpus, and on 22 Feb. 1722–3 became probationer fellow. He took the usual degrees, including that of D.D., and in comparatively early life attracted the attention of John Potter [q. v.], then bishop of Oxford and regius professor of divinity, who, on his translation to Canterbury, collated him to the united livings of Petham and Waltham in Kent, and subsequently to the rectory of Saltwood, with the chapelry of Hythe annexed. Through the archbishop's influence he also became deputy to Dr. Rye, Potter's successor in the chair of divinity; but, failing on the vacancy of the chair to obtain the succession, he retired to his livings. The first work which brought Randolph into notice as a theological champion on the orthodox side was a short treatise entitled ‘The Christian's Faith, a Rational Assent,’ published in 1744, a second part being published in the following year. This work was a reply to a pamphlet entitled ‘Christianity not founded on Argument,’ &c., by H. Dodwell the younger. On 23 April 1748 Randolph was elected, without his knowledge or any communication from the electors, to the presidency of Corpus, and thenceforth he made Oxford his principal place of residence and the scene of his work. In 1756 he became vice-chancellor, and held that office for three years, during which period there was an important reorganisation of the delegacy of the press. In 1767 Bishop Lowth appointed him to the archdeaconry of Oxford, and in 1768 he was unanimously elected to the Margaret professorship of divinity, to which office a canonry at Worcester was then attached. He died on 24 March 1783, and was buried in the college cloister, where a monument was erected to his memory. He married, on 22 Aug. 1738, Thomazine, sister of Sir John Honywood. By her, who died on 11 Dec. 1783, aged 75, he had six children, of whom John (1749–1813) [q. v.] became bishop of London.

According to Richard Lovell Edgeworth [q. v.], Randolph was a singularly gentle and indulgent president of his college. His ‘good humour made more salutary impression on the young men he governed than has been ever effected by the morose manners of any unrelenting disciplinarian’ (Edgeworth, Memoirs, 1820). During Randolph's administration, too, the college seems to have shaken off the lethargy which had marked it, in common with the other Oxford colleges, during the early half of the century. The undergraduates included many men—Lord Stowell, Bishop Burgess, Archbishop Lawrence, and others—who subsequently attained eminence.

Randolph was a stout champion of orthodoxy as at that time understood. He engaged in the Trinitarian, Arian, and subscription controversies, and entered the lists against no less than five well-known authors—Gibbon, Bishop Law of Carlisle, Bishop Clayton of Clogher, Theophilus Lindsey, and the younger Dodwell. In addition to the work directed against the last-named author, which has been already noticed, and single sermons, Randolph defended the subscription of undergraduates to the Thirty-nine Articles in pamphlets published at Oxford between 1771 and 1774, in reply, among others, to Edmund Law [q. v.], bishop of Carlisle. His other works include:

  1. ‘A Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity from the Exceptions of a late Pamphlet [by Robert Clayton [q. v.], bishop of Clogher] entituled “An Essay on Spirit,”’ &c., published at Oxford in 1754.
  2. ‘A Vindication of the Worship of the Son of God and the Holy Ghost against the Exceptions of Mr. Theophilus Lindsey, Oxford,’ 1775.
  3. ‘A Letter to the Remarker on the Layman's Scriptural Confutation, wherein the Divinity of the Son of God is further vindicated,’ Oxford, 1777.
  4. ‘The Proof of the Christian Religion drawn from its Successful and Speedy Propagation,’ &c., in two sermons, Oxford, 1777 (directed against Gibbon's fifteenth chapter on the ‘Progress of the Christian Religion’).
  5. ‘The Prophecies and other Texts cited in the New Testament compared with the Hebrew Original and the Septuagint Version,’ &c., Oxford, 1782.
  6. A posthumous publication, in two volumes, entitled ‘A View of Our Blessed Saviour's Ministry, together with a Charge, Dissertations, Sermons, and Theological Lectures (Prælectiones Theologicæ, xvii.),’ Oxford, 1784; the charge and sermons in these volumes had alone been already published.

Prefixed to the two volumes of the posthumous works is a portrait of Randolph (as an old man), painted or drawn by J. Taylor, and engraved by John Keyse Sherwen. A few copies seem to have been struck off separately.

[Fowler's History of Corpus Christi College; Biographical Preface to the two posthumous volumes; Memoirs of R. L. Edgeworth; Corpus Christi Coll. Reg.; Berry's County Genealogies (Kent), pp. 278–9; Hasted's Kent, i.]

T. F.