Thomas Barton (divine)

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For the 17th-century divine, see Thomas Barton (Royalist).

Thomas Barton (1730?–1780), was an Irish divine.

Barton was a native of Ireland, but descended from an English family that settled there in the reign of Charles I. After graduating from Dublin University he emigrated to America, and in 1751 opened a school at Norristown, Pennsylvania, around the age of 21. He was for some time tutor at the academy (now university) at Philadelphia. In 1753, Barton married Esther Rittenhouse, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, and sister of David Rittenhouse, the distinguished mathematician and astronomer, whose close friendship he enjoyed until his death.

In 1754, Barton went to England, where he received episcopal orders. He returned to America as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, with which he remained connected until 1759. He accompanied, as chaplain, the expedition to Fort du Quesne (now Pittsburgh), which ended in the defeat and death of its leader, General Braddock. On leaving York County, Pennsylvania, he settled at Lancaster as rector of St. James's. Here he remained nearly twenty years, dividing his time between the duties of his office and the pursuit of natural history. At last his adherence to the royalist party compelled him to quit his post, and he removed to New York, where he died, 25 May 1780, aged 50. His wife died before him on June 18, 1774.[1] Benjamin Smith Barton, the American physician and naturalist, was one of his children.

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