Thomas Burgess (bishop)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Burgess
Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop Burgess.jpg
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseDiocese of London
PredecessorJohn Fisher
SuccessorEdward Denison
Personal details
Born(1756-11-18)18 November 1756
Died19 February 1837(1837-02-19) (aged 80)
EducationRobert May's School
Winchester College
Alma materCorpus Christi College, Oxford

Thomas Burgess (18 November 1756 – 19 February 1837) was an English author, philosopher, Bishop of St David's and Bishop of Salisbury.


He was born at Odiham in Hampshire and educated at Robert May's School, Odiham, Winchester College, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Before graduating, he edited a reprint of John Burton's Pentalogia. In 1781 he brought out an annotated edition of Richard Dawes's Miscellanea Critica (reprinted, Leipzig, 1800). In 1783 he became a fellow of his college, and in 1785 was appointed chaplain to Shute Barrington, bishop of Salisbury.[1] He moved with Barrington to Durham on the latter's appointment as bishop there in 1791, where he obtained a prebendal stall, holding in turn the 9th (1791-92),[2] 6th (1792-1820)[3] and 2nd (1820-1825) stalls.[4]

In 1788 he published his Considerations on the Abolition of Slavery, in which he advocated the principle of gradual emancipation. In 1791 he accompanied Barrington to Durham, where he did evangelistic work among the poorer classes.

In 1803 Burgess was appointed to the vacant bishopric of St David's, then far the largest of the Welsh sees. He held the see for over twenty years, together with his prebendal stall in Durham. Burgess was "the first Welsh bishop for generations to devote himself to his duties... [He] was enthusiastically in favour of clergy who could preach in Welsh ... [and] equally enthusiastically in favour of giving church patronage to Welsh cultural activities." To educate Welsh clergy for the diocese, Burgess founded and endowed St David's College, Lampeter (now the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David). On his death he left his library to the College. Burgess established the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in the diocese and was a prime mover in the creation of the Cambrian Societies, organisers of the provincial eisteddfodau.[5]

In 1820 he was appointed first president of the recently founded Royal Society of Literature; and five years later translated Bishop of Salisbury, resigning his stall in Durham. He was the last Bishop of Salisbury to be ex officio Chancellor of the Order of the Garter before that honour passed to the Bishop of Oxford. At Salisbury and St David's, he founded a Church Union Society for the assistance of infirm and distressed clergymen. He opposed both Unitarianism and Catholic Emancipation.[1] The latter policy led to several clashes with the Government: the Duke of Wellington told him sharply that he would do far more to strengthen the Protestant faith by staying in his diocese and minding his flock than he could by bombarding the Government with political pamphlets.

Thomas Burgess was a founding member of the Odiham Agricultural Society and was instrumental in establishing the Royal Veterinary College.

He died on 19 February 1837, and was buried at Salisbury on 27 February.[6]


A list of his works, which are very numerous, will be found in his biography by John Scandrett Harford (2nd ed, 1841). In addition to those already referred to may be mentioned his Essay on the Study of Antiquities, The First Principles of Christian Knowledge; Reflections on the Controversial Writings of Dr Priestley, Emendationes in Suidam et Hesychium et alios Lexicographos Graecos; The Bible, and nothing but the Bible, the Religion of the Church of England.[1]


  1. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burgess, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 814.
  2. ^ Canons of Durham: Ninth prebend. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae. 11. Institute of Historical Research. 2004. pp. 104–106 – via British History Online.
  3. ^ Canons of Durham: Sixth prebend. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae. 11. Institute of Historical Research. 2004. pp. 97–99 – via British History Online.
  4. ^ Canons of Durham: Second prebend. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae. 11. Institute of Historical Research. 2004. pp. 88–90 – via British History Online.
  5. ^ Davies, John (2017). A History of Wales (Revised ed.). Allen Lane, The Penguin Group. p. 351-2. ISBN 9780140284751.
  6. ^ Tout 1886.


Church of England titles
Preceded by
Lord George Murray
Bishop of St David's
Succeeded by
John Jenkinson
Preceded by
John Fisher
Bishop of Salisbury
Succeeded by
Edward Denison