Thomas Elrington (bishop)

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Thomas Elrington (18 December 1760–12 July 1835) was an Irish academic and bishop. He was Donegall Lecturer in Mathematics (1790-1795) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). While at TCD he also served as Erasmus Smith's Professor of Mathematics (1795–1799) and as Erasmus Smith's Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy (1799–1807).[1] Later, he was Provost of Trinity College Dublin (1811-1820),[2] then Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe (1820-1822),[3] and finally Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin till his death in Liverpool in 1835.[4]


The only child of Richard and Catherine Elrington of Dublin, he was born near that city on 18 December 1760. He entered Trinity College Dublin, on 1 May 1775 as a pensioner, under the tutorship of the Rev. Dr. Drought, and was elected a Scholar in 1778. He graduated B.A. in 1780, M.A. in 1785, and B.D. and D.D. in 1795.

In 1781 he was elected a fellow of his college. He was Donegall Lecturer of Mathematics (1790-1795), and in 1794 he was the first to hold the office of Donnellan Divinity Lecturer. In 1795 he was appointed Archbishop King's Lecturer in Divinity, succeeded to a senior fellowship, and also became the third Erasmus Smith's Professor of Mathematics (1795–1799). In 1799 he exchanged the Erasmus Smith's professorship of mathematics for that of natural philosophy.[5]

In 1789, he published the mathematical treatise Euclidis Elementorum Sex Libri Priores, Cum Notis (Dublin University Press), whose 10th edition appeared in 1833.

On resigning his fellowship in 1806 Elrinton was presented by his college to the rectory of Ardtrea, in the diocese of Armagh, which he held until December 1811. He resigned, having been appointed to the provostship of Trinity College. During his tenure of this office he was the acting manager of almost every public board, and a supporter of charitable institutions.[5]

Elrington was advanced on 25 September 1820 to the bishopric of Limerick, and on 21 December 1822 he was translated to Leighlin and Ferns. While on his way to attend Parliament duties in London he died of paralysis at Liverpool on 12 July 1835. He was buried under the chapel of Trinity College Dublin, in which there was a monument with a Latin inscription to his memory. Another monument was erected by his clergy in the cathedral church of Ferns. Elrington was an active member of the Royal Irish Academy, and of other literary and scientific societies. The Elrington theological essay prize was instituted in Trinity College in 1837.[5]

A portrait of the bishop was painted in 1820 for his brother, Major Elrington, by Thomas Foster; engraved by William Ward, it was published in 1836 by Graves & Co. There was a marble bust in the library of Trinity College.[5]


His works are:[5]

  • 'Refutation of the Arguments in Dr. Butler's Letter to Lord Kenmare,' 1787.
  • 'Reply to the Third Section of Mr. O'Leary's Defence,' 1787.
  • 'Thoughts on the Principles of Civil Government, and their Foundation in the Law of Nature, by S.N.' [Thomas Elrington], 1793.
  • 'Enquiry into the Consistency of Dr. Troy's Pastoral Instruction,' 1793.
  • 'Sermons on Miracles, preached at the Donnellan Lecture in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1795; with an Act Sermon for the degree of D.D.,' 1796.
  • 'Sermon on the Death of Matthew Young, D.D., Bishop of Clonfert; with some Anecdotes of his Life' (three editions), 1800.
  • 'The Vindication of Dr. Troy Refuted,' 1804.
  • 'The Clergy of the Church of England truly Ordained, in reply to Ward's Controversy of Ordination; with an Appendix,' 1808.
  • 'Letters on Tythes, first published in the "Dublin Journal"' (two editions), 1808.
  • 'Reflections on the Appointment of Dr. Milner as the Political Agent of the Roman Catholic Clergy of Ireland,' 1809.
  • 'Remarks occasioned by the Supplement and Postscript to the second edition of Dr. Milner's Tour in Ireland,' 1809.
  • 'Letter to the Right Hon. W. W. Pole on the Proposal for a Commutation of Tythes in Ireland,' 1810.
  • 'The Validity of English Ordination Established, in answer to the Rev. P. Gandolphy's Sermon on John x. 1,' 1818.
  • 'Inquiry whether the Disturbances in Ireland have originated in Tythes,' 1822; second edition, with an Appendix, 1823.
  • 'Observations on J.K.L.'s [Bishop Doyle's] Letter to the Marquess Wellesley; on Tracts and Topics by E. Barton; and on the Letter to Mr. Abercrombie,' 1824.
  • 'Review of the Correspondence between the Earl of Mountcashell and the Bishop of Ferns, with the Letters,' 1830.
  • 'Reply to John Search's [Archbishop Whateley's] Considerations on the Law of Libel as relating to Publications on the subject of Religion,' 1834.

Elrington also published sermons and charges, and edited, for the use of Trinity College, 'Euclid's Elements, the first Six Books,' 1788 (ten or twelve times reprinted); 'Locke on Government, with Notes,' 1798; and 'Juvenalis et Persius, edito expurgata,' 1808.[5]


About 1786 he married Charlotte, daughter of the Rev. Plunket Preston, rector of Duntryleague, County Limerick, and by her had issue Charles Richard Elrington, and another son and daughters.[5]


  1. ^ Erasmus Smith's professors of Mathematics Mathematics at TCD 1592–1992
  2. ^ A New History of Ireland Moody,T.M;Martin,F.X;Byrne,F.J;Cosgrove,F:By Theodore William Moody, Francis X. Martin, Francis John Byrne, Art Cosgrove: Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1976 ISBN 0-19-821745-5
  3. ^ Handbook of British Chronology By Fryde, E. B;. Greenway, D.E;Porter, S; Roy, I: Cambridge, CUP, 1996 ISBN 0-521-56350-X, 9780521563505
  4. ^ The Morning Post (London, England), Thursday, July 16, 1835; Issue 20157
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Elrington, Thomas (1760-1835)" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Elrington, Thomas (1760-1835)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Academic offices
Preceded by
George Hall
Provost of Trinity College Dublin
Succeeded by
Samuel Kyle
Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Charles Mongan Warburton
Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe
Succeeded by
John Jebb
Preceded by
Robert Ponsonby Tottenham Loftus
Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin
Succeeded by
See is united to Ossory