Thomas Burgess (bishop)

18 Nov 1756
19 Feb 1837
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Thomas Burgess (18 November 1756 – 19 February 1837) was an English author, philosopher, Bishop of Saint 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 Miscellaneci 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, through whose influence he obtained a prebendal stall, which he held till 1803.

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 he was appointed to the vacant bishopric of St David’s, which he held for twenty years.

He founded the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in the diocese, and also St David’s College (now the University of Wales, Lampeter), which he endowed, and to which his library was donated after his death.

In 1820 he was appointed first president of the recently founded Royal Society of Literature; and three years later he was promoted to the see of Salisbury.

At Salisbury at St David’s, he founded a Church Union Society for the assistance of infirm and distressed clergymen. He opposed both Unitarianism and Catholic Emancipation.

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

He died 19 February 1837. He was buried at Salisbury on 27 February 1837.

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.

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