John Thomas (bishop of Winchester)

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John Thomas (1696–1781) was an English bishop.

John Thomas, 1771 engraving by Richard Houston after Benjamin Wilson.

He was educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. in 1719 and became Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1720.[1]

He became Bishop of Peterborough in 1747, and was made preceptor to the future George III, then Prince of Wales, in 1752. In 1757 be became Bishop of Salisbury, and in 1761 Bishop of Winchester.[1]


He was the son of Stremer Thomas, a colonel in the Guards Regiment, born on 17 August 1696 at Westminster, and educated at Charterhouse school. He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 28 March 1713, and took the degrees of B.A. 1716, M.A. 1719, B.D. 1727, and D.D. 1731. In 1720 he was elected fellow of All Souls' College, and, having been disappointed of a living promised to him by a friend of his father, took a curacy in London. Here his preaching attracted attention; in 1731 he was given a prebend in St Paul's Cathedral, and was presented by the dean and chapter in 1733 to the rectory of St. Bene't and St. Peter, Paul's Wharf, which he retained till 1757.[1]

In 1742 Thomas succeeded to a canonry of St. Paul's, and held it till 1748. In 1742 he had been made one of George II's chaplains, and preached the Boyle lectures, which he did not publish; and, having secured the favour of the king when Prince of Wales, he was given the bishopric of Peterborough, and consecrated at Lambeth Palace on 4 October 1747.[1]

In 1752 Thomas was selected to succeed Thomas Hayter as preceptor to the young Prince of Wales, later George III, James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave being governor; these appointments were directed against the influence of the Princess Dowager. In 1757 he followed John Gilbert as bishop of Salisbury and also as clerk of the closet, and in 1761 was translated to Winchester in succession to Benjamin Hoadly.[1]

Thomas died at Winchester Palace, on 1 May 1781, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. There are portraits of the bishop at the palaces of Salisbury and Lambeth, and a fine mezzotint engraving (three-quarter length in robes of the Garter) by R. Sayer from a picture by Benjamin Wilson, published on 24 January 1771.[1]


John Thomas published about ten works, mainly sermons.[1]


Thomas married Susan, daughter of Thomas Mulso of Twywell, Northamptonshire; her brother Thomas married the bishop's sister, and their daughter, Mrs. Hester Chapone, spent much of her time after her husband's death with her uncle and aunt at Farnham Castle. Mrs. Thomas died on 19 November 1778, leaving three daughters, who married respectively Newton Ogle, dean of Winchester; William Buller; and Rear-admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle, 1st Baronet.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7  [ "Thomas, John (1696-1781)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain[ "Thomas, John (1696-1781)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Robert Clavering
Bishop of Peterborough
Succeeded by
Richard Terrick
Preceded by
John Gilbert
Bishop of Salisbury
Succeeded by
Robert Hay Drummond
Preceded by
Benjamin Hoadly
Bishop of Winchester
Succeeded by
Brownlow North