Cole, Thomas (1627?-1697) (DNB00)

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COLE, THOMAS (1627?–1697), independent minister, a native of London, was born about 1627. William Cole, his father, was a man of some property, and sent him to Westminster School, whence, in 1646, he was elected student of Christ Church, Oxford. He proceeded B.A. in 1649, and M.A. 8 July 1651, and in 1656 became principal of St. Mary Hall. As a tutor he had ‘some eminent divines’ for pupils, among whom was John Locke. The restoration of Charles II was followed by the ejection of Cole from his position at Oxford. He then opened an academy at Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, and one of those under his charge was Samuel Wesley, the father of the founder of methodism. Samuel Wesley was the son of an ejected minister, but having entered the church, he attacked his former tutor, whose character was cleared by Samuel Palmer in his ‘Vindication of the Dissenters.’ In February 1674 Cole succeeded Philip Nye as minister of the now extinct independent congregation of Silver Street, London. He was also one of the ministers of the merchants' lecture at Pinners' Hall. His church, after leaving Silver Street, met at Tallow Chandlers' Hall, Dowgate Hill, and afterwards at Pinners' Hall, where he preached his last sermon 22 Aug. 1697. Cole is described by Palmer as ‘a man of a most innocent and spotless life in his usual conversation.’ Beyond three sermons in the ‘Morning Exercises,’ 1674, and one in the ‘Casuistical Morning Exercise,’ 1690, his writings are: 1. ‘The old Apostolical Way of Preaching: a funeral sermon for Rev. Edward West,’ London, 1676. 2. ‘Discourses on Regeneration, Faith, and Repentance,’ London, 1689. 3. ‘The Incomprehensibleness of imputed Righteousness for Justification by Human Reason, till enlightened by the Spirit of God,’ London, 1692. 4. ‘Discourses on the Christian Religion,’ London, 1700. A manuscript copy of some of his sermons, including his last, with an account of his deathbed conversation, is described by Wilson, who gives from it an account of his decease, 16 Sept. 1697, in the seventieth year of his age. A copy of verses by him is prefixed to Cartwright's poems in 1653, and there is another in the Oxford collection on the peace in 1654. He is buried in the upper ground of Bunhill Fields, but the precise spot is not known.

[Wilson's History of Dissenting Churches in London, iii. 79–80; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, p. 29; Welch's Alumni West. pp. 125, 126; Wood's Fasti, ii. 120, 166; History and Antiq. iii. 672.]

W. E. A. A.