Emes, Thomas (DNB00)

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EMES, THOMAS (d. 1707), known as ‘the prophet,’ was an impudent quack who practised as a surgeon among the poorer classes. In the hope of obtaining notoriety he allied himself with the Camisards or French prophets, a pack of crazy enthusiasts who scandalised the town by their indecent buffooneries. He died at Old Street Square, London, 22 Dec. 1707, and was buried on Christmas day in Bunhill Fields. ‘Under the operation of the Spirit’ his brethren were enabled to prophesy that he would rise from his grave between twelve at noon and six in the evening of 25 May 1708. No ‘cloathing’ was to be provided, for rising ‘pure and innocent,’ it would not, they declared, ‘be esteem'd indecency for him to walk naked unto his habitation’ (Predictions concerning the Raising the Dead Body of Mr. T. Emes, 4to, London, 1708?). Three days before the pretended resurrection the government, fearing disturbances, and to prevent any tricks being played, placed guards at the grave and about the cemetery (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, 1857, vi. 307).

Emes wrote: 1. ‘A Dialogue between Alkali and Acid … wherein a late pretended new hypothesis, asserting Alkali the cause, and Acid the cure of all diseases, is proved groundless and dangerous. Being a specimen of the immodest self-applause, shameful contempt, and abuse of all physicians, gross mistakes and great ignorance of the pretender John Colbatch. By T. E. Chirurgo-Medicus,’ 8vo, London, 1698. 2. ‘A Letter to a Gentleman concerning Alkali and Acid. Being an answer to a late piece, intituled A Letter to a Physician concerning Acid and Alkali. To which is added, a Specimen of a new Hypothesis, for the sake of Lovers of Medicine,’ 8vo, London, 1700. 3. ‘The Atheist turn'd Deist, and the Deist turn'd Christian: or, the Reasonableness and Union of Natural and the True Christian Religion,’ 8vo, London, 1698.

[Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. i. 398; Spinckes's The New Pretenders to Prophecy examin'd, &c., in Dr. George Hickes's The Spirit of Enthusiasm Exorcised (1709), pp. 372, 373, 508, 509–30.]

G. G.