Gouge, Thomas (1665?-1700) (DNB00)

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GOUGE, THOMAS (1665?–1700), independent divine, son of Robert Gouge [q. v.], was born at Ipswich. He was educated for the ministry in Holland, and before completing his twenty-second year became pastor of the English church at Amsterdam. Calamy met him there in 1688, and found him ‘very great’ with Partridge, the astrologer. Partridge and he ‘had with great exactness calculated the year, the month, the day, and the very hour, when the city of Rome was to be burnt and destroyed so as never to be rebuilt any more.’ When Calamy asked for this date, Gouge ‘desired to be excused,’ but assured him he ‘might live to see that time.’ In 1689 Gouge returned to England, and became pastor of the independent congregation at Three Cranes, Fruiterers' Alley, Thames Street, London. He became exceedingly popular. Isaac Watts speaks of him as one of the three greatest preachers he had heard in his youth, the others being John Howe (1630–1705) [q. v.] and Joseph Stennett. In 1694 he was chosen one of the merchants' lecturers at Pinners' Hall, in the room of Daniel Williams, D.D., whose removal was occasioned by the doctrinal disputes which broke up the union (1691) of London presbyterians and independents. Gouge's own congregation was not free from internal troubles. In 1697 an eccentric divine, Joseph Jacob (1667–1722) [q. v.], was permitted to conduct a weekday lecture at Three Cranes. He introduced politics, and was dismissed at the instance of Arthur Shallet, M.P., a member of Gouge's flock. He carried away a following, and next year (1698) several more withdrew owing to a dispute about the admission of a member. These trials broke Gouge's health, but he persevered in his duties, and died in harness. He was reckoned a living library; as a preacher his strength lay in the illustration of scripture. He died on 8 Jan. 1700; his funeral sermon was preached by John Nesbitt at Pinners' Hall. Watts's ‘Elegiac Essey,’ which dilates on ‘the charming wonders of his tongue,’ was published separately in 1700, dedicated to Shallet; it is reprinted in Watts's ‘Lyrick Poems.’

[Nesbitt's Funeral Sermon, 1700; Watts's Lyrick Poems, 1709, pp. 331 sq.; Calamy's Own Life, 1830, i. 181; Wilson's Diss. Churches of London, 1808, i. 139 sq., ii. 69 sq., 253; Davids's Annals of Evang. Nonconf. Essex, 1863, pp. 364, 618.]

A. G.