Harmer, Thomas (DNB00)

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HARMER, THOMAS (1714–1788), independent minister, was born at Norwich probably in October 1714. He was educated for the ministry at the Fund Academy in Tenter Alley, Moorfields, under Thomas Bidgley, D.D., and John Eames [q. v.], who became divinity tutor in April 1734. In July 1734, before he was twenty, Harmer was elected pastor of the independent church at Wattisfield, Suffolk, and began his ministry there at Michaelmas. He was not ordained till 7 Oct. 1735, when he had attained his majority. His liberal temper, evangelical enterprise, and studious research gave him much influence in the dissenting churches of the eastern counties. In his exegetical works he supplied valuable illustrations of scripture from oriental customs. Throughout an industrious and unambitious life he enjoyed unbroken health; during fifty-four years he preached every Sunday. He died on Thursday, 27 Nov. 1788. His funeral sermon was preached by John Mead Ray of Sudbury. His successor was Habakkuk Crabb [q. v.]

He published: 1 . ' Observations on Divers Passages of Scripture . . . from . . . Books of Voyages and Travels,' &c., 1764, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1776, 8vo, 2 vols.; vols. iii. and iv. 1787, 8vo; 4th ed. (edited by Adam Clarke. LL.D. [q. v.]) 1808, 8vo, 4 vols.; 5th and best ed., 1816, 8vo, 4 vols. 2. 'Outlines of a new Commentary on Solomon's Song . . . by ... help of Instructions from the East,' &c., 1768, 8vo; 2nd edit., 1775, 8vo. 3. 'Some Account of the Jewish Doctrine of the Resurrection,' &c., 1771, 8vo; 2nd edit., 1789, 8vo. This last, with other publications, including 'Remarks on the Ancient and Present State of the Congregational Churches of Norfolk and Suffolk,' is reprinted in 4. 'Miscellaneous Works,' &c., 1823, 8vo, edited, with memoir, by William Youngman. His manuscript accounts of almost all the dissenting churches of Norfolk and Suffolk to 1774 have been utilised by John Browne (b. 6 Feb. 1823, d. 3 April 1886), the non-conformist historian of those counties.

[Youngman's Memoir, 1823; Norfolk Tour, 1829, ii. 13, 20; Browne's Hist. Congr. Norf. and Suff. 1877, pp. 199, 471 sq.]

A. G.