Newman, Thomas (1692-1758) (DNB00)

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NEWMAN, THOMAS (1692–1758), dissenting minister, son of Thomas Newman (1665–1742), was born in 1692 in London. The father, a pious tradesman, born ‘in Cloth Fair near Smithfield, London, at the most malignant period of the plague in 1665,’ was apprenticed to a linendraper, and, being apprehensive that James II would deprive the protestants of their liberty and the scriptures, he transcribed the whole Bible into shorthand, sitting up two nights a week for six months to do it. This book is preserved in the Doctor Williams Library. He was ‘author of a small piece on the “Religion of the Closet,” or some such title.’

The son was educated ‘probably’ at Dr. Ker's academy at Highgate [see Ker, Patrick]. On 9 March 1710 he matriculated at Glasgow University, but took no degree. Returning to London, he received his first ‘impressions’ under the presbyterian Dr. John Evans, to whose congregation (which met at Hand Alley, removing later to New Broad Street) his family belonged, and in 1718 he entered on ministerial work at Blackfriars as assistant to Dr. Wright. He was ordained at the Old Jewry (11 Jan. 1721), and his confession of faith, which was printed at the time, was indicative of his later theological position. The Blackfriars congregation was one of the most respectable presbyterian congregations in London, having been gathered by Matthew Sylvester and served by Richard Baxter. It met at Meeting House Court until 1734, when it removed to Little Carter Lane, Doctors' Commons. Newman remained with the congregation in both places, as assistant minister 1718–46, and as pastor in succession to Dr. Wright 1746–58. On the breaking out of the Salters' Hall controversy soon after his settlement, Newman took part with the non-subscribing ministers. His later life and writings mark very well the eighteenth-century transition from presbyterianism to unitarianism. In 1724 he undertook to assist ‘Mr. Read once a month at St. Thomas's, continuing the effort till the death of Dr. Wright, when he confined himself to Carter Lane.’ In 1749 he was chosen as the Merchants' Tuesday morning lecturer at Salters' Hall. He had already preached there as early as 1736 (Doctor Williams Library MSS. Records of Nonconformity, vol. xiii.). He died, much esteemed, 6 Dec. 1758, and was buried privately in Bunhill Fields. His wife Elizabeth died 25 Dec. 1776, in her seventy-third year.

Newman's works, excluding separately issued sermons and tracts, are: 1. ‘Reformation or Mockery, argued from the general use of our Lord's Prayer, delivered to the Societies for Reformation of Manners at Salters' Hall, 30 June 1729,’ London, 1729. 2. ‘Piety recommended as the best Principle of Virtue,’ London, 1735; reprinted as discourse 23 in the ‘Protestant System,’ 1758, ii. 447. 3. ‘Sermons on various important Subjects by the late Rev. Thomas Newman, published from his MS. and by his particular direction,’ 2 vols. (a series of thirty-six sermons), London, 1760. A portrait of Newman by S. Webster was engraved by J. McArdell (Bromley).

[Wilson's Dissenting Churches (with Wilson's manuscript additions to same in the copy preserved at the Doctor Williams Library); extract from the Glasgow Matriculation Album communicated by W. Innes Addison, esq.; Bunhill Memorials, p. 183; Salters' Hall Lecture MS. Account-book in the Doctor Williams Library, ubi supra; also a note prefixed to the elder Newman's shorthand Bible, written by ‘his nephew's son, Joseph Paice’ (Doctor Williams Library); Watt's Bibl. Brit. Pickard, Newman's assistant and successor at Little Carter Lane, preached his funeral sermon (on 2 Tim. i. 12), and drew his character at length.]

W. A. S.