Proctor, Thomas (1753-1794) (DNB00)
|←Proctor, Thomas (fl.1578)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 46
Proctor, Thomas (1753-1794)
PROCTOR, THOMAS (1753–1794), historical painter and sculptor, was born at Settle, Yorkshire, on 22 April 1753. His father, who was in humble circumstances, apprenticed him to a tobacconist in Manchester, but he afterwards came to London, and for a time found employment in a merchant's counting-house. In 1777 he became a student of the Royal Academy. Inspired by the works of James Barry, he painted a large picture of 'Adam and Eve,' and in 1780 began to exhibit, sending a portrait to the Royal Academy, and another to the Incorporated Society of Artists. In 1782 he gaimed a premium at the Society of Arts, and a medal at the Royal Academy for drawing from the life, in 1783 a silver medal at the Royal Academy for a model from the life, and in 1784 the gold medal for historical painting, the subject being a scene from Shakespeare's ‘Tempest.’ He then turned to modelling, and produced a statue of ‘Ixion,’ which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1785, and was so highly praised by Benjamin West that it was bought by Sir Abraham Hume. He next modelled a group representing ‘The Death of Diomedes, King of Thrace,’ which was greatly admired at the academy in 1786, but failed to meet with a purchaser. Bitterly disappointed, Proctor broke his work in pieces and abandoned sculpture. He reverted to painting, but did not again exhibit until 1789, and then sent only a portrait; but in 1790 he contributed to the exhibition of the Society of Artists ‘Coronis,’ a subject from Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ and to the Royal Academy ‘Elisha and the Son of the Shunammite,’ and ‘The Restoration of Day after the Fall of Phaethon,’ a sketch. In 1791 he exhibited at the academy ‘Hannah declines accompanying her Husband to the Yearly Sacrifice,’ and in 1792 two portraits and a group in plaster, ‘Peirithous, the Son of Ixion, destroyed by Cerberus.’ Three portraits and ‘The Final Separation of Jason and Medea’ were his exhibited works in 1793, and ‘Venus approaching the Island of Cyprus’ in 1794. After 1790 Proctor had exhibited without giving an address, and his abode was unknown. West, then president of the Royal Academy, who had at an earlier date treated him with great kindness, discovered that he had been living in a miserable garret in Clare Market, and subsisting on bread and water. His case was brought by West under the notice of the council of the Royal Academy, and in 1793 it was resolved that he should be sent to Italy as the travelling student, with a grant of 50l. for preliminary expenses. Unhappily the generous help came too late. Before he could leave England he was found dead in his bed, worn out by mental anguish and privation. He was buried in Hampstead churchyard on 13 July 1794.
Professor Westmacott, when lecturing to the students at the Royal Academy, exhibited the ‘Ixion’ and ‘Peirithous’ as examples of the work of true genius.[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School, 1878; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–1889, ii. 324; Sandby's Hist. of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1862, i. 251; Exhibition Catalogues of the Royal Academy, Incorporated Society of Artists, and Free Society of Artists, 1780–1794; date of burial kindly communicated by the Rev. Sherrard B. Burnaby, vicar of Hampstead.]
PROUD, JOSEPH (1745–1826), minister of the ‘new church,’ was born at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on 22 March 1745. His father, John Proud (d. 1784), was a general baptist minister at Beaconsfield, and (from 1756) at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Proud began his ministry in 1767 as assistant to his father at Wisbech. About 1772 he became minister of the general baptist congregation at Knipton, Leicestershire, but removed in 1775 to the charge of the general baptist congregation at Fleet, Lincolnshire. Here he was ordained in 1780; his chapel was enlarged in 1782. He left Fleet in 1786 to preach at a chapel built for him in that year in Ber Street, Norwich, by a surgeon named Hunt. The chapel and a minister's house were settled on him for life.
His views at this time, as is shown by his ‘Calvinism Exploded,’ were universalist; but in 1788 he became acquainted with the writings of Swedenborg, and a visit (June 1788) from Joseph Whittingham Salmon of Nantwich, Cheshire, originally a methodist, led to his adhesion to the ‘new church,’ or ‘new Jerusalem church,’ recently organised by Robert Hindmarsh [q. v.] On 24 Feb. 1789 he baptised, by immersion, nine persons as members of the ‘new church;’ he co-operated with its London leaders, and wrote, in three months, no less than three hundred original hymns for use in its worship. In 1790 he ceded Ber Street chapel to the general baptists, visited Birmingham (June 1790), where a ‘temple’ in Newhall Street was being built by a wealthy merchant, and agreed to become its minister. On 3 May 1791 he was ordained in London as a ‘new church’ minister by James Hindmarsh, and opened the Birmingham ‘temple’ on 19 June. Priestley, who was present at one of the opening services, immediately wrote a series of letters to its members, and made an appointment to read them, before publication, to Proud and his friends on 15 July, an intention frustrated by the riots which broke out on the previous day. Proud's relations with unitarians were friendly. He preached in their chapel at Warwick in 1792.
His career at Birmingham promised well, but was suddenly cut short by the failure of his patron. The ‘temple’ was found to be heavily mortgaged, and Proud, who had placed his savings in his patron's hands, lost everything. He received much sympathy and substantial help, among others from Spencer Madan (1758–1836) [q. v.], then rector of St. Philip's, Birmingham. A ‘temple’ was in course of erection in Peter Street, Manchester, for William Cowherd [q. v.], and Proud was invited to be his colleague. He