Reynolds, Thomas (1667?-1727) (DNB00)

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REYNOLDS, THOMAS (1667?–1727), presbyterian minister, was born in London about 1667, and, being an eldest son, was destined for the law; but the preaching of William Smythies at St. Giles's, Cripplegate, led him to enter the ministry, contrary to his father's wish. He was admitted to the academy of Charles Morton (1627–1698) [q. v.] at Stoke Newington Green, on 27 March 1683, being still under sixteen. On the break-up of Morton's academy (1685) he went to Geneva, where he studied for a session under Francis Turretine, and conceived serious doubts as to his fitness for the ministry. He removed in 1686 to Utrecht, where Calamy found him, in 1688, studying under De Vries and Hermann Wits. Returning to London in 1689, he became assistant at Silver Street to Calamy's friend, John Howe (1630–1705) [q. v. , of whose congregation his father had been a member. Reynolds preached the funeral sermon for Calamy's first wife in 1713.

Reynolds concurred with Calamy in the wish to be publicly ‘ordained minister of the catholic church,’ and, after much negotiation [see Calamy, Edmund, D.D.], the ordination took place on 22 June 1694. Next year he was chosen successor to Thomas Kentish in the pastorate of a presbyterian congregation in Great Eastcheap, near Cannon Street. The membership of this congregation had dropped to less than a score. But Reynolds soon increased the congregation (though he was a plain, unvarnished preacher), and built a new meeting-house over the King's Weigh House, at the corner of Love Lane, Little Eastcheap, opened in 1697. In this charge he remained till death. In 1715 he succeeded John Shower [q. v.] as one of the Tuesday lecturers at Salters' Hall, and he became in 1716 an original trustee of the various foundations of Daniel Williams [q. v.], but took no part in the management of the trust.

At the Salters' Hall conferences in 1719 [see Bradbury, Thomas], occasioned by the alleged heresies of James Peirce [q. v.], Reynolds took a decided position in favour of a doctrinal subscription. In conjunction with Benjamin Robinson [q. v.], Jeremiah Smith [q. v.], and William Tong [q. v.], he issued (2 March 1719) an urgent appeal for votes on the subscribing side at the meeting to take place on the following day. The same four divines drew up after the conferences an able polemic on the doctrine of the Trinity and its relation to church communion. Calamy, who kept away from the meetings, and thought the debates mischievous, was unconvinced that subscription would ‘prevent heterodoxy.’ Hence there arose ‘some coolness’ between him and Reynolds. James Read, Reynolds's assistant, and a co-trustee of the Williams foundations, voted on the non-subscribing side; the division of opinion endangered the peace of the congregation. Ultimately (July 1720) Read was dismissed by what Calamy calls ‘a piece of management.’ There were three hundred communicants, of whom not more than a dozen left with Read. Read was succeeded by James Wood (d. 1742), who became pastor at Reynolds's death. The agitation of this affair threw Reynolds into an illness; for three months his life was in danger, and it was erroneously reported that his mind was affected. In a funeral sermon (1722) for Samuel Pomfret [q. v.] Reynolds reverted to the Salters' Hall disputes, and was attacked rather fiercely by Simon Browne [q. v.], who in a published ‘Letter’ (1722) put him on his defence in the matter of Read. Reynolds made no sign till Browne's pamphlet reached a second edition, when he published a full and temperate account of the dismissal in ‘An Answer … to Simon Browne's Letter’ (1723, 8vo). In 1723 he was made one of the original distributors (nine in number) of the English regium donum, or treasury grant to the nonconformists, of 1,000l. a year. Reynolds died on 27 Aug. 1727. Wood preached his funeral sermon. His portrait, painted by Thomas Gibson (1680?–1751) [q. v.], was engraved in mezzotint by G. White. He left a widow, whose maiden name was Terry.

Reynolds published funeral sermons for John Ashwood (1706), Mary Terry (1709), Mrs. Clissold (1712), Thomas Clissold (1713), Eleanor Murdin (1713), and William Hocker (1722); accompanying most of the funeral sermons are didactic biographies. His share in ‘The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity stated and defended by some London Ministers,’ &c., 1719, 8vo, is the last piece, ‘Advices relating to the Doctrine.’

[Funeral Sermon by Wood, 1727; Noble's Continuation of Granger, 1806, ii. 157 sq.; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, i. 157 sq.; Calamy's Own Life, 1830, i. 142, 339 sq., 365, 491, ii. 342, 413, 465, 510 sq.; Pike's Ancient Meeting-Houses, 1870, pp. 339 sq.; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 114 sq.]

A. G.