Wadsworth, Thomas (DNB00)

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WADSWORTH, THOMAS (1630–1676), nonconformist divine, son of William Wadsworth, was born in the parish of St. Saviour's, Southwark, on 15 Dec. 1630. His father was intimate with Samuel Bolton, D.D. [q. v.], who held a lectureship at St. Saviour's along with the mastership of Christ's College, Cambridge. On 22 June 1647 Thomas entered at Christ's College, his tutors being Peter Harrison and William Owtram, D.D. [q. v.] He was a good scholar, religiously inclined, and joined an academic club for philosophical study and devotional exercises. Having graduated B.A. in 1650–1, he was called home by his father's last illness. Elected fellow in 1652, he graduated M.A. in 1654, and then resigned his fellowship on Bolton's advice, accepting a call to minister at St. Mary's, Newington Butts, Surrey. The rectory had been filled by Henry Langley [q. v.] on the sequestration of James Meggs; Langley was followed by John Morton, on whose death the parish was divided on the question of his successor; each section, unknown to the other, petitioned parliament in favour of Wadsworth, who was appointed on 16 Feb. 1652–3. He was ordained by the eighth London classis in the church of St. Mary Axe. His ministry was successful; he was a good expository preacher and a zealous catechist. In August 1660 Meggs claimed the living, though it is said there was some flaw in his title; Wadsworth resigned on 29 Sept. He retained a Saturday morning lectureship at St. Antholine's, and a Monday evening lectureship at St. Margaret's, Fish Street Hill. The parishioners, who were the patrons of the perpetual curacy of St. Lawrence Pountney, presented him to that living, with a lectureship at St. John the Baptist's; he held it till ejected by the Uniformity Act of 1662, preaching his farewell sermon on 23 Aug., the day before the act came into force.

Removing to Theobalds in the parish of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, he preached privately there, and (also privately) to a section of his old flock at Newington Butts, taking no salary at either place. He continued his labours during the plague of 1665. After the fire of 1666 he preached in a timber building erected in Deadman's Place, Southwark, where he was assisted by Andrew Parsons (1616–1684). He still continued to reside and preach at Theobalds, where in 1669 he was returned as keeping a conventicle along with Robert Bragge (1627–1704), and where he took out a license (1 May 1672) under the recent indulgence, as ‘a presbyterian teacher in the house of Jonathan Pritman.’ His work was effective in both his congregations; he encouraged charitable efforts, and raised considerable sums to meet the necessities of ejected nonconformists. A few weeks before his death he left Theobalds for a residence in Pickle Herring Stairs, Southwark. He died on Sunday, 29 Oct. 1676. His funeral sermon was preached (12 Nov.) by Bragge; Richard Baxter took charge for some months of the Deadman's Place congregation. An oil portrait is at Dr. Williams's Library, London.

Wadsworth married, first, a younger daughter of Henry Hasting of Newington Butts; she died in childbed on 13 Oct. 1661. He married, secondly (November 1663), Margaret (d. 3 Jan. 1667–8), daughter of Henry Gibs of Bristol, and widow of Thomas Sharp, merchant. He married, thirdly (1671), Anna, only daughter of Colonel Markham, by whom he had issue two sons (one of whom died in infancy), and two daughters. By his earlier marriages he had no surviving issue.

He published among other pieces: 1. ‘Ἀντιψυχοφαναία, or the Immortality of the Soul,’ 1670, 8vo. 2. ‘Faith's Triumphs over the Fears of Death,’ 1670, 8vo. 3. ‘Separation yet no Schism,’ 1675, 4to. Posthumous were: 4. ‘Last Warning to secure Sinners,’ 1677 (his last two sermons; edited by Baxter). 5. ‘Meditations on the Lord's Supper,’ 1680, 8vo. 6. ‘Remains,’ 1680, 8vo (with ‘Life’ and portrait). 7. ‘Self-Examination,’ 1687, 8vo.

[Funeral Sermon by Bragge, 1677; Life, 1680 (contains large extracts from his religious diary, begun 1650); this is abridged by Clarke in Lives of Eminent Persons, 1683, p. 177 (second paging); an independent abridgment is in Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 22; Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, 1696, iii. 19, 95, 178; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 26, 556; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, ii. 173; Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, 1802, i. 138; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1814, iv. 149 (needs correction); Hanbury's Most Ancient Congregational Church in England, 1820, p. 29; Waddington's Surrey Congregational History, 1866, pp. 41, 54, 292; Urwick's Nonconformity in Herts, 1884, p. 509; information from the master of Christ's College, Cambridge.]

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