Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carlyle, Thomas (1803-1855)

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CARLYLE, THOMAS (1803–1855), an apostle of the Catholic Apostolic church, was born at King's Grange, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 17 July 1808. His father was William Carlyle, and his mother Margaret Heriot, widow of William McMurdo of Savannah, Georgia. He was first educated at Annan academy, in company with Edward Irving, and afterwards at the Dumfries academy, studied at the Edinburgh University, and was called to the Scottish bar in 1824. By the death of John Carlyle of Torthorwald, in October 1824, the claim to the dormant title of Baron Carlyle devolved on Thomas Carlyle (Carlisle's Collections for a History of the Ancient Family of Carlisle, London, 1822, 4to, pp. 140–1). In 1827 he published 'An Essay to illustrate the Foundation, the Necessity, the Nature, and the Evidence of Christianity, and to connect True Philosophy with the Bible. By a Layman,' and in'1829 'The Word made Flesh, or the True Humanity of God in Christ demonstrated from the Scriptures.' In the well-known 'Row heresy case,' when the Rev. John McLeod Campbell, minister of Row, Argyllshire, was tried and finally deposed by the courts of the church of Scotland in 1831, Carlyle acted during the various stages of the trial as legal counsel for Campbell (Memoir of the Rev. J. McLeod Campbell, D.D., 1877, i. 77, 103, 115). Having much in common with the opinions of Dr. Campbell, he also sympathised with many of the views of his friend Edward Irving, and adopted and advocated those religious tenets taught by the Catholic Apostolic church. This church having been found»»d on 19 Oct. 1832, the appointment of the apostle proceeded, and in Edinburgh in April 1835 Carlyle was named the ninth apostle of the denomination, and in the same year gave up his practice at the bar, left Edinburgh, and settled with his wife at Albury, Surrey. He was one of the members of the assembly of the twelve apostles and seven prophets [see Cardale, John Bate]. In 1838 Prussia and North Germany, called 'The Tribe of Simeon,' and supposed to represent 'quiet perseverance in accomplishing what is aimed at,' were allotted to Carlyle, who henceforth was known as 'The Apostle for North Germany.' In that country he therefore very frequently resided, and went about collecting and superintending congregations of converts, and while there made the acquaintance of Eerlach, Neander, and other theologians. Among his converts were Herr Thiersch, the church historian, and Herr Charles J. T. Böhm, author of various works. The results of his acquaintance with the German language, literature, society, and religious thought were given in his work, 'The Moral Phenomena of Germany,' which appeared in 1845, and of which more than one edition was printed in German. This work having won him the acquaintance of Baron Bunsen, he introduced him to King Frederick William of Prussia, who had been much interested in reading the 'Moral Phenomena.' His work seriously impaired his health, and he died at Heath House, Albury, on 28 Jan. 1855, and was buried in Albury parish church on 3 Feb. He married on 7 Sept. 1826 Frances Wallace, daughter of the Rev. Archibald Laurie, D.D., minister of Loudoun, Ayrshire. She died at Pan on 22 Feb. 1874.

Carlyle's other writings not already mentioned were:

  1. 'The Scottish Jurist. Conducted by T. Carlyle,' 1829.
  2. ' The First Resurrection and the Second Death,' 1830.
  3. 'Letter to the Editor of the "Christian Instructor," ' 1830.
  4. 'A Letter to the King of Prussia,' 1847.
  5. 'On the sacrament of Baptism,' 1850.
  6. 'The One Catholic Supremacy,' 1851.
  7. 'A Short History of the Apostolic Work,' 1851.
  8. 'History of the Christian Church. By H. W. J. Thiers,' Vol. I. 'The Church in the Apostolic A Translated by T. Carlyle,' 1852.
  9. 'The Jew our Law-giver,' 1853.
  10. 'The Door of Hope for Britain,' 1853.
  11. 'The Door of Hope for Christendom,' 1853.
  12. 'Apostles given, lost, and restored,' 1853.
  13. 'On the Office of the Paraclete in the Prayers of the Church,' 1853.
  14. 'On Symbols in Worship,' 1853.
  15. 'Our present Position in Spiritual Chronology,' 1853; another edition, 1879.
  16. 'On the Epistles to the Seven Churches,' 1854.
  17. 'Warning for the Unwary against Spiritual Evil,' 1854.
  18. 'Shall Turkey live or die?' 1854.
  19. 'Pleadings with my father, the Church in Scotland,' 1854.
  20. 'Blicke eines Engländers in die kirchlichen und socialen Zustände Deutschlands von T. Carlyle. Uebersetzt von B. Frh. von Richthofen,' 1870.
  21. 'Collected Writings of the late T. Carlyle,' 1878.

A reference to Carlyle in the 'Reminiscences' (i. 312) of his famous namesake is not to be trusted; at any rate there is not the least ground for supposing that the advocate Thomas Carlyle ever intentionally contributed to the mistakes of identity there described. The story on which Carlyle's account is founded is told in the 'Memorials' of Janet Welsh Carlyle (i. 204).

[Miller's Irvingism, i. 14, &c. ii. 416; Athenæum, 14 May 1881, p.654; Hare's Life of Baroness Bunsen (3rd ed. 1882), ii. 76; information received from the Rev. H. G. Graham, Glasgow.]

G. C. B.