Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dampier, Thomas

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DAMPIER, THOMAS, D.D. (1748–1812), bishop of Ely, eldest son of Dr. Thomas Dampier, who was lower master at Eton and from 1774 dean of Durham, was born in 1748. He was educated at Eton, and in 1766 elected to King's College, Cambridge. He graduated B.A. 1771, M.A. 1774, D.D. 1780. After taking his degree he resided for some time at Eton as private tutor to the Earl of Guilford, holding at the same time the vicarage of Bexley in Kent, while a few years later he succeeded to the mastership of Sherborne Hospital, which his father obtained leave to resign in his favour. In 1782 he was promoted to the deanery of Rochester, and in 1802 to the bishopric of that diocese. The bishopric of Rochester was a poor one, and it was in his case, for the first time for some years past, separated from the deanery of Westminster. Dampier therefore looked for fresh promotion, and in 1808 was translated to Ely. He died suddenly from an attack of gout in the stomach in the evening of 13 May 812 at Ely House, Dover Street. As a bishop he seems to have made a good impression by his kindliness and liberality; and Archdeacon Law, in a charge delivered a few years after his death, speaks of his having been the first to promote the Christian Knowledge Society in Rochester, and of the bishop himself as 'one whose memory is still dear to us, and whose name every friend to our ecclesiastical establishment must ever revere.' His politics may be inferred from the statement that as bishop of Rochester he proposed an address from the clergy 'thanking the crown for requiring an undertaking from the ministry not to move in the matter of catholic emancipation.' Dampier published several sermons. He was celebrated for his love of literature, and for the splendid library and collection of prints which he accumulated throughout his life, often at considerable cost, and of the rarer books in which he left an account in Latin, the manuscript of which was extensively used by Dibdin in compiling his 'Aedes Althorpianae.' His bibliomania had begun early in life before he went to college, and remained his ruling passion to the day of his death. His library was sold by his half-brother, Sir Henry Dampier (a baron of the exchequer and a celebrated ecclesiastical lawyer), and his widow, to the Duke of Devonshire at a valuation amounting to nearly 10,000l. His portrait was painted by J. J. Masquerier, of which Dibdin giyes an engraving in his 'Bibliographical Decameron.'

[Gent. Mag. 1812, i. 501, ii. 240, 1817, ii. 140. 1821, ii. 280; Dibdin's Bibliographical Decameron, iii. 352; Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, p. 347.]

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