Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Haweis, Thomas
HAWEIS, THOMAS, M.D. (1734–1820), divine, born at Redruth, Cornwall, on 1 Jan. 1733–4, was baptised on 20 Feb. His father, Thomas Haweis of Chincoose in Kenwyn parish, was a solicitor, who gradually mortgaged all his property, and died at Redruth in October 1753. His mother was Bridgman, only daughter of John Willyams of Carnanton in Mawgan in Pyder, by Bridgman, daughter of Colonel Humphry Noy. Thomas was educated at the Truro grammar school, where he was famous for his oratorical powers and his knowledge of Greek, and at the conclusion of his school days was bound an apprentice to a surgeon-apothecary in that town. On 1 Dec. 1755 he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, and was afterwards a member of Magdalen Hall, but he never took any degree in this university. In 1757 he was ordained and appointed chaplain to the Earl of Peterborough, and became curate at St. Mary Magdalen, Oxford. On being removed from St. Mary's by Bishop Hume on account of his methodist sympathies, he became assistant to the Rev. Martin Madan [q. v.] at the Lock Chapel, London. He was from 25 Feb. 1764 till his death rector of Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire. In 1767 Haweis was called on by the patrons to resign this living, on the ground that he had taken it under letters of resignation. This he positively denied, but a lively discussion followed, and at least ten works were printed on the subject. Chief Baron Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe in a letter to Haweis says: ‘In the affair of Aldwinkle you acted with perfect uprightness, and I shall be always ready to declare to it.’ In 1768 he became chaplain to Selina Hastings, countess of Huntingdon, and manager of the college which she had just established at Trevecca in Wales. On Lady Huntingdon's death in 1791 she left him her trustee and executor, and from that time he had the chief management of her numerous chapels. In 1772 he received the degree of LL.B. at Cambridge, becoming a member of Christ's College, and from one of the universities in Scotland he obtained an M.D. degree about this period.
He took a great interest in foreign missions, especially in those to Africa and the South Seas, and was one of the first promoters of the London Missionary Society in 1794, for the benefit of which he preached many sermons. He was a very voluminous writer; upwards of forty works bear his name, and some of these went through numerous editions. Their titles are fully given in the ‘Bibliotheca Cornubiensis.’ Among them are ‘The Communicants' Spiritual Companion,’ 1763, which enjoyed much popularity, and ran to twenty editions; ‘Carmina Christi, or Hymns to the Saviour,’ 1792, a very favourite hymn-book, which went through nine editions; ‘A Translation of the New Testament from the original Greek,’ 1795; ‘The Life of William Romaine,’ 1797; ‘An Impartial and Succinct History of the Rise, Declension, and Revival of the Church of Christ,’ 1800, 3 vols. Dr. Isaac Milner, dean of Carlisle, made a printed reply to this work. Haweis was a great friend of the Rev. John Newton of Olney, whose ‘Authentic Narrative’ he edited in 1764, and an intimate acquaintance of the Rev. Martin Madan, to whose ‘Thelyphthora’ he thought it necessary to make a reply in 1781. He took a great interest in the improvement of the condition of the poor, and was an advocate of the claims of the Humane Society. His views, strictly evangelical, exposed him to frequent attack. As a preacher he was very successful; he had large congregations, and was in great request as a preacher of charity sermons. He died at Beaufort Buildings, Bath, on 11 Feb. 1820, and was buried in the abbey church, where his monument by error states that his age was 77. He was married three times. His only son, John Oliver Willyams Haweis, rector of Slaugham, Sussex, prebendary of Chichester (1805–91), was father of Hugh Reginald Haweis, perpetual curate of St. James's, Marylebone (1838–1901), writer on violins.
[Life of Countess of Huntingdon, i. 223, &c., ii. 314, &c.; Evangelical Mag. 1817 xxv. 341–6, 1820 xxviii. 104, 129, 174, 237; Gent. Mag. October 1767 pp. 507–10, March 1820 i. 277, 290; Polwhele's Biographical Sketches, i. 80–8, iii. 171–2; Public Characters for 1798–9, pp. 312–16; Morison's Fathers of the London Missionary Society, 1840, ii. 170, 207; New's The Coronet and The Cross, 1857, p. 158, &c.; Tunstall's Rambles about Bath, 1848, pp. 35–6; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. pp. 215–19, 1221; Boase's Collectanea Cornubiensia, p. 335.]