Gibbons, Thomas (DNB00)

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GIBBONS, THOMAS (1720–1785), dissenting minister and miscellaneous writer, was the son of Thomas Gibbons, who was at one time minister of a dissenting congregation at Olney in Buckinghamshire, and afterwards of a congregation at Royston in Hertfordshire. He was born at Reak, Swaffham Prior, near Cambridge, on 31 May 1720, and received the early part of his education at various schools in Cambridgeshire. When about fifteen years of age he was sent to Dr. Taylor's academy in Deptford, and afterwards to that of John Eames [q. v.] in Moorfields. In 1742 he was appointed assistant to the Rev. Thomas Bures, minister of the Silver Street presbyterian congregation, and in the next year he was chosen minister of the independent congregation of Haberdashers' Hall. In 1754 he was elected one of the three tutors of the Mile End academy, where he gave instruction in logic, metaphysics, ethics, and rhetoric, till the end of his life. He was chosen Sunday evening lecturer in the Monkwell Street meeting-house in 1759. He received the degree of M.A. from New Jersey in 1760, and that of D.D. from Aberdeen in 1764. He died in the Hoxton Square coffee-house, 22 Feb. 1785.

A list of between forty and fifty works by him may be found in the ‘Protestant Dissenters' Magazine,’ ii. 492, 493, and in Wilson's ‘Dissenting Churches,’ iii. 181, 182. The following appear to have been the chief of them:

  1. ‘Juvenilia; poems on various subjects of devotion and virtue,’ 8vo, 1750.
  2. ‘Rhetoric,’ 8vo, 1767.
  3. ‘Hymns adapted to Divine Worship,’ 12mo, 1769.
  4. ‘The Christian Minister, in three Poetic Epistles,’ 8vo, 1772.
  5. ‘Female Worthies,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1777.
  6. ‘Memoirs of the Rev. Isaac Watts, D.D.,’ 8vo, 1780.
  7. ‘Sermons on evangelical and practical subjects,’ 3 vols. 8vo, 1787.

His favourite form of composition seems to have consisted in elegies on the death of his friends and others. For this, and for the want of poetical power which he showed in all his efforts, he was ridiculed in ‘An Epistle to the Rev. Mr. Tho. G-bb-ns on his Juvenilia,’ 1750. He was also satirised by Robert Sanders in ‘Gaffer Greybeard’ as ‘Dr. Hymnmaker’ (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ii. 730). Dr. Johnson enjoyed his society (Boswell, Johnson, 3 June 1781, 17 May 1784).

[Benj. Davies's Israel's Testament (funeral sermon on Gibbons), 1785, pp. 19–20 note; Protestant Dissenters' Magazine, ii. 489–93; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, iii. 178–83; Gent. Mag. xxxix. 261, lv. pt. ii. p. 159.]

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