tory of Holywell and Needingworth, Huntingdonshire, by the Earl of Manchester, whose chaplain, and whose son's tutor, he became. His first book, ‘The Creed of Mr. Hobbes examined,’ was published in 1670. In 1674 he was chosen ‘upper minister’ of St. Peter Mancroft. In 1678 he published ‘Baconiana’ and a ‘Discourse of Idolatry.’ The latter was ‘some part of it meditated and the whole revised in the castle of Kimbolton’ (preface), and directed chiefly against the church of Rome. Already a chaplain in ordinary to the king, he was presented to the rectory of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on 8 Oct. 1680. From 1686 to 1692 he was also minister of St. James's, Piccadilly (Hennessy, Novum Repertorium. 1898, p. 250).
In the large parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields he came at once into prominence, and during the eleven years he was rector he made acquaintance with all the most eminent men of the day. Evelyn first heard him preach on 5 Nov. 1680, and in 1683 notes that he is ‘one of the most profitable preachers in the church of England, being also of a most holy conversation, very learned and ingenious. The pains he takes and care of his parish will, I fear, wear him out, which would be an inexpressible loss’ (Diary, 21 March 1683). He ministered to the notorious Edward Turberville [q. v.] on his deathbed on 18 Dec. 1681 (Throckmorton manuscripts, Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. iv. 174), to Sir Thomas Armstrong [q. v.] at Tyburn on 20 June 1684, and in 1685 to the Duke of Monmouth before his execution (details of the duke's statements to Tenison in Evelyn's Diary, 15 July 1685; see also Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. v. 93).
While still a parish priest Tenison won fame by his controversy with Andrew Pulton, then head of the jesuits settled in the Savoy. He published a large number of pamphlets, the most important of which are: ‘A True Account of a Conference held about Religion, September 29, 1687, between Andrew Pulton, a Jesuit, and Tho. Tenison, D.D., as also of that which led to it and followed after it’ (1687), and ‘Mr. Pulton considered in his Sincerity, Reasonings, and Authority’ (1687). He states that when his father was ejected from his living during the Commonwealth, ‘a Roman catholic got in.’ An acrimonious correspondence was long continued on both sides. Tenison's arguments are far from clear, but he appears to deny the ‘corporal presence.’ More or less connected with this controversy was his attack on the system of indulgences (in ‘A Defence of Dr. Tenison's sermon of Discretion in giving Alms,’ 1687), his ‘Discourse concerning a Guide in Matters of Faith,’ published anonymously in 1683, the ‘Difference betwixt the Protestant and Socinian Methods’ (1687), and, in the ‘Notes of the Church as laid down by Cardinal Bellarmin examined and confuted’ (1688), the tenth note on ‘Holiness of Life’ (manuscript note in Bodleian copy). Tenison was assisted in this controversy by Henry Wharton [q. v.], whose patron he remained during his life.
Meanwhile Tenison engaged in political controversy. In ‘An Argument for Union,’ 1683, he urged the dissenters to ‘do as the ancient nonconformists did, who would not separate, tho' they feared to subscribe’ (p. 42); and a sermon against self-love, preached before the House of Commons, 1689, in which he attacked Louis XIV. During James II's reign he had preached before the king (Evelyn, Diary, 14 Feb. 1685), but he was early in the confidence of those who planned the invasion of William III (ib. 10 Aug. 1688). It was chiefly by his interest that the suspension of Dr. John Sharp [q. v.] for preaching against popery was removed (1688; Le Neve). He joined the seven bishops when they drew up the declaration which led to their imprisonment.
Tenison's activity in general philanthropic works also extended his reputation. Simon Patrick [q. v.], bishop of Ely, ‘blesses God for having placed so good a man in the post’ (Autobiography, p. 84). He erected for his parish, in Castle Street, Leicester Square, a library, on the design of Wren and after consultation with Evelyn. It was the first public library in London. The deed of settlement was dated 1695 (Sims, Handbook to British Museum Library, 1854, p. 395). He also endowed a school, which he located under the same roof as the library. In June 1861 the library, which included valuable manuscripts, was sold for the benefit of the school endowment for nearly 2,900l. This school was removed to a new building erected in Leicester Square in 1870, on the site of a house once tenanted by Hogarth. Tenison distributed large sums during times of public distress. Preaching a funeral sermon on the death of Nell Gwynne, whom he attended in her last illness, he represented her as a penitent. When this was subsequently made the ground of exposing him to the reproof of Queen Mary, she remarked that the good doctor no doubt had said nothing but what the facts authorised.
Tenison was presented by the new king and queen to the archdeaconry of London, 26 Oct. 1689, and in the same year he was one of the commission appointed to prepare the