Parson, Thomas (DNB00)

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PARSON, THOMAS (1631–1681?), dissenting divine, born in 1631, was second son of a Thomas Parson of London, and possibly a grandson of Thomas Parsonne of Wisbech in the Isle of Ely (see Sir T. Phillips, Cambridge Visitation, 1619). He was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 19 June 1647. In 1650 he was nominated fellow by Cromwell. On 14 May 1654, being then M.A., he was publicly ordained by the fourth London classis at St. Bennet's Gracechurch (Minutes of the Fourth London Classis, transcript), and he accepted a call to the church of Chingford in Essex. In 1655 Robert Plume had taken his place as minister there (David, Nonconformity in Essex, p. 280). At the twenty-first synod of the provincial assembly of London, May–November 1657, Parson was a ministerial delegate of the sixth classis, and was then minister of St. Michael, Wood Street. At subsequent synods he acted successively as scribe and assessor, and at the twenty-fifth synod (1658–9) he was ordered, along with Mr. Pinchbeck, to draw up a form of a letter to be sent to the several ministers of London who were thought to be fitted for holding office in the synod, and present it to the grand committee for reformation. This may be the origin of ‘A Seasonable Exhortation of Sundry Ministers in London to the people of their respective congregations,’ which was published 23 Jan. 1659–60, and which Parson signs as minister of St. Michael, Wood Street. In the twenty-sixth synod (November 1659–May 1660) he was again chosen assessor.

According to Calamy, he was held in great esteem among the city ministers. He was ejected from St. Michael's, Wood Street, in 1662. After being silenced, ‘he took great pains in fitting the first edition of Gouldman's “Dictionary” for the press. The excellent epistle before it is his, and an index of authors was drawn up by him, and he searched and consulted them, though his name is not mentioned’ (Calamy, Account, p. 34; Continuation, p. 37). None of the subsequent editions of Gouldman's ‘Dictionary’ [for which see Gouldman, Francis] make any reference to Parson.

On 10 April 1681 Thomas Parsons, goldsmith, who may perhaps be identified with the divine, was buried at St. Mary Aldermary (Harl. Soc. Reg. vols. v. and vii.). On 25 Feb. 1669–70 Jane, the wife of Thomas Parsons, was buried at St. Michael's, Cornhill.

A sermon ‘of saving faith,’ by Parson, was printed in the ‘Morning Exercise,’ London, 1660; reprinted 1676, London, and again in the ‘Morning Exercise,’ 1845 (5th edit. v. 345 sq.).

[Sir T. Phillips's Cambridge Visitation, 1619; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Nonconformist's Memorial, i. 167; ‘A Seasonable Exhortation’ (Brit. Mus.); Harl. Soc. Registers: vol. iii. St. Dionis Backchurch, vol. v. St. Mary Aldermary, vol. vii. St. Michael's, Cornhill, vol. ix. St. James's, Clerkenwell, and vol. xiii. Marriages at Clerkenwell; information from C. E. Searle, formerly master of Pembroke College.]

W. A. S.