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

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RIDGLEY, THOMAS, D.D. (1667?–1734), independent theologian, was born in London about 1667. He was educated for the ministry in Wiltshire, presumably under John Davison at Trowbridge. In 1695 he was chosen assistant to Thomas Gouge (1665?–1700) [q. v.], pastor of the independent church at Three Cranes, Fruiterers' Alley, Thames Street, London. On Gouge's death he succeeded to the pastorate, which he held till his own death, being assisted by John Hurrion and (from 1732) by Samuel Parsons. On the death of Isaac Chauncy [q. v.] he was elected (1712) divinity tutor to the Fund Academy in Tenter Alley, Moorfields, established by the London congregational fund board in 1696. His coadjutor in classics and science was John Eames [q. v.] Ridgley had abundance of theological learning, and was a good instructor. His position as a teacher was that of a bulwark of dissenting orthodoxy against the prevalent tendencies to Arian and Arminian laxity. This duty he discharged with great ability and considerable individuality of treatment. Yet his scheme of the Trinity, denuded of the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit, is essentially Sabellian, and in easing the difficulties of Calvinism he follows the Socinians in limiting the penalties of Adam's sin to death and temporal discomfort.

In 1719 he took the side of subscription in the Salters' Hall debates [see Bradbury, Thomas], thus ranging himself with the older presbyterians; while Hunt, Lowman, Lardner, and Jennings, his juniors among the learned independents, were for non-subscription. His lectures expository of the larger catechism of the Westminster divines constitute his ‘Body of Divinity,’ which, issued by subscription in 1731, became a textbook of moderate Calvinism, and gained him the diploma of D.D. from Aberdeen.

Ridgley died on 27 March 1734, aged 66, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. His portrait by Bartholomew Dandridge [q. v.] has been engraved by Vandergucht.

He published, besides single sermons, including funeral sermons for Gertrude Clarkson (1701), Elizabeth Bankes (1711), Nathan Hall (1719), Thomas Tingey (1729), John Hurrion (1732), and John Sladen (1733, two editions same year): 1. ‘The Unreasonableness of the Charge of … Creed-making,’ &c., 1719, 8vo. 2. ‘An Essay Concerning Truth and Charity,’ &c., 1721, 8vo (both these relate to the Salters' Hall controversy). 3. ‘The Doctrine of Original Sin,’ &c., 1725, 8vo; two editions same year (two lectures at Pinners' Hall, with postscript). 4. ‘A Body of Divinity,’ &c., 1731, fol. 2 vols. (portrait); 2nd edit. 1734; 3rd edit. Edinburgh, 1770, fol. 1 vol.; 4th edit. Pontefract, 1811–1814, 8vo.

[Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, ii. 72 sq.; an Account of Mr. T. Ridgley (1708) is really a narrative of grievances by Sarah Peirce, a half-crazy spinster who pestered him with her attentions; Noble's Continuation of Granger, 1806, iii. 156; Bogue and Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, 1833, ii. 156; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, pp. 230 sq.; Calendar of Associated Theological Colleges, 1887, p. 46.]

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