Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scott, Thomas (1705-1775)

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SCOTT, THOMAS (1705–1775), hymn-writer, younger son of Thomas Scott, independent minister of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, afterwards of Norwich, brother of Joseph Nicol Scott, M.D. [q. v.], and nephew of Dr. Daniel Scott [q. v.], was born at Hitchin in 1705. He was probably educated by his father. As a very young man he took charge of a small boarding-school at Wortwell, in the parish of Redenhall, Norfolk, and once a month preached to the independent congregation at Harleston in the same parish. In 1733 he became minister of the dissenting congregation at Lowestoft, Suffolk. He is said to have retained this office till 1738, but in 1734 he succeeded Samuel Say [q. v.] as colleague to Samuel Baxter at St. Nicholas Street Chapel, Ipswich; henceforth he probably divided his time between the two places till Baxter was disabled. On Baxter's death on 13 July 1740 he became sole pastor, and remained so till 1761, when Peter Emans became his colleague, followed by Robert Lewin (1762–1770), and William Wood, F.L.S. (1770–1773). Except during the three years of Wood's able ministry, the congregation languished. On 26 April 1774, being in broken health, Scott was elected minister by the trustees of an endowed chapel at Hapton, Norfolk. He died at Hapton in 1775, and was buried in the parish churchyard. He was married and left issue.

Scott met with some success as a hymn-writer. Some of his hymns (e.g. ‘Absurd and vain attempt,’ ‘Imposture shrinks from light’) are odes to independence of thought; but his ‘Hasten, sinner, to be wise,’ has great power, and his ‘Happy the meek’ has great beauty. Eleven of his hymns were first contributed to ‘Hymns for Public Worship,’ &c., Warrington, 1772, 12mo, edited by William Enfield [q. v.] Most of his hymns are contained in his ‘Lyric Poems’ (1773); others are in the ‘Collection,’ &c., 1795, 12mo, by Andrew Kippis [q. v.], Abraham Rees [q. v.], and others. He published four single sermons (1740–59), including a funeral sermon for Samuel Baxter; also:

  1. ‘A Father's Instructions to his Son,’ &c., 1748, 4to (verse).
  2. ‘The Table of Cebes … in English verse, with Notes,’ &c., 1754, 4to.
  3. ‘The Book of Job, in English verse … from the original … with Remarks,’ &c., 1771, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1773, 8vo; a poor rendering; the notes are better than the text.
  4. ‘Lyric Poems, Devotional and Moral,’ &c., 1773, 8vo.

Elizabeth Scott (1708?–1776), hymn-writer, sister of the above, was born at Hitchin about 1708. Her father writes of her (1 March 1740) as ‘one who devotes herself to doing good, as a protestant nun.’ Her letter to Doddridge, 10 May 1745, shows that she was suffering from religious depression, not unconnected with family troubles (Humphreys, Correspondence of Doddridge, iii. 424, iv. 408 sq.) She married (1), at Norwich, in January 1751–2, Elisha Williams, formerly rector of Yale College, with whom in March 1772 she removed to Connecticut; (2) Hon. William Smith of New York, whom she survived, dying at Wethersfield, Connecticut, on 13 June 1776, aged 68. Prior to 1750 she had written many hymns; three manuscript collections are known, the largest containing ninety hymns. The first publication of her hymns was in ‘The Christian's Magazine’ (edited by William Dodd [q. v.]), 1763 pp. 565 sq., 1764, pp. 42, 90, 182 sq.; the communicator of some of these signs ‘CL-T,’ and was probably the grandfather of Thomas Russell or Cloutt [q. v.] Nineteen of her hymns were given in Ash and Evans's baptist ‘Collection,’ Bristol, 1769, and twenty in Dobell's ‘New Selection,’ 1806. Of these about fifteen are in use; one of the best is ‘All hail, Incarnate God.’

[Browne's Hist. Congr. Norf. and Suff. 1877, pp. 268, 288, 348, 391, 530; Historic Notes in Fellowship, October 1893, March 1894; Wellbeloved's Memoirs of W. Wood, 1809, p. 13; Miller's Our Hymns, 1866, pp. 146, 148; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892, pp. 1019 sq.; manuscript records of Hapton trustees; information kindly furnished by Hardinge F. Giffard, esq., F.S.A.]

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