The son of a clergyman, William Thompson was born at Brough in Westmoreland and studied at Appleby School where he was a contemporary of the poet Josiah Relph. He entered Queen's College Oxford in 1731 (B.A. 1735, M.A. 1739) and was rector of two Oxford livings, Hampton Poyle and South Weston, Oxfordshire, afterwards he was dean of Raphoe in Ireland. An Oxford poet who had Whig connections, Thompson was devoted to early literature, editing Hall's Virgidemiarum, William Browne's poems, the poetical works of Sir John Davies, and recasting Davenant's Gondibert as a tragedy.
1736Thames: a Canto. On the Royal Nuptials in May 1736. In imitation of Spenser.
1736The Nativity. A College-Exercise. 1736.
1745Sickness. A Poem. Book II.
1745Sickness. A Poem. Book the Third and Last.
1745Sickness. A Poem. In Three Books.
1745[Note on Spenser.]
1746An Hymn to May.
1746An Hymn to May: The Preface.
1757The Magi, a Sacred Eclogue.
1760Garden Inscriptions: I. In Il Spenseroso.
1760Garden Inscriptions: II. In the same. On Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar.
1760Garden Inscriptions: On Laurell Hill, at the end of the Garden.
1763Garden Inscriptions. VII. In Chaucer's Boure.
1763Garden Inscriptions. XII. In Cowley's Shade.
Sickness: a poem in three books. 1745.
An hymn to May. 1746.
Gondibert and Birtha: a tragedy. 1751.
Poems on several occasions, to which is added Gondibert and Birtha: a tragedy. 2 vols, 1751, 1757.
Virgidemiarum [Joseph Hall, ed. Thompson]. 1753.
Gratitude: a poem on the Countess of Pomfret's benefactions. 1756.
The works of William Browne, ed. Thompson. 3 vols, 1772.
The poetical works of Sir John Davies, ed. Thompson. 1773.
Works, ed. Thomas Park. 1808.