Bonnell Thornton, son of a substantial apothecary, was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (B.A. 1747, M.A. 1750, B.M. 1754) along with his friends George Colman, William Cowper, Charles Churchill, and Robert Lloyd. Thornton was intended for a career in medicine. With Colman he conducted The Connoisseur, one of the more successful periodicals of the century, and with Colman he was proprietor of the St. James's Chronicle (1761). Thornton was also associated with the Public Advertiser during the period of its support for John Wilkes.
An ode on Saint Cecilia's day, adapted to the ancient British musick. 1749.
Poems by the most eminent ladies of Great Britain [ed. Thornton and Colman]. 2 vols, 1755.
City Latin: or remarks on the inscription of the intended new bridge. 1760.
Plain English in answer to City Latin. 1761.
Comedies of Plautus translated into familiar blank verse. 2 vols, 1767.
The battle of the wigs: an additional canto to Garth's Dispensary. 1768.