1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Jackson

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 18:424-25.



THOMAS JACKSON, a learned English divine, was born at Willowing, in the bishopric of Durham, 1579. Many of his relations being merchants in Newcastle, he was designed to have been bred in that profession; but his great inclination to learning being observed, he was sent to Oxford, and admitted into Queen's college in 1595, and removed to Corpus-Christi the year after. He took his degrees in arts at the stated times; and May 10, 1606, became probationer-fellow, being then well grounded in arithmetic, grammar, philology, geometry, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, the oriental languages, history, &c. with an insight into heraldry and hieroglyphics. But he made all his knowledge subservient to the study of divinity, to which he applied with great vigour, and became so distinguished in it, that he not only read a divinity-lecture in his college every Sunday morning, but another on the week-day at Pembroke college (then newly founded) at the request of the master and fellows. He was also chosen vice-president of his college for many years successively, by virtue of which office he moderated at the divinity disputations, with remarkable learning, and no less candour and modesty. He commenced D.D. in 1622, and quitted the college two years afterwards, being preferred to a living in his native county, and soon after to the vicarage of Newcastle. In that large and laborious cure, he performed all the duties of an excellent parish-priest, and was particularly admired for his discourses from the pulpit. At this time he was a rigid Calvinist, but yielded the point of absolute predestination to the persuasions of Dr. Richard Neile, bishop of Durham, who took him for his chaplain, and joined with Dr. Laud in bringing him back to his college, where he was elected president by their interest, in 1630. Upon this promotion he resigned the vicarage of Newcastle; and, in 1635, was collated to a prebend of Winchester, having been made king's chaplain some time before. Dr. Towers being advanced to the bishopric of Peterborough, Dr. Jackson succeeded him in the deanery in 1638; but he did not enjoy this dignity quite two years, being taken from it by death, in 1640. He was interred in the inner chapel of Corpus-Christi college. He was a man of a blameless life, studious, humble, courteous, and remarkably charitable, pious, exemplary in his private and public conversation; so that he was respected and beloved by the most considerable persons in the nation; and indeed the greatest esteem was no more than his due, on account of his learning, for he was well skilled in all the learned languages, arts, sciences, and physics. As an instance of his charitable disposition, we are told, that while he was vicar of Newcastle, whenever he went out, he usually gave what money he had about him to the poor, who at length so flocked about him, that his servant took care he should not have too much in his pocket. Dr. Jackson was profoundly read in the fathers, and endued with an uncommon depth of judgment. His works are very numerous, printed at different times, but were all collected and published in 1672 and 1673, in three volumes, folio, consisting chiefly of sermons, besides his "Commentaries on the Apostles' Creed," which are his principal work. His writings were much admired and studied by the late bishop Horne, in the account of whose life his merits are thus displayed by the biographer. "Dr. Jackson is a magazine of theological knowledge, every where penned with great elegance and dignity, so that his style is a pattern of perfection. His writings, once thought inestimable by every body but the Calvinists, had been greatly neglected, and would probably have continued so, but for the praises bestowed upon them by the celebrated Mr. Merrick, of Trinity college, Oxford, who brought them once more into repute with many learned readers. The early extracts of Mr. Horne, which are now remaining, shew how much information he derived from this excellent writer, who deserves to be numbered with the English fathers of the church."