1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Gibbons

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 15:474-75.



THOMAS GIBBONS, a pious dissenting divine, was born at Reak, in the parish of Swaffham Prior, near Newmarket, May 31, 1720. His father, of both his names, was for some years pastor of a congregation at Olney, in Buckinghamshire, and afterwards of another at Royston in Hertfordshire. He received his early education in Cambridgeshire, and in 1735 was placed under the care of Dr. Taylor at Deptford. After going through a course of preparatory studies, he was ordained, according to the forms among the dissenters, in 1742, and appointed assistant preacher at the meeting in Silver-street. In this situation, however, he did not continue long, being in 1743, called to the pastoral charge of the independent congregation at Haberdashers' hall, which he sustained the whole of his life.

He became an author very early, publishing in 1743 Poems on several occasions, which were followed by other productions in the same style. It was perhaps Dr. Gibbons's foible that he fancied himself a poet, and in consequence was all his life composing Hymns, elegies, &c. on occasional subjects, without any of the inspiration of genius. In 1754 he was elected one of the tutors of the dissenting academy at Mile-end; the sciences he taught were logic, metaphysics, ethics, and rhetoric, and he is said to have taught them with applause and success. In 1759 he was chosen one of the Sunday evening lecturers at Monkwell-street, which he probably held as long as that lecture continued to be preached. The following year he received the degree of M.A. from the college of New Jersey in America; and in 1764, that of D.D. from one of the colleges in Aberdeen. Among his most useful publications were, his Rhetoric, published in 1767, 8vo, and his Female Worthies, or the Lives and Memoirs of eminently pious women, 1777, 2 vols. 8vo. In 1780 he published Memoirs of the rev. Isaac Watts, D. D. 8vo, and assisted Dr. Johnson with some materials for the life of Watts in the English Poets. Dr. Johnson always spoke of Gibbons with respect. He died Feb. 22, 1785, of a stroke of apoplexy. Dr. Gibbons was a Calvinist of the old stamp, and a man of great piety and primitive manners. After his death three volumes of his Sermons on evangelical and practical subjects, were printed by subscription. He published also, in his life-time, besides what have been mentioned, various sermons preached on funeral and other occasions; and some practical tracts.