Rev. Thomas Coombe

Anonymous, Obituary in Monthly Magazine 54 (December 1822) 468-69.

Lately, the Rev. Dr. Coombe, vicar of Tenterden, in Kent. Dr. C. was a native of Philadelphia, in the province of Pennsylvania. He received his education at the College of that city, and proceeded to the usual degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts. In 1768 he came to England for Holy Orders, and was ordained deacon by Dr. Terrick, bishop of London, at the age of 21. In 1771 he was appointed chaplain to the Marquis of Rockingham, and in the same year he returned to Philadelphia, having been previously admitted into priest's orders. At an early period of life he was in possession of a very valuable preferment in the city of his nativity. On America declaring her independence of Great Britain, as his conduct was regulated by a steady adherence to his allegiance, he soon became obnoxious to the ruling party. He was arrested by the Executive Council of Philadelphia, upon a general charge of having uniformly evinced a disposition inimical to the cause of America; and was sentenced to be sent to Augusta County, in Virginia; the execution of which cruel and unjust decree, notwithstanding the remonstrance of many corporate bodies, was only interrupted by an illness which rendered his removal impracticable. In the mean time the British army arrived, and under its protection, he was enabled to reach New-York, from whence (with a letter of high recommendation from the commissioners, Lord Carlisle, Mr. Eden, and governor Johnstone) he came to England, in 1779, content to relinquish his country and connexions solely from considerations of conscience, and from motives of loyalty to his sovereign. In 1780 Dr. Coombe was nominated chaplain to the Earl of Carlisle, and accompanied his lordship upon his appointment to the vice-royalty of Ireland, and was there advanced by him to the situation of private secretary. In 1781 he obtained from the lord-lieutenant the rectory of Donagh-Henry, county of Tyrone, (which he afterwards resigned,) and, in the same year, was gratified by an unsolicited mark of respect from the University of Dublin, being admitted by that learned body to the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Upon the breaking up of Lord North's administration in 1783, he returned to England with Lord Carlisle. In 1789 he had an offer from Lord Auckland, to accompany him to the Hague as chaplain to the embassy, but which was declined from motives of prior obligation. Dr. Coombe was appointed chaplain in ordinary to the King in 1794, and was for many years minister of Curzon Chapel. In 1800, through the medium of his friend and patron the Earl of Carlisle, he was preferred to a prebendal stall at Canterbury; and in 1801 he was presented by the dean and chapter of that cathedral to the vicarage of Tenderden, Kent, and which he was permitted to resign in favour of his eldest son, in 1806. In 1808 the Dean and Chapter presented him to the rectory of St. Michael's, Queenhithe. Dr. Coombe was an eloquent and impressive preacher; as a scholar, he was entitled to a distinguished place among the learned of his time. Among his acquaintances were Sir Joshua Reynolds, Johnson, Goldsmith, Jortin, and Beattie, with the latter of whom he was in habits of correspondence. He also possessed, by inheritance, the affectionate friendship of Dr. Franklin. Hence his conversation, enriched with literary anecdote, and tempered by a fine and judicious taste, was both entertaining and instructive, while a peculiar benevolence of disposition, joined to the most unaffected piety, rendered this wise and unpretending man a pattern of Christian excellence.