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Thomas Burgess

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Thomas Burgess (1756 - February 19, 1837), English author and philosopher, was born at Odiham, in Hampshire.

He was educated at Winchester, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Before graduating, he edited a reprint of John Burton's Pentalogia. In 1781 he brought out an annotated edition of Richard Dawes's Miscellaneci Critica (reprinted, Leipzig, 1800). In 1783 he became a fellow of his college, and in 1785 was appointed chaplain to Shute Barrington, bishop of Salisbury, through whose influence he obtained a prebendal stall, which he held till 1803.

In 1788 he published his Considerations on the Abolition of Slavery, in which he advocated the principle of gradual emancipation. In 1791 he accompanied Barrington to Durham, where he did evangelistic work among the poorer classes. In 1803 he was appointed to the vacant bishopric of St David's, which he held for twenty years with great success. He founded the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in the diocese, and also St David's College at Lampeter, which he liberally endowed.

In 1820 he was appointed first president of the recently founded Royal Society of Literature; and three years later he was promoted to the see of Salisbury, over which he presided for twelve years, prosecuting his benevolent designs with unwearied industry. As at St David's, so at Salisbury, he founded a Church Union Society for the assistance of infirm and distressed clergymen. He strenuously opposed both Unitarianism and Catholic emancipation.

A list of his works, which are very numerous, will be found in his biography by JS Harford (2nd ed, 1841). In addition to those already referred to may be mentioned his Essay on the Study of Antiquities, The First Principles of Christian Knowledge; Reflections on the Controversial Writings of Dr Priestley, Emendationes in Suidam et Hesychium et alios Lexicographos Graecos; The Bible, and nothing but the Bible, the Religion of the Church of England.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.