Thomas Adam

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Thomas Adam (25 February 1701 – 31 March 1784) was a Church of England clergyman and religious writer.


Adam was born at Leeds, West Yorkshire on 25 February 1701. His father was a solicitor and town clerk of the Leeds Corporation; his mother Elizabeth, daughter of Jasper Blythman—locally distinguished and allied to an ancient and noble house. They had six children, of whom Thomas was the third.[1]

He received his first education at Leeds Grammar School, then under an eminent master, Thomas Barnard; later he was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield. Then he proceeded to the university of Cambridge, entering Christ's College. He was speedily removed to Hart Hall (now Hertford College), Oxford, by the influence of its founder, Dr. Newton. He took the degree of B.A., but took no further degree on account of certain scruples imbibed from his friend Dr. Newton's book on ‘Pluralities.’ In 1724 he was presented, through the interest of an uncle, to the living of Wintringham, Lincolnshire. Being then under age ecclesiastically, it was ‘held’ for a year for him. Here he remained over the long term of fifty-eight years, never wishing to change and repeatedly resisting pressure put upon him to look higher. His income rarely exceeded £200 per annum. He married Susan, daughter of the neighbouring vicar of Roxby. She died in 1760. They had one daughter only, who died young. He died on 31 March 1784, in his 84th year.[1]

He is of the historical ‘Evangelical’ school, but his works are, with one exception, very common-place examples of the productions of his school. He published Practical Lectures on the Church Catechism’ which ran to nine or ten editions; Evangelical Sermons; also Paraphrase and Annotations on the First Eleven Chapters of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. His Posthumous Works (1786) and Paraphrase and Annotations on the Four Gospels (1837), were printed and reprinted. The work by which his memory is preserved is a selection from the Posthumous Works, entitled ‘Private Thoughts on Religion.’ These entries from his private diary, which were meant for no eyes but his own, bring before us - according to the Dictionary of National Biography - a man of no common power of analytic and speculative thought. With an intrepidity and integrity of self-scrutiny perhaps unexampled, he writes down problems started, and questionings raised, and conflicts gone through; whilst his ordinarily flaccid style grows pungent and strong. Ever since their publication these ‘Private Thoughts’ have exercised a strange fascination over intellects at opposite poles. Coleridge's copy of the little volume (1795)—fortunately preserved in the British Library —remains to attest, by its abounding markings, the spell it laid upon him, while such men as Bishop Heber, Dr. Thomas Chalmers, and John Stuart Mill, and others, have paid tribute to the searching power of the ‘thoughts.’ These ‘Private Thoughts’ are well known in the United States, and have been translated into Welsh, Gaelic, and several European and Eastern languages.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Grosart, A. B. (1885). "Adam, Thomas (1701–1784), divine". Dictionary of National Biography Vol. I. Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 2009-06-28. The first edition of this text is available at Wikisource:  "Adam, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.


External links

  • By Thomas Adam:
    • Private thoughts on religion, 1824 edition with essay by Daniel Wilson
    • The Works of the Rev. Thomas Adam, volume I, 1822 edition
    • The Works of the Rev. Thomas Adam, volume III, 1822 edition
    • An exposition of the four Gospels, volume II, 1827 edition
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