Secker, Dr Thomas

Bishop of Bristol 1734 and of Oxford 1737; Dean of St Paul's, 1750 and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1758. Brought up as a Dissenter, he attended dissenting academies at Attercliffe, near Sheffield and at Gloucester (where Joseph Butler was among his fellow students). After an interval on the continent, where he studied medicine, he became an Anglican, entered Exeter College, Oxford in 1721 and was ordained into the priesthood in 1722. Despite holding various offices in plurality, as was common in the 18th century, he showed himself to be pastorally and administratively conscientious. As archbishop he was in favour of establishing an episcopate in the American colonies.

He was sympathetic to the Methodist movement (which was still largely within the Established Church), believing that the clergy had something to learn from it, both pastorally and otherwise. He 'deprecated the progress of Methodism, but did not persecute its adherents'. His identification with John Wesley's anonymous correspondent 'John Smith' in 1745-48 is now generally discarded.

  • Norman Sykes, Church and State in England in the XIII Century (1934)
  • Thomas Secker, Autobiography (Lawrence, Kansas, 1988)
  • L.W. Barnard, Thomas Secker, an eighteenth-century primate (1998)
  • Oxford DNB


Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person
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