Thompson, Thomas, MP

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Merchant and banker, born on 5 April 1754 at Swine, near Hull. He became a partner in Smith's and Thompson's Bank and chairman of the Hull Docks Company 1810-1818. As a young man he was influenced by the evangelical Joseph Milner, headmaster of Hull Grammar School and by William Wilberforce. He was a local preacher and married Philothea Briggs, a granddaughter of Vincent Perronet and daughter of William Briggs. He was a stabilizing influence in the period that followed the death of John Wesley and as a Church Methodist drafted the Hull Circular of 1791 urging the Methodists to stay within the Church. He had an active concern both for the poor of Hull (on whose behalf he experimented with small holdings) and for the conversion of the heathen and chaired the first District Missionary Meetings in bothLeeds and Hull in 1813. He was the first lay treasurer of the WMMS when it was formed in 1818. As MP for Midhurst 1807-1818 he was the first Methodist to sit in the House of Commons. He was described as 'not an eloquent or fluent speaker, but always heard with respect … because of his judgements and his acknowledged uprightness and integrity'. He supported the Corn Laws out of concern for the effect of cheap imports on agricultural labourers. He lived at Cottingham Castle and published a history of Holderness in 1821. He died in Paris on 14 September 1828, during his first visit abroad, and was buried there in the Pere la Chaise cemetery..

His eldest son Thomas Perronet Thompson (1783-1869), who had a memorable but chequered military, political and economic career, abandoned the Anglican and Methodist milieu of his upbringing and adopted a form of Sabellian theology.

  • WM Minutes 1829
  • Geoffrey E. Milburn, 'Piety, Profit and Paternalism', in WHS Proceedings, vol. 44 (1983-84)
  • R.G. Thorne (ed.), The House of Commons, 1790-1820, vol. 5 (1986)
  • Arthur R.B. Robinson, The Counting House: Thomas Thompson of Hull 1754-1822 and his Family (York, 1992)
  • Oxford DNB