Thomas Sherlock

Bishop of Bangor; Bishop of Salisbury; Bishop of London

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Thomas Sherlock
Bishop of London

Church Church of England
Diocese London
Elected 1748
Term ended 1761 (death)
Predecessor Edmund Gibson
Successor Thomas Hayter
Other post(s) Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Bangor
Consecration c. 1728
Personal details
Born 1678

Died (1761-07-18)18 July 1761
Buried All Saints Church, Fulham, Middlesex
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Parents William Sherlock
Profession Academic
Alma mater St Catharine’s College, Cambridge (MA, DD)

Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) PC was a British divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.


Born in London,[1] he was the son of the Very Reverend William Sherlock, Dean of St Paul’s. He was educated at Eton College and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.[1][2] In 1704 he succeeded his father as Master of the Temple, where he was very popular.[1]

Sherlock died in July 1761,[1] and is buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Fulham, Middlesex. Much of his ancestral and earned wealth passed to the Gooch baronets who took Sherlock for many generations thereafter in tribute; his picture hanging in Benacre Hall, their purchased home in the period of his passing.


In 1714 he became master of his old college at Cambridge and later the university’s vice-chancellor, whose privileges he defended against Richard Bentley. In 1715, he was appointed Dean of Chichester.[1]

He took a prominent part in the Bangorian controversy against Benjamin Hoadly. Sherlock became Bishop of Bangor in 1728. He was translated to Salisbury in 1734 (where he was admitted as ex officio Chancellor of the Order of the Garter on 20 February 1738) ; and in 1748 he was raised to London, where he was sworn of the Privy Council. He held the see of London until his death. [1][3][4]

Sherlock was a capable administrator and cultivated friendly relations with Dissenters. In Parliament he gave good service to his old schoolfellow, Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of Great Britain.[1][5]


Sherlock’s tomb monument at All Saints Church, Fulham

He published against Anthony Collins‘s deistic Grounds of the Christian Religion a volume of sermons entitled The Use and Intent of Prophecy in the Several Ages of the World (1725); and in reply to Thomas Woolston‘s Discourses on the Miracles he wrote a volume entitled The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729), which soon ran through fourteen editions. His Pastoral Letter (1750) on the late earthquakes had a circulation of many thousands, and four or five volumes of Sermons which he published in his later years (1754–1758) were also at one time highly esteemed.[1] Jane Austen, wrote to her niece Anna in 1814, “I am very fond of Sherlock’s Sermons, prefer them to almost any.”[6]

A collected edition of his works, with a memoir, in five volumes, by Thomas Smart Hughes, appeared in 1830.[1]

Sherlock’s Tryal of the Witnesses is generally understood by scholars such as Edward Carpenter, Colin Brown and William Lane Craig, to be a work that the Scottish philosopher David Hume had probably read, and to which Hume offered a counter viewpoint in his empiricist arguments against the possibility of miracles.

Sherlock also wrote a respected work entitled A Discourse Concerning the Divine Providence, in which he argues that the Sovereignty and Providence of God are unimpeachable.


Since the Deist controversy Sherlock’s argument for the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has continued to interest later Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and John Warwick Montgomery. His place in the history of apologetics has been classified by Ross Clifford as belonging to the legal or juridical school of Christian apologetics.


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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chisholm 1911, p. 850.
  2. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a,.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F} .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){ .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}“Sherlock, Thomas (SHRK693T)”. A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Harris 1842, p. LXXXIV.
  4. ^ “No. 8814”. The London Gazette. 10 January 1748. p. 3.
  5. ^ “No. 8814”. The London Gazette. 10 January 1748. p. 3.
  6. ^ Ross, Josephine. Jane Austen: A Companion, ch. 4, Thistle Publishing. Kindle Edition.


Further reading[edit]

  • Colin Brown, Miracles and the Critical Mind (Exeter: Paternoster/Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984). ISBN 0-8028-3590-2
  • Edward Carpenter, Thomas Sherlock 1678–1761 (London: SPCK, 1936).
  • Harris, Nicholas Harris (1842). History of the orders of knighthood of the British Empire : of the Order of the Guelphs of Hanover, and of the medals, clasps, and crosses, conferred for naval and military services. Vol. 2. London: William Pickering. OCLC 977493554.
  • Ross Clifford, John Warwick Montgomery’s Legal Apologetic: An Apologetic for All Seasons (Bonn: Verlag fur kultur und Wissenschaft, 2004). ISBN 3-938116-00-5
  • William Lane Craig, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (Lewiston & Queenston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985). ISBN 0-88946-811-7

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Succeeded by

Church of England titles
Preceded by

Dean of Chichester
1715 – 1727
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Bishop of Bangor
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Bishop of Salisbury
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Bishop of London
Succeeded by