Thomas Plume

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Thomas Plume (1630 – 20 November 1704) was an English churchman and philanthropist, and founder of a library which still exists today. The Plume School in Maldon, Essex, is named after him.

Plume School Academy in Maldon, Essex, England

Plume School is a secondary school with academy status located in the town of Maldon, Essex, England. The school is split over two separate campuses. Mill Road houses years 7 and 8, Fambridge Road years 9, 10 and 11 and Fambridge Road Campus is home to the sixth form.

Maldon, Essex town in Essex, United Kingdom

Maldon is a town and civil parish on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, England. It is the seat of the Maldon District and starting point of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. It is most renowned for Maldon Sea Salt which is produced in the area.

Essex County of England

Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.


Family life

The Plume family settled in the county of Essex at Great Yeldham. Thomas Plume was baptised in All Saints’ Church, Maldon on 18 August 1630, as Thomas, son of Thomas and Hellen Plume. [1] One John Plume had been the tenant of the Manor under John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford, during the reign of Henry VIII. Plume was educated at Chelmsford, Essex, and Christ's College, Cambridge. [2] He became a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Doctor of Divinity (DD).

Great Yeldham village in United Kingdom

Great Yeldham is a village in north Essex, England, about 6 miles (10 km) from the Suffolk border. Surrounding villages and towns include Little Yeldham, Tilbury Juxta Clare, Toppesfield, Stambourne, Ridgewell, Sible Hedingham, Castle Hedingham, Halstead and Sudbury (Suffolk). Great Yeldham is situated along the busy main A1017 road between Braintree and Haverhill.

John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford was born to John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford and Elizabeth Trussell, daughter of Edward Trussell. He was styled Lord Bolebec 1526 to 1540 before he succeeded to his father's title.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

In 1658 he was appointed Vicar of East Greenwich, Kent, in 1662 Rector of Merston, Sussex, and in 1665 Rector of Little Easton, Essex. From 1679 until his death, unmarried, on 20 November 1704, Thomas Plume was Archdeacon of Rochester, Kent. He was buried at Longfield, Kent.

Greenwich town in south-east London, England

Greenwich is an area of South East London, England, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. It is located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to which it lends its name.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Merston village in United Kingdom

Merston is a village and parish in the Chichester district of West Sussex, England. It lies just south of the A259 road 2.4 miles (3.9 km) southeast of Chichester. It is in the civil parish of Oving.

At the time of the Restoration in 1660 Plume was Vicar of Greenwich. He subscribed the declaration under the Act of Uniformity 1662, although his father at Maldon had been a prominent Presbyterian. Thomas was admitted Vicar of Greenwich at the age of 28, on 22 September 1658. [3] He remained in this role for the next 46 years. He was the first chairman of the governors of the John Roan School in Greenwich.

Act of Uniformity 1662 United Kingdom law of religion and the Church of England

The Act of Uniformity 1662 is an Act of the Parliament of England. It prescribed the form of public prayers, administration of sacraments, and other rites of the Established Church of England, according to the rites and ceremonies prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. Adherence to this was required in order to hold any office in government or the church, although the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer prescribed by the Act was so new that most people had never even seen a copy. The Act also required that the Book of Common Prayer 'be truly and exactly Translated into the Brittish or Welsh Tongue'. It also explicitly required episcopal ordination for all ministers, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops, which had to be reintroduced since the Puritans had abolished many features of the Church during the Civil War.

John Roan School State school in Greenwich, Greater London

The John Roan School is a secondary comprehensive school in Greenwich, Royal Borough of Greenwich, south-east London.

Plume Library

The tower of St Peter's Church, Maldon, where the Plume Library is held St. Peters Church Maldon.jpg
The tower of St Peter's Church, Maldon, where the Plume Library is held

Although Plume spent most of his life in the Church, he was aware of intellectual changes taking place in other academic fields. He collected books which show his interests in other subjects: chemistry, astronomy, medicine, history and travel. Among this collection the following can be found:

Chemistry scientific discipline

Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with elements and compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a reaction with other substances.

Astronomy Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies the Universe as a whole.

Medicine The science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical and mental illnesses

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

John Speed English cartographer and historian

John Speed was an English cartographer and historian. He is, alongside Christopher Saxton, one of the best known English mapmakers of the early modern period.

Francis Drake Elizabethan era historical figure

Sir Francis Drake was an English sea captain, privateer, slave trader, pirate, naval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was the first to complete the voyage as captain while leading the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. With his incursion into the Pacific Ocean, he claimed what is now California for the English and inaugurated an era of conflict with the Spanish on the western coast of the Americas, an area that had previously been largely unexplored by western shipping.

Robert Boyle Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry, and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method. He is best known for Boyle's law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. Among his works, The Sceptical Chymist is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry. He was a devout and pious Anglican and is noted for his writings in theology.

Even though he lived in Greenwich most of his life, Plume left his collection of over 8,000 books and pamphlets, printed between 1487 and his death, to his home town of Maldon. It was kept in St Peter's Church, of which only the original Tower survives; the rest of the building was rebuilt by Plume to house his library. The library was to be "for the use of the minister and clergy of the neighbouring parishes who generally make this town their place of residence on account of the unwholesomeness of the air in the vicinity of their churches". Plume left specific instruction for the use of the library: "any Gentleman or Scholar who desires, may go into it, and make use of any book there or borrow it, in case he leaves a vadimonium [a pledge or surety] with the Keeper for the restoring thereof fair and uncorrupted within a short time". Plume's library continues to grow after his death with contributions from others. An online catalogue of Plume's collection was completed in 2009 and can be consulted via the Library's Library's website.

The Plume Library is no longer a lending library, though books may be consulted in situ. In 1989 it was determined that 723 books of the original bequest were missing; the Friends of the Plume Library have endeavoured to replace the missing volumes, and have purchased over 160 such texts. [4]

Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy

In 1704 Thomas Plume founded the chair of Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in order to "erect an Observatory and to maintain a studious and learned Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy, and to buy him and his successors utensils and instruments quadrants telescopes etc".


Plume was unmarried, and left the considerable wealth he had acquired mainly for charitable objects. The sums of £1,000, £700, and £202 12s. 6d. he devoted to the foundation of a chair at Cambridge, bequeathing the money to William Covell, Master of Christ's; Richard Bentley, master of Trinity; Francis Thompson, of Caius; and William Whiston, Lucasian professor, to "erect an observatory and to maintain a professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy, and to buy or build a house with or near the same." [3]

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  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Plume, Thomas (PLM645T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. 1 2 Smith 1901.
  4. Plume Library website