Thomas Rundle

Last updated

Thomas Rundle (c.1688–1743) was an English cleric suspected of unorthodox views. He became Anglican bishop of Derry not long after a high-profile controversy had prevented his becoming bishop of Gloucester in 1733.


Early life

He was born at Milton Abbot, Devon, about 1688, son of Thomas Rundle, an Exeter clergyman. After Exeter grammar school under John Reynolds, he matriculated as a commoner at Exeter College, Oxford, on 5 April 1704, at the age of 16. He took the degree of B.C.L. in 1710. [1]

In 1712 Rundle made the acquaintance of William Whiston, in Oxford for patristic study and to find support for his Society for Promoting Primitive Christianity. Rundle and his tutor Thomas Rennel were sympathetic, but thought Whiston would find no other local recruits. Rundle in the same year became tutor to the only son of John Cater of Kempston, near Bedford. Here Whiston visited him, and suggested a critical examination of the Sibylline oracles, which he didn't complete. Going to London, he attended Whiston's society, which held meetings from 3 July 1715 to 28 June 1717; but Thomas Emlyn found Rundle worldly. Rundle informed Whiston that he intended to take holy orders, which Whiston took badly; and became more a follower of Samuel Clarke. [1]


Rundle was ordained deacon on 29 July, and priest on 5 August 1716, by William Talbot as bishop of Salisbury; his younger son Edward had been Rundle's close friend since Oxford days. Talbot made Rundle his domestic chaplain, and gave him a prebend of Salisbury Cathedral. Rundle became vicar of Inglesham, Wiltshire, in 1719, and rector of Poulshot, Wiltshire, in 1720, both livings being in the bishop's gift. Talbot appointed him archdeacon of Wilts (1720), and treasurer of Sarum (1721). [1]

At Salisbury, Rundle came to know Thomas Chubb well; they had perhaps met through Whiston. He praised the common sense of Chubb's publications, to 1730. Edward Talbot had died in December 1720, but his family continued to support Rundle. Talbot became bishop of Durham, and collated him to a stall in the cathedral (23 January 1722), giving him also the vicarage (1722) and rectory (1724) of Sedgefield, and appointing him (1728) to the mastership of Sherburn Hospital. He lived at the bishop's palace as resident chaplain from September 1722 till Bishop Talbot's death on 10 October 1730, Thomas Secker being his fellow chaplain from 1722 to 1724. On 5 July 1723, he proceeded D.C.L. at Oxford. [1]

Bishopric controversy

In December 1733 the see of Gloucester became vacant after the death of Elias Sydall. Rundle was nominated as his successor by Charles Talbot, 1st Baron Talbot as Lord Chancellor (Bishop Talbot's eldest son) who had made him his chaplain. The appointment was announced, but Edmund Gibson, bishop of London, intervened. [1]

Rundle was attacked for his good relations with Chubb, and was called a deist, but less openly the real objection was to Rundle's church politics. Gibson's ally Richard Venn, rector of St. Antholin's, London, reported a conversation between Rundle and Robert Cannon, who was noted for light-hearted sceptical remarks. Rundle was defended by Arthur Ashley Sykes and John Conybeare, and was known to have preached against deists, and debated against Matthew Tindal and Anthony Collins in the Grecian coffee-house. [1]

Bishop of Derry

The issue was eventually compromised: the see of Gloucester went to Martin Benson, a friend of Rundle, while Rundle himself was unpopularly appointed to Derry, more of a rich sinecure. On 3 August 1735 he was consecrated by Hugh Boulter, Arthur Price and Josiah Hort. He lived mainly in Dublin. [1] At the trial of Henry Barry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry, for the murder of Laughlin Murphy, a tavern barman, in 1739, Rundle as a spiritual peer was entitled to be an observer the trial, but according to an ancient tradition he was not entitled to participate in the verdict. He took a keen interest in the proceedings, praising the prosecution counsel highly, while deploring the weakness of the defence's legal team. [2] Lord Santry was found guilty and sentenced to death, but King George II, with evident reluctance, was eventually persuaded to pardon him. [3]


Rundle died unmarried at Dublin on 14 April 1743, leaving most of his fortune of £20,000 to John Talbot. [1]


Rundle published four single sermons (1718–36). His Letters … with Introductory Memoirs, Gloucester, 1789, 2 vols. (reprinted, Dublin, same year), were edited by James Dallaway. Most of them are addressed to Barbara (1685–1746), daughter of Sir Richard Kyrle, governor of South Carolina, and widow of William Sandys (1677–1712) of Miserden, Gloucestershire. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Rundle, Thomas"  . Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 49. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. O'Flanagan, James Roderick The Irish Bar Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington London 1879 p.12
  3. Ryan, David "Uncovering the Origins of Dublin's Hellfire Club" Irish Times August 10, 2012


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Rundle, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 49. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Secker</span> 18th-century archbishop

Thomas Secker was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Whiston</span> English theologian, historian, translator and mathematician (1667–1752)

William Whiston was an English theologian, historian, natural philosopher, and mathematician, a leading figure in the popularisation of the ideas of Isaac Newton. He is now probably best known for helping to instigate the Longitude Act in 1714 and his important translations of the Antiquities of the Jews and other works by Josephus. He was a prominent exponent of Arianism and wrote A New Theory of the Earth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Chubb</span> English Deist writer

Thomas Chubb was a lay English Deist writer born near Salisbury. He saw Christ as a divine teacher, but held reason to be sovereign over religion. He questioned the morality of religions, while defending Christianity on rational grounds. Despite little schooling, Chubb was well up on the religious controversies. His The True Gospel of Jesus Christ, Asserted sets out to distinguish the teaching of Jesus from that of the Evangelists. Chubb's views on free will and determinism, expressed in A Collection of Tracts on Various Subjects (1730), were extensively criticised by Jonathan Edwards in Freedom of the Will (1754).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Talbot (bishop)</span>

William Talbot was an English Anglican bishop. He was Bishop of Oxford from 1699 to 1715, Bishop of Salisbury from 1715 to 1722 and Bishop of Durham from 1722 to 1730.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philip Bisse</span> British bishop

Philip Bisse was an English bishop.

Thomas Morgan was an English deist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Smalbroke</span>

Richard Smallbrooke was an English churchman, Bishop of St David's and then of Lichfield and Coventry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Hoadly</span> English religious leader

John Hoadly was an Anglican divine in the Church of Ireland. He served as Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, as Archbishop of Dublin, and as Archbishop of Armagh from 1742 until his death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zachary Pearce</span>

Zachary Pearce, sometimes known as Zachariah, was an English Bishop of Bangor and Bishop of Rochester. He was a controversialist and a notable early critical writer defending John Milton, attacking Richard Bentley's 1732 edition of Paradise Lost the following year.

James Foster was an English Baptist minister.

Anthony Bliss was a clergyman of the Church of England, and the vicar of Portsmouth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Thomas (bishop of Winchester)</span> English Anglican bishop 1696–1781)

John Thomas was an English bishop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Martin Benson (bishop)</span>

Martin Benson (1689–1752) was an English churchman, Archdeacon of Berkshire and Bishop of Gloucester.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Burgh (1670–1730)</span> Anglo-Irish military engineer, architect and MP (1670–1730)

Colonel Thomas de Burgh, always named in his lifetime as Thomas Burgh, was an Anglo-Irish military engineer, architect, and Member of the Parliament of Ireland who served as Surveyor General of Ireland (1700–1730) and designed a number of the large public buildings of Dublin including the old Custom House (1704–6), Trinity College Library (1712–33), Dr Steevens' Hospital (1719), the Linen Hall (1722), and the Royal Barracks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Wyndham, 1st Baron Wyndham</span>

Thomas Wyndham, 1st Baron Wyndham PC, was an Irish lawyer and politician. He served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1726 to 1739.

Joseph Boyse was an English presbyterian minister in Ireland, and controversialist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Jackson (controversialist)</span> English clergyman, born 1686

John Jackson (1686–1763) was an English clergyman, known as a controversial theological writer.

Henry Barry, 4th Baron Barry of Santry (1710–1751), often referred to simply as Lord Santry, was an Irish peer, who was a notorious rake. He is unique in being the only member of the Irish House of Lords to be convicted of murder by his peers, for which crime he was sentenced to death. He later received a full pardon for the murder but died abroad when he was still a young man.

William Berriman D.D. (1688–1750) was an English theologian, known as a Boyle Lecturer and controversialist.

Joseph Hallett III (c.1691–1744) was an English nonconformist minister and author.