Thomas Rutherforth

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Thomas Rutherforth (also Rutherford) (1712–1771) was an English churchman and academic, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge from 1745, and Archdeacon of Essex from 1752.

The Regius Professorships of Divinity are amongst the oldest professorships at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. A third chair existed for a period at Trinity College, Dublin.



He was the son of Thomas Rutherforth, rector of Papworth Everard, Cambridgeshire, an antiquarian who made collections for a county history. He was born at Papworth St. Agnes, Cambridgeshire, on 3 October 1712, received his education at Huntingdon school under Mr. Matthews, and was admitted a sizar of St John's College, Cambridge, 6 April 1726. He proceeded B.A. in 1729, and commenced M.A. in 1733; he served the office of junior taxor or moderator in the schools in 1736, and graduated B.D. in 1740. [1]

Papworth Everard village in the United Kingdom

Papworth Everard is a village in Cambridgeshire, England. It lies ten miles west of Cambridge and six miles south of Huntingdon. Running through its centre is Ermine Street, the old North Road and the Roman highway that for centuries served as a major artery from London to York. A bypass now means that most traffic can avoid Ermine Street, and it is traffic-calmed within the village itself.

Cambridgeshire County of England

Cambridgeshire is a county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west. The city of Cambridge is the county town. Modern Cambridgeshire was formed in 1974 as an amalgamation of the counties of Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough, the former covering the historic county of Cambridgeshire and the latter covering the historic county of Huntingdonshire and the Soke of Peterborough, historically part of Northamptonshire. It contains most of the region known as Silicon Fen.

St Johns College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge founded by the Tudor matriarch Lady Margaret Beaufort. In constitutional terms, the college is a charitable corporation established by a charter dated 9 April 1511. The aims of the college, as specified by its statutes, are the promotion of education, religion, learning and research. It is one of the larger Oxbridge colleges in terms of student numbers. For 2018, St. John’s was ranked 9th of 29 colleges in the Tompkins Table with over 30% of its students earning First-class honours.

On 28 January 1742 he was elected a member of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding, and on 27 January 1743 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He taught physical science privately at Cambridge, and issued in 1743 Ordo Institutionum Physicarum. In 1745 he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and created D.D.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

He became chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and afterwards to the dowager Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. He also became rector of Shenfield, Essex, and was instituted to the rectory of Barley, Hertfordshire, 13 April 1751. On 28 November 1752 he was presented to the archdeaconry of Essex.

Frederick, Prince of Wales heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until his death

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Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha British princess

Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was Princess of Wales by marriage to Frederick, Prince of Wales. She was one of only four Princesses of Wales who never became queen consort, as her eldest son succeeded her father-in-law as George III of the United Kingdom in 1760 rather than her spouse, who had died nine years earlier. Augusta was presumptive regent of Great Britain in the event of a regency between the death of her spouse in 1751, until the majority of her son in 1756, though in the event her father-in-law, George II, lived until 1760.

Shenfield suburb in Brentwood, Essex, UK

Shenfield is an affluent commuter suburb of Brentwood in the borough of the same name in Essex, England.

He died in the house of his wife's brother, Sir Anthony Abdy, on 5 October 1771, and was buried in the chancel of Barley church; a memorial slab placed over his tomb was removed in 1871 to the west wall of the south aisle.

Sir Anthony Thomas Abdy, 5th Baronet, KC was a British barrister and Whig politician.


Rutherforth was "at the heart of Cambridge latitudinarianism". [2] His dissertation for D.D., concerning the sacrifice of Isaac as a type of Christ's death, was published in Latin, and elicited a reply from Joseph Edwards, M.A. Besides sermons, tracts, charges, and a paper read before the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding, on Plutarch's description of the instrument used to renew the Vestal fire, Rutherforth published:

Plutarch Ancient Greek historian and philosopher

Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.


He married Charlotte Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Abdy, 4th Baronet, and left one son, Thomas Abdy Rutherforth, who became rector of Theydon Garnon, Essex, and died on 14 October 1798.

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  1. "Rutherford, Thomas (RTRT726T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Knud Haakonssen, Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish Enlightenment (1996), p. 312. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Probyn, Clive. "Chubb, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5378.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Rutherforth, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.