Thomas Scott (1747–1821) was an influential preacher and author who is principally known for his best-selling work A Commentary On The Whole Bible, for The Force of Truth, and as one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society.
A preacher is a person who delivers sermons or homilies on religious topics to an assembly of people. Less common are preachers who preach on the street, or those whose message is not necessarily religious, but who preach components such as a moral or social worldview or philosophy.
An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
Thomas Scott was born in 1747 at Bratoft in Lincolnshire, the son of a grazier (cattle farmer), the 11th of 13 children. His mother was better educated than his father and taught Thomas to read. He went to various small local private schools before being sent at the age of ten to a school in Scorton in Richmondshire, 150 miles away from home. Returning in 1762, he was apprenticed at 15 to a surgeon in nearby Alford, but was soon dismissed for bad conduct. He returned to the family farm in disgrace and he was reduced to working as a labourer for his father, enduring this for ten years before finally leaving home in 1772 to become ordained as an Anglican priestat the age of 25. As he afterwards admitted, he went into the ministry for a comfortable career, and did not believe in most of the doctrine he was required to preach.
Bratoft is a small hamlet in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated approximately 5 miles (8 km) east from Spilsby, 2 miles (3 km) west from Burgh Le Marsh, and south from the A158 road.
Lincolnshire is a county in eastern England, with a long coastline on the North Sea to the east. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders Northamptonshire in the south for just 20 yards (19 m), England's shortest county boundary. The county town is the city of Lincoln, where the county council has its headquarters.
Scorton is a village and civil parish in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated approximately 8 miles (13 km) north-west from the county town of Northallerton.
Scott was first a curate in Buckinghamshire in 1772, and was appointed to the adjacent parishes of Stoke Goldington and Weston Underwood. In December 1774 he married Jane Kell, housekeeper to a local family. From 1775 to 1777 Scott served as curate of nearby Ravenstone by virtue of a "swap" with the curate there.
Buckinghamshire, abbreviated Bucks, is a ceremonial county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.
Stoke Goldington is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes and ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire, England. It is located about four miles NNW of Newport Pagnell, on the B526, the old road to Northampton.
Ravenstone is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes and ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire, England. The village is about 2.5 miles (4 km) west of Olney, and 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Newport Pagnell and the northern boundary of the Milton Keynes urban area. The 2011 Census recorded the parish population as 209.
During this period, Scott began a friendship and correspondence with the hymn writer John Newton, who was curate of neighbouring Olney. This instigated an examination of his conscience and study of the Holy Scriptures that would convert him into an evangelical Christian, as related in his spiritual autobiography The Force of Truth published in 1779.
John Newton was an English Anglican clergyman and abolitionist who was forced to serve as a sailor in the Royal Navy for a period. He was first a slave of Princess Peye, a black princess of the Sherbro people and then, years after, He became the captain of slave ships. He became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric, served Olney, Buckinghamshire, for two decades, and also wrote hymns, known for "Amazing Grace" and "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken".
Olney is a market town and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes in South East England. At the 2011 Census, it had a population of around 6,500 people. It lies on the River Great Ouse, very close to the borders of Buckinghamshire with Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, and equidistant from Northampton, Bedford and Milton Keynes. It is accessed by the M1 at Junction 14, with the closest passenger rail service at Milton Keynes Central and Bedford railway stations. It is a popular tourist destination, perhaps best known for the Olney Pancake Race and for the Olney Hymns by William Cowper and John Newton.
In 1781, Scott transferred to the curacy of Olney, Newton having gone to London, and in 1785 Scott also moved to London to take up a post as a hospital chaplain at the Lock Hospital for syphilis sufferers. He would walk 14 miles every Sunday, preaching and taking services at various churches, including St. Mildred, Bread Street, and St. Margaret, Lothbury, in addition to his work at the hospital chapel. While in London he started publishing the Commentary On the Whole Bible that was to make his name.
The London Lock Hospital was the first voluntary venereal disease clinic and the most famous and first of the Lock Hospitals which were developed for the treatment of syphilis following the end of the use of lazar hospitals, as leprosy declined. The hospital later developed maternity and gynaecology services before being incorporated into the National Health Service in 1948 and closing in 1952.
The church of St Mildred, Bread Street, stood on the east side of Bread Street in the Bread Street Ward of the City of London. It was dedicated to the 7th century Saint Mildred the Virgin, daughter of Merewald, sub-king of the West Mercians. Of medieval origin, the church was rebuilt to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren following its destruction in the Great Fire of London in 1666. One of the few City churches to retain Wren's original fittings into the 20th century, St Mildred's was destroyed by bombs in 1941.
St Margaret Lothbury is a Church of England parish church in the City of London; it spans the boundary between Coleman Street Ward and Broad Street Ward. Recorded since the 12th century, the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt by the office of Sir Christopher Wren. St Margaret Lothbury still serves as a parish church, as well as being the official church of five Livery Companies, two Ward Clubs and two Professional Institutes. It also has connections with many local finance houses, all of which hold special services each year.
His wife died in 1790, and he remarried in 1791. During his time in London, Scott was, with Newton, one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society, and its first secretary (1799–1802).
In 1803, Scott left the Lock Hospital to become Rector of Aston Sandford in Buckinghamshire where he remained until his death in 1821. He kept up his involvement with the Church Missionary Society, taking in trainee missionaries for instruction.
The Force of Truth (1779) is still available as a paperback reprint. It went through twelve editions in his lifetime.
Scott's Commentary On The Whole Bible originally appeared in 174 weekly numbers starting in January 1788, and went into multiple editions. By the time of his death in 1821 nearly £200,000 worth of copies had been sold in England and America (where it was particularly popular), but Scott made only £1,000 profit from the work, having sold the copyright in around 1810.
Scott published various other religious essays, but none was as successful as his Commentary, and by 1813 he was in debt to his publishers for £1,200. He successfully persuaded relatives to buy up unsold copies of his works at a reduced price to clear the debt.
During his lifetime his Theological Works, Published at different times, and now collected into volumes (1808) were published in five volumes.
His son John Scott published in twelve volumes The Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, Bucks (1823–24). These volumes included The Force of Truth, John Scott's Life of the Rev. Thomas Scott and unpublished letters and papers, but excluded the Commentary.
John Henry Newman wrote of Scott as "the writer who made a deeper impression on my mind than any other, and to whom (humanly speaking) I almost owe my soul – Thomas Scott of Aston Sandford." He also wrote that Scott's works "show him to be a true Englishman, and I deeply felt his influence; and for years I used almost as proverbs what I considered to be the scope and issue of his doctrine, 'Holiness before peace,' and 'Growth is the only evidence of life.'"
Scott had two daughters and three sons, all three of whom went into the Anglican ministry.
His eldest son John Scott (1777–1834) edited and published both his father's life and his papers after his death. He became vicar of St Mary's, Hull, as did his son and grandson after him, both also called John Scott. There is a pub in Hull named after them The Three John Scotts.
The middle son, Thomas Scott (1780–1835), became rector of Wappenham in Northamptonshire, where he was succeeded by his son, another Thomas Scott. He was also the father of the architect George Gilbert Scott, some of whose early works can be found in Wappenham. A 20th-century descendant of the second Thomas Scott was the radio comedian Richard Murdoch.
The third son Benjamin Scott (1788–1830) was curate to Edward Burn. He married Anne and had four children, and in 1828 became vicar of Bidford and of Priors Salford, Warwickshire. Anne died in 1829 and Benjamin married his second wife, Frances Bingley, on 12 January 1830, but shortly afterwards became ill and died while staying at the Burton Arms Inn in Llandegley, Radnorshire, Wales. Frances was pregnant at the time of his death, and their son Benjamin John Scott was born later the same year, being baptised on 4 December 1830 in their home town of Bidford-on-Avon.
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