John Thomas
Died: 20 Aug, 1793
Field: Dean
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Bust
Type of material: Marble

A memorial to John Thomas, Dean of Westminster, stands in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. This is of grey and white marble with a bust and relief of the Holy Lamb, with a mitre and crozier behind. On either side are a chalice and paten and other emblems of the Eucharist. It was made by sculptor John Bacon as a pair to the adjacent monument of Zachary Pearce. His coat of arms show the See of Rochester impaling sable between three Cornish choughs, for Thomas. The Latin inscription can be translated:

"Sacred to the memory of the Right Reverend John THOMAS, Doctor of Laws, Bishop of Rochester, Dean of this Collegiate Church, and of the most honourable Order of the Bath. Having passed a well spent boyhood at Carlisle School, he gathered the riper fruits of learning at Oxford, whence, by reason of his intellect, his character, his humane and profound scholarship, he emerged as an ornament to the legal profession. His fame thereafter growing and duly spreading abroad, he adorned his offices by his worthiness, increased his riches by his bounty, governed this church with his wisdom, protected it by his authority, and instructed it by his example. Unweared in his labours, indefatigable in his studies, his constant principle was edification: until, having virtuously fulfilled all life obligations, and for long sore pressed by a cruel disease, which was borne however with indomitable patience, he resigned his soul to God on 20th August 1793 in his 81st year. It fell to the lot of his relative, G.A.T., A.M. [Master of Arts] to offer this vain tribute, this token of sorrow, mean though it be".

George Andrew Thomas, prebendary of Lichfield, was his nephew and erected the memorial.

John was born in Carlisle in 1712, a son of John, a minor canon of the cathedral there, and his wife Ann (Kelsick). In 1737 he was ordained and became rector of Bletchingley in Surrey, chaplain in ordinary to the King, and later Canon and Sub-Dean of Westminster. He was appointed Dean of Westminster in 1768 and Bishop of Rochester in 1774. During his time at the Abbey he allowed the destruction of the 13th century choir stalls but made many charitable bequests. He married Anne Clayton who died in 1772 and secondly in the Abbey on 12 January 1775 Dame Elizabeth Yates (nee Baldwin). There were no children by either marriage. He was buried with his wife at Bletchingley.

A photo of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

© 2017 The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Website design - Design by Structure