Thomas Sherlock
Bishop of London
ChurchChurch of England
Term ended1761 (death)
PredecessorEdmund Gibson
SuccessorThomas Hayter
Other post(s)Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Bangor
Consecrationc. 1728
Personal details
Died(1761-07-18)18 July 1761
BuriedAll Saints Church, Fulham, Middlesex
ParentsWilliam Sherlock
Alma materSt Catharine's College, Cambridge (MA, DD)

Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) PC was a British divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.


Born in London,[1] he was the son of the Very Reverend William Sherlock, Dean of St Paul's. He was educated at Eton College and St Catharine's College, Cambridge.[1][2] In 1704 he succeeded his father as Master of the Temple, where he was very popular.[1]

Sherlock died in July 1761,[1] and is buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Fulham, Middlesex. Much of his ancestral and earned wealth passed to the Gooch baronets who took Sherlock for many generations thereafter in tribute; his picture hanging in Benacre Hall, their purchased home in the period of his passing.


In 1714 he became master of his old college at Cambridge and later the university's vice-chancellor, whose privileges he defended against Richard Bentley. In 1715, he was appointed Dean of Chichester.[1]

He took a prominent part in the Bangorian controversy against Benjamin Hoadly. Sherlock became Bishop of Bangor in 1728. He was translated to Salisbury in 1734 (where he was admitted as ex officio Chancellor of the Order of the Garter on 20 February 1738) ; and in 1748 he was raised to London, where he was sworn of the Privy Council. He held the see of London until his death. [1][3][4]

Sherlock was a capable administrator and cultivated friendly relations with Dissenters. In Parliament he gave good service to his old schoolfellow, Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of Great Britain.[1][5]


Sherlock's tomb monument at All Saints Church, Fulham

He published against Anthony Collins's deistic Grounds of the Christian Religion a volume of sermons entitled The Use and Intent of Prophecy in the Several Ages of the World (1725); and in reply to Thomas Woolston's Discourses on the Miracles he wrote a volume entitled The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729), which soon ran through fourteen editions. His Pastoral Letter (1750) on the late earthquakes had a circulation of many thousands, and four or five volumes of Sermons which he published in his later years (1754–1758) were also at one time highly esteemed.[1] Jane Austen, wrote to her niece Anna in 1814, "I am very fond of Sherlock's Sermons, prefer them to almost any."[6]

A collected edition of his works, with a memoir, in five volumes, by Thomas Smart Hughes, appeared in 1830.[1]

Sherlock's Tryal of the Witnesses is generally understood by scholars such as Edward Carpenter, Colin Brown and William Lane Craig, to be a work that the Scottish philosopher David Hume had probably read, and to which Hume offered a counter viewpoint in his empiricist arguments against the possibility of miracles.

Sherlock also wrote a respected work entitled A Discourse Concerning the Divine Providence, in which he argues that the Sovereignty and Providence of God are unimpeachable.


Since the Deist controversy Sherlock's argument for the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has continued to interest later Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and John Warwick Montgomery. His place in the history of apologetics has been classified by Ross Clifford as belonging to the legal or juridical school of Christian apologetics.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chisholm 1911, p. 850.
  2. ^ "Sherlock, Thomas (SHRK693T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Harris 1842, p. LXXXIV.
  4. ^ "No. 8814". The London Gazette. 10 January 1748. p. 3.
  5. ^ "No. 8814". The London Gazette. 10 January 1748. p. 3.
  6. ^ Ross, Josephine. Jane Austen: A Companion, ch. 4, Thistle Publishing. Kindle Edition.


Further reading

Academic offices Preceded byThomas Green Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1714–1715 Succeeded byDaniel Waterland Preceded byWilliam Dawes Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge 1714–1719 Succeeded byThomas Crosse Church of England titles Preceded byWilliam Hayley Dean of Chichester 1715 – 1727 Succeeded byJohn Newey Preceded byWilliam Baker Bishop of Bangor 1728–1734 Succeeded byCharles Cecil Preceded byBenjamin Hoadly Bishop of Salisbury 1734–1748 Succeeded byJohn Gilbert Preceded byEdmund Gibson Bishop of London 1748–1761 Succeeded byThomas Hayter