Abney, Sir Thomas

, an eminent magistrate of the city of London, was one of the younger sons of James Abney, esq. of Willesley, in the county of Derby, where his ancestors had resided for upwards of five hundred years. He was born January 1639; and, as his mother died in his infancy, his father placed him at Loughborough school, in Leicestershire; to be under the eye of his aunt, lady Bromley, widow of sir Edward Bromley, a baron of the Exchequer in the reigns of queen Elizabeth and James I. At what time he came to London, we are not told; but he appears to have carded on business with success and reputation, as in 1693 he was elected sheriff of London, and in the following year he was chosen alderman of Vintry ward, and about the same time received the honour of knighthood from king William. In 1700, some years before his turn, he was chosen lord mayor, and employecd his influence in favour of the Protestant religion with much zeal. He had the courage, at this critical juncture, when the king of France had proclaimed the Pretender king of Great Britain, to propose an address from the Corporation to king William, although opposed by the majority of his brethren on the bench; and he completely succeeded. The example being followed by other corporations, this measure proved of substantial service to the king, who was thereby encouraged to dissolve the Parliament, and take the sense of the people, which was almost universally in favour of the Protestant succession. The zeal sir Thomas had displayed in this affair, as well as his steady adherence to the civil and religious privileges established by the Revolution, rendered him so popular, that his fellow-citizens elected him their representative in parliament. He was also one of | the first promoters of the Bank of England, and for many years before his death was one of its directors. He died Feb. 6, 1721-2, aged 83, after having survived all his senior brethren of the court of Aldermen, and become the father of the city. He was a man of strict piety *


His religious observances, whether public or domestic, he never suffered to be interrupted by business or pleasure. Lady Abney informed Dr. Gibbons, one of the biographers of Dr. Watts, that he kept up regular prayer in his family during all his mayoralty, and that upon the evening of the day he entered on his office, he without any notice withdrew from the public assembly at Guildhall after supper, went to his house, there performed family worship, and then returned to the company!

and independence of mind, and munificent in his charities. Having been educated among the dissenters, he attended their places of worship in common, but in his magistracy attended the church, on all public occasions, and. wjien solicited to support pubirc charities. The most remarkable circumstance of his hospitality, is the kind and lasting asyr lum which he provided for the celebrated Dr. Watts at his house at Stoke Newington. That eminent divine was attacked by an illness in 1712, which incapacitated him for public service. “This calamitous state,” says Dr. Johnson, “made the compassion. of his friends necessary, and drew upon him the attention of sir Thomas Abney, who received him into his house; where, with a constancy of friendship and uniformity of conduct not often to be found, he was treated for thirty-six years with all the kindness that friendship could prompt, and all the attention that respect could dictate. Sir Thomas died about eight years afterwards, but he continued with the lady and her daughters to the end of his life.

Sir Thomas was married, first, to a younger daughter of the Rev. Joseph Caryl, by whom he had seven children, who all died before him. In 1700 he married Mary Guuston, eldest daughter of John Gunston, of Stoke Newington, esq. by whom he had a son, who died in infancy, and three daughters, who survived him; the last, Elizabeth, dying unmarried in 1782, aged 78. By this second wife, sir Thomas became possessed of the manor of Stoke Newington, and lived in the manor-house. 1


Life of sir Thomas Abney appended to his Funeral Sermon by Jeremiah Smith, 1772, 8vo.—Johnson’s Life of Watts.—Gibbons’s Life of Watts.—Lysons’s Environs of London, vol. II.—Brown’s History of Stoke Newington.