Adams, Sir Thomas

, citizen and lord mayor of London, was a man highly esteemed fbr his prudence and piety, his loyalty and sufferings, and his acts of munificence: he was born in 1586, at Wem, in Shropshire, educated in the university of Cambridge, and (Fuller says) bred a draper in London. In 1609, he was chosen sheriff, when he gave a striking proof of his public spirit, by immediately giving up his business, and applying himself wholly to public affairs. He made himself complete master of the customs and usages, rights and privileges of the city of London, and succeeded to every honour his fellow-citizens had in their power to bestow. He was chosen master of the drapers’ company, alderman, and president of St. Thomas’s hospital, which institution he probably saved from ruin, by discovering the frauds of a dishonest steward. He was often returned member of parliament; but the violent politics of the times would not permit him to sit there. In 1645 he was elected lord mayor of London, in which office he gave a shining example of disinterestedness, by declining the advantages usually made by the sale of places which become vacant. His loyalty to Charles I. was so well known, that | his house was searched by the republican party, to find the king there; and he was the next year committed to the Tower by the same party, and detained there some time. However, at length he became the oldest alderman upon the bench, and was consequently dignified with the honourable title of father of the city. His affection for his prince was so great, that during the exile of Charles II. he remitted him 10,000l.

When the restoration of the king was agreed on, Mr. Adams, then 74 years of age, was deputed by the city to accompany General Monk to Breda in Holland, to congratulate and accompany the king home. For his signal services the king knighted him at the Hague; and soon after the restoration advanced him to the dignity of a baronet, on the 13th of June, 1661.

His merit, as a benefactor to the public, is highly conspicuous: he gave the house of his nativity, at Wem, as a free-school to the town, and liberally endowed it; he founded an Arabic professorship at Cambridge; both which took place before his death. By desire of his friend, Mr. Wheelock, fellow of Clare-hall, he was at the expence of printing the gospels in Persian, and sending them into the east. He was equally benevolent in private as in public life; and, although he suffered great losses in his estate, he gave liberally in legacies to the poor of many parishes, to hospitals, and ministers’ widows. He was particularly distinguished for his Christian patience and fortitude in adversity.

In his latter years he was much afflicted with the stone, which hastened his end; he died Feb. 24, 1667, at 81 years of age. The stone was taken from the body, and was of such extraordinary magnitude as to weigh 25 ounces, and is preserved in the laboratory at Cambridge. He felt no reluctance at the approach of his dissolution, and seemed perfectly prepared for death, often saying “Solum mild superest sepulchrum,” All my business is to fit me for the grave. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Hardy, at St. Catharine Cree Church, before his children and many of his relations. His descendants enjoyed the title down to the late sir Thomas Adams, who died a captain in the royal navy.1


Biog. Britannica.—Fuller’s Worthies.—Wilford’s Memorials.—Peck’s Desiderata, vol. II.