Herring, Thomas

, a distinguished English prelate, was born in the year 1691, at Walsoken in Norfolk. His father, John Herring, was then rector of that place; and Dr. John Carter, afterwards fellow of Eton, having at that time the care of the school of Wisbeach, in the Isle of Ely, Mr. Herring placed his son under his care. Here our young student continued till June 21, 1710, when he was admitted into Jesus college, Cambridge, under the tuition of Mr. Richard Warren, afterwards D. D. rector of Cavendish, and archdeacon of Suffolk. In this college he took the degree of bachelor of arts; but there being no prospect of his succeeding to a fellowship, he removed in July 1714, to Corpus Christ! college, and was made a fellow of that seat of learning on the resignation of Mr. Peane in April 1716. The same year he was ordained deacon, and the year following commenced master of arts, and took upon him the charge of pupils.

In 1719 he was ordained priest, and was successively minister of the several pa ishes of Great Shelford, Stow cumqui, and Trinity, in Cambridge. In these stations he deservedly acquired the character of a celebrated preacher. His person was majestic; he had a gracefulness in his behaviour, and gravity in his countenance, that always procured him reverence. His pronunciation was so remarkably sweet, and his address so insinuating, that his audience, immediately on his beginning to speak, were prepossessed in his favour. Nor were these conspicuous talents suffered to remain long without being rewarded; for, in the year 1722, bishop Fleetwood made him his domestic chaplain, and, the same year, presented him to the rectory of Rettenden in Essex, and soon after to that of Barclay in Hertfordshire; which occasioned his fellowship to become vacant the year following.

In 1724 he took the degree of bachelor of divinity, and, about the same time, was presented by his majesty to the rectory of Allhallows the Great, in London; but gave up the benefice before institution. His friends, however, | being desirous of bringing him to town, upon a vacancy of a preacher to Lincoin’s-inu, recommended him to that society, who accordingly made choice of him in 1726; and soon after he was appointed chaplain in ordinary to the king, and, on attending his majesty on his visit to the university of Cambridge in 1728, was honoured with the degree of doctor of divinity .*


While preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, he took occasion in one of his sermons to condemn Gay’s celebrated drama, “The Beggar’s Opera,” as of pernicious consequence to morals; and much clamour and ridicule were excited against him on this account. He was, bowever, in general supported by the reflecting part of the public. There are few more disgraceful circumstances in Swift’s character or writings, than the contemptuous manner in which he mentions Dr. Herring’s interference. In No. 3 of “The Intelligencer,” Swift says, “I should be very sorry that any of them (the clergy) should be so weak as to imitate a court chaplain in England, who preached against the Beggar’s Opera, which probably will do more good than a thousand sermons of so stupid, so injudicious, and so prostitute a divine.

In 1731, sir William Clayton, bait, presented him to the rectory of Blechingly in Surrey; upon which he was succeeded in that of Barclay by Mr. Castle. About the close of the same year, his majesty nominated him to the deanery of Rochester, where he was installed on the fifth of February 1731-2. In 1737 he was preferred to the bishopric of Bangor; and, on the death of archbishop Blackburn, in 1743, translated to the archiepiscopal see of York. While he was employed in the business of this high station, the rebellion broke out in Scotland; when his love for his country, his prince, his religion, would not suffer him to remain an indolent and unactive spectator of the dangers which threatened the happy constitution and liberties of these kingdoms. He was indefatigable in assisting, advising, and persuading the inhabitants of his diocese to join heartily in an association, then on foot, for defending his majesty’s sacred person and government. In consequence of these services, the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury becoming vacant by the death of archbishop Potter, in 1747, Dr. Herring was translated thither. In 1753 he was seized with a violent fever, which brought him to the brink of the grave; and though he did in some measure recover, yet from that time he might be rather said to languish, than to live. He retired to Croydon, declined all public business, and saw little other company than his relations and particular friends. After languishing about four years, he expired March 13, 1757; and, agreeably to the express direction of his will, was interred in a private manner, in the vault of Croydon church. | In 1763 a volume of his sermons on public occasions was printed, which bear the strongest marks of unaffected piety and benevolence; ancl the profits of the edition were given to the treasurer of the London Infirmary, for the use of that charity. A volume of his “Letters” was also published by the Rev. Mr. Buncombe in 1777, which exhibit his character in a very amiable point of view, and include many interesting particulars of his life, ably illustrated by the editor. The virtues of the man, indeed, appear to have afforded the principal cause of the high praises every where bestowed on the archbishop. The natural mildness and indolence of his temper, led him to a degree of indifference towards the disputed doctrines of the church, which procured him the good opinion of the sectaries, some of whom, not content with mere foibearance, seem to have wished his more active co-operation, and have accused him of diffidence and timidity; and from his having spoken slightingly of the orthodox in one of his letters, and having said “1 abhor every tendency to the Trinity controversy,” they thought him willing, but unfortunately not ready, to bring about what they call a reformation in the doctrines of the church. In these respects they probably mistook his character *.


Mr. Rastall’s character of him appears to be drawn up with candour, “Herring was certainly a very sincere protestant, and as such a steady friend to the house of Hanover; but I have no hesitation in asserting, upon good authority, that his politics were monarchical, and his religion high church. His good sense, however, so far corrected one bias, and his good temper the other, that neither did the former make him servile, nor the latter imperious. I mean, by this, only to shew, that his zeal in the contest (in 1745), where we have seen him so eminent, arose from no personal attachment to the monarch or his family, nor to the cause that called them to the throne, It proceeded not from any speculative opinions of the subject’s right to freedom; nor from any very enlarged ideas of the British constitution; but it was the effect of religious conviction, and civil allegiance. Herring was sincere in the attachment to the religion he professed and he believed the support of that religion to be intimately connected with the safety of the family in possession of the crown. To that fa­ mily also he had sworn allegiance, and from them had received protecrion. These were the pillars on whi< h the archbishop rested his opinions, and which supported his zeal. He does not consider the appointment of parliament, or the voice of the people, as the foundation of the king’s title to the obedience of his subjects He doubted, perhaps, the authority by which the sceptre had been wrested from the family of the Stuarts; but he had found another in possession of the inheritance, whose title he had bound himself, by oath, to defend; and a breach of that oath he treats as the most flagrant violation of faith, the most unprovoked and profligate perjury. His manner of considering this subject seems to have been uniform in every period of his life, and on every occasion when he was called upon to publish his opinion. In 1739, soon after his appointment to the bishopric of Bangor, we find him preaching before the Lords, on the 30th Jan. from the words of St. Peter, ” Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake." On this occasion, in the unaffected lan-

| While archbishop of York, he much improved the gardens at Bishopsthorpe, and gave a new clock to the turret; and after his advancement to the metropolitical see of Canterbury, he laid out about 6000l. in repairing the houses and gardens at Lambeth and Croydon. By his last will, he left to the incorporated society for the relief of the widows and sons of poor clergymen the sum of 1000l. and to the master and fellows of Corpus Christi college, Cambridge, the sum of 1000l. Old South Sea stock, towards rebuilding or repairing the college. His grace was never married 1

Biog. Brit. Supplement. —Gent. Mag. see Index. Disney’s Life of Sykes, p. 98, -Letters to Mr. P’incombe. Jortin’s Erasmus. Swift’s Works.