Randolph, Thomas

, archdeacon of Oxford, and president of Corpus Christi college, the son of Herbert Randolph, esq. recorder of the city of Canterbury, was born August 30, 1701. He received his school education at the king’s school in Canterbury, then in great repute, under the rev. Mr. Jones. At the early age of fourteen, being then a good proficient in classical learning, he was elected into a county scholarship in Corpus Christi college, Oxford. There he entered upon a course of academical studies under the tuition of the rev. Mr. Smith, in which, as well in his whole conduct, he acquitted himself to the great satisfaction of those who were set over him; having in view throughout the sacred profession, td which he had been destined from his early youth. He proceeded regularly through the degree of B. A. to that of M. A. the latter in 1722. In 1724 he was ordained deacon, and in the following year priest. At the same time he entered | upon the duty of his profession, and undertook a cure at such a moderate distance from the university, as that he might discharge the duties of it, and not be obliged to give up his residence, and the farther prosecution of his studies there. This course of life he continued for a few years, and then returned to a more strict residence in the university; nor was he intent on his own improvement only, but occasionally took part in the education of others, and in the government of his college, in which he succeeded to a fellowship in 1723. He took the degree of B. D. in 1730, and that of D. D. in 1735. In the mean time his reputation as an able divine introduced him to the notice of Dr. Potter, then bishop of Oxford, who soon after his translation to Canterbury, collated him to the united vicarages of Perhatn and Waltham in Kent. He also shortly after recommended him to Dr. Rye, regius professor of divinity, as a person (it to act as his deputy, who appointed him accordingly. This appointment will appear the more honourable, as the divinity disputations are esteemed a trial of the skill and learning of the senior part of the university; and Dr. Randolph acquitted himself in such a manner, that on a vacancy for the professorship in 1741, his friends thought him amply qualified to succeed but on this occasion the superior interest of Dr. Fanshaw carried the election; and Dr. Randolph retired to his living of Perham.

About this time several bold and artful attacks were made upon the Christian religion, which drew forth many able answers from the divines of the church of England. Amongst other works published in favour of deism and infidelity, was that entitled “Christianity not founded on Argument;” which, from the singularity of its positions, attracted much notice. Dr. Randolph was encouraged by his patron, archbishop Potter, to try his strength ill controversy in answer to this plausible writer; nor was the archbishop disappointed in the hopes he might form: Dr. Randolph’s answer, entitled “The Christian’s Faith a rational assent,1744, was considered as a truly valuable acquisition, and met with a most favourable reception.

The archbishop, still continuing his patronage to Dr. Randolph, collated him, in 1746, to the rectory of Saltwood, with the chapel of Hythe annexed; his residence, however, still continued at Perham, until he was elected, without his knowledge, or any communication with th e | electors, to be president of Corpus Christ! college. This election, which took place April 23, 1748, enabled him to devote the remainder of his life to the place of his education, and the scene of his growing reputation. Oxford became now the principal place of his residence; and the government of his college, and a share in that of the university, his chief employment and concern. Yet having naturally an active mind, and being ever vigilant and attentive to all the duties of his station, much of his time was still devoted to religious studies, which he considered as included in the proper duties of his station, and as their highest aim. Many of his sermons preached before the university were printed by request, and his larger work upon “The Doctrine of the Trinity,” in answer to “The Essay on Spirit,” was published in 1753, and 1754. From 1756 to 1759 he held the office of vice-chancellor, in which he was allowed on all hands to have conducted himself with temper and ability, at a time when disputes ran high, and the business of the university was more than common; the Vinerian statutes having been settled, and the delegacy of the press reformed, during that period. These several labours were so well received by the university, that in 1768 he was unanimously elected to the Margaret professorship of divinity on the death of Dr. Jenner. In the preceding year he had been promoted to the archdeaconry of Oxford on the resignation of Dr. Potter: which promotion took place by the recommendation of archbishop Seeker, accepted and confirmed by bishop Lowth, then bishop of Oxford; and may be 'considered as a testimony borne by those eminent prelates to his merit and character. From this time to that of his death he was again frequently engaged in controversy. The questions now agitated were chiefly, that of subscription to articles of faith, and that of the doctrine of the Trinity revived by Mr. Lindsey, and his followers. On these he published several tracts, and also occasionally gave his assistance to others engaged in the same cause. Bodily infirmities he was subject to for many years before his death, but the faculties of his mind were sound and unimpaired to the very last. Within the last year of his life he finished and published a work, which he had prepared some time before, on the “Citations from the Old Testament in the New.” Repeated attacks at length brought him to a state of weakness, under which he laboured for three months, and died March 24, 17 S3. | He was buried in Corpus Christi cloister, where a monument is erected to his memory.

Dr. Randolph’s whole attention was confined to his profession, and his station in the university. Being convinced that the province allotted to him, if its duties were faithfully discharged, was sufficient for his own employment, and for the rendering him an useful member of society, he was not disposed to wander beyond it. He was a zealous supporter of the doctrines of the church of England, from a conviction that they were those of the religion of Christ. It has sometimes been invidiously urged by the enemies of our religious establishment, who with great professions of liberality are by no means scrupulous of the terms in which they speak of the doctrines, discipline, or members of our church, that its supporters act from interested views. In answer to this charge thrown out against himself in common with others, Dr. Randolph says, in a preface to an intended work, “One of these writers is now near fourscore years of age, who neither hopes for, nor will solicit for any thing farther in this world: he fights under no banner but that of his Lord and Saviour, from whom alone he expects his reward.

Dr. Randolph married Miss Thomasina Honywood, daughter of William Honywood, esq. of Cheriton, one of the family of Honywood in Kent. By this lady, who died in Dec. 1783, he had three sons and three daughters, of whom there survived him, the three sons, Thomas, Herbert, and John; and one daughter, Thomasina.

In 1784, a collection of the most valuable of Dr. Randolph’s works was published, under the title of “A View of our blessed Saviour’s Ministry, and the proofs of his divine mission arising from thence; together with a charge, dissertations, sermons, and theological lectures,” 2 vols. 8vo. To this is prefixed an account of his life, of which we have availed ourselves in the present sketch. 1


Life as above,