Tanner, Thomas

, an excellent antiquary, was the son of a father of both his names, vicar of Market Lavington in Wilts, and was born in 1674. He became a student in Queen’s-college, Oxford, in Michaelmas-term, 1689; admitted clerk in that house, 1690; B. A. 1693; entered into holy orders at Christmas, 1694; and became chaplain of All-souls-college in January following; chosen fellow of the same, 1697; chancellor of Norfolk, and rector of Thorpe near Norwich in 1701. He was installed prebendary of Ely, Sept. 10, 1713, (which he quitted in 1723); made archdeacon of Norfolk, Dec. 7, 1721 canon of Christ-church, Feb. 3, 1723-4; and prolocutor of the lower house of convocation, which was convened anno 1727. To this honour he was unanimously elected on account of his great abilities, however contrary to his own inclinations; and was consecrated bishop of St. Asaph, Jan. 23, 1732. Bishop Tanner died at Christ-church, Oxford, Dec. 14, 1735; and was buried in the nave of that cathedral, near the pulpit; without any funeral pomp, according to his own direction. He ordered his body to be wrapped up in the coarsest crape, and his coffin to be covered with serge, not cloth: the pall-bearers to have each of them one of Baskett’s folio bibles; the underbearers a Sherlock upon Death; to the dean of Christchurch, he left five pounds; to the eight canons five shillings each; eighty pounds to buy coats for eighty poor men; and one hundred pounds to the college, towards their library then building. A monument to his memory | is affixed to one of the pillars, with an inscription. Another in>cription, and a translation of it, may be seen in the “Anecdotes of Bowyer.” He was thrice married, first, to Rose, eldest daughter of Dr. Moore, bishop of Ely, and by <her, who died March 15, 1706, aged twenty-five, he had a daughter who died in her infancy; secondly, to Frances, daughter of Mr. Jacob Preston, citizen of London. She died June 11, 1718, aged forty, and left two daughters, who both died young, and his son and heir, the rev. Thomas Tanner, who died in 1760, at that time precentor of St. Asaph, rector of Kessingland, and vicar of Lowestoff. The bishop married, thirdly, in 1733, Miss Elizabeth Scottow, of Thorpe, near Norwich, with a fortune of 15,000l. She survived him, and married Robert Britiffe, esq. recorder of Norwich, and M. P. She died in 1771.

Bishop Tanner’s character seems to have descended to posterity without any blemish. His virtues are acknowledged by his contemporaries, and of his learning as an antiquary, which was very extensive, he was most readily communicative to all who were engaged in publications of that nature. He had a considerable hand in the second edition of Wood’s “Athemr,” but appears to have given offence to some of Wood’s friends, by softening certain of his prejudices as well as his coarse language. This produced something like a controversy, which the reader may find detailed in the life of A. Wood, prefixed to his “Annals,” or in the preface to the new edition of the “Athenac,” by Mr. Bliss. Of the publications more particularly belonging to himself, the first appeared before he was twenty years old. It formed an excellent compendium of our religious houses, setting forth, when and by whom they were founded, their dedications, orders, and value; and v\as entitled, “Notitia Monastica, or a short History the Religious Houses in England and Wales,1695, 8vo. This was so favourably received that it became very scarce, and at the request of his friends he set about revising and enlarging it in 1715, but the duties of his station, and afteruarcls his infirmities, prevented him from leaving it quite complete. It appeared, however, under the care of the rev. John Tanner, his brotht-r, in 1744, folio, under the title of “Notitia Monastica; or an Account of all the Abbies, Priories, and House* of Friers, heretofore in England and Wales; and also of all the Colleges and Hospitals | founded before A. D. 1511. By the right rev. Dr. Thomas Tanner, late lord bishop of St. Asaph. Published by John Tanner, A. M. vicar of Lowestoft in Suffolk, and precentor of the cathedral church of St. Asaph.” Of this a much improved edition was published in 1787, by Mr. Nasmith; but the greater part of the impression having been consumed in Mr. Nichols’s fire, it now ranks among scarce books. His “Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica,” which employed him forty years, was published in 1748, folio, with a posthumous preface by Dr. Wilkins. He left large collections for the county of Wilts, and large notes on Richard Hegge’s Legend of St. Cuthbert, 1663. His immense and valuable collections are now in the Bodleian library at Oxford. His portrait was engraved by Vertue in 1736, at the expence of the Society of Antiquaries. The portrait prefixed to the “Notitia,” is inscribed, “Reverendus admodum Thomas Tanner, Asaphensis Episcbpus, PilmaevEB Antiquitatis Cultor. G. Vertue sculp. 1743.” This print was a copy of that engraved by Vertue, with some difference in the decoration, and this addition to the inscription: “Hoc ectypum fratris sui dignissimi antiquis moribus ornati posteris sacratum esse voluit Soc. Ant. Lond. 1736.1


Ath. Ox. vol. II, Biog. Brit. Letters from Eminent persons, 1S1H, 3 vols. 8vo. Gough’s Topography. Bp. Nicolson’s Letters, vol. 1. p. 57.- Nichols’s Bowyer.