Vincent, Thomas

, a nonconformist divine of great popularity, courage, and piety, was born in the month of May 1634, in Hertford. He was the eldest son of the rev. John Vincent, who died possessed of the valuable living of Sedgfield in the county of Durham, but who was so often troubled on account of his nonconformity, that although he had a numerous family, it is said that not two of his children were born in the same county. This son, Thomas, was educated at Westminster-school, whence he was, in 1647, elected to Christ Church, Oxford. There he made such proficiency, that, after taking h’is degree of M. A. in 1654, the dean, Dr. Owen, chose him catechist, an office which, Wood says, usually belongs to a senior master. On leaving Oxford he became chaplain to Robert, earl of Leicester, and afterwards succeeded to the living of St. Mary Magdalen, Milk-street, London, from which he was ejected for nonconformity in 1662. He then taught school for some time with another famous nonconformist, the rev. Thomas Doolittle, at x lslington, and occasionally preached when it could be done with safety. In 1665 the memorable and last-plague with which this kingdom was visited, broke out in the metropolis with uncommon fury, and Mr. Vincent informed his colleague that be now thought it his duty to relinquish his present employment, and devote himself to the service of the sufferers in this great calamity. Doolittle endeavoured in vain to dissuade him, and Mr. Vincent, that he might not seem obstinate, agreed to refer the case to the city ministers, who, after hearing his reasons, and admiring his courage and humanity, gave all the approbation that such an act of self-devotion could admit, and Mr. Vincent came to lodge in the city, and throughout the whole continuance of the plague preached constantly every Sunday in some parish church. This was not ouly connived at by government, but he was followed by persons | of all ranks. He also visited the sick whenever called upon, and yet aontinued in perfect health during the whole time, although seven persons died of the plague in the house where he resided. This remarkable instance of courage and humanity probably reconciled many to him who disapproved of his nonconformity; for although he preached afterwards at a dissenting meeting at Hoxton, and was the founder of another at Hand-alley, Bishopsgate-street, we do not find that he was molested. He died Oct. 15, 1678, in the forty-fourth year of his age. He was the author of several pious tracts, which went through many editions in his life-time, and afterwards; and had some controversy with Penn the quaker, and with Dr. William Sherlock. The most popular of his tracts were his “Explanation of the Assemblies Catechism,” which still continues to be printed; and his “God’s terrible voice to the city by Plague and Fire,” in which are some remarkable accounts of both these fatal events. This work, which was first printed in 1667, 12mo, went through thirteen editions before 1671. He published a work of the same kind, occasioned by an eruption of Mount Etna, entitled “Fire and Brimstone,” &c. 1670, 8vo. He had a brother, Nathanael, also educated at Christ Church, who was ejected from the living of Langley-march, in Buckinghamshire, in 1662, and afterwards was frequently prosecuted for preaching in conventicles. He was also imprisoned, as being concerned in Monmouth’s expedition, but nothing was proved against him. He died in 1697, and left several practical treatises, and funeral sermons. Wood attributes to him more Cl brisk and florid parts“than belong to his fraternity, and adds, that he was” of a facetious and jolly humour," which certainly does not correspond with the other characters given of him. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. —Calamy.