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Thomas Scott (1747-1821)

Thomas Scott was born at Braytoft in Lincolnshire, the son of a grazier. He was educated at several private schools until 1762 when he was apprenticed to a surgeon. He was soon dismissed for bad conduct and spent several years working as a labourer for his father. In 1772 Scott travelled to London to seek ordination as an Anglican minister.

Scott became a curate in Buckinghamshire and in December 1784 married Jane Kell, housekeeper to a local family. From 1775 to 1786 Scott served as curate of Ravenstone in Buckinghamshire but was resident in Weston Underwood from 1777 where he preached several times a week. In 1779 he published his autobiography and in 1781 succeeded his friend the famous hymnwriter John Newton as curate of Olney.  At about this time, Scott began an extensive local itinerant ministry.

Scott was unpopular in Olney and in 1785 he accepted a joint chaplaincy at the Lock Hospital in London. The move was not a success — he did not get on with his colleague and the hospital governors were not impressed with his style of preaching which appears to have been extremely moralistic and tactless.

He also served as lecturer at St Mildred's in Bread Street and the preacher at St Margaret's. He remained at the Lock Hospital despite the difficult circumstances and became the sole chaplain in 1802. Scott left the following year to become the Vicar of Aston Sandford in Buckinghamshire. During his time in London he was the first secretary of the Church Missionary Society and coached some of the early missionaries in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Scott published extensively on theology. His major work was a Bible commentary in 174 weekly numbers. Despite its influence, the commentary caused its author considerable financial difficulties which added to the poor health that afflicted his later years.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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