Thomas Tripp (1744-1809)
Thomas Tripp was born into a poor family in Lowestoft, Suffolk. His parents were devout Anglicans and Tripp was to retain a strong affection for the Church of England throughout his life. As a young boy, he was apprenticed to a cooper and after the premature death of his father, Tripp worked to support his mother and sister. He was a regular attender at Anglican worship and 'a sincere enquirer after truth'.
Tripp was persuaded by a friend, against his own better judgement, to attend Methodist worship in Yarmouth and he was converted soon after, by the preaching of the itinerant John Pawson. He went on to pioneer the cause of Methodism in Lowestoft, often in the face of severe persecution.
Tripp married Mrs Ibrook, the comfortably-off widow of a grocer and fish merchant. She had also been a Methodist from the early days of the movement and had often provided hospitality for the first preachers to labour in Lowestoft. In the intervals between visits by itinerants, Tripp often filled the gap by reading John Wesley's sermons to the assembled society and leading them in prayer.
Tripp was one of the chief promoters of the first Methodist chapel in Lowestoft, opened by John Wesley and John Fletcher in 1776. When it became necessary to enlarge the building, Tripp and his wife contributed the considerable sum of £100. He served for many years as class leader, society steward and circuit steward and was regarded as one of the founding fathers of Methodism in the town. A generous giver to worthy causes, it is estimated that he gave away £1,700 during the last twenty years of his life.
Tripp suffered from very poor health for a long time before he finally passed away on March 29 1809. According to a non-Methodist account, such was the general esteem in which he was held that his funeral cortege was followed by three quarters of the population of Lowestoft.
Source: Arminian Magazine 1811, 281, 363 and 552.