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Wilson, Thomas, Bishop

WILSON, THOMAS, BISHOP (1663-1755), English bishop, was bom at Burton, Cheshire, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained in 1686, and became curate at Newchurch Kenyon, Lancashire. In 1692 he was appointed chaplain to the 9th earl of Derby, who in 1697 offered him the bishopric of Sodor and Man. He was consecrated bishop in 1698. His episcopate was marked by a number of reforms in the Isle of Man. New churches were built, libraries founded and books were printed in Manx, his Principles and Duties of Christianity (London, 1707) being the first book published in that language. He also encouraged farming, and set the example of planting fruit and forest trees. In order to restore discipline in the island he drew up in 1704 his well-known Ecclesiastical Constitutions. The judgments of his courts often brought him into conflict with the governors of the island, and in 1722 he was even imprisoned for a time in Castle Rushen. In 1737, however, the jurisdiction of the civil and spiritual courts was better defined by new statutes, the lordship of the island having passed in 1736 to James Murray, and duke of Atholl, with whom Wilson had no personal difficulties. In 1749 on Zinzendorf's invitation he accepted the title of Antistes a synonym for bishop in the Moravian Church.

A life of Wilson, by John Keble, was published with his Works (Oxford, 1847-1863). The Sodor and Man Theological School in the Isle of Man is called in his memory the Bishop Wilson School.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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