Thomas Tenison

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Tenison, Thomas (1636–1715). Archbishop of Canterbury. A graduate of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Tenison was ordained privately (c.1659). He was rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields (1680–92) and St James's, Piccadilly (1686–92), archdeacon of London (1689–92), bishop of Lincoln (1692–5), and archbishop (1695). With his friend John Evelyn he was a zealous supporter of the 1688 revolution. As archbishop, he was close to William III and crowned Anne and George I, but, as a leading advocate of the Hanoverian succession, he was isolated by extreme Tories. He successfully steered the church through the convocation controversy, though convocation itself was abandoned. He showed compassion for the poor, and promoted voluntary societies and charity schools, the foundation of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the demand for bishops in America. ‘Dull and prosaic … yet a great primate’ is a modern assessment. Gibson wrote of his ‘great goodness and integrity’ and ‘natural sedateness’ which preserved the church from shipwreck in stormy times.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Thomas Tenison (tĕn´Ĭsən), 1636–1715, English churchman, archbishop of Canterbury (1695–1715). In 1680 he became rector of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London; there he came into prominence as a preacher and as an author, and he founded a free library. He was consecrated bishop of Lincoln in 1691 and was named archbishop of Canterbury in 1695. He administered to both William and Mary at their deathbeds but was not popular with Queen Anne. He had Low Church views and supported the Hanoverian succession. He was a founder (1701) of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and wrote books on Thomas Hobbes (1670) and Francis Bacon (1679).