Thomas Adkins was minister of Above Bar Congregational Church from 1811 to 1868. He was born in Ravenstone, Buckinghamshire in 1787. Tutored at home from the age of five he exhibited an aptitude for learning that was commented on by a number of his elders, including the poet William Cowper. At the age of twelve he went to school in Newport Pagnell and so excelled at his studies that he was soon promoted to the position of teacher. At age seventeen he became a classical tutor at a large academy in Northampton. His rising prominence led in 1810 to the Above Bar Congregational Church offering him the position of minister, a post which he accepted the following year. He presided over the rebuilding of the church in 1819-1820, laying the foundation stone himself on the 1 April 1819. He died in December 1868 after serving 58 years as pastor. A memorial tablet was erected in the church in his honour.

American clergyman, the Reverend John Overton Choules, travelling with the Vanderbilt’s party aboard the yacht North Star on their European trip in 1854, remembers meeting Adkins when the yacht stopped at Southampton. He describes him thus: “I well remember his manly form and his noble bearing, and as I approached his residence, I told the ladies that Mr Adkins used to be regarded as one of the noblest looking gentlemen in England…… He certainly was the finest looking man I saw in England, of his age; and our ladies thought him one of the most splendid men they had ever seen.”

The Reverend Thomas Adkins

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This portrait of Thomas Adkins, drawn by P. A. Gaugain and engraved by T. Fairland, appears in the History of the Above Bar Congregational Church, by S. Stainer.

see also

Further reading:

Jubilee of the Reverend T Adkins. (HS/j)
Memorial to the Reverend T Adkins. (HS/j)
History of the Above Bar Congregational Church, by S Stainer, p108-165 (HS/j)
The Cruise of the Steam Yacht North Star, by John Overton Choules.


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