Ken, Thomas, Dd

Ken, Thomas, D.D., bishop of Bath and Wells, a distinguished nonjuror divine, was born at Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, in July, 1637. He was educated at Winchester School and New College, Oxford. About 1666 he entered the Church, and became chaplain to bishop Morley, Who in 1669 secured for him a prebend in Westminster. In 1674 he visited Rome, and on his return in 1679 was made D.D. About the same time he was appointed to the household of the princess of Orange; but the strictness of his moral and religious principles having displeased prince William, he soon left Holland, and accompanied lord Dartmouth in his expedition against the pirates of Tangier. On the recommendation of the latter, he was, on their return in 1684, appointed chaplain to Charles II, and knew how to maintain the dignity of his office unspotted in the midst of that monarch's licentious court. It is said that once, as the king was on a visit to Winchester, Ken refused to receive the favorite, Eleonora Gwynn, into his house; the king, however, praised highly the dignity of the prelate's character instead, of resenting this refusal, and only remarked, "Mistress Gwynn will find other lodgings." In the very same year (1684) Ken was promoted to the bishopric of Bath and Wells. During the reign of James II, when the Church of England seemed threatened with inroads from the papacy, bishop Ken stood forth one of the most zealous guardians of the national Church, stoutly opposing any attempts to introduce popery into Great Britain. He did not, indeed, take an active part in the famous popish controversy which agitated the reign of king James II so briskly, but he was far from being unmindful of the danger, and while others worked by their pen, he as actively labored in the pulpit, and boldly took every occasion to refute the errors of Romanism; nor did he hesitate, when the danger of the hour seemed to require it, to set before the royal court its injurious and unmanly politics in ecclesiastical affairs. Some have asserted that bishop Ken was at one time won over to the .papal side, either at this time or later in life, but against this assertion speaks his decided stand in 1688, when he protested energetically against the Edict of Tolerance, and his refusal, when the Declaration of Indulgence was strictly commanded to be read, by virtue of a dispensing power claimed by the king, to comply with the demand of his king. Bishop Ken was one of the seven bishops who signed a petition to the king protesting against the tact, and who were imprisoned in the Tower for their insubordination. After the Revolution, however, he proved his steadfastness to his' royal master by his refusal to take the oath of obedience to William of Orange, and thereby lost his bishopric. Even his political adversaries, however, could not but respect such conduct, and queen Mary, whose chaplain he had been, provided for him by pension. He retired to Longleate, in Wiltshire, and there died, March 19, 1711. 'Ken was an eminently pious man, and possessed great learning and talents. While in the bishopric he published an Exposition of the Church Catechism (Lond. 1686, 8vo), and Prayers for the Use of Bath and Wells (Lond. 1686, 12mo, and often). Later he composed a Manual of Prayers (Lond. 1712, 12mo) — Exposition of the Creed (Lond. 1852, 12mo), etc. He also wrote much poetry, which remains popular to this day. His works were first published at London in 1721, in 4 vols. 8vo; also Prose Works (London, 1838,' 8vo). See W.L. Bowles, Life of Thomas Ken (Lond. 1830-31, 2 vols. 8vo); Life of Thomas Ken, by a Layman (Lond. 1851, 8vo); Hawkins, Life of Ken (1713); Duyckinck, Life of Bishop Thomas Ken (N.Y. 1859); Burnet, Own Times; Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 84; Stoughton, Eccles. Hist. of the Engl. Church of the Restoration (Lond. 1870,2 vols. 8vo), ii, 87, 97, 141 sq., 278, 469; Darling, Cyclopaedia Bibliographica, ii, 1713; Allibone, Dict. of English and American Authors, ii, s.v.; Strickland (Agnes), Lives of the Seven Bishops (Lond. 1866, 12mo), p. 234 sq. (J. H. W.)

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