Rt Revd Thomas Wilson DD (1663-1755)
Church and Educational Reformer, Historian
Improved the academic and spiritual standards of the Island's people. He created libraries and restored most of the Island's churches.
Thomas Wilson was born at Barton in Cheshire in 1663. After graduation from Trinity College, Dublin, he took Holy Orders. Through the influence of the 9th Earl of Derby he became Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1698. On arrival in the Island he found Bishopscourt and St. German’s Cathedral in ruins, churches and vicarages in poor repair, clergy slack and the people illiterate.
During his fifty seven years as Bishop there was a great improvement in the spiritual and academic standards of the Island’s clergy. He was responsible for the commencement of the library at Bishopscourt, and encouraged the creation of other parochial libraries for which he bought books at his own expense. He re-built or restored nearly all the Island’s churches, and built two new ones, St. Matthew’s in Douglas, and St Mary’s in Castletown.
As Bishop, he sought to maintain ecclesiastical discipline and demanded the highest standards of probity from his clergy and of morality and obedience from their parishioners. He was a keen promoter of education for all classes and a prime mover in the passing of the Island’s first Education Act in 1703. He also initiated the translation of both the Bible and Prayer Book into Manx.
Bishop Wilson is said to have rode on horseback around the Island into his eightieth year, and all his life he took at least one service each Sunday.
Beloved by the people