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Grantham Civic Society Column: Thomas Hurst was chaplain to Charles I

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Thomas Hurst's house.
Thomas Hurst's house.

Thomas Hurst was born in Barrowby in 1598, son of Richard and Alice Hurst.

His father, from Leicestershire, had purchased land there. He attended Cambridge University, where he gained a BA in 1617. Ordained as a deacon at Peterborough in 1621, he then gained an incorporated MA at Oxford University in 1623.

He married Anne Somersall, the daughter of Lewis Somersall of Grantham, in 1627 at Barrowby. He became Rector of Barrowby and Leadenham in 1629, and a Doctor of Divinity in 1631.

Thomas and Anne had twelve children between 1628 and 1646, eleven of whom were baptised in Barrowby and one in Leadenham. Seven of their children, Anne, Lewis, Mary, Sarah, Charles, Anna and Elizabeth, died as infants or young children and were buried in the chancel of the church in Barrowby. In the chancel there is a stone decorated with fruits on either side and inscribed ‘Dr Hurst hath lyeing with this chancel seven children … This is to their memory 1675’. The remaining children, Thomas, Richard, Robert, Mary and Elizabeth, all lived until adulthood.

In 1637 Grantham was visited by plague, and many people died. Hurst, and Robert Sanderson, then Rector of Boothby Pagnell, ministered to the sick and dying. As a consequence, they were both presented with the freedom of the Borough, and it was recorded that they ‘had tended much to the glory of God, the furtherance of true religion, and conformity’.

Thomas later became chaplain to Charles I, and during the Civil War spent two years away from his parishes preaching to the Royalists. He was sequestrated in 1645 and not restored until 1660, after paying a fine of £640. During this time he lived in a house on Brownlow Street in Grantham. It bears the date 1653, but this may be the date of an extension. He and his friend Robert Sanderson, later Bishop of Lincoln, shared the same principles, both men attempting to ‘stem the torrent of blasphemy and impiety’ during the Civil war, giving weekly lectures in St Wulfram’s church.

Thomas died on 17 March 1674 and is buried in Barrowby church. His wife Anne died 26 March 1689. On the floor of the chancel is a stone slab marking where Anne is buried. In his will, Thomas remembered the poor of Barrowby and Grantham. The Hurst Almshouses are to the west of St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham. In Barrowby the Hurst Trust Fund was distributed on St Thomas’s Day each year.

The memorial to Dr Hurst is in Barrowby church.

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