Thomas Adam

Winteringham Local History and Genealogy

Thomas Adam, and his curate Robert Storry

Thomas Adam memorial window in Winteringham Church

Thomas Adam was born in Leeds in 1701, educated at Cambridge and Oxford before coming to Winteringham in 1726.  He had been presented with the living at Winteringham two years earlier but because of his age at that time (23) he had to wait for two years before taking it up.  He was instituted to the Rectory of Winteringham on May 11th 1726, and was inducted on July 6th by Rev Patteson, Rector of West Halton.  This information is extracted from the Parish Registers, kindly transcribed by Kay Ashberry and Val Peill.  A further note states that Mr Fosse succeeded Mr Sye in the Rectory of Winteringham.  This may be to clarify the issue alluded to above - and that Mr Fosse, who is named on the list of Rectors in the Church, ‘covered’ for Thomas Adam from 1723-1726.

He was greatly admired for his reputation as a scholar and he wrote many books, some of which are still available in print, and also still on the recommended reading lists of some relgious organisations.  He remained in Winteringham, despite chances to advance his career.  He knew John Wesley, and also helped out at South Ferriby.

His diary gives a fascinating view of Winteringham during the 18th century.

He was very pious, and was benevolent to the poor.  His was “Adam’s Gift” - a bequest that he initiated on 18th August 1877 when he transferred several bonds of £50 each secured on the tolls of the Ancholme Drainage, with the interest to be used for the deserving poor of the parish who were not in receipt of parochial relief.  His gift survives to this day, albeit, since 1980, as part of the “Winteringham Relief in Need Charity”

Two of the current five bells are dedicated to Thomas Adam.

He died at Winteringham on March 31st 1784, and is buried in the Churchyard.

In his book “A Guide to Winteringham” (1912) C E Trimmer gives the following information:

“With regard to Gate End one can gain interesting information as to the condition of the Village 160 years ago by reading the ' Church of England Magazine dated 27th October, 1838." Therein is to be found an article relating to the Revd. Thomas Adam, B.A., Rector of Winteringham - it appears that in 1753 the Rev. W. Adam published his " Practical Lectures on the Church Catechism " and referred to Winteringham as follows :-
' In the spring of the year, cock-fighting was not an unusual amusement even on a Sunday afternoon. I used frequently to surprise these disorderly assemblies, which included farmers and tradesmen as well as labourers......... About half a mile from the Church and Parsonage, where the principal street divides the High from the Low Borough is a space called the Gate End, notorious as a rendezvous for the idle and profligate This spot commanded a fine view of the Yorkshire Hills, the Humber, the Haven, and Ferryboats. Here a scene of riot and blasphemy, of games, wrestling and fighting was frequently exhibited. Few persons and especially strangers could pass without annoyance..... ... Intoxication was the prevailing vice of the inhabitants. The Parishioners had right of common pasture over extensive meadows, and upland grounds for hay. On May Day the common pasture called the Marsh was stocked with horses, cows, and other cattle. On this occasion it was usual to have bull-fighting, and the worst passions of the owners were stirred up."

“The Revd. Thomas Adam, before mentioned, became Rector of Winteringham in 1724, he was eminent for his piety and unwearied benevolence to the poor. His name will long be honoured in the Church of England as the Author of "Private Thoughts on Religion" and an Exposition of St. Matthew and the other three Gospels. He was Rector of Winteringham for 60 years, namely until 1784 and was on friendly terms with the Rev. John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan Church, and they often corresponded. The Revd. Thos. Adam was aged 83 at the time of his death (March 31st, 1784).”


His books:

Practical Lectures on the Church Catechism (of which several editions were printed, including): C Hitch & L Hawes, in 1755, London

Paraphrase and Annotations of the Four Gospels (1837), London - sold at that time for 4 shillings and sixpence, in 2 Volumes, size 8vo.  Charles Spurgeon commented on Adam’s paraphrase of Romans I to XI “A poor paraphrase; very correct and evangelical, but thin as Adam’s ale.  We are disappointed, for the “Private Thoughts” of the same author are highly esteemed.”

“Private Thoughts on Religion” is still on sale!  Here, for instance is one place where it may be bought!

Private Thoughts on Religion was frequently reprinted and translated into many languages.  The copy owned by Coleridge is much marked and is held in the British Museum.

You can read his “Works of Thomas Adam” here at the Hathi Trust, digitised by Google, from a copy held in New York Public Library


The following biography was published in the weekly “Hull Packet” on 23rd June 1881:  NB: the author of this piece referred to him as Adams, not Adam.


Thomas Adams was rector of Winteringham, a rural parish in Lincolnshire. Here the good man laboured for sixty years during the last century, nor ever changed nor wished to change his place, although preferment was repeatedly offered to him. Born in 1701, at Leeds, where his father, a lawyer, was Town Clerk, he received his education first at the Grammar School of that town and afterwards at Wakefield. Thence he went to Christ College, Cambridge, and after two years removed to Hart; Hall, now Hertford College, Oxford.  He was presented to the living of Winteringham in 1724. He married a daughter of Mr Cooke, vicar of the neighbouring parish of Roxby, with whom he lived in great comfort for above thirty years, until her death in 1760.  They had one daughter, who died young. He died in March, 1784. in the 84th year of his age. From a brief biographical memoir, published in 1785, we gather some details as to his life and ministry. The writer of that memoir had access to Mr Adams' private diary, and gives extracts from it.  For many years, although regular in the discharge of his public duties, and living among the people, "neither his life nor his doctrine," he himself said. "could be of any peculiar use to them, for he lived in a conformity to the world, and his doctrine was contrary to the cross of Christ."  In another place he speaks of his "absolute unfitness for the ministry, his ignorance of Christ, and great unconcern for the salvation of souls." This state seems to have continued for many years.  It is probable that his conscience was ill at ease, and the perusal of Law's “ Serious Call to a Devoted and Holy Life” made a deep impression upon him.   That book is well fitted to awaken earnest thoughts about religion, but is very deficient in evangelical teaching.   He became deeply conscious of his sinfulness, was truly anxious about the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his people, and he strove after peace and holiness, but with no satisfactory results.  The record of his long and painful struggle is deeply interesting and instructive.   He does not appear to have had any godly and wise counsellor to whom he could open his mind. His health suffered, under the anxiety, and, his friends “thought; he was going out of his senses through too great study and care about religion.”  After in vain following “the bewildering guidance of commentators and expositors,” he confined himself to the study of the Scriptures, and the veil was still over his heart.   One morning in his study, being much  distressed, he fell down on his knees before God  in prayer,  spread his case before the divine majesty and goodness, imploring Him to pity his distress, and to guide him by His Holy Spirit into the right understanding of his own truth.  When he arose from his supplications, he took the Greek Testament, and sat himself down to read the first six chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, sincerely desirous to be taught of God, and to receive in the simplicity of a child the word of His Revelation, when, to his unspeakable comfort and astonishment, his difficulties vanished ; a most clear and satisfactory light was given him into this great subject. He saw the doctrine of justification by Jesus Christ alone, through faith, to be the great subject of the Gospel, the highest display of divine perfections, the happiest relief for his burdened conscience, and the most powerful principle of all constant and unfeigned, holiness of heart; and life.   He was rejoiced exceedingly: he  found  peace  and comfort sprang up in his mind; his conscience was purged from guilt; through the atoning blood of Christ, and his heart set at liberty to run in the way of God's commandments without fear, in a spirit of filial love and holy delight; and from that day he began to preach salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone - to man by nature and practice lost, and condemned under the law, and, as his own expression is, always a sinner. His sermons, though before animated by an honest zeal, were no longer mere lectures on morality, or filled only with legal condemnation. While all goodness in principle and practice was duly enforced, the enlivening display of that glorious Saviour, whose worth and excellence he had now tasted, and who had become all his salvation and all his desire, seasoned every discourse.   About the time that this change took place he stumbled, to use his own expression, on some of the writings of that famous champion of the Reformation, Martin Luther.   If he had seen these in his former state, when he was well contented with his own righteousness, we may justly suppose that he would have at once rejected them with the utmost disdain. His discourses, some of which have been published, sufficiently show his ability as a divine, and the faithful manner in which he discharged his great office amongst his people ; they are full of weighty matter, and are most honest and direct addresses to the heart and conscience. In his personal life and character he was a man of rare excellence. Possessing more than ordinary talent, learning, and culture, he was above all things notable for his humility and meekness. No one who knew him in his mature years would imagine he had naturally a proud spirit;, quick feelings, and hasty temper. Though strong in his own opinions, he was full of charity to those who differed from him. His curate one day asking what he thought of one of his people, whether the man was a real Christian or not, he seemed to take no notice.  Some days after he called him aside and said to him, “Sir, you asked me the other day what I thought of the state of A. B., and would probably be surprised that I gave you no reply ; but it was not through inattention. It is a point which requires much serious consideration before we determine on the state of any person;' and then he proceeded to give his sentiments with his usual candour.  Another clergyman, who lived in his family above six years and had the opportunity of seeing him at all times and under a variety of circumstances, writes of him thus: - "I do not recollect to have seen his temper ruffled more than once or twice during the whole of the time that I lived with him. When anything happened of a trying or provoking kind, he used to turn upon his heel, and say nothing until he had thought it over, and examined whether there was indeed a just cause for anger or not.”  But this conquest of himself was not attained to but by hard conflict, and in the exercise   of   much   labour,   watchfulness, and prayer.  He was forced to dispute his ground inch by inch, and would often say, “If ever grace was grafted on a crab-stock it is grafted in me.”  Reference has been made to other published works of Mr Adams, but the “Private Thoughts” are most widely known. In the original work the editors say that they have made merely a selection of the author's manuscript diary, arranging the extracts under a few heads, as was done by the editor of Pascal's “Thoughts.” An edition was published in Scotland, with an introductory essay by Dr Daniel Wilson, bishop of Calcutta. Various other editions have been published, but we fear that the book is not known as it ought to be, and it certainly is little to the taste of those who despise “old-fashioned theology” and “evangelical religion.”  Some of the thoughts are so profound that their writer has been described as the English Pascal.— Sunday at Home.

Rev Robert Storry

Part of his obituary in the "Christian Observer, No 152" following his death on 18th January 1814.

The Rev. Robert Storry was a native of Yorkshire; born in the parish of Middleton, near Pickering on the 13th June, 1751.


He received ordination in the beginning of the year 1774: previous to which he prosecuted his studies, for some time, under the eminently learned and pious Mr. Milner of Hull.  His first charge was the Curacy of Hovingham, near Malton, where his ministerial labours became both useful and popular.  Afterwards he was recommended by the Rev. W. Richardson (a friend to whom he looked up as a father, and for whom he entertained the highest esteem and respect to the last period of his life), as curate to the venerable and Rev. Thomas Adam, of Winteringham.  To this situation he removed in the beginning of the year 1775, and it proved an excellent school for improvement to a young and inexperienced minister.  Here he had great opportunities of improving his stock of spiritual knowledge; and here he acquired that just taste which led him to prefer, in his public addresses, that which was solid, useful and practical; that which was calculated to convince the understanding, and impress the heart; before what was merely popular and attractive.  Nor was this situation useful to Mr. Storry alone, in training him up to eminent future services; but it was equally so to Mr. Adam, on whom the social and communicative temper of Mr. Storry produced the happiest effects, by correcting in him that retired and taciturn disposition of deep thought and reflection, and which had proved a great bar to his usefulness, by restraining him from that free and familiar intercourse so desirable between and minister and his people.  Mr Storry, possessed of an active, affectionate, and communicative temper, soon became personally acquainted with the state of all the parishioners, and acquired an influence over their minds, which he employed in exhorting them to a greater diligence in the concerns of their souls, and in leading them to form a just estimate of the truly valuable instructions of their pious rector.  Through him, the excellencies of Mr. Adam's character were developed, and his labours made to produce a more abundant harvest.  To Mr. Storry the world is indebted for deciphering the manuscript copy, in short-hand, of those "PRIVATE THOUGHTS," which have so often appeared in print, and which are so highly esteemed, and read with so much benefit and pleasure, by persons of the greatest experience in religion.  Mr. Storry proved a striking example of the benefit which a young man, desirous of being taught the way of the Lord more perfectly, derives from being placed, in the beginning of his ministerial labours, under the eye and authority of the wise and aged.  It was, under God, the happy means of preserving him from many faults incident to his temper and disposition, and training him up for the more eminent services of which he was the honoured instrument.

In the commencement of the year 1781, Mr. Storry was presented, by the late pious and excellent Mrs Wilberforce, to the Vicarage of St. Peter's Colchester; soon after which he married a daughter of the late Dr. Bridges, of Hull, a physician held in great estimation for his talents and skill.  His union with this intelligent and pious lady was a source to him of the greatest connubial felicity.  Six children were the fruit of this marriage; two of whom only survived him, - a son and a daughter.  The former is the Rev. John Bridges Storry, whom his excellent father had the satisfaction of seeing set apart to the ministerial office; and who was, soon after his death, presented to the Vicarage of Great Tey, in the County of Essex ......................







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