HALL, Timothy (1639-90)

HALL, Timothy (1639–90)

cons. 7 Oct. 1688 bp. of OXFORD

First sat 22 Jan. 1689; last sat 20 Mar. 1690

bap. 17 Mar. 1639, St Katherine by the Tower London, s. of Thomas Hall, woodturner, and Judith. educ. Pembroke Coll., Oxf. matric. 1654, BA 1658. m. 1 May 1658, Sarah Rouls, of Twickenham, Surr., 1s. d.v.p.1 d. 9 or 10 Apr. 1690; will 7 Apr., pr. 15 May 1690.2

Rect. Norwood, Surr., Southam, Warws., ejected 1662, Horsenden, Bucks. 1668-77, All Hallows Staining, London 1677-88; perpetual cur. Princes Risborough, Bucks. 1669-77; vic. Bledlow, Bucks. 1674-7.

Also associated with: Homerton, Mdx.

With the overtly political appointment of Timothy Hall to the see of Oxford in the autumn of 1688, James II disregarded the usual conventions of episcopal preferment. Hall’s family background was modest and his education puritan; his father was a woodturner, who had acquired property in the precincts of St Katherine by the Tower, and Hall entered Pembroke, Oxford, under the tuition of the Presbyterian, Thomas Cheseman (ejected in 1662).3 Under normal circumstances, Hall, who did not progress academically beyond his bachelor’s degree, would not have been promoted out of the parochial clergy; his reputation as a bishop was thus circumscribed by hostility from his clerical colleagues and, subsequently, by Whig propaganda.

Ejected from his rectory at Norwood under the terms of the 1662 Act of Uniformity, Hall had conformed by 1668 and was presented to the living of Horsenden by John Grubb, a lay impropriator.4 Little is known of Hall at this period, but on 20 Dec. 1677 he returned to London when presented by the Grocers’ Company to the rectory of All Hallows Staining.5 He was now enmeshed in the social and political circle that included former parliamentarian Robert Huntington, the Brumpstead family (one of whom had married John Breedon, a prominent London Tory and liveryman), and the merchant, Sir John Friend.6 It is likely that Hall and Friend had known each other for some time, a relationship which may explain how Hall came to the king’s attention in 1688. Both men came from the parish of St Katherine, and Friend was appointed deputy lieutenant of London in October 1687 in James II’s political realignment of City institutions.7

On 27 Apr. 1688 Hall, still ministering at Allhallows, was one of only five London ministers who read (or ordered the reading of) the second Declaration of Indulgence.8 It was later reported that Hall obeyed to curry favour with the king but there is evidence that he was a principled supporter of toleration. Roger Morrice had already noted Hall’s support for the Dissenters’ exercise of public ministry, and his claim that it would be ‘such an advantage to the common interest of religion’ that he would happily see his own congregation dwindle as a consequence. His views on the subject meant that he opposed the stand made by the Seven Bishops.9

Hall’s willingness to fall in with the king’s policies no doubt explains his elevation to a see that had been vacant since the end of March. In July the king issued a directive for Hall’s election to Oxford, though doubts continued to be expressed in correspondence at the time as to who was most likely to receive the bishopric. He was consecrated at Lambeth by William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, John Lake, bishop of Chichester, and Thomas Cartwright, bishop of Chester, but on Hall’s arrival at the bishop’s palace in Cuddesdon, the gentry refused the customary greeting and he was denied formal installation.10 Still reeling from the Magdalen affair, the university refused to grant Hall a doctorate.11 Perceived as a political stooge, Hall now joined Cartwright and Thomas Watson, bishop of St Davids, as the butt of political satirists.12 George Hickes, the future nonjuring suffragan bishop of Thetford, declared that Hall’s consecration put him in mind of a prediction that the king’s choice of bishops would enable Rome to ruin the established Church.13 On 17 Nov. 1688, within weeks of his consecration, Hall signed the petition calling on James II to call a Parliament and he joined the Lords assembled at Whitehall ten days later.14 He did not participate in the deliberations of the provisional government, but on 13 Jan. 1689 he preached at the Mercers’ Chapel on the theme of fraternal charity, rounding on those whose mouths were ‘half-cocked’ and ready to accuse their colleagues of closet Catholicism. Perhaps speaking for himself, he also defended those currently wrestling with their consciences and advocated mutual tolerance.15

Hall took his seat in the Lords on the first day of the Convention on 22 January. He at once attracted criticism by including the formula for the king and prince of Wales when reading the prayers at the commencement of the session and was pointedly not one of those appointed to write the thanksgiving prayer later that day. The following day the prayers for James and Prince Edward were omitted.16 Hall was appointed to the standing committees for privileges and petitions but his attendance of the House proved to be brief with him attending on only six days. In his brief parliamentary career, Hall voted consistently with the loyalists, voting for a regency on 29 Jan., and against the Commons in the abdication debate on 6 February. He did not, according to the printed Journal, sign the dissent against the final vote, but a manuscript list in the hand of Theophilus Hastings, 7th earl of Huntingdon, does include Hall as one of 40 dissenting voices.17

Denied enthronement and admission to his temporalities, Hall was in reduced circumstances and a member of the ecclesiastical establishment in name only. At Whitsun 1689, unable to fulfil his diocesan duties, he was forced to call on Baptist Levinz, bishop of Sodor and Man, to ordain 84 Oxford ordinands.18 On 18 Nov. 1689 Hall’s reputation received a further blow when John Hampden appeared before a Lords’ committee investigating the Rye House Plot. Hampden revealed that Hall had acted as messenger to the duchess of Portsmouth in an attempt to secure Hampden a pardon, though the duchess had soon after conceded her inability to effect his discharge.19 Hall may have been known to Hampden from his time as a parish minister in Buckinghamshire, but he was roundly censured for his involvement. White Kennett, later bishop of Peterborough, who dismissed Hall as ‘one of the meanest and most obscure of the city divines’, and used Hampden’s revelation to damn Hall as a grubby time-server and Romanist sympathizer.20 Macaulay was later to assert that the ‘infamous’ Hall had disgraced his gown by acting as a broker with the duchess of Portsmouth in the sale of pardons.21

Hall did not return to the House after 6 Feb. apart from a single visit on 20 Mar. 1690; he did not register a proxy and at a call of the House on the last day of that month was excused as being sick. Two months earlier he had been subjected to an insulting experience when the judges at the Old Bailey refused to allow him to take the oaths, castigating him for the ‘very dangerous example’ he had set by delaying his appearance until the last possible moment. He was referred to Hick’s Hall where he was permitted to take the oaths along with four other clergymen.22 A popular ballad joked that he was one of those associated with James’s regime to have sold his coach and horses and abandoned Whitehall, but when he died later that spring Hall’s meagre personal estate (ironically enough) did include a coach and horses (worth £27).23

Apart from contradicting rumours about the composition of his personal estate and confirming his long-standing friendship with the Jacobite Sir John Friend, his executor and a fellow Hackney resident, Hall’s brief will gives little clue to his surviving family members or social circle. He left a grandson and it seems likely that he had outlived at least one son.24 According to one of his contemporaries, at the time of his death he was ‘miserably poor’.25 His response to an assessment of personal estate for tax purposes declared that he had ‘no personal estate taxable but my palace of Cuddesden.’ His household goods were subsequently valued at just over £350.26 He died at his house in Homerton during the night of 9 Apr. 1690 (some reports recorded his death occurring the next day) and was buried on 13 Apr. at St John’s church in Hackney. The following day the dean and chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, received a recommendation to elect John Hough, perhaps pointedly, as he had been the President of Magdalen deprived in 1687, as bishop in his stead.27


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/399.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 Ath. Ox. iv. 875.
  • 4 Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 332.
  • 5 A. Poyah, The Annals of the Parishes of St Olave's Hart Street and All Hallows Staining in the City of London, 341; Ellis Hist. Notes, p. 25; G. Hennessy, Novum Repertorium, 85.
  • 6 T. Hall, Sermon preached ... at the Funeral of Robert Huntington Esq. (1684).
  • 7 EHR, cxii. 1141-78, esp. 1154, 1160.
  • 8 Poyah, Annals, 355.
  • 9 Morrice, Entring Bk. iv. 9, 267.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1687-9, pp. 242, 255, 303; Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 43, ff. 160-1, 164; HMC Portland, iii. 415; Ath. Ox. iv. 876.
  • 11 HMC 5th Rep. 198; Thynne pprs. 43, ff. 180-3.
  • 12 POAS, iv. 316.
  • 13 Bodl. Ballard 12, f. 36.
  • 14 NLW, Coedymaen I, 61; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 356; Morrice, Entring Bk. iv. 353.
  • 15 T. Hall, Sermon preached at the Mercers Chapel (1689), 36, 37, 43.
  • 16 Morrice, iv. 498; HMC Le Fleming, 234; HMC Portland, iii. 423.
  • 17 HEHL, HA Parliament, Box 4 (28).
  • 18 R. Newcourt, Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londinense (1710), i. 915; Ath. Ox. iv. 876; D. Macleane, Hist. of Pembroke Coll. Oxf. 309.
  • 19 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/ 4, f. 274; S. Wynne, ‘The Mistresses of Charles II’ (Cambridge Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1997), 80, 95; Stuart Court and Europe ed. R.M. Smuts, 266.
  • 20 W. Kennett, Hist. of England, iii. 491.
  • 21 Macaulay, Hist. of England ed. C.H. Firth, ii. 1001; iii. 1064.
  • 22 Morrice, Entring Bk. v. 369-70.
  • 23 POAS, iv. 324; PROB 32/31/198.
  • 24 PROB 11/399.
  • 25 Bodl. Tanner 27, f. 142.
  • 26 Chatsworth, Halifax Coll. B.90; PROB 32/31/195-203.
  • 27 Lyson, Environs of London, ii. 500; HEHL, HM 30659 (7); Tanner 27, f. 142; Morrice, Entring Bk. v. 424; Salmon, Lives, 321; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 552.