Bray, Thomas

Bray, Thomas, 1656–1730, English clergyman and philanthropist. In 1696 he was selected by the bishop of London as his commissary to establish the Anglican church in Maryland. Bray recruited missionaries and assembled parochial libraries for North America. He sent out more than 30 parish libraries, which also served in many cases as circulating libraries. He established similar libraries in England and Wales. He founded (1699) the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to carry on his work. Bray visited Maryland in 1700 and was instrumental in the passage of a revised provincial Church Act (1702). He secured the charter (1701) for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Rector of St. Botolph Without, Aldgate, London, from 1706 until his death, he was interested in many religious and charitable enterprises, among them the relief of prisoners in England, with which James Oglethorpe was also concerned. In 1723 a charity society, “Dr. Bray's Associates,” was founded, which in 1730 was concerned in a petition for the charter of Georgia. His major written work was A Course of Lectures Upon the Church Catechism (9 vol., 1696).

See C. T. Laugher, Thomas Bray's Grand Design (1974).

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