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Thomas was born into a poor Irish Catholic family who rented a farm, some
seven out of Cork, from a Major Edward Riggs, a wealthy Cromwellian soldier.
Thomas was a bright lad and Major Riggs recognised this and provided for
his education until he was sixteen. At some point Thomas converted from
his Catholic upbringing to become a Baptist. His conversion was either
influenced by Major Riggs who was a key figure in the founding of the Cork
Baptist Church, or his employer when he left school and worked as a clerk
for a pilchard fishery. He was to suffer persecution for his conversion, and
after several years he moved England. It was not long after his arrival he
was to marry Hanna, the daughter of a Baptist minister. They moved to
London and he earned his living by translating and other literary work, and
later he kept a grammar school. Thomas co- wrote several books one relating
to Baptist doctrine and later ‘Tropologia’, a sort of bible handbook.

It was his strong belief that was to become his down fall. On the publication
of Dr Benjamin Calamy’s ‘A scrupulous
Conscience’ in 1683, in which he denounced
dissenters and claimed any objective person
who studied the difference between the
Church of England and of dissenters would
conclude the established church was correct.

Thomas could not pay the fine and shortly
after the trial his wife and children joined
him in Newgate Prison. Their poverty was
such that their only means of sustenance
was chance gifts from visitors. Sadly they
were all to die in 1685, Thomas’ wife and
children first, for want of air and sufficient
food, and Thomas a few weeks later, after
being in the prison for about 15 months.
Daniel Defoe wrote in the preface of a new
edition of ‘A Plea’, bitterly reflecting on the

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