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Thomas Bray

1656-1730. Anglican divine and missionary promoter. Born at Marton, Shropshire, and educated at Oswestry School and Oxford, he became rector of Sheldon, Warwick, in 1690. Five years later he was appointed commissary for Maryland by H. Compton,* bishop of London, to establish the churches there, but found that he could only enlist poor men unable to buy books. He worked at a scheme to form parochial libraries in the colonies and then at home in every deanery in England and Wales, so that by his death more than eighty existed in the United Kingdom and thirty-nine in North America, some of over 1,000 volumes. Out of other educational projects developed the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1698). In 1699 Bray at last reached Maryland, but found that he could develop his projects better at home. He returned to found the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (1701). Rector of St. Botolph- Without, Aldgate, in 1706, he continued to develop his libraries, but failed in his attempts to provide a bishop for New England.