Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

13 July 1769 A.D. Thomas Kelly Born—Irish Anglican Minister Becomes Dissenter. He becomes an “enthusiast” and his bishop represses him.

13 July 1769 A.D.  Thomas Kelly Born—Irish Anglican Minister Becomes Dissenter.  He becomes an “enthusiast” and his bishop represses him.

Graves, Dan.  “Thomas Kelly’s Fervent Faith.” Jun 2007.  Accessed 8 May 2014. 

When Thomas Kelly began to preach justification by faith in fervent, evangelical sermons, the leaders of Ireland's established church, in which he was ordained, wanted nothing to do with it. Dr. Fowler, the archbishop of Dublin, forbade Thomas Kelly and Rowland Hill (another evangelical with whom he was associated) from preaching in any church in his diocese.

Kelly was not about to be silenced. He established his own "dissenter" chapels at Athy, Blackrock and Portarlington, Ireland. Those who attended were known as Kellyites.

Born on this day, July 13, 1769, in County Queens, Ireland, Kelly was not always so fervent in his Christian views. In fact, he was studying to become a lawyer when he abandoned law for the church. Reading evangelical works changed his plans. At first he tried to win salvation by ascetic practices (which nearly undermined his health), but eventually his eyes were opened to the message of justification by faith and he redirected his zeal along scriptural lines. Justification is that process by which God in His grace declares a sinner righteous apart from any work the person has done, on the basis that the person looks to Christ in faith for salvation.

From this liberating teaching Kelly never departed. As he was dying, someone remarked, "The Lord is my shepherd." Kelly responded, "The Lord is my everything."

Although accused of being an enthusiast, Kelly was a thorough student of God's word, learning Hebrew and other languages so he could get as near the original meaning of the Bible as possible. It is not for his scholarship that he is known, however. Those who remember Kelly today usually do so because of one or another of his 760 hymns--those hymns that make him the Wesley of Ireland. Perhaps the best-loved is "Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him."

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.


1.      Duffield, Samuel Willoughby. English Hymns: their authors and history. New York, London, Funk & Wagnalls, 1886, especially pp. 206ff

2.      "Religious Diversity." Athy Heritage Centre. ReligiousDiversity.htm

3.      "Thomas Kelly."

4.      Wells, Amos R. A Treasure of Hymns; Brief biographies of 120 leading hymn- writers and Their best hymns. Boston: W. A. Wilde company, 1945.

5.      Various other internet articles.

Last updated June 2007

13 July 1769 A.D.  Thomas Kelly Born—Irish Anglican Minister Becomes Dissenter

Born: July 13, 1769, Kellyville, Stradbally, Queens County, Ireland.

Died: May 14, 1855, Dublin, Ireland.

Buried: Near the Kelly family home at Kellyville, Ballyadams, Queens County (now known as County Laois).

Son of a judge, Kelly attended Trinity College (BA 1789) and planned to be a lawyer. After converting to Christ, though, his career plans changed to the ministry. He became an Anglican priest in 1792, but eventually became one of the famous dissenting ministers. He wrote over 760 hymns. Miller’s Singers of the Church (1869) says of him:

Mr. Kelly was a man of great and varied learning, skilled in the Oriental tongues, and an excellent Bible critic. He was possessed also of musical talent, and composed and published a work that was received with favour, consisting of music adapted to every form of metre in his hymn-book. Naturally of an amiable disposition and thorough in his Christian piety, Mr. Kelly became the friend of good men, and the advocate of every worthy, benevolent, and religious cause. He was admired alike for his zeal and his humility; and his liberality found ample scope in Ireland, especially during the year of famine.

Kelly’s works include:

  • A Collection of Psalms and Hymns Extracted from Various Authors, 1802
  • Hymns on Various Passages of Scriptures, 1804, 1806
  • Hymns of Thomas Kelly, Not Before Published, 1815

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