An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Atkinson, Thomas

(Aug. 6, 1807-Jan. 4, 1881). Bishop and advocate of the religious education of African Americans. He was born on his father's plantation, Mansfield, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He attended Yale and graduated from Hampden Sidney College. Atkinson prepared for the ministry after studying law and nine years of legal practice. He was ordained deacon on Nov. 18, 1836. From then until his ordination to the priesthood, May 7, 1837, he was an assistant at Christ Church, Norfolk, Virginia. When he was ordained priest he became rector of St. Paul's Church, Norfolk, where he stayed until 1843. In that year he was elected rector of St. Peter's Church, Baltimore. He and others from St. Peter's formed Grace Church, Baltimore, in 1850. Atkinson served there as rector until he was elected Bishop of North Carolina. He was consecrated bishop on Oct. 17, 1853. He supported the founding of the University of the South and later participated in organizing the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States. After the Civil War, Atkinson supported the reunion of the Episcopal Church. He was one of three southern bishops attending the General Convention of 1865. He died in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.