William Thomas Gibson is professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford Brookes University and a prolific author.
Gibson was educated at Huish’s Grammar School, Taunton. He went on to study at University of Wales, Lampeter, where he was Butler scholar from 1978 to 1982. As this was worth £60 per annum, it was a significant addition to his grant. Gibson graduated with a BA in history. He then took an MA, writing a thesis entitled The diocese of Bath and Wells in the eighteenth century. After this, he trained as a teacher at Lincoln College, Oxford. Gibson taught history and politics for eleven years in Gosport and Southampton. From 1992 to 2004, he was also a registered inspector of further education for HMI, FEFC and Ofsted. Despite all this, he managed to write his PhD, The family and the church in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This was awarded by Middlesex University in 1994. He was also given a DLitt from the University of Wales in 2003.
From 1994 to 2004, Gibson worked for Basingstoke College of Technology, first as director of Student Services and then as head of the Faculty of Arts and Professional Services. Following this, he went back to full-time academia. He was Academic Director for Lifelong Learning at Oxford Brookes University from 2004 to 2008; since 2008 he has been director of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History. He was promoted to professor in 2006.
Gibson’s first book was Church, state and society, 1760-1850, published in 1994 as part of the British history in perspective series. He has gone on to write a variety of books mostly describing 17th and 18th century church history, with a focus on Anglicanism. Gibson has sought to challenge the traditional picture of the Church of England in the long 18th century as worldly, indolent and corrupt. He has presented a more balanced picture, describing the church as efficiently organized, adaptable and committed to effective pastoral work. Gibson’s most recent book is Sex and the church in the long eighteenth century, written in collaboration with Joanne Begiato and published in 2017. In Enlightenment prelate, Benjamin Hoadly, 1676-1761, Gibson wrote a major study of one of the most derided bishops in the English church. Monod commented, ‘in Gibson, Hoadly has found a diligent and thorough modern defender, with a fine grasp of contemporary ecclesiastical politics. Gibson’s research, in both printed and archival records, is painstaking and admirable.’ Further, Nigel Yates described the book as ‘a first-class piece of research and reassessment.’ Gibson has also written about the history of St David’s College; he was the author of In a class by itself: the fight for survival of St David’s College, Lampeter, published in 2007. He contributed a chapter on Lampeter, ‘Thomas Frederick Tout at Lampeter: the making of a historian’ to Thomas Frederick Tout: refashioning history in the twentieth century, edited by Caroline M. Barron and Joel T. Rosenthal and published in 2019.
Gibson has edited a large number of books, several of them standard works. He and John Morgan- Guy edited A history of religion in the diocese of St David’s 1485-2011, published in 2015. (This was the first history of the diocese of St David’s to be published since 1888.) With Keith A. Francis, Gibson edited The Oxford handbook of the British sermon, 1689-1901, published in 2012. The most recent volume he has edited is Teleology and modernity (2019); his co-editors were two other academics from Oxford Brookes, Dan O’Brien and Marius Turda.
Gibson has written many journal articles and book chapters, on subjects ranging from the histories of the universities at Oxford and Cambridge through British surnames to the family of John Wesley. Further, he has contributed several articles to Oxford dictionary of national biography; these include pieces on John Baskett, the king’s printer; Bernard Gardiner, the vice chancellor of Oxford University, and Lewis Bagot, bishop of Bristol, Norwich and St Asaph.
Gibson is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Historical Society, the Burgon Society and the Society of Antiquaries. He edits Journal of religious history, literature and culture, published by the University of Wales Press. From 2012 onwards, he has chaired the editorial board of the Routledge Methodist studies series. He is a council member of the Oxfordshire Record Society. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Sassari, Sardinia and the University of Claremont-Auvergne.
Gibson is a long-term collaborator with UWTSD’s honorary research fellow, John Morgan-Guy. He is one of Lampeter’s most dedicated supporters and a contributor to The Link, the Lampeter Society magazine.
Monod, P. (August 2007). Review of Gibson, William, Enlightenment Prelate: Benjamin Hoadly, 1676-1761. H-Albion, H-Net Reviews. Retrieved January 25 2022 from https://networks.h-net.org/node/16749/reviews/18086/monod-gibson-enlightenment-prelate-benjamin-hoadly-1676-1761
Yates, N. (2006). William Gibson: Enlightenment Prelate: Benjamin Hoadly, 1676–1761. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2004; pp. 384. Journal of religious history, 30(1), 94-152. Retrieved January 25 2022 from https://web-p-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=11&sid=d4ecaba7-9565-4ba2-852f-4fa28f2feb3b%40redis