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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: Israel Tonge

Israel Tonge was born in Tickhill, South of Doncaster, the son of Henry Tonge (minister of Holtby, Yorkshire).

Israel attended school in Doncaster, he matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 3 May 1639, and graduated B.A. early in 1643.

Then he became a schoolmaster at Churchill, Oxfordshire where he became interested in gardening, alchemy, and chemistry.

In 1656 he became a doctor of theology, and taught grammar at the Cromwellian Durham College until its closure in 1659.

Then, following the Restoration, he held a succession of livings - chaplain of the Dunkirk garrison until it was sold to the French in 1661.

Then in June 1666 he became rector of St Mary Staining, unfortunately his church burnt down during the Great Fire of London.

This is where Tonge turned, blaming the Jesuits for both his own and London's losses. It became obsession - he wrote a succession of critical articles denouncing the Roman Catholic Church.

Tonge became acquainted with the fervently anti-Catholic physician, Sir Richard Barker who sponsored the Baptist preacher Samuel Oates. In 1677 at the physician's home, Tonge met Samuel's son, Titus Oates.

The Popish Plot was a fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates, perhaps in conjunction with Tonge, that between 1678 and 1681 gripped the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in anti-Catholic hysteria.

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