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In 1686 he was entered a scholar at Queen's College, Oxford, where in 1691 he published a valuable edition of the Saxon Chronicle with a Latin translation, indices and notes. This was followed in 1693 by an annotated edition of the De institutione oratoria of Quintilian, and in 1695 by a translation in two volumes folio of Camden's Britannia, with additions and improvements, in the preparation of which he had been largely assisted by William Lloyd, John Smith and other English antiquaries.
Shortly after Thomas Tenison's elevation to the see of Canterbury in 1694 Gibson was appointed chaplain and librarian to the archbishop, and in 1703 and 1710 respectively he became rector of Lambeth and archdeacon of Surrey. In the discussions which arose during the reigns of William and Anne relative to the rights and privileges of the Convocation, Gibson took a very active part, and in a series of pamphlets warmly argued for the right of the archbishop to continue or prorogue even the lower house of that assembly.
The controversy suggested to him the idea of those researches which resulted in the famous Codex juris ecclesiastici Anglicani, published in two volumes folio in 1713, a work which discusses more learnedly and comprehensively than any other the legal rights and duties of the English clergy, and the constitution, canons and articles of the English Church. In 1716 Gibson was presented to the see of Lincoln, whence he was in 1720 translated to that of London, where for twenty-five years he exercised an immense influence, being regularly consulted by Sir Robert Walpole on all ecclesiastical affairs.
While a conservative in church politics, and declaredly opposed to methodism, he was no persecutor, and indeed broke with Walpole on the Quakers' Relief Bill of 1736. He exercised a vigilant oversight over the morals of his diocese; and his fearless denunciation of the licentious masquerades which were popular at court finally lost him the royal favour. Among the literary efforts of his later years the principal were a series of Pastoral Letters in defence of the gospel revelation, against lukewarmness and enthusiasm, and on various topics of the day; also the Preservative against Popery, in 3 vols. folio (1738), a compilation of numerous controversial writings of eminent Anglican divines, dating chiefly from the period of James II.
A second edition of the Codex juris, revised and improved, with large additions by the author, was published at Oxford in 1761. Besides the works already mentioned, Gibson published a number of Sermons, and other works of a religious and devotional kind. The Vita Thomae Bodleii with the Historia Bibliothecae Bodleianae in the Catalogi librorum manuscriptorum (Oxford, 1697), and the Reliquiae Spelmannianae (Oxford, 1698), are also from his pen.
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