Stokes, George Thomas (1843–98), clergyman and historian, was born 28 December 1843 in Athlone, eldest son of John Stokes, merchant, of Athlone, and Margaret Stokes (née Forster). Educated at Galway Grammar School and QCG, he entered TCD in July 1860, graduating BA in 1864. In 1866 he was ordained as curate of Dunkerrin, in the diocese of Killaloe, and in 1867 was appointed to a curacy at St Patrick's, Newry, Co. Down (1867–9). Appointed (1869) as the first vicar of All Saints, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, he graduated MA (TCD) in 1871, subsequently graduating BD (1881) and DD (1886).
He had always displayed a keen interest in historical and antiquarian research and had a special interest in the history of the Irish church. His early publications included Scriptural authority for a liturgy (Dublin, 1868) and Work of the laity in the Church of Ireland (Dublin, 1869). In 1883 he was appointed professor of ecclesiastical history at TCD (1883–98) and soon established a reputation for giving informal and interesting lectures. Indeed, he popularised his subject to such an extent that members of the general public began attending his lectures. He continued to write, publishing Ecclesiastical history and scientific research (1883), and had also begun writing what he hoped would be a multi-volume history of the Irish church, publishing Ireland and the Celtic church: a history of Ireland from St Patrick to the English conquest of 1172 (London, 1886) and Ireland and the Anglo-Norman church (London, 1889).
Stokes never completed his planned series of church histories, as he became involved in other activities and historical projects, and in 1887 was appointed keeper of Marsh's Library. Later publications included Sketch of medieval history (Sketch of Universal History series, ii; London, 1887) and, with the Rev. C. H. Wright, The writings of St Patrick, the apostle of Ireland (Dublin, 1887). He also contributed articles to the Contemporary Review and Smith's Dictionary of Christian biography (London, 1880–87). In 1891 he edited and published a version of Tour in Ireland by Bishop Richard Pococke (qv). A prominent member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, he published numerous articles in the society's journal, including ‘The island monasteries of Wales and Ireland’ (1891), ‘St Fechin of Fore and his monastery’ (1892), and ‘The Wolverstons of Stillorgan’ (1893). In February 1891 he was elected MRIA.
In December 1893 he was appointed a canon of St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, and prebendary of St Audoen's, Dublin. He suffered a stroke in 1895 but remained active despite a gradual decline in health. He died 24 March 1898 at the vicarage in Blackrock and was buried in Dean's Grange cemetery. At the time of his death he was giving a series of lectures at TCD on Irish churchmen of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His lecture notes were edited by the Rev. Hugh Jackson Lawlor (qv) and published in 1900 as Some worthies of the Irish church (London, 1900).
He married first (1872) Fanny, daughter of Thomas Pusey of Surbiton, Surrey, England; secondly (1883) Katherine, daughter of Henry J. Dudgeon of Stillorgan, Co. Dublin.