Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eagles, Thomas

EAGLES, THOMAS (1746–1812), classical scholar, was baptised in the parish of Temple Holy Cross, Bristol, 28 April 1746. He was descended on his father's side from a family which had resided in Temple parish for nearly two centuries; his mother, whose maiden name was Perkins, came from Monmouthshire, and he died seised of estates in that county which had belonged to his maternal ancestors for many hundred years. On 16 Sept. 1757 he was entered at Winchester College. At school he gave promise of becoming an excellent classic. The death of a nobleman, however, to whom he had looked for preferment, obliged him to give up all thoughts of making the church his profession, as his father desired. Accordingly he left Winchester, 18 Jan. 1762 (College Register), and returned to Bristol, where he eventually prospered as a merchant. From 1809 until his death he was collecter of the customs at Bristol. He died at Clifton 28 Oct. 1812 (Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxii. pt. ii. p. 498). His wife, Charlotte Maria Tyndale, survived until 20 Feb. 1814 (ib. vol. lxxxiv. pt. i. p. 411). He left a son, John [q. v.] His eldest daughter, Cæcilia, married 9 Feb. 1796 to William Brame Elwyn, barrister-at-law and recorder of Deal (ib. vol. lxvi. pt. i. p. 167), had died before her parents, 3 June 1811, aged 34 (ib. vol. lxxxii. pt. ii. p. 366). In 1811 Eagles was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

To the last Eagles cherished a love for the classics. He left a translation of part of Athenæus, which, under the title of ‘Collections from the Deipnosophists, or Banquet of the Gods,’ was announced for publication in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for January 1813 (vol. lxxxiii. pt. i. p. 40). It never appeared, but by the care of his son ‘Selections’ from the first two books, with notes, were published anonymously in ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ for 1818 and 1819 (iii. 650–3, iv. 23–8, 413–17, 666–74). Eagles contributed to a periodical essay which appeared on the fourth page of ‘Felix Farley's Bristol Journal,’ with the title of ‘The Crier.’ It came out first in 1785, nearly about the same time that the ‘Lounger’ was published at Edinburgh, and was perhaps the first attempt ever made in a provincial town to support a periodical essay. After some interruptions it closed in 1802. In 1807 he attempted unsuccessfully to commence a series of papers to be called ‘The Ghost.’ He took a warm interest in the Rowley and Chatterton controversy, on which he left some dissertations. He was a Rowleian (Corry and Evans, Hist. of Bristol, ii. 299–300). He was a painter, but never exhibited his pictures, and was besides an accomplished musician. One of his many acts of quiet benevolence has been beautifully commemorated by his son in an essay, ‘The Beggar's Legacy,’ contributed to ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ in March 1855. A selection from his correspondence with a young acquaintance, R. D. Woodforde, begun in 1787 and closed in 1791, was published by the latter, 8vo, London, 1818.

[Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxii. pt. ii. pp. 589–90, new ser. xlv. 148–9; Reminiscences prefixed to A Garland of Roses gathered from the Poems of J. Eagles, ed. J. M. Gutch.]

G. G.