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

GASPEY, THOMAS (1788–1871), novelist and journalist, son of William Gaspey, a lieutenant in the navy, was born at Hoxton on 31 March 1788. While a youth he wrote verses for yearly pocket-books, and when about twenty contributed to ‘Literary Recreations,’ a monthly publication, edited by Eugenius Roche of the ‘Morning Post.’ Soon afterwards he was engaged as parliamentary reporter on the ‘Morning Post,’ contributing also dramatic reviews, clever political parodies, and reports of trials for treason. In this paper he wrote an ‘Elegy on the Marquis of Anglesey's Leg,’ a jeu d'esprit which has been persistently attributed to Canning. On the ‘Morning Post’ he was employed sixteen years, then for three or four years on the ‘Courier,’ a government paper, as sub-editor. In 1828 he bought a share in the ‘Sunday Times,’ the tone of which paper he raised as a literary and dramatic organ, Horace Smith, the Rev. T. Dale, Alfred Crowquill, E. L. Blanchard, Gilbert à Beckett, and others contributing. His novels and other publications include the following: 1. ‘The Mystery,’ 1820. 2. ‘Takings, or the Life of a Collegian, with 26 Etchings by Richard Dagley,’ 1821, 8vo. 3. ‘Calthorpe, or Fallen Fortunes,’ a novel, 1821, 3 vols. 4. ‘The Lollards, a Tale,’ 1822, 3 vols. 5. ‘Other Times, or the Monks of Leadenhall,’ 1823. 6. ‘The Witch-Finder,’ 1824, 3 vols. 7. ‘The History of George Godfrey,’ 1828, 3 vols. 8. ‘The Self-Condemned,’ 1836, 3 vols. 9. ‘Many-Coloured Life,’ 1842. 10. ‘The Pictorial History of France,’ 1843, written in conjunction with G. M. Bussey. 11. ‘The Life and Times of the Good Lord Cobham,’ 1843, 2 vols. 12mo. 12. ‘The Dream of Human Life,’ 1849–52, 2 vols. unfinished. 13. ‘The History of England from George III to 1859,’ 1852–9, 4 vols. 14. ‘The History of Smithfield,’ 1852. 15. ‘The Political Life of Wellington,’ vol. iii. 1853, 4to.

He was for many years the senior member of the council of the Literary Fund. He was a very kindly man, genial, witty, and an excellent mimic. The last twenty years of his life were spent quietly on his property at Shooter's Hill, Kent, where he died on 8 Dec. 1871, aged 83, and was buried at Plumstead, Kent.

He married Anne Camp in 1810 or 1811, and she died on 22 Jan. 1883. His son, Thomas W. Gaspey, Ph.D., of Heidelberg, who died on 22 Dec. 1871, was author of works on the Rhine and Heidelberg, and of several linguistic handbooks. Another son, William Gaspey (born at Westminster 20 June 1812, died at 17 St. Ann's Road, North Brixton, 19 July 1888), was a prolific writer in prose and verse.

[Information supplied by the late Mr. William Gaspey; British Museum, Advocates' Library, and other catalogues.]

C. W. S.