Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lister, Thomas Henry

LISTER, THOMAS HENRY (1800–1842), novelist and dramatist, born in 1800, was eldest son of Thomas Lister of Armitage Park, near Lichfield, by his first wife Harriett Anne, daughter of John Seale of Mountboone, Devonshire. His father was cousin-german to Thomas Lister (1752-1826), first baron Ribblesdale. He was educated at Westminster and at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. On 4 June 1834 he was nominated a commissioner for inquiring with respect to the state of religious and other instruction then existing in Ireland (Gent. Mag. 1834, pt. ii. p. 207), and on 19 July 1835 a commissioner for inquiring into the opportunities of religious worship and means of religious instruction in Scotland (ib. 1835, pt. ii. p. 199). On 19 Aug. 1836 he was appointed registrar-general of England and Wales (ib. 1836. pt. ii. pp. 319, 423), being the first to hold that office. He died on 5 June 1842 at Kent House, Knightsbridge, the mansion of his relative, the Earl of Morley. On 6 Nov. 1830 he married Maria Theresa, only daughter of the Hon. George Villiers. She married secondly in 1844 Sir George Cornewall Lewis [q.v., and see Lewis, Maria Theresa]. By her first marriage she had a son, Thomas Villiers Lister (b. 1832), who was appointed assistant under-secretary of state for foreign affairs in 1873, and was made a K.C.M.G. in 1885, and two daughters, of whom the elder, Marie Theresa (1835–1863), married in 1859 Sir W. G. G. V. Vernon Harcourt, and the younger, Alice Beatrice (b. 1841), married in 1870 Sir Algernon Borthwick (Foster, Yorkshire Pedigrees).

Lister, who was a refined, accomplished man, is still remembered by his clever society novel, entitled 'Granby,' 3 vols. 12mo, London, 1826. It was republished in 1838 as vol. xi. of Colburn's 'Modern Novelists,' with a portrait of the author prefixed, engraved by Finden after Wright, and a preface, in which Lister denies an assertion of the 'Quarterly Review' that 'Granby' was plagiarised from Lord Normanby's 'Matilda.' It was in fact completed four months previously.

His other novels include:

  1. 'Herbert Lacy,' 3 vols. 12mo, London, 1828.
  2. 'Romance of Real Life,' 3 vols.
  3. 'Flirtation,' 3 vols.
  4. 'Yes and No,' 2 vols., all of which were included in Colburn's 'Library of Modern Novelists,' 1833-4.
  5. 'Arlington,' 3 vols. 12mo, London (1832).
  6. 'Hulse House,' 12mo, London, 1860.

'Anne Grey, a Novel, edited by the Author of "Granby,"' 3 vols. 12mo, London, 1834, was written by his sister Harriet, maid of honour to the queen, who afterwards married the Rev. Edward Hartopp Cradock (formerly Grove), principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. Lister's tragedy 'Epicharia,' founded on the history of Piso's conspiracy, was represented for the first time at Drury Lane Theatre on 14 Oct. 1829, was well received, was announced for repetition, and was printed during the same year (Gent. Mag. 1829, pt. ii. p. 362). Genest calls it 'a moderate play — called an historical tragedy, but the greater part of it, not historical, but fictitious' (ix. 499).

Lister was also author of 'The Life and Administration of Edward, first Earl of Clarendon, with Original Correspondence and authentic Papers never before published,' 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1837-8. The book was attacked by John Wilson Croker in No. cxxiv. of the 'Quarterly Review,' whereupon Lister published an 'Answer' to what he deemed Croker's 'misrepresentations' in 1839. He likewise contributed to the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' and 'Edinburgh Review.'

[Information from Sir Thomas Villiers Lister; Gent. Mag. 1842, pt. ii. p. 323; Foreign Office List, 1891, p. 141; Walford's County Families, 1891, p. 635; Sir H. Taylor's Autobiography, i. 115-16; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit. ii. 1106.]

G. G.