Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tenison, Richard

TENISON, RICHARD (1640?–1705), bishop of Meath, born at Carrickfergus about 1640, was son of Major Thomas Tenison, who served as sheriff of that town in 1645. He was related to Archbishop Thomas Tenison [q. v.], who left by his will 50l. to each of Richard's sons, and described himself as their kinsman. Richard went to school, first at Carrickfergus and then at St. Bees, and entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1659. He left apparently without a degree, and was appointed master of the diocesan school at Trim. Having taken orders he became chaplain to Arthur Capel, earl of Essex [q. v.], soon after his appointment as lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1672. Essex gave him the rectories of Laracor, Augher, Louth, the vicarages of St. Peter's, Drogheda, and Donoughmore, and secured his appointment on 29 April 1675 to the deanery of Clogher, to which he was instituted on 8 June following. On 18 Feb. 1681–2, being then described as M.A., Tenison was presented by patent to the see of Killala, being consecrated on the following day in Christ Church, Dublin. In the same year he was created D.D. by Trinity College, Dublin. Tenison remained in Ireland as long as possible after Roman catholic influence had become supreme in 1688, and for a time he and his archbishop, John Vesey, were the only protestant prelates in Connaught. At length he fled to England and found occupation as lecturer at St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, of which Henry Hesketh [q. v.] was then vicar (cf. Cox, Annals of St. Helen's, p. 55). On 26 Feb. 1690–1 Tenison was translated to the bishopric of Clogher, Hesketh being nominated about the same time to succeed him at Killala. On his return to Ireland the parishioners of St. Helen's made Tenison a present of plate in acknowledgment of his services. On 25 June 1697 he was translated to the bishopric of Meath, and in the following year was appointed vice-chancellor of Dublin University. He died on 29 July 1705 (Cotton, Fasti, iii. 120; cf. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 580), and was buried in the chapel of Trinity College, Dublin. Tenison was noted ‘for the constant exercise of preaching, by which he reduced many dissenters to the church.’ Five sermons by him were separately published (Cotton, iv. 120–121). He also ‘in one year in one visitation confirmed about two thousand five hundred persons.’ He repaired and beautified the episcopal palace at Clogher, and bequeathed 200l. for the establishment of a fund for the maintenance of the widows and orphans of clergymen.

By his wife Ann Tenison had five sons, of whom the eldest, Henry (d. 1709), graduated B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1687, was admitted student at the Middle Temple on 17 Feb. 1690, and in 1695 was returned to the Irish parliament for both Clogher and Monaghan, electing to sit for the latter. He was appointed a commissioner of the revenue for Ireland on 15 Jan. 1703–4, and died in 1709, leaving a son Thomas, who was admitted a student of the Middle Temple on 1 Nov. 1726, was appointed commissioner for revenue appeals in 1753, was made prime serjeant on 27 July 1759, and judge of the common pleas in 1761, and died in 1779.

[Information from Mr. C. M. Tenison, Hobart, Tasmania; Ware's Bishops of Ireland, ed. Harris; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hib.; Lascelles's Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniæ; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; Stowe MS. 82, f. 327; Mant's Hist. of the Church in Ireland, i. 697–8, ii. 9, 90.]

A. F. P.