Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thompson, Henry (1797-1878)

THOMPSON, HENRY (1797–1878), miscellaneous writer, was born in Surrey in 1797. He was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge, as a pensioner on 29 April 1818, graduating B.A. in 1822, and proceeding M.A. in 1825. In 1820 he competed for Sir William Browne's medal, receiving an extra prize for a Latin ode, and in 1824 he obtained the first members' prize for a Latin essay. He was ordained deacon in 1823 and priest in 1827. After being successively curate of St. George's, Camberwell, Surrey (1824–7), of St. Mary's, Salehurst, Sussex (1827–8), and of Wrington, Somerset (1828–1853), he was appointed vicar of Chard, Somerset, on 14 Sept. 1853, where he resided till his death on 29 Nov. 1878. He left two sons—Henry Bell, vicar of Tatworth, and Christopher.

Thompson was a man of very conservative instincts. In the words of his friend, Edward Augustus Freeman, whom he first met at Hannah More's house at Barley-Wood, he ‘seemed to look at everything in 1878 with exactly the same eyes with which he looked on things in 1839.’ At the same time, Freeman adds, ‘he showed us that past generation in its best colours.’ He was a good classical scholar and knew Hebrew and German.

Thompson was the author of:

  1. ‘Davidica: twelve practical Sermons on the Life of David,’ London, 1827, 8vo.
  2. ‘Pastoralia: a Manual of Helps for the Parochial Clergy,’ London, 1830, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1832.
  3. ‘The Life of Hannah More,’ London, 1838, 8vo.
  4. ‘Concionalia: Outlines of Sermons for the Christian Year,’ London, 1853, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1862; 2nd ser. 1871.

He published editions of Horace (1853, 8vo), and Virgil (1854, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1862), and also contributed most of the classical articles to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana’ (1824), several of which he afterwards published separately. In 1845 he translated Schiller's ‘Maid of Orleans’ and ‘William Tell,’ and in 1850 he edited a volume of ‘Original Ballads by living Authors,’ to which E. A. Freeman was a contributor of nine poems. Thompson also contributed to ‘Lyra Sanctorum,’ ‘Lyra Eucharistica,’ and to the ‘Churchman's Companion.’

[Luard's Grad. Cantabr.; Chard and Ilminster News, 7 Dec. 1878; Stephens's Life and Letters of E. A. Freeman, 1894, i. 23–36.]

E. I. C.