Open main menu

Greenwood, Thomas (DNB01)

GREENWOOD, THOMAS (1790–1871), historian, born in 1790, was the second son of Thomas Greenwood, a London merchant. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1815 and M.A. in 1831. He entered Gray's Inn on 14 March 1809, and was called to the bar on 24 June 1817. He was appointed fellow and reader in history and polite literature in the university of Durham, and in 1836 he published 'The First Book of the History of the Germans: Barbaric Period' (London, 4to), in which he carried the history of the German races from the earliest times down to 772 A.D. This immense work was the result of prolonged labour. Its great bulk and the obscurity of the subject prevented it from being widely known, but it has frequently proved a storehouse to succeeding historians. In 1837 Greenwood was chosen bencher of Gray's Inn, and from 1841 to 1842 he filled the office of treasurer. His work on the early history of the Germans led him to make researches into the history of the Roman patriarchate, and eventually led to the publication between 1856 and 1865 of the five volumes of his 'Cathedra Petri: a Political History of the Great Latin Patriarchate' (London, 8vo), in which he carried the history of the papacy to the close of the pontificate of Innocent III. The work was overshadowed by Dean Milman's brilliant history of Latin Christianity (1855), but its thorough system of references must always give it value. While Milman wrote for the general student, Greenwood addressed himself to the mediaeval scholar (cf. Saturday Review, 31 March 1860). Greenwood died at 14 Westbourne Terrace, Hyde Park, London, on 1 Nov. 1871.

Besides the works mentioned he was the author of 'Position and Prospects of the Protestant Churches of Great Britain and Ireland with reference to the proposed establishment of a Roman Hierarchy in this Country,' London, 1851, 8vo.

[Greenwood's Works ; Boase's Modern English Biography, 1892; Foster's Gray's Inn Registers, 1889.]

E. I. C.