His eldest son, Thomas Oldham (1801–1851), succeeded to his father's place at the bank. He was elected an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on 2 March 1841, and in 1842 he read a paper ‘On the Introduction of Letterpress Printing for numbering and dating the Notes of the Bank of England’ (Proceedings, 1842, p. 166), and in the following year he contributed ‘A Description of the Automatic Balance at the Bank of England invented by W. Cotton’ (ib. 1843, p. 121). For the latter he received a Telford medal. He died at Brussels on 7 Nov. 1851.
[Mechanics' Magazine, xxxii. 400; Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1841, p. 14; Francis's History of the Bank of England, ii. 232.]
OLDHAM, NATHANIEL (fl. 1740), virtuoso, was the son of a dissenting minister. Early in life he went to India ' in a military capacity ' (Caulfield), but returned to England on inheriting from a near relation a fortune said to be of 100,000l. In 1728 he was living at Ealing, Middlesex, where he occupied Ealing House, formerly the residence of Sir James Montagu (1666-1723) [q. v.], baron of the exchequer (Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 228; Walford, Greater London, i. 21). He had another house at Witton, near Hounslow, and a London house in Southampton Row, Bloomsbury. He was intimate with Sir Hans Sloane, Dr. Mead, and other collectors, and began to collect natural and artificial curiosities, though with little taste or judgment. A 'choice collection of butterflies' was one of his principal acquisitions. He was a constant visitor at 'Don Saltero's' coffee-house at Chelsea, where he used to meet Sloane and others, and compare shells, plants, and insects. He patronised the arts, collected paintings, and had also a taste for the turf. He was at length compelled by his extravagant expenditure (chiefly on his collections) to take refuge from his creditors within the sanctuary of the court of St. James's. Here be used to frequent the refreshment-room, kept by one Drury, on Duck Island, in St. James's Park. He had at last decided to sell his collections, with a label over the door, 'Oldham's last shift,' when he was arrested by a creditor and sent to the king's bench, where he is supposed to have died. His career in several respects resembles that of Henry Constantine Jennings [q. v.]
Oldham's portrait was painted more than once by his friend Highmore. A full-length of Oldham (date 1740), engraved by J. Faber after Highmore, represents him in a green velvet hunting coat with a gun (Caulfield, op. cit.; Bromley, Cat. of Engraved Portraits, p. 286). Oldham was godfather to Nathaniel Smith the printseller, whose son, J. T. Smith of the British Museum, contributed an account of Oldham to J. Caulfield's ' Portraits, Memoirs, &c., of Remarkable Persons.'
[Caulfield's Portraits, Memoirs, &c. 1813, ii. 133-7; Granger's Biog. Hist. (Noble), iii. 349.]
OLDHAM, THOMAS (1816–1878), geologist, born at Dublin on 4 May 1816, was eldest son of Thomas Oldham and his wife, Margaret Bagot. He was educated at a private school, and began residence at Trinity College, Dublin, before completing his sixteenth year. In the spring of 1836 he proceeded B.A., and then went to Edinburgh, where he studied engineering, and attended the geological lectures of Professor Jamieson, the two becoming intimate friends. After a stay of about two years in Scotland, he returned to Dublin.
The work of Oldham's life may be divided into two periods—the one spent in Ireland, the other in India. Appointed in 1839 on the geological department of the ordnance surveyor of the former country, he was engaged especially in surveying the counties of Kerry and Tyrone, the report of this work being published in 1843. At Trinity College he was appointed assistant professor of engineering in 1844, and professor of geology in 1845. He held official positions at the Dublin Geological Society, becoming its president in 1846. In that year, too, he took the degree of M.A., and was also appointed local director for Ireland of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom.
In addition to official work, Oldham communicated twelve papers on the geology of Ireland to the Dublin Geological Society, or to the British Association, and in 1849 had the good fortune to discover, in the Cambrian, or slightly older, rocks of Bray Head, co. Wicklow, the singular fossils or organic marks which have been named after him, Oldhamia.
In November 1850 Oldham was appointed by the directors of the East India Company superintendent of the Geological Survey of India, and reached that country early in the following year. Though his staff of assistants was small—about twelve in number—yet, largely owing to his industry and powers of organisation, rapid progress was made with the work, and in about ten years an area in Bengal and Central India twice as large as Great Britain had been surveyed and recorded. During this work coalfields had received