Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Thomas Chisholm Anstey

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 1
Thomas Chisholm Anstey

by Thomas Walsh


Lawyer and politician, son of one of the first settlers in Tasmania, b. in London, England, 1816; d. at Bombay, India, 12 August, 1873. Educated at Wellington and the University College, London, he was called to the Bar in 1893. One of the earliest converts of the Oxford movement, he was shortly after appointed professor of law and jurisprudence at Prior Park College near Bath, and became an ardent champion of the rights and interests of the Catholics of England and Ireland. Joining O'Connell's forces, he resigned his professorship and devoted himself entirely to politics. In 1847 he was elected member of Parliament for Youghal, where he was prominent in the opposition to Lord Palmerston's foreign policy and advocated the repeal of the Irish and Scotch unions and the repeal of the currency laws. He retired from parliamentary life in 1852 and in 1854 was nominated Attorney General of Hongkong, but in the course of the radical reforms he inaugurated he came into collision with Sir John Bowring in 1858 and was suspended from office. Anstey's representations were brought to the attention of Parliament in 1859 but he was unable to obtain public redress, whereupon he retired to India and took up the practice of law at Bombay. His success was great; he filled a temporary vacancy on the bench in 1865, but again was compelled to resign his post on account of the opposition excited by his vigorous denunciation of commercial abuses in the Bengal government. He then returned to England in 1866 and in a tract entitled "A Plea for the Unrepresented for the Restitution of the Franchise" he advocated universal suffrage as a panacea for the ills resulting from class legislation. In 1867 he published an attack upon Disraeli's Reform Act of that year. In 1868 he returned to Bombay and resumed his practice and on his death was deeply lamented by the natives, whose causes he had always forwarded. He was accused of lack of moderation in his methods but never of lack of intelligence or honour in his purposes. Among his numerous pamphlets were: "A Guide to the Laws affecting Roman Catholics" (1842), and "The Queen's Supremacy considered in its relation with the Roman Catholics in England" (1850). He also contributed many articles to the Dublin Magazine, just then started under the direction of Newman, O'Connell, and Henry Bagshawe.

Tablet (London, 16 August, 1873); Weekly Register, ibid.; Hansard, Parliamentary Debates (1847-52).

THOMAS WALSH