Faulkner, Thomas (DNB00)

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FAULKNER, THOMAS (1777–1855), topographer of Chelsea and other localities about London, belonged to a respectable family, some of whom had made money in the building trade in the west of London. He was born in 1777, and for many years kept a small bookseller's and stationer's shop at the corner of Paradise Row, at the west end of the footpath running past Chelsea Hospital. He is stated to have been of limited education, but acquired sufficient knowledge of French and Spanish to obtain some employment as a translator. He began his literary career in October and November 1797 by communications to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ to which he was an occasional contributor for over half a century. He was also a contributor to various volumes of the earlier series of the ‘New Monthly Magazine.’ In 1805 he published a ‘Short Account of Chelsea Hospital,’ 4to, and in 1810 produced what is considered his best work, ‘A Historical and Topographical Account of Chelsea and its Environs. With biographical anecdotes of illustrious and eminent persons who have resided in Chelsea during the three preceding centuries,’ London, 8vo. The work was dedicated to North, bishop of Winchester, who then had an official house in Chelsea. Faulkner is said to have been assisted in the compilation by the Rev. Weedon Butler, the younger [q. v.], a local schoolmaster. A second edition of the work, in 2 vols. 8vo, dedicated to the Hon. G. Cadogan, appeared in 1829. In 1813 Faulkner published ‘Historical and Topographical Account of the parish of Fulham, including the hamlet of Hammersmith,’ in 8vo and 4to, dedicated to Dr. Randolph, then bishop of London; and in 1820 his ‘History and Antiquities of Kensington, with Biographical Anecdotes of Royal and Distinguished Personages, and a Descriptive Catalogue of the Pictures in the Palace from a survey taken by the late Benjamin West, P.R.A., by command of his Majesty,’ London, 8vo. This work was dedicated to George IV. The plates in general were below the rather low standard of taste of the day; but some etchings in a better style of art, illustrative of the work, were published by Robert Banks, from original drawings in the possession of W. Simonds Higgs, F.S.A., then a resident in Kensington, and in 1831 eight views of Kew Gardens were published from drawings by J. Sargeant, engraved by H. Waller and John Rogers. In 1839 Faulkner brought out his ‘History and Antiquities of Hammersmith,’ London, 8vo, dedicated to her present majesty; and in 1845 ‘History and Antiquities of Brentford, Chiswick, and Ealing,’ London, 8vo. Both the latter works contain biographical notices of local notabilities during the three preceding centuries. A complete list of Faulkner's works, including several minor publications not in the ‘British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books,’ is given in the obituary notice in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for June 1855, from which most of the above details are taken. A manuscript catalogue by Faulkner of the pictures in Burlington House, Chiswick, 1840–1, forms Add. MS. 12207.

Faulkner was a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Normandy. He died at Smith Street, Chelsea, on 26 May 1855, at the age of seventy-eight. Two portraits of him exist—an expressive one in 8vo, with his coat of arms, and a 4to lithograph inscribed ‘J. Holmes, ad vivum del.’

[Gent. Mag. new ser. xliv. 215. A brief adverse criticism on Faulkner's Hist. of Brentford appeared in the Athenæum, No. 945, p. 1173, 6 Dec. 1845.]

H. M. C.