Northmore, Thomas (DNB00)

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NORTHMORE, THOMAS (1766–1851), miscellaneous writer and inventor, eldest son of Thomas Northmore, esq. of Cleve House, Devon, by Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Richard Osgood, esq., of Fulham, was born at Cleve in 1766, and educated first at Tiverton School, and next at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1789, and M.A. in 1792 (Graduati Cantabr., 1846, p. 231). On 19 May 1791 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Gough, Chronological List, p. 50). Afterwards he retired to cultivate his paternal estate, where he resided until his death, dividing his time between mechanics, literature, and politics. In the liberal or radical interest he contested the city of Exeter in June 1818, when he only polled 293 votes. He also unsuccessfully contested Barnstaple. His favourite branches of study were geology and the early British languages. The most interesting event in his life was the discovery about 1824 of the ossiferous nature of Kent's cavern at Torquay. He found beneath the bed of mud which lies under the stalagmitic flooring of the cavern the tusk of a hyæna, and soon afterwards a metatarsal bone of the cavern bear. These were the first fruits of a series of excavations which produced a rich harvest of fossil remains, and had an important bearing on speculations as to the antiquity of the human race (The Torquay Guide, 1841, p. 121). The subsequent exploration of the cavern, undertaken by William Pengelly [q. v.] under the auspices of the British Association, occupied sixteen years (Times, 20 March 1894, p. 5, col. 6). Northmore died at Furzebook House, near Axminster, on 20 May 1851.

He married, first, Penelope, eldest daughter of Sir William Earle Welby, bart., of Denton Hall, Lincolnshire, and, secondly Emmeline, fifth daughter of Sir John Eden, bart., of Windlestone Park and Beamish Park, Durham. By his first wife he had one son, and by his second wife one son and nine daughters. The eldest son, Thomas Welby Northmore, married his cousin Katherine, third daughter of Sir William Earle Welby, bart., and died before his father, leaving two sons—Thomas Welby, who succeeded his grandfather in the paternal estates, and John, who joined the civil service in Ceylon.

His works are: 1. ‘Tρυφιοδώρου Ἰλίου Ἄλωσις. De plurimis mendis purgata, et notis illustrata a T. Northmore’ (Greek), London, 1791, 8vo; reissued with a Latin version in 1804. 2. ‘Plutarch's Treatise upon the Distinction between a Friend and Flatterer, with Remarks,’ London, 1793, 8vo. 3. ‘Memoirs of Planetes, or a Sketch of the Laws and Manners of Makar. By Phileleutherus Devoniensis,’ London, 1795, 8vo. In this work a Utopian form of government is described. 4. ‘A Triplet of Inventions, consisting of a Description of a Nocturnal or Diurnal Telegraph, a Proposal for an Universal Character, and a Scheme for facilitating the Progress of Science; exemplified in the Osteological part of Anatomy,’ Exeter, 1796, 8vo (cf. Groves, Pasilogia, p. 75). 5. ‘A Quadruplet of Invention,’ Exeter, 1796, 8vo; an augmented edition of the ‘Triplet.’ 6. An edition of Gray's ‘Tour through England and Wales’ [1799], 12mo. 7. ‘Of Education founded upon Principles. Part the First. Time: previous to the Age of puberty,’ London, 1800, 12mo. 8. ‘Washington; or Liberty restored: a Poem in ten Books,’ London, 1809, 8vo; Baltimore, 1809, 12mo; noticed in ‘Quarterly Review,’ ii. 365–75. In ‘Nicholson's Journal’ he wrote on ‘Effects on Gases by change in their Habitudes, or Elective Attractions, when mechanically compressed,’ 1805 (xii. 368), and on ‘Condensed Gases,’ 1806 (xiii. 233).

[Brüggemann's Engl. Editions of Greek and Latin Authors, pp. 322, 441; Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, p. 254; Cooper's Memorials of Cambridge, ii. 380; Davidson's Bibl. Devoniensis, pp. 29, 206, Suppl. p. 7; Illustrated London News, 14 June, 1851, p. 545; Lit. Memoirs of Living Authors, p. 86; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1704; Woolmer's Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 7 June 1851, p. 5.]

T. C.