While in parliament he endeavoured to keep in touch with his constituents by writing short reports to the local newspapers, usually twice a week during the session. These literary exercises he republished under the titles of ‘Letters of a Representative’ and ‘Audi Alteram Partem,’ the latter series being mainly adverse criticisms of the measures adopted for suppressing the Indian mutiny.
Although not in parliament during the critical years preceding the repeal of the corn laws, Thompson exercised considerable influence in educating the popular mind by means of his pamphlets, articles, and letters to the press. In 1842 a collected edition of all his writings was published in six closely printed volumes, under the title of ‘Exercises, political and others,’ alike interesting and instructive from the variety of the literary, political, military, mathematical, and musical information therein gathered together. In the same year Richard Cobden, then at the head of the Anti-cornlaw League, made a selection and classification of the most telling extracts from Thompson's writings in favour of free trade, and their circulation by means of the league made their author's name familiar through the kingdom.
In 1848 Thompson published his ‘Catechism on the Currency,’ the object of which was to show the advantage of a paper currency, inconvertible but limited. His views were afterwards embodied in a series of twenty-one resolutions which he moved in the House of Commons on 17 June 1852, but they were negatived (see Hansard's Debates, 3rd ser. cxxii. 899). Having dealt with free trade, catholic emancipation, the House of Lords, the theory of rent, and the currency, Thompson in 1855 published his ‘Fallacies against the Ballot,’ which he afterwards (in 1864) republished in his favourite guise of a catechism. Even after his retirement from parliament (at the age of seventy-eight) he continued to write as ‘An old Reformer’ and ‘A Quondam M.P.’ on public matters, particularly concerning himself in defence of the threatened Irish church, which, however, he lived just long enough to see disestablished. The bill received the royal assent on 26 July, and Thompson died at Blackheath on 6 Sept. 1869. He married, in 1811, Anne Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. T. Barker of York.
In person Thompson was somewhat short, but well made and active, and capable of enduring great fatigue. In Herbert's painting (1847) of the meeting of the council of the Anti-cornlaw League, he occupies a conspicuous position.
[A sketch of the Life of T. P. Thompson by his son, General C. W. Thompson, published in No. 116 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1869; Prentice's History of the Anti-cornlaw League, 1853; Pall Mall Gazette, 8 Sept. 1869; Times, 9 Sept. 1869.]
THOMPSON or THOMSON, Sir WILLIAM (1678–1739), judge, second son of Sir William Thompson (d. 1695), serjeant-at-law (a scion of the Thompsons of Scotton or Shotton, Durham), was admitted in 1688 a student at the Middle Temple, where he was called to the bar in 1698. He was returned to parliament, 4 May 1708, for Orford, Suffolk, but, having taken an active part in the impeachment of Sacheverell and the prosecution of his riotous supporters, Dammaree, Willis, and Purchase (March-April 1709-10), lost his seat at the general election of the ensuing autumn. Returned for Ipswich, 3 Sept. 1713, he was unseated on petition, 1 April 1714; but regained the seat on 28 Jan. 1714-15, and retained it until his elevation to the exchequer bench.
On 3 March 1714-15 Thompson was elected recorder of London, and soon after was knighted. He took part in the impeachment of the Jacobite George Seton, fifth earl of Wintoun [q . v.], 15-19 March 1715-16, Appointed to the solicitor-generalship, 24 Jan. 1716-17, he was dismissed from that office, 17 March 1719-20, for bringing an unfounded charge of corrupt practices against attorney-general Nicholas Lechmere (1675-1727) [q. v.] Retaining the recordership, he was accorded in 1724 precedence in all courts after the solicitor-general. On 23 May 1726 he was appointed cursitor baron, and on 27 Nov. 1729 he succeeded Sir Bernard Hale [q. v.] as puisne baron of the exchequer, having first been called to the degree of serjeant-at-law (17 Nov.) This office with the recordership he retained until his death at Bath, 27 Oct. 1739. His portrait by Seeman, his own bequest to the corporation of London, with a ring for each of the aldermen, is at Guildhall. A print of it is at Lincoln's Inn.
Thompson married twice: (1) by license dated 16 July 1701, Mrs. Joyce Brent, widow; (2) in 1711, Julia, daughter of Sir Christopher Conyers, bart., of Horden, Durham, relict of Sir William Blacket, bart., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It does not appear that he had issue by either wife.
[Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 429; Chester's London Marr. Licences; Stowe MSS. 748 f. 124, 780 f. 163; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 554; Cat. of Sculpture, &c., at Guildhall; Woolrych's Serjeants-at-Law, i. 451; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, iii. 430;