Christmas, Henry (DNB00)

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CHRISTMAS, HENRY, afterwards Noel-Fearn (1811–1868), miscellaneous writer and numismatist, born in London in 1811, was the only son of Robert Noble Christmas of Taunton, by Jane, daughter of Samuel Fearn. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1837, M.A. 1840. He was ordained in 1887, and after serving several curacies was in 1841 appointed librarian and secretary of Sion College, holding the office till 1848. From 1840 to 1843 and from 1864 to 1868 he edited the 'Church of England Quarterly Review.' He also edited the 'Churchman' (1840-3), the 'British Churchman' (1845-8), and the 'Literary Gazette' (1859-60). He was for some years lecturer at St. Peters Church, Cornhill, and afterwards filled the curacy of Garlickhithe. He was also for some time Sunday evening preacher at St. Mildred's in the Poultry. Christmas was a good scholar, and a man of varied information. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, and (in 1854-9) professor of English history and archaeology in the Royal Society of Literature (England). He died in London suddenly, from apoplexy, on 11 March 1868, aged 57, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. Shortly before his death he had assumed the name of Noel-Fearn. He married, in 1838, Miss Eliza Fox, by whom he had one son and three daughters.

Christmas's works are as follows : 1. 'The Voyage: a poem, London, 1833, 8vo. 2. 'Universal Mythology; an account of the most important systems,' &c. London, 1838, 8vo. 3. 'Capital Punishments unsanctioned by the Gospel, and unnecessary to a Christian State,' a letter, London, 1845, 8vo (26,000 copies are said to have been sold). 4. 'A Concise History of the Hampden Controversy, . . . with all the documents that have been published,' &c. London, 1848, 8vo. 5. 'The World of Matter and its Testimony; an attempt to exhibit the connection between Natural Philosophy and Revealed Religion,' London, 1848, 8vo. 6. 'The Cradle of the Twin Giants, Science and History,' 2 vols. London, 1849, 12mo. 7. 'Echoes of the Universe: from the World of Matter and the World of Spirit,' London, 1850, 12mo (the seventh edition was published in 1863, two of the editions in America). 8. 'The Shores And Islands of the Mediterranean, including a visit to the Seven Churches of Asia,' 3 vols. London, 1851, 12mo. 9. 'Scenes in the Life of Christ' (Lectures), 2nd edit. London, 1853, 12mo. 10. Memoir of Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, in Shaw's 'Family Library' (1854), and memoir of the Sultan Abdul Medjid in the same library. 11. 'The State and Prospects of Turkey and Mohammedanism,' a lecture, 1854, 8vo. 12. 'Christian Politics: an Essay on the Text of Paley,' 1855, 12mo. 13. 'A Letter on the . . . Society of Antiquaries,' London, 1855, 8vo. 14. 'A Brief Memoir of . . . Napoleon III,' London, 1855, 8vo. 15. 'Preachers and Preaching,' London, 1858, 8vo. 16. ' The Hand of God in India' (lectures), London, 1858, 8vo. 17. 'The Christmas Week: a Christmas Story,' Edinburgh, 1859, 8vo. 18. 'Sin, its Causes and Consequences' (Lent lectures), London, 1861, 12mo.

Christmas translated Calmet's 'Phantom World' (1850, 12mo), Wieland's 'Republic of Fools' (1861, 8vo), and other writings. He also acted as editor of several works, including Pegge's 'Anecdotes of the English Language' (1844, 8vo), the 'Worlds of Bishop Ridley' (1841, 8vo), and the 'Select Works of Bishop Bale' (1849, 8vo), the last two for the Parker Society.

Christmas had considerable reputation as an English numismatist. From June 1844 till 1847 he acted as joint honorary secretary of the Numismatic Society of London, and made the following contributions, several of which are still useful, to its journal, the 'Numismatic Chronicle' (Old Series): 'Tin Money of the Trading Parts of the Burman Empire' (1844), vii. 33-4; 'Inedited Saxon and English Coins' (1844), pp. 135-42; 'Numismatic Scraps' (1845), viii. 36, 39, 125-7; New Series) 'Unpublished English and Anglo-Gallic Coins,' 1. 17-31; 'On the Anglo-Hanoverian Copper Coinage,' i. 144-60; 'On the Anglo-American Copper Coinage,' ii. 20-31, continued in the same volume, pp. 191-212, as 'Copper Coinage of the British Colonies in America; 'Irish Coins of Copper and Billon,' ii. 278-99, iii. 8-21; 'Discovery of Anglo-Saxon Coins at White Horse, near Croydon,' ii. 302-4; 'Anglo-Gallic Coins of Copper and Billon,' iii. 22-33. He also compiled part of a work on British copper currencies, a subject to which he had devoted special attention. Copies were printed in 1864, but were never published, and only three or four are now in existence. Portions of the text and the wood-blocks of coins prepared for Christmas's work have since been utilised by Mr. H. Montagu in his careful treatise on the 'Copper, Tin, and Bronze Coinage of England' 1885). Christmas got together an extensive and valuable collection, consisting of British, Saxon, and English silver and copper coins, and also of specimens of the Scotoh, Irish, and Anglo-Gaillic series. He gave up coin-collecting about four years before his death, and his collection was sold by auction at Sotheby's on 1 Feb. 1864 and five following days. It realised 1,261l. 15s. 6d. The sale catalogue fills sixty-eight pages octavo.

[Men of the Time (1866), p. 178; Gent. Mag. (1868), v. (4th ser.) 681; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Numismatic Chronicle; Sotheby's priced Catalogue of Christmas Sale.]

W. W.