Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bensley, Thomas

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BENSLEY, THOMAS (d. 1833), printer, is known by his own productions and by certain mechanical adjustments (adopted by the 'Times' in 1814). His offices in Bolt Court were the same which had previously been occupied by Edward Allen, the friend of Johnson. Here he printed Macklin's folio Bible in seven volumes (1800), Hume's 'History of England,' an octavo Shakespeare, and 'The Posthumous Letters of William Huntington' (1822), which he also edited in part. In a preface to this work he complains of a fire which had destroyed his premises, with much of his valuable stock; and it appears that he was burned out on two separate occasions, suffering considerably thereby. Bensley seems to have been a steady man of business, enduring the heavy burdens imposed upon him by his patriotism and preserving a stolid, imperturbable, if fantastic and somewhat unintelligent religious faith. Bensley was one of the acting trustees of Providence Chapel, in Gray's Inn Lane, under the ministration of the notorious 'Coal-heaver Saint' [see Huntington, William]; and though the maintenance of this chapel was mainly due to the generosity of the wealthy widow of a city alderman, Bensley did his part in defraying the working expenses, and helped to raise a handsome monument by Westmacott on the death of Huntington in 1813. Testimony is borne to his charitable disposition in the preface to a work by his son Benjamin, entitled 'Lost and Found,' which records the conviction and repentance of a young Birmingham engraver, sentenced to penal servitude for the forgery of Bank of England notes. Thomas Bensley had shown much kindness to this young man after his conviction, and had assisted to support his wife and child, referring to which his son writes: 'I might here say much of that parent of whose life this affair always seemed to me to present one of the brightest pages.... That father's fame will ever be associated with names famous in the art which he did so much to raise and adorn.' Amongst these names are Allen, Bulmer, Nichols, Bell, and Koenig. Nichols writes of him that 'he demonstrated to foreigners that the English press can rival, and even excel, the finest works that have graced the continental annals of typography.' Koenig was associated with him in the invention noticed at the beginning of this article.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, viii.]

L. S-t.