Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burke, Thomas Henry

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BURKE, THOMAS HENRY (1829–1882), Under-Secretary of Ireland, born 29 May 1829, was second son of William Burke of Knocknagur, co. Galway, and Fanny Xaveria, only daughter of Thomas Tucker of Brook Lodge, Sussex, by his wife, Mary-anne, sister of Nicholas, cardinal Wiseman. Burke's family was connected with that of Sir Ulick Burke of Glinsk, in the county of Galway, on whom a baronetcy was conferred by Charles I in 1628. Burke was appointed a supernumerary clerk in the offices of the chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, Dublin Castle, in May 1847, and was placed on the permanent staff there in July 1849. In April 1851 he was appointed private secretary to Sir Thomas Kedington, then under-secretary for Ireland. Burke subsequently served in the various departments of the chief secretary's office, including the Irish office, London. He acted as private secretary to the chief secretaries Edward Cardwell, Sir Robert Peel, and Chichester P. Fortescue, now (1886) Lord Carlingford. In May 1869 Burke was appointed under-secretary for Ireland, and filled that post till his death. On 6 May 1882 Lord Frederick Cavendish [q. v.] arrived in Dublin, and was formally installed as the chief secretary, in succession to Mr. W. E. Forster [q. v.], who had held the office since 1880. Early in the same evening Lord Cavendish and Burke, walking in Phœnix Park, near Dublin, were assassinated by the members of a secret society calling themselves the 'Invincibles.' Burke was interred in Glasnevin cemetery, and the viceroy, Earl Spencer, erected a memorial window to him in the Dominican Church, Dublin. Burke's services as an official were, on his death, publicly commended by members of the houses of Lords and Commons, and a pension was conferred by the government on his sister. [For an account of the subsequent detection of the murderers see Carey, James.]

[Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 1883; Annual Register, 1883; Dublin journals, 1882-3; Hansard's Parliamentary Debates.]

J. T. G.