Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hughes, Thomas Smart

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615672Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28 — Hughes, Thomas Smart1891Gordon Goodwin

HUGHES, THOMAS SMART (1786–1847), historian, born at Nuneaton, Warwickshire, on 25 Aug. 1786, was the eldest surviving son of Hugh Hughes, curate of Nuneaton, and rector of Hardwick, Northamptonshire. He received his early education from the Rev. J. S. Cobbold, first at Nuneaton grammar school, and afterwards as a private pupil at Wilby in Suffolk. In 1801 he was sent to Shrewsbury School, then under the head-mastership of Dr. Samuel Butler, and in October 1803 was entered as a pensioner at St. John's College, Cambridge. His university career was distinguished. Besides college prizes he gained the Browne medals for the Latin ode, `Mors Nelsoni,' in 1806, and for the Greek ode, 'In Obitum Gulielmi Pitt,' in 1807. He graduated B.A. in 1809 as fourteenth senior optime, and proceeded M.A. in 1811 and B.D. in 1818. He obtained the members' prize for the Latin essay in 1809 and 1810. The latter essay, a discussion of the merits of Cicero and Clarendon, was printed in vol. xvii. of the `Classical Journal,' 1818. Hughes was appointed in 1809 to an assistant-mastership at Harrow, under Dr. George Butler, but finding the position irksome he returned to Cambridge in 1811. In the same year he was elected to a foundation fellowship at St. John's, and in December 1812 accepted the post of travelling tutor to Robert Townley Parker of Cuerden Hall, Lancashire. During a tour of about two years he visited Spain, Italy, Sicily, Greece, and Albania. The result of his observations he published as 'Travels in Sicily, Greece, and Albania,' 2 vols. 4to, 1820; 2nd edit., partly enlarged and partly abridged, 2 vols. 8vo, 1830. The work is illustrated with plates from the drawings of C. R. Cockerell. In September 1815 he was ordained deacon. He was appointed assistant-tutor at his college, but immediately resigned and accepted a fellowship and tutorship at Trinity Hall, thus materially injuring his prospects. In 1817 he accepted a fellowship at Emmanuel College, was elected junior proctor, and won the Seatonian prize poem on `Belshazzar's Feast.' His verses inspired John Martin's well-known painting on that subject. In 1819 he was appointed by Marsh, bishop of Peterborough, domestic and examining chaplain. He remained at Emmanuel, where he became dean and Greek lecturer. In 1822 he published 'An Address to the People of England in the cause of the Greeks, occasioned by the late inhuman massacres in the Isle of Scio,' and in 1823 `Considerations upon the Greek Revolution, with a Vindication of the author's "Address" … from the attacks of C. B. Sheridan.' At Christmas 1822 he was appointed Christian advocate. On his marriage in April 1823 he became curate at Chesterton, but two years later returned to Cambridge, where he lived until about a year before his death. His occupations were chiefly literary, although he not unfrequently took some clerical duty. He was one of the first examiners for the new classical tripos of 1824, an office which he again filled in 1826 and 1828. On 26 Feb. 1827 he was collated by Bishop Marsh to a prebendal stall at Peterborough (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 551). In the same year he was an unsuccessful candidate for the head-mastership of Rugby School. In 1830 he undertook an edition of the writings of some of the great divines of the English church in a cheap and popular form, with a biographical memoir of each writer, and a summary in the form of an analysis prefixed to each of their works; twenty-two volumes of this collection appeared. In 1832 he was presented by the dean and chapter of Peterborough to the rectory of Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, and in the same year succeeded to the family living of Hardwick. His chief work, the continuation of Hume and Smollett's `History of England' from the accession of George III, was undertaken in 1834, at the request of A. J. Valpy. It was written, in the first instance, with great rapidity, to meet the requirements of a cheap monthly issue; but Hughes gladly availed himself of a subsequent opportunity of publishing it with considerable corrections, and with a large portion actually rewritten. A third edition was issued in 1846 in seven octavo volumes. Other projects were entertained, such as an English edition of Strabo in conjunction with Dr. John Lee and Mr. Akerman, and a compilation of commentaries on the Bible; but he did not live to execute them. In May 1846 he was presented to the perpetual curacy of Edgware, Middlesex, by Dr. Lee. Hughes died on 11 Aug. 1847, having married April 1823 Ann Maria, daughter of the Rev. John Forster of Great Yarmouth, who survived until 5 April 1890.

Besides the works mentioned above, Hughes was also author of: 1. 'A Defence of the Apostle St. Paul against the accusation of Gamaliel Smith, Esq. [i.e. Jeremy Bentham], in a recent publication entitled "Not Paul but Jesus." Part I.,' 8vo, 1824. Part ii., published the same year, was entitled `On the Miracles of St. Paul.' 2. 'A Letter to Godfrey Higgins on the subject of his "Horæ Sabbaticæ,"' 8vo, 1826. 3. 'The Doctrine of St. Paul regarding the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ considered; more particularly in answer to a pamphlet by Benjamin Mardon, intitled "The Apostle Paul an Unitarian,"' 8vo, 1827. 4. 'An Examination of St. Paul's Doctrine respecting the Divinity of Christ, in which are noticed some of Mr. Belsham's arguments in his translation and exposition of St. Paul's Epistles,' 8vo, 1828. 5. 'An Essay on the Political System of Europe … with a memoir and portrait,' 8vo, 1855; it had been also prefixed to the third edition of his 'History,' 1846. 6. 'Remarks on "An Essay on the Eternity of the World, by a Sceptic,"' the second edition of which was published in vol. xxvi. of `The Pamphleteer,' 8vo, 1813, &c. His literary and artistic collections were sold by Sotheby in January and February 1848.

[Memoir referred to; Gent. Mag. 1848, pt. i 310-11.]

G. G.