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

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LEWIN, THOMAS (1805–1877), miscellaneous writer, born on 19 April 1805, was fifth son of Spencer James Lewin, vicar of Ifield, Sussex, and rector of Crawley in the same county. In March 1816 he was placed at Merchant Taylors' School (Register, ed. Robinson, ii. 202), whence he proceeded to Oxford, matriculating from Worcester College on 29 Nov. 1823 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, iii. 843). He migrated to Trinity on obtaining a scholarship there in 1825, and took a first class in classical honours in 1827, graduating B.A. in 1828, and M.A. in 1831. On leaving Oxford he was admitted at Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in 1833. His sound judgment and solid acquirements gradually secured for him an ample chancery practice. In 1852 Lord St. Leonards (then lord chancellor), to whom Lewin had rendered valuable assistance in framing measures of law reform, appointed him a conveyancing counsel to the court of chancery. He retained the post until his death on 5 Jan. 1877. He married late in life.

Lewin's ‘Practical Treatise on the Law of Trusts and Trustees,’ 8vo, London, 1837 (8th edition, 1885), has long taken rank as an authoritative text-book. His most important work, ‘The Life and Epistles of St. Paul,’ 2 vols. 12mo, London, 1851 (2nd edition, 2 vols. 4to, 1874; 3rd edition, 1875), occupied him for full forty years, during which he more than once personally inspected all the principal scenes to which it relates. The later editions are embellished with abundant historical illustrations, many of them from sketches of his own.

Lewin was an active member of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he became a fellow on 19 March 1863. At the suggestion of the president, Lord Stanhope, the admiralty made in 1862 a special series of tidal observations with a view to settling the place of Cæsar's landing in Britain, which Lewin identified with Hythe, a view strongly contested by Edward Cardwell, D.D. [q. v.], who claimed the distinction for Deal. In his paper ‘Further Observations on the Landing of Cæsar’ (printed in ‘Archæologia,’ xxxix. 309–14) Lewin justly claimed the verdict of the admiralty to be in favour of Hythe. In his ‘Sketch of British and Roman London,’ a paper printed in ‘Archæologia’ (1865), xl. 59–70, he showed that London was ab origine a British city; and in an elaborate paper ‘On the Position of the Portus Lemanus of the Romans’ (‘Archæologia,’ 1865, xl. 361–74) strove to identify the Portus with Hythe, a position which W. H. Black endeavoured to controvert. He also contributed three papers on the vexed question of the topography of Jerusalem (ib. xli. 116–34, 135–50, and xliv. 17–62), and ‘On the Castra of the Littus Saxonicum, and particularly the Castrum of Othona’ (ib. xli. 421–52).

His other writings are: 1. ‘An Essay on the Chronology of the New Testament,’ 8vo, Oxford, 1854. 2. ‘The Invasion of Britain by Julius Cæsar,’ 8vo, London, 1859; 2nd edition, with replies to the remarks of Sir G. B. Airy and Professor E. Cardwell, 2 pts. 1862. 3. ‘Jerusalem: a Sketch of the City and Temple from the earliest times to the Siege by Titus,’ 8vo, London, 1861. 4. ‘The Siege of Jerusalem by Titus; with the Journal of a recent Visit to the Holy City, and a General Sketch of the Topography of Jerusalem from the earliest times down to the Siege,’ 8vo, London, 1863. 5. ‘Fasti Sacri; or a Key to the Chronology of the New Testament,’ 8vo, London, 1865.

[Law Mag. 4th ser. ii. 272–3; Proc. of Soc. Antiq. 2nd ser. vii. 201–3.]

G. G.