Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wenman, Thomas Francis

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WENMAN, THOMAS FRANCIS (1745–1796), regius professor of civil law at Oxford, was second son of Philip, sixth viscount Wenman (1719–1760), who married on 13 July 1741 Sophia, eldest daughter and coheiress of James Herbert of Tythorpe, Oxfordshire. He was born at Thame Park, near Thame in Oxfordshire, on 18 Nov. 1745, and matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 22 Oct. 1762. He was elected to a fellowship at All Souls' College, Oxford, in 1765, and took the degrees of B.C.L. (1771) and D.C.L. (1780). On 12 May 1764 he was admitted a student of the Inner Temple, and in 1770 he was called to the bar. On 21 Jan. 1779 he was elected F.S.A.

From 1774 to 1780 Wenman was member of parliament for the borough of Westbury in Wiltshire. He was elected keeper of the archives for Oxford University on 15 Jan. 1781, and was appointed in 1789 regius professor of civil law. In December 1781 he became the deputy-steward of the university. He was one of the few students of natural history at Oxford. While collecting botanical specimens on the banks of the Cherwell, near Water-Eaton, on 8 April 1796, he fell into the river and was drowned. He was buried in the chapel of All Souls' College on 15 April.

Wenman began his professorship ‘with reading lectures, and only desisted for want of an audience.’ John Sibthorp [q. v.] bequeathed to him his collections for a ‘Flora Græca’ for completion, but his death a few weeks later prevented him from finishing the work (Hurdis's ‘Vindication of Magdalen College,’ quoted in Miss Quiller-Couch's Reminiscences of Oxford, 1892, p. 147). In the house of the warden of All Souls' College are preserved many manuscript writings by him, consisting of extracts from archives and registers and a very useful account of the society, its history, its offices, and its property.

[Wood's Oxford Colleges, ed. Gutch, appendix pp. 187, 238; Wood's Univ. of Oxford, ed. Gutch, II. ii. 859, 909, 950, 981; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Cox's Oxford Recollections, pp. 23–4; Lee's Thame Church, p. 438; Nichols's Illust. of Lit. iv. 787; Gent. Mag. 1796, i. 357; Lodge's Irish Peerage, ed. Archdall, iv. 286; information from Sir W. R. Anson.]

W. P. C.