Law, Thomas Graves (DNB12)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

LAW, THOMAS GRAVES (1836-1904), historian and bibliographer, was great-grandson of Edmund Law, bishop of Carlisle [q.v.], and grandson of Edward Law, first earl of Ellenborough [q. v.]. Bom on 4 Dec. 1836 at Yeovilton in Somersetshire, Law was third son and fourth of eight surviving children of William Towry Law (1809-1886), Lord Ellenborough's youngest son, by his first wife, Augusta Champagn6 (d. 1844), fourth daughter of Thomas North Graves, second Baron Graves. The eldest son, Augustus Henry [q. v.], was a Jesuit missionary, and the second son. General Francis Towry Adeane Law, C.B. (1835-1901), saw much military service. The father originally served in the Grenadier guards, but in 1831 had taken orders in the Church of England, and at the time of his son's birth was rector of Yeovilton and chancellor of the diocese of Bath and Wells, of which his kinsman, George Henry Law [q. v.], was bishop.

On the death of his mother in 1844, Law was sent to school at Somerton, but in the following year, on his father's removal to the living of Harborne in Staffordshire, he was successively sent to St. Edmund's School, Birmingham, and (as founder's kin) to Winchester School, then under the charge of Dr. Moberly. In 1851 his father joined the Roman catholic church, a step which necessitated his son's leaving Winchester. In 1862 he studied at University College. London, where he had De Monan and Francis Newman among his teachers, and in 1853 he entered the Roman catholic college at Stonyhurst. For a time he hesitated between the church and the army as a profession, and his father actually obtained for him a cadetship in the military service of the East India Company. In 1855, however, under the influence of his father's friend, Father Faber, he entered the Brompton Oratory, London, where he was ordained priest in 1860. He remained in the Oratory till 1878, when, owing to the loss of his faith in the teaching of the church, he definitively left its communion.

In 1879 Law, who had long devoted himself to historical and literary study, was appointed keeper of the Signet library in Edinburgh, and there he passed the remainder of his life. In this capacity he did valuable service in promoting the study of Scottish history. He was one of the founders, in 1886, of the Scottish History Society, and acted as its honorary secretary. In 1898 the University of Edinburgh made him hon. LL.D. 'in recognition of his learned labours and indefatigable industry' ; and in the last year of his life the Scottish History Society presented him with a valuable gift in recognition of his disinterested zeal. After a long and painful illness he died at his home at Duddingston, near Edinburgh, on 12 March 1904. Law was married on 15 April 1880 to Wilhelmina Frederica, daughter of Captain Allen of Errol, Perthshire, by his wife Lady Henrietta Dundas, and left one son, Duncan, and five daughters.

Law's main historical interests lay in the sixteenth century, and specially in its religious and ecclesiastical aspects. In his treatment of contending religious forces he shows remarkable freedom from partisanship, and everything that he wrote was based on all the accessible sources relative to his subject.

His most important historical work is 'The Conflicts between Jesuits and Seculars in the reign of Queen Elizabeth' (1889) ; but he also wrote many reviews and articles, the most important of which will be found in 'Collected Essays and Reviews of Thomas Graves Law, LL.D.' (Edinburgh, 1904). To this Dictionary he contributed sixteen memoirs, including those of David Laing, Edmund Law, bishop of Carlisle, Robert Parsons, and Nicholas Sanders. For the Camden Society he edited 'The Archpriest Controversy,' 2 vols. (1896-8) ; and for the Scottish Text Society, 'Catholik Tractates of the Sixteenth Century,' 1901, and 'The New Testament in Scots,' 3 vols. (1901-3). Of special note among Law's contributions to Scottish history are his edition of ' Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism,' with preface by Gladstone (Oxford, 1884), and a chapter on Mary Stuart in the 'Cambridge Modem History' vol. iii.

[Memoir by the present writer, prefixed to Law's Collected Essays, Edinburgh, 1904, with photographic portrait and bibliography.]

P. H. B.