Newenham, Thomas (DNB00)

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NEWENHAM, THOMAS (1762–1831), writer on Ireland, second son of Thomas Newenham of Coolmore, co. Cork, by his second wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William Dawson, was born on 2 March 1762. Sir Edward Newenham [q. v.] was his uncle. Elected member for Clonmel in the Irish parliament of 1798, he was one of the steadiest opponents of the Act of Union. After 1800 he appears to have lived principally in England, at Ellesmere, Shropshire, Gloucester, and Cheltenham. Believing that the prevailing ignorance of Irish affairs on the part of Englishmen would lead to misgovernment, he applied himself to the investigation of the resources and capabilities of Ireland, in the hope of influencing public opinion in England, and became one of the principal authorities on that subject. When Dr. James Warren Doyle [q. v.], Roman catholic bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, published, in May 1824, his letter to Robinson, Newenham endeavoured to co-operate with him in promoting the reunion of the catholic and protestant churches. In his correspondence with Doyle he suggested a conference between ten divines on each side, who should formulate articles of primary importance and obligation as the groundwork of a new catechism. Doyle, however, refused to adopt his suggestion. In March 1825 Newenham was requested to give evidence before the parliamentary committee on the state of Ireland. Unable through illness to do so, he laid before the committee the manuscript of ‘A Series of Suggestions and Observations relative to the State of Ireland,’ &c., Gloucester, 8vo, 1825, in which he expressed the opinion that the political claims of the Irish catholics were well founded, but that concession, though ‘still sufficiently safe,’ would no longer have ‘a prominent and effectual tendency to insure tranquillity in Ireland.’

Newenham was a major of militia. He died at Cheltenham on 30 Oct. 1831. He married Mary, daughter of Edward Hoare of Factory Hill, co. Cork, by whom he had: 1. Thomas, rector of Kilworth; 2. Robert, of Sandford, co. Dublin. 3. Louisa, married to Captain Charles Dilkes, R.N.

Newenham published, in addition to the ‘Suggestions’ mentioned above: 1. ‘The Warning Drum: a Call to the People of England to resist Invaders,’ London, 8vo, 1803. 2. ‘An Obstacle to the Ambition of France [on the emancipation of Irish Roman Catholics],’ London, 8vo, 1803. 3. ‘Statistical and Historical Inquiry into … the Population of Ireland,’ London, 8vo, 1805. 4. ‘The Natural, Political, and commercial Circumstances of Ireland,’ London, 4to, 1809; criticised in Appendix to Sir F. D'Ivernois's ‘Effects of the Continental Blockade upon the Commerce … of the British Islands,’ 1810, 8vo, and reviewed by T. R. Malthus in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ xiv. 151–70. 5. ‘A Letter to the Roman Catholics of Ireland [on the impolicy of rebellion against England],’ Dublin, 8vo, 1823.

[Barrington's Historic Memoirs, ii. 374; Letters on a Reunion of the Churches of England and Rome [1824]; Fitzpatrick's Life of Doyle, 1880, i. 332, 336–43; Gent. Mag. 1831, ii. 474; M'Culloch's Literature of Pol. Econ. pp. 217, 261; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1894, ii. 1476.]

W. A. S. H.