Correspondence of Thomas Perronet Thompson (1783-1869)

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Thompson's letters to a variety of correspondents, some undated. Includes: letter to Rev. W. J. Fox about the Corn Laws and universal suffrage, 1838; letter to G. Binns about a letter to the editor of the Sun, 1852; and, an engraved portrait of Thompson, 1838.

Administrative / Biographical History

The general and politician Thomas Perronet Thompson was born in Hull on 15 March 1783. He was educated at Hull Grammar School and then studied at Queen's College, Cambridge. On his graduation with a B.A. he became a midshipman on the flagship 'Isis' and sailed to Newfoundland. After spending four years in the Navy, he joined the Army in 1806 and saw action in South America against the Spanish. In 1808 he became Governor of Sierra Leone, then an infant colony, but he was recalled in his second year. Thompson again saw action, this time in Spain, in the Peninsular War. In 1815, he was in India, and he also saw action in the Arabian Peninsula, in Ras al Khaimah. In 1822 he returned to Britain and obtained promotion after promotion until in 1868 he became a general. Once in Britain, he took to politics and literature and entered the intellectual circle around Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Sympathising with the moves for Greek independence he wrote one or two pamphlets in 1825, and he also wrote on economic matters supporting Adam Smith (1723-1790). In 1829 he became the proprietor of the Westminster review and in 1835 he entered Parliament. Though he was defeated again in 1837, he re-entered the House in 1847 but was out again in 1852. Thompson was an MP again for the last time between 1857 and 1859. He wrote on many topics including free trade, Catholic emancipation, the House of Lords, the theory of rent, currency, and the Corn Laws. His publications, many in pamphlet form, include True theory of rent (1826), Catechism on the Corn Laws (1827), Geometry without axioms (1830), Catechism on the currency (1848), and Fallacies on the ballot (1855). Thomas Perronet Thompson died at Blackheath, London, on 6 September 1869.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 19. Stow-Tytler. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Thompson related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letters from T. P. Thompson and Sir John Bowring to F. Freshfield, 1830, in La.III.366; and, letter to Mr. Carpenter, the Sun Office, enclosing some sheets from the Westminster review, 1834, at La.II.647/371.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, 1804-1869, Hull University, Brynmor Jones Library, Ref. DTH NRA 10609 Thompson; family correspondence and papers, 1808-1868, Leeds University Library, Special Collections, Ref. MSS 277, 283 passim NRA 15923 Thompson; letters to Richard Cobden, 1841-1861, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 43663 NRA 5927 Cobden, and correspondence with Francis Place, 1829-1845, Ref. Add MSS 35145-51, 37949; letters (208) to H. B. Peacock, 1844-1869, Manchester University, John Rylands Library, Ref. Eng MS 1180; and, letters (17) to George Wilson, 1843-1847, Manchester Archives and Local Studies.