Thomas Henry Lister
Thomas Henry Lister (1800‑ 5 June 1842) was an English novelist and Registrar General.
Life and writings
Lister was the son of Thomas Lister of Armitage Park and his first wife Harriet Anne Seale. His maternal grandfather was John Seale. His paternal half-sister Adelaide Lister was first married to their second cousin, Thomas Lister, 2nd Baron Ribblesdale, and secondly to John Russell, 1st Earl Russell. Lister was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge.
His several novels include Granby (1826), Herbert Lacy (1828), and Arlington (1832). Granby is an early example of the silver fork novel, and was favourably reviewed by Sydney Smith in the Edinburgh Review. He was also the author of a Life of Clarendon. In 1830, he published a story entitled A Dialogue for the Year 2130, which might be described as an early example of science fiction or 'futuristic' writing, of the kind later popularized by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Published in The Keepsake, a literary annual, the story looks forward to a world in which gentlemen go hunting on machines and shoot horses, while a certain Lady D. owns a troublesome automatic letter-writer and is served by a "steam-porter" which opens doors.
In 1836 he was appointed as the first Registrar General for England and Wales, to head the new General Register Office. He was responsible for setting up the system of civil registration of births, deaths and marriages, and organization of the 1841 UK Census. He died of tuberculosis in 1842, whilst resident at Adelphi Terrace, London.
Wife and children
On 6 November 1830, Lister married Lady Maria Theresa Villiers, daughter of George Villiers and Theresa Parker, both of noble families. They had three children:
- Thomas Villiers (1832-1902), who married first Fanny Harriet Coryton and secondly Florence Selina Hamilton, daughter of geologist William John Hamilton and his second wife Margaret Frances Florence Dillon;
- Maria Theresa (died 1 February 1863), who married the politician William Vernon Harcourt, by whom she had a son, Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt.
- Alice Beatrice (died 28 March 1898), who married Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk, owner of the London newspaper the Morning Post, by whom she had a Lilias Margaret Frances Borthwick, who married Seymour Bathurst, 7th Earl Bathurst.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
- The Registrars General 1836-1945 (pdf) from the Office for National Statistics.
- His profile in Peerage.com
- A listing of the Lister family