Thomas Chenery

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Thomas Chenery
Thomas Chenerey, Vanity Fair, 1879-10-04.jpg
Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1879.
Died11 February 1884 (aged 57–58)
EducationGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
OccupationEditor of The Times

Thomas William Chenery (1826 – 11 February 1884) was an English scholar and editor of the British newspaper The Times. His diplomatic background and choice of capable reporters helped to revive the paper's reputation for international news.


Chenery was born in Barbados to John Chenery, a West Indies merchant. He was educated at Eton and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.[1] Immediately after taking an ordinary degree in 1854, he was recruited by Mowbray Morris to work for The Times, and was sent to Istanbul. On arrival in March 1854, he soon proved himself an excellent diplomatic correspondent, covering the Crimean War, mainly from Istanbul, but occasionally from the front, where he relieved William Howard Russell. It was while he was in Istanbul that Chenery met Percy Smythe, who sparked his interest in philological studies, a field in which he would later gain prominence.[2]

After the war, Chenery returned to London, as a leader writer for The Times for many years, while continuing his Oriental studies. Among the languages he spoke were Arabic, Hebrew, modern Greek, and Turkish. He was one of the panelists involved in preparing the Old Testament portion of the Revised Version of the Bible.[3] Chenery's translation of the first 26 chapters of the Arabic classic The Assemblies of Al-Hariri[4] led to an appointment as Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford, where he also served as secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society.[5]

In 1877 John Walker selected Chenery as John Thadeus Delane's successor as editor of The Times. He was then an experienced publicist, particularly well versed in Oriental affairs, and an indefatigable worker with a rapid and comprehensive judgement, although he lacked Delane's sociability and intuition for public opinion.[3] Nonetheless, he introduced a number of innovations, bringing in more writers with scholarly backgrounds to employ their respective expertise. His background as a diplomatic correspondent and his choice of capable reporters for foreign postings revived the paper's reputation for international news coverage.

Despite his position as editor, Chenery was unable to prevent the increasingly partisan slant of the paper imposed by Walter, a member of the Conservative Party. This shift was furthered in 1880 by the appointment of George Earle Buckle, Walter's hand-picked candidate, as assistant editor. Buckle assumed more duties in 1883 as ill health reduced Chenery's ability to play an active role as editor, though he continued in the post until his death on 11 February 1884.

He is buried in Brompton Cemetery.[6]


  1. ^ "Thomas Chenery (CHNY849T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Matthew 2004, p. 300.
  3. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ The Assemblies of Al-Ḥarîri. Translated from the Arabic with Notes Historical and Grammatical, trans. by Thomas Chenery and F. Steingass, Oriental Translation Fund, New Series, 3, 2 vols (London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1867-98), [1] (vol. 2).
  5. ^ Matthew 2004, pp. 300-301.
  6. ^ Matthew 2004, p. 301.


External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
John Thadeus Delane
Editor of The Times
Succeeded by
George Earle Buckle