Thomas Chisholm Anstey

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Thomas Chisholm Anstey

Thomas Chisholm Anstey (born London 1816 – died 12 August 1873) was an English lawyer and one of the first Catholic parliamentarians in the nineteenth century. He served as Attorney General of Hong Kong for 4 years. He also wrote pamphlets on legal and political topics, particularly those relevant to Roman Catholics.

Early life[edit]

Anstey was the second son of Thomas Anstey. He was born in Kentish Town, London in 1816. In 1823, his father, a lawyer, moved to Tasmania in Australia. Anstey followed in 1827.

Anstey returned to England for higher studies and was educated at Wellington, Somersetshire and at University College London. He was appointed a Professor of Law and Jurisprudence at the Colleges of St. Peter and St. Paul, Bath.[1]

In 1839, he married Harriet, daughter of J. E. Strickland of Loughlinn, County Roscommon, Ireland.[2]


He wrote numerous publications including British Catholics and the New Parliament (1841), a Guide to the Laws of England affecting Roman Catholics and a "Guide to the History of the Laws and Constitution of England in Six Lectures."[3]

Political career[edit]

Anstey favoured the repeal of the Union both with Ireland and Scotland. He was a Liberal in English politics, but Walker classifies him as an Irish Confederate candidate when he was elected Member of Parliament for the Irish constituency of Youghal in 1847. He was not renominated at Youghal in 1852, but contested Bedford in the general election of that year.[4]

Legal career[edit]

Anstey was called to the bar of the Middle Temple in January 1839. Soon after he moved back to Tasmania with his new wife. He was appointed a Judge of the Insolvent Court. He soon returned to England where he joined the Northern Circuit before moving to practice at the Chancery Bar.

In 1855, Anstey was appointed Attorney General of Hong Kong and served in that capacity until 1859.

Anstey left Hong Kong in 1859 having had a falling out with the Governor Sir John Bowring.[5] He went to Bombay (now Mumbai) where at times he acted Judge of the High Court of Bombay in 1865.

He returned to England in 1866 and in a tract entitled "A Plea for the Unrepresented for the Restitution of the Franchise" he advocated universal suffrage as a panacea for the ills resulting from class legislation. In 1867 he published an attack upon Disraeli's Reform Act of that year.

In 1868 he returned to Bombay and resumed his practice as a barrister.[6]

Anstey died in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1873 and is buried at Sewri.


  1. ^ Norton-Kyshe, History of the Laws and Courts of Hong Kong, p367-8 citing a biographical notice
  2. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for Anstey's father, Thomas Anstey
  3. ^ Norton-Kyshe, History of the Laws and Courts of Hong Kong, p367-8 citing a biographical notice
  4. ^ Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978); Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: Volume I 1832-1885, edited by M. Stenton (The Harvester Press 1976)
  5. ^ Norton-Kyshe, History of the Laws and Courts of Hong Kong, Chap XXV and XXVI.
  6. ^ The Catholic Encyclopaedia

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Cavendish
Member of Parliament for Youghal
Succeeded by
Isaac Butt
Legal offices
Preceded by
Paul Ivy Sterling
Attorney General of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
William Henry Adams