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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 619 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BART SIR JAMES EMERSON TENNENT. (1804-1869), English politician and traveller, the third son of William Emerson, a merchant of Belfast, was born there on the 7th of April 1804. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, of which he afterwards became LL.D. He took up the cause of Greek independence, and travelled in Greece, publishing a Picture of Greece (1826), Letters from the Aegean (1829), and a History of Modern Greece (183o) ; and he was called to the English bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1831. In this year he married the daughter and co-heiress (with her cousin, Robert James Tennent, M.P. for Belfast, 1848–52) of William Tennent, a wealthy merchant at Belfast, who died of cholera in 1832, and he adopted by royal licence the name of his wife in addition to his own. He entered parliament in 1832 as member for Belfast. In 1841 he became secretary to the India Board, and in 1845 he was knighted and appointed colonial secretary of Ceylon, where he remained till 185o. The result of his residence there appeared in Christianity in Ceylon (1850) and Ceylon, Physical, Historical and Topographical (2 vols., 1859). On his return, he became member for Lisburn, and under Lord Derby was secretary to the Poor Law Board in 1852. From 1852 till 1867 he was permanent secretary to the Board of Trade, and on his retirement he received a baronetcy from Lord Palmerston. In his early years his political views had a Radical tinge, and, although he subsequently joined the Tories, his Conservatism was of a mild type. He withdrew from the Whigs along with Lord Stanley and Sir James Graham, and afterwards adhered to Peel. He died in London on the 6th of March 1869. His family consisted of two daughters and a son, Sir William Emerson Tennent, and baronet (1835–1876), who was an official in the Board of Trade, and at whose death the baronetcy be-came extinct. Besides the books above mentioned, Emerson Tennent wrote Belgium in 1840 (1841), and Wine; its Duties and Taxation (1855), and was a contributor to magazines and a frequent correspondent of Notes and Queries. (H. CH.)

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