Thomas Thornton (merchant)

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Thomas Thornton (1762–1814) was a British merchant in the Near East and writer on Turkey.

The Near East is a geographical term that roughly encompasses a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt. Despite having varying definitions within different academic circles, the term was originally applied to the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire. The term has fallen into disuse in English and has been replaced by the terms Middle East, of which includes Egypt, and the latter strictly Southwest Asia, including the Transcaucasus.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Ankara is its capital but Istanbul is the country's largest city. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.



Thornton was born in London, the eldest child of Thomas (1738–1769) and Dorothy Thornton (died 1769). Because his parents died when he was seven years old, a family friend ensured the education at Christ's Hospital for Thornton and his four brothers. Thomas's education prepared him for a career in one of the most important English trading houses of the time. In 1790, at only 28 years old, he became consul of the Levant Company. In about 1793 he was sent to the British factory at Constantinople, where he resided fourteen years, making a stay of fifteen months at Odessa, and paying frequent visits to Asia Minor and the islands of the Archipelago. During that period he gathered information that would be used in the writing of The Present State of Turkey. While at Constantinople he married Sophie Zohrab, the daughter of a Greek merchant, by whom he had a large family.

Christs Hospital English coeducational independent day and boarding school

Christ's Hospital is a coeducational independent day and boarding school in Horsham, West Sussex, England.

Levant Company organization

The Levant Company was an English chartered company formed in 1592. Elizabeth I of England approved its initial charter on 11 September 1581 when the Venice Company (1583) and the Turkey Company (1581) merged, because their charters had expired, as she was anxious to maintain trade and political alliances with the Ottoman Empire. Its initial charter was good for seven years and was granted to Edward Osborne, Richard Staper, Thomas Smith and William Garret with the purpose of regulating English trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Levant. The company remained in continuous existence until being superseded in 1825. A member of the company was known as a Turkey Merchant.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

About the end of 1813 Thornton was appointed consul to the Levant Company, but when on the eve of setting out for Alexandria he died at Burnham, Buckinghamshire, on 28 March 1814. His youngest son was William Thomas Thornton. [1]

Burnham, Buckinghamshire village and civil parish in Buckinghamshire, England

Burnham is a large village and civil parish that lies north of the River Thames in the South Bucks District of Buckinghamshire, on the boundary with Berkshire, between the towns of Maidenhead and Slough, about 23 miles west of Charing Cross, London. It is probably best known for the nearby Burnham Beeches woodland.

William Thomas Thornton, CB (1813–1880) was a noted nineteenth-century economist, civil servant and author.


After his return to England Thornton published in 1807 The Present State of Turkey (London; 2nd edit. 1809), in which, after a summary of Ottoman history, he gave an account of the political and social institutions of the Turkish empire. Thornton is favourable to the Turks, protesting against criticism related to their friendship with France. He attacked William Eton's Survey of the Turkish Empire (1798), and drew from Eton in reply ‘A Letter to the Earl of D … on the Political Relations of Russia in regard to Turkey, Greece, and France’ (1807). [1]

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

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  1. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg "Thornton, Thomas (d.1814)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

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The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published since 1885. The updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) was published on 23 September 2004 in 60 volumes and online, with 50,113 biographical articles covering 54,922 lives.