Thomas William Moffett

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Sir Thomas William Moffett (3 June 1820 – 6 July 1908) was an Irish scholar and educationalist, who served as president of Queen's College Galway.

Moffett was born at Castleknock, County Dublin, on 3 June 1820. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin, where he was a Berkeley Gold Medallist in Logic and Metaphysics, a gold medallist in Greek, and a prizeman in Divinity and Modern History. He graduated in 1843 as Senior Moderator in Ethics and Logic. He was awarded the degree of L.L.D. by the University of Dublin in 1852.

Castleknock Western suburb of Dublin, Ireland

Castleknock is an affluent residential outer suburb of Dublin, centred on a village, in Fingal, Ireland. It is located 8 km (5 mi) west of the centre of Dublin.

County Dublin Place in Ireland

County Dublin is one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland. Prior to 1994 it was also an administrative county covering the whole county outside of Dublin City Council. In 1994, as part of a reorganisation of local government within Dublin the boundaries of Dublin City were redrawn, Dublin County Council was abolished and three new administrative county councils were established: Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.

Trinity College Dublin Sole college of the University of Dublin, founded 1592

Trinity College, officially the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, a research university located in Dublin, Ireland. The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother" of a new university, modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but unlike these other ancient universities, only one college was ever established; as such, the designations "Trinity College" and "University of Dublin" are usually synonymous for practical purposes. The college is legally incorporated by "the Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars and other members of the Board" as outlined by its founding charter. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland's oldest surviving university. Trinity College is widely considered the most prestigious university in Ireland and amongst the most elite in Europe, principally due to its extensive history and unique relationship with both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. In accordance with the formula of ad eundem gradum, a form of recognition that exists among the three universities, a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin can be conferred with the equivalent degree at either of the other two universities without further examination. Trinity College, Dublin is a sister college to St John's College, Cambridge and Oriel College, Oxford.

From May 1848, he held the position of headmaster of the Classical Department and professor of logic and belles lettres at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The first professors were appointed to the newly established Queen's Colleges at Belfast, Cork and Galway in 1849, and Moffett became the foundation professor of logic and metaphysics at the Galway College. In 1863, in addition to his original chair, Moffett took over the duties of Rev. Joseph O'Leary as professor of history and English literature, the offices being combined into a single chair of history, English literature and mental science. Moffett was to occupy this chair until his retirement from academia in 1897.

Royal Belfast Academical Institution grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Royal Belfast Academical Institution, is an Independent grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Locally referred to as Inst, the school educates boys from ages 11 to 18. It is one of the eight Northern Irish schools represented on the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The school occupies an 18-acre site in the centre of the city on which its first buildings was erected.

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the second-largest city on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.

Cork (city) City in Munster, Ireland

Cork is a city in south-west Ireland, in the province of Munster. As of the 2016 census, the city had a population of 125,657, but following a boundary extension in 2019, the population increased to c. 210,000. It is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland.

In 1870, Moffett succeeded William Lupton as registrar of Queen's College Galway. On the death of Edward Berwick in 1877, Moffett was appointed to succeed him as president of the college.

Edward Berwick (1804-1877) was an Irish lawyer and educationalist, and served as President of Queen's College Galway from 1849 until 1877.

Moffett was noted for his skill and power as an orator, and his ability to quote at will long extracts from the poems and sagas of antiquity, as well as more modern verse. Believing as he did in well-rounded education, Moffett was instrumental in the incorporation of the existing Literary and Scientific Society of Galway into the Queen's College as a debating society between 1852 and 1856. Moffett drafted the first rules for the governance within the college, and presided at the first college meeting, of the society which subsequently became the Literary and Debating Society.

Moffett never believed in the restriction of education and intellectual discourse to within the walls of a college. Between 1849 and 1856, he served as Barrington Lecturer for the Dublin Statistical Society (later known as the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland). The Barrington Lectures, endowed by the Dublin businessman John Barrington from 1834, had as their objective the teaching of the principles of political economy to the lower classes in Ireland. Moffett delivered popular lectures in Ardee, Armagh, Belturbet, Clonmel, Coleraine, Derry, Downpatrick, Dublin, Dundalk, Dungannon, Galway, Holywood, Kilkenny, Lisburn, Lurgan, Trim and Waterford. He was also a stalwart of the Royal Galway Institution, an organisation set up to promote intellectual discourse among the people of Galway; he frequently delivered lectures to the Institution, and served as its president for many years up to the time of his death.

The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (SSISI) is a learned society which analyses the major changes that have taken place in population, employment, legal and administrative systems and social services in Ireland. It operates as an all-Ireland body.

Ardee Town in Leinster, Ireland

Ardee is a town and townland in County Louth, Ireland. It is located at the intersection of the N2, N52, and N33 roads. The town shows evidence of development from the thirteenth century onward but as a result the continued development of the town since then much of the fabric of the medieval town has been removed.

Armagh County town of County Armagh in Northern Ireland

Armagh is the county town of County Armagh and a city in Northern Ireland, as well as a civil parish. It is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland – the seat of the Archbishops of Armagh, the Primates of All Ireland for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. In ancient times, nearby Navan Fort was a pagan ceremonial site and one of the great royal capitals of Gaelic Ireland. Today, Armagh is home to two cathedrals and the Armagh Observatory, and is known for its Georgian architecture.

Moffett was knighted in 1896, in recognition of his many years of work for the cause of education in Ireland. He was awarded the degree of D.Litt. (honoris causa) by both the Queen's University and the University of Dublin. He was a member of the Senate of the Queen's University, and, on its foundation, he was appointed to the Senate of the Royal University of Ireland. In 1899, he was nominated the last High Sheriff of Galway Town. [1]

Royal University of Ireland former Irish university

The Royal University of Ireland was founded in accordance with the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879 as an examining and degree-awarding university based on the model of the University of London. A Royal Charter was issued on 27 April 1880 and examinations were opened to candidates irrespective of attendance at college lectures. The first chancellor was the Irish chemist Robert Kane.

The High Sheriff of Galway Town was the Sovereign's judicial representative in the county of the Town of Galway. Initially an office for lifetime, assigned by the Sovereign, the High Sheriff became annually appointed from the Provisions of Oxford in 1258. Besides his judicial importance, he had ceremonial and administrative functions and executed High Court Writs.

Sir Thomas retired in 1897, having served as president of the college for twenty years, and subsequently moved to Dublin. After an illness of several weeks' duration, during which he was attended by his old student and lifelong friend Sir William Thomson, he died at his home there on 6 July 1908.


  1. Who is Who 1903. London: Adam & Charles Black Ltd. 1903. p. 963.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Edward Berwick
President of Queen's College Galway
1877 1897
Succeeded by
Alexander Anderson