Queer Places:
Eton College, Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead SL4 6DW
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ

Thomas Bendyshe (1827 – July 21, 1886) was an English barrister and academic, known as a magazine proprietor and translator. The Cannibal Club was populated by several somewhat eccentric personalities of the time: along with Richard Burton, vice president of the Anthropological Society, founder of the Club and one of the most famous translators of pornographic Oriental literature of his time, members included Thomas Bendyshe, vice president of the Society and Senior Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. The term ‘cannibalism’ eventually came to function as a shorthand for male–male desire within the group.

Thomas Bendyshe was the fourth son of John Bendyshe R.N. and Catherine Matcham, a niece of Lord Nelson. He was educated at Eton College, and matriculated at King's College, Cambridge in 1845, graduating B.A. in 1849 and M.A. in 1852.[1][2][3] Bendyshe was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1848, and was called to the bar in 1857.[1] He became in 1846 a Fellow of King's College, a position he kept for the rest of his life.[1] In college matters, Bendyshe as a Senior Fellow objected to financial reforms. Considered "eccentric", he obstructed them for nearly 20 years, and was the only Fellow to claim money in a compromise solution proposed by the Visitor. A settlement, the Eirenicon, emerged in 1872.[4] The memoirs of Augustus Austen Leigh record Bendyshe's 1870 effort to retain the right to dine separately in the college hall.[5] According to Montague Rhodes James, Richard Okes, Provost before Leigh, brought to all college meetings a piece of paper with a reprimand of the Visitor to Bendyshe, in case he ever attended, for a "profane letter he had sent to the Dean."[6]

Bendyshe was a vice-president of the Anthropological Society.[7] This was at the period, during the American Civil War, during which Thomas Henry Huxley and John Lubbock, in the Darwinian evolutionary camp, were using the long-established Ethnological Society to attack this new rival, described by Desmond as "ultra-racist".[8] In 1865 Bendyshe bought The Reader, a magazine set up by Thomas Hughes and Norman Lockyer. Its science section, written by Lockyer, had been used to publicise the views of the Darwinian X Club. Bendyshe frustrated them by this move, closing down the science section.[1][9] He edited The Reader for something under a year, the end coming in January 1867. Alfred Russel Wallace took it well, telling Darwin that Bendyshe was "the most talented man" in the Anthropological Society.[10][11][12] The purchase was made in August: in the previous month Bendyshe had voted in Westminster for the Liberal John Stuart Mill, leading (this was an open ballot) to his expulsion from the Conservative Club.[13] Mill had attended the March 1865 meeting called to decide what to do with the failing paper.[14] According to James, there was as well Bendyshe's failed The Reflector. He had trouble getting the printers to accept his copy. He also offended in a review Robert Gordon Latham, author of The Natural History of Varieties of Men, associated with the Ethnological Society.[6][15] Over Christmas 1868, Algernon Charles Swinburne stayed at King's College as Bendyshe's guest.[16] According to Edmund Gosse, who calls Bendyshe a "fantastic character" in his essay "A Poet among the Cannibals", they had been introduced by Richard Burton at The Cannibal Club.[17] They studied together the French translation of the Mahabharata by Hippolyte Fauche.[18]

Bendyshe died at Buckland, Kent on 21 July 1886.[1]

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