Thomas Collyns SIMON (c.1811–1883)
St Giles section, Row 4, Grave B39

Thomas Simon



God is Love


SEPTEMBER 24, 1883







Thomas Collyns Simon (whose middle name was often spelt as Collins) was born at Cork in Ireland in c.1811, the eldest son of Peter Simon. He had two younger brothers: Henry Andrews Simon (born c.1812) and William Frederick Simon (born c.1813).

On 28 March 1829 at the age of 19, Thomas was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Magdalen Hall, but because of ill health did not complete his degree. His younger brother William Frederick Simon followed him up to Magdalen Hall four years later.

In 1844 at Hastings, Sussex, Thomas Collyns Simon married Maria Jones Agnew. She was born in Ireland in c.1829 and was the daughter of Edward Jones Agnew of Kilwaughter Castle, Antrim and Eleanor Galbraith. According to the Friends of the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome newsletter of Autumn 2020, Thomas had been her tutor in Ireland and they had to run away to England to marry since he was 33 and she was only 18 and her aunt Margaret Jones disapproved of the marriage.

They had one child:

  • Mary Maria Augusta Simon (born at the Cove of Cork, Ireland on 3 November 1847, with her birth announced in the Observer of London on 22 November).

Thomas's father Peter Simon died at Burton Crescent in London on 15 June 1845. He was described as being formerly of Cork in the announcement of his death  in the Freeman’s Journal of Dublin.

Thomas and Maria Simon came to London around this time. The 1851 census lists Thomas (40), described as an author in scientific literature, as living in part of 64 Cambridge Terrace, Paddington with his wife Maria (24), who was described as an annuitant, and their three-year-old daughter Mary (3). They had one servant.

Thomas Collyns Simon's books include the following:

  • The mission and martyrdom of St Peter (London, 1852; second edition with corrections and additions, 1862)
  • Scientific certainties of planetary life: or Neptune's light as great as ours (London, 1855) View online
  • An answer to the Essays and reviews (London, 1861)
  • On the nature and elements of the external world: or Universal immaterialism fully explained (London, 1862) View online
  • The philosophical answer to the essays and reviews (London, 1862)
  • Hamilton versus Mill, a thorough discussion of each chapter in Mr John S. Mill's Examination of Hamilton's logic and philosophy (Edinburgh, 1866) View online
  • A treatise, in popular language, on the solar illumination of the solar system, or, The law and theory of the inverse squares (London, 1879) View online
  • On the equal distribution of light throughout the solar system, by Physicus (London, 1881)

His wife Maria died at Ballysax in in Ireland of scarlet fever at the age of 30 on 8 May 1857, and the following death notice was published in the Belfast Newsletter on 19 May:

May 8, of scarlatina, at the Rectory, Ballysax, Curragh Camp, Maria, wife of Thomas C. Simon, Esq., and only daughter of the late Edward Jones Agnew, Esq., of Kilwaughter Castle, County Antrim.

A briefer death announcement was published in the Morning Chronicle of London.

Her husband and daughter returned to England, and at the time of the 1861 census Thomas (44) and Mary (13) were living with their lady's maid at Combe Villa, Monkton Combe, Somerset in part of the home of the retired builder John Spence and his family.

His book Hamilton versus Mill was published in Edinburgh in 1866, and on 21 April 1869 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Edinburgh University,

Thomas Collyns Simon is hard to find in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, and was likely to have been abroad, probably in Italy where he is known to have travelled with his daughter.

In 1878 in the Kensington district his daughter Mary Maria Augusta Simon married Count Ugo Balzani (who converted to Protestantism), and they had three children:

  • A boy who died a few days after birth
  • Guendalina Balzani (born in 1882)
  • Nora Lucia Malvina Beatrice Balzani (born at 10 Norham Gardens, Oxford on 21 September 1883 and privately baptised by St Giles's Church on 6 December). A notice of her birth was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 29 September 1883.

Thomas Collyns Simon died in Oxford in 1883, just three days after his granddaughter Nora was born in his house:

† Thomas Collyns Simon died at 10 Norham Gardens at the age of 72 on 24 September 1883 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 26 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles's Church).

His death notice in Jackson's Oxford Journal read: “Sept. 24, at 10, Norham-gardens, Oxford, Thomas Collyns Simon, Hon. LL.D. Edin. An identical announcement appeared in the Freeman's Journal in Dublin. The following obituary appeared in Mind in 1884:

We regret to record the death, at Oxford, Set. 24, 1883, at an advanced age, of Mr. T. Collyns Simon, well known as the author of The Nature and Elements of the External World, 1848, and as the offerer of a prize of £100 for the first conclusive disproof, within a year from that date, of the Berkeleyan doctrine of Universal Immaterialism, the judges to be men of recognised philosophical attainment named by the refutant himself. Descended from a Huguenot family, Collyns Simon was born at Cork in or about the year 1813. He kept nearly all his terms at Oxford, but owing to ill health did not proceed to a degree. The honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him later by the University of Edinburgh. Latterly he resided much abroad, and had many friends along the leading Professors of philosophy, both in Germany and Italy. He contributed largely at one time to the Zeitschrift für Philosophie &c., edited by Ulrici. But it was in Italy that he resided longest, where he counted amongst his friends the veteran Count Maruiani, SS, Bontelli, Ferri, Bertini, Fiorentino, and others, and contributed repeatedly to the Filosofia delle Scuole Italiane. To the Contemporary Review he contributed the striking articles on “The present state of Metaphysics in Great Britain,” in June, 1868, and two in January and March, 1870, on “Hegel and his connexion with British Thought”. We are glad to learn that an early republication of these and many of his shorter writings is in contemplation.  

Rarely is a life so entirely and consistently devoted to philosophy as what that of Collyns Simon. Those too who had the privilege of knowing him personally will not easily forget the uniform gentleness, courteousness, and chivalry of is character, or (in later days) that serene and venerable aspect which seemed an almost ideal presentment of philosophic age.

All his furniture at 10 Norham Gardens was auctioned on the premises on 4 February 1884.

Thomas Collyns Simon's only daughter Mary Maria Augusta Simon, Countess Balzani (1847–1895)

Mary's husband Count Ugo Balzani was awarded an honorary doctorate at Encaenia in Oxford in June 1888, and she attended a luncheon at All Souls College afterwards with her husband.

William Agnew, the brother of Thomas Collyns Simon's wife Maria, had inherited Kilwaughter Castle and its estate, and after purchasing additional land it became one of the largest landholdings in Ireland (c.10,000 acres). He had no children, and when he died in 1891 bequeathed everything to his niece, the Countess Balzani. Mary died just four years after her uncle on 3 July 1895 at the age of 48, and was buried in the Campo Cestio Cemetery in Lasio, Italy (Plot 576). Her effects came to £3,042 9s, 5d., and her executor was John Mitchel Chapman, Esq.

Her unmarried daughter Nora Lucia Malvina Beatrice Balzani (born 1883) died in Italy on 17 November 1975 and was buried with her mother.

Thomas Collyns Simon's brothers (who married two sisters)
Henry Andrews Simon (c.1812–1866)

Henry was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple on 17 April 1841. He was the author of three legal books:

  • A practical treatise of the law of interpleader : with an appendix containing the Interpleader Act : and forms of notices, affidavits, rules, feigned issues, &c. (1842)
  • A Practical Treatise of the Law of Interpleader, with an appendix, containing the Interpleader Act and forms of notices, etc. (1842)
  • The law relating to railway accidents (including an outline of the liabilities of railway companies as carriers generally), concisely discussed and explained (1862)

On 23 September 1842 at Christ Church, Marylebone, Henry Andrews Simon married Sarah Sophia Tarrant, the daughter of Samuel Tarrant, Esq. of Portland Terrace, Regent's Park. They had five children:

  • Alfred William Simon (born at 25 Essex Street and baptised at St Clement Danes Church on 12 July 1844)
  • Alice Eliza Simon (born at Wells Street, Camden on 27 April 1845 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Grays Inn Road on 17 July)
  • Phoebe Sarah Simon (born at 11 Wells Street on 27 July 1845 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Grays Inn Road on 22 January 1847)
  • Margaret Elizabeth Simon (born at Clapham on 29 November 1847 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church there on 31 May)
  • Florence Mary Simon (born at Clapham on 15 June 1849 and bptised at Holy Trinity Church there on 18 June),

At the time of the 1861 census Henry (48) was living at 9 Union Crescent, Clapham with his wife and four daughters, plus a servant girl.

On 22 January 1864 he was listed in the Gazette as a bankrupt barrister.

Henry Andrews Simon died at 2 Union Crescent, Wandsworth Road at the age of 52 on 16 February 1866.

William Frederick Simon (c.1813–1848)

William was the editor of the Carlisle Patriot newspaper.

On 1 November 1841 at Christ Church, Marylebone, William Frederick Simon, Esq of Carlisle married Margaret Tarrant, They had two children:

  • Margaret Collins Simon (born in Carlisle in 1842/3 and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 17 January 1843)
  • Henry Hemming Simon (born in Carlisle in 1843 and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 31 December)

William Frederick Simon was admitted to Whitmore Lunatic Asylum in London on 15 September 1847 but was transferred to Abington Abbey Lunatic Asylum near Northampton less than a month later on 9 October. He died there the following year at the age of 35, and was described as being of Carlisle when was buried at Marylebone on 10 May 1848 (His death announcement in the Observer of 15 May 1848 has a misprint saying that he died at the age of 75.)

In 1851 his widow was living in Herne Bay in Kent with her two children. She later lived in Hackney with her married daughter Margaret Collins Scott. Her son Henry appears to have gone to Australia.



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