Thompson, Algernon P. (1818–1871)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 14, 2017

Algernon P. Thompson, soldier, jurist, and author, was born in England in 1818. In New York on November 21, 1835, he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in a battalion of New York volunteers in the Texas army commanded by Maj. Edwin Morehouse. Among his comrades were fellow printers James Decatur Cocke and Martin Carroll Wing. The battalion, under the command of Capt. Edward H. Stanley, sailed for Matagorda aboard the Matawamkeag, but the ship was intercepted by British authorities off Florida on suspicion of piracy and taken to Nassau, where the crew and passengers were held for a month. Thompson at last reached Texas on March 2, 1836, but failed to be elected when his company insisted upon choosing its own officers. He enlisted as a private in Capt. Louis P. Cooke's company, but, with Cooke's permission, left the company to join Sam Houston's retreating army at Mill Creek in Austin County. There he joined Capt. Robert J. Calder's Company K; he was transferred on April 20 to Capt. William S. Fisher's Company I of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He served under Fisher at the battle of San Jacinto but thereafter returned to Calder's command. He was furloughed on September 30, 1836. From 1836 until 1840 Thompson worked as a clerk in various government offices. He was elected assistant secretary of the Senate for the Third and Fourth congresses of the Republic of Texas. On June 11, 1842, he was elected chief justice of Harris County to fill the unfinished term of Isaac N. Moreland. He served until July 27, 1846, and did not run for reelection, but turned instead to the practice of law. During Rafael Vásquez's campaign in 1842 Thompson served as a volunteer in Capt. John N. O. Smith's company but was discharged at Columbus after seeing no action. From July 4, 1842, until June 1, 1846, he served as president of the board of land commissioners of Harris County. In 1859 he ran for the state Senate but was defeated by Abram Morris Gentry.

Thompson is best remembered as the ghost writer and publisher of an 1837 pamphlet attributed to Robert M. Coleman, Houston Displayed, or, Who Won the Battle of San Jacinto?, a caustic attack on Sam Houston's skill and courage during the decisive campaign of the Texas Revolution. In February 1838 Thompson, in partnership with Dr. Theodore Léger, began to publish a pro-Lamar newspaper at Brazoria, The People. Mirabeau B. Lamar ended the enterprise about August 1, 1839, however, when he sold the printing press. In 1838 and 1839 Thompson published three poems in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register. In Houston on March 9, 1839, Thompson married Louisa Lagrange Terhune Stanley, the widow of Edward H. Stanley, with whom he had come to Texas. The couple were known to have had three children, including Edgar W. Thompson, who, after service in the Confederate Army, returned to Houston to enter partnership with his father in the practice of law. Thompson died in Houston on July 3, 1871. The location of his grave is now unknown. He was a Catholic, but his wife and children were Episcopalian.

Robert M. Coleman, Houston Displayed, or, Who Won the Battle of San Jacinto? (Velasco, Texas, 1837; rpt., Austin: Brick Row Book Shop, 1964). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Andrew Forest Muir, "Algernon P. Thompson," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51 (October 1947). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Telegraph and Texas Register, March 20, 1839. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Peoples
  • English
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Politics and Government
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Thompson, Algernon P.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

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July 14, 2017

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