Tenison, Richard (1642–1705), Church of Ireland bishop of Meath, was one of three sons of Thomas Tenison of Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. He was educated in that town and at St Bees in Cumberland, and entered TCD in 1659, taking his DD in 1682. He was for a time a schoolmaster in Trim, where his pupils included James Bonnell (qv).
He was ordained, and became vicar of Laracor in Meath in 1669, and dean of Clogher and vicar of St Peter's in Drogheda in 1675, among other livings, and was chaplain to the lord lieutenant, the earl of Essex (qv). He was appointed bishop of Killala in 1682, but fled his diocese for London in 1689, where he was employed for a time at St Helen's, Bishopsgate. After his return to Ireland he was, in 1691, translated to Clogher, where he is supposed to have induced many protestant dissenters to conform to the Church of Ireland. In 1697 he was again translated, to Meath, and appointed to the privy council; in 1698 he was made vice-chancellor of TCD. He was associated with Bishop William King (qv) and Bishop Nathaniel Foy (qv) in their efforts to reform the Church of Ireland in the 1690s. He purchased Co. Louth estates in 1698, to which was attached the predominant influence in the parliamentary borough of Dunleer.
Richard's father was a second cousin of the prominent English whig churchman, Thomas Tenison (1636–1715), bishop of Lincoln from 1691, who followed Irish church affairs closely. Thomas Tenison withstood pressure from Queen Mary and several Irish bishops (including Richard) to accept the archbishopric of Dublin during 1693–4, becoming in 1695 archbishop of Canterbury.
With his wife, Anne (d. 1696), Richard Tenison had six sons and two daughters. He died 29 July 1705. The eldest son, Henry Tenison (1667–1709), politician, of Dillonstown in Co. Louth, attended TCD, graduating BA in 1687, and later entered the Middle Temple in London. He was MP for Co. Monaghan, 1695–9, and for Co. Louth from 1703 to his death. He was active in parliament, where he led the attack in 1703 on the controversial author John Asgill (qv). He was associated with several penal bills and was perhaps the foremost member of the commons in promoting the act to prevent the further growth of popery (1704). His efforts on behalf of measures of moral and social reform and bills for the Church of Ireland were less fruitful. His services to the administration of the second duke of Ormond (qv) won him a place on the revenue commission in 1704. He died on 22 September 1709.
Henry Tenison had married Anne Moore (d. 10 January 1708), daughter and co-heir of Thomas Moore of Knockballymore, Co. Fermanagh, and Mellifont, Co. Louth. They had three daughters, and a son, Thomas Tenison (1707–79), lawyer and politician. Thomas entered TCD in 1725, and the Middle Temple in 1726. Called to the Irish bar in 1732, he was a commissioner for revenue appeals, 1732–8 and 1741–59, and became prime serjeant in 1759 and a justice of the common pleas in 1761. Thomas's parents both died when he was a child, and he was brought up by his uncle Richard Tenison (1684–1725). During Thomas's minority his uncle Richard was MP for Dunleer, 1715–25, and Richard's son William sat for Dunleer from 1727 till his death in 1728, being succeeded by Thomas who held the seat from 1728 to 1760 and in 1761. The Foster family (whose later representatives included Anthony Foster and his son John Foster (qv)) had been allies of Henry Tenison, but his son's minority and divisions within the Tenison family allowed the Fosters to establish their own interest in the borough of Dunleer.
Edward Tenison (1673–1735), Church of Ireland bishop of Ossory, was the eldest son of William Tenison, archdeacon of Norwich. Edward (a cousin of Thomas Tenison (1636–1715), archbishop of Canterbury) was a chaplain to George, prince of Wales (later George II), and came to Ireland as chaplain to the duke of Dorset (qv). He was appointed bishop of Ossory in 1731 and died 29 November 1735 in Dublin.
Jonathan Swift (qv) had several connections with the Tenison family: Richard was one of his predecessors in Laracor, and was subsequently his bishop; Henry was a friend at Trinity College and afterwards; and Swift abused Edward when they disagreed over church legislation in the 1730s.