Wheeler, George Bomford (1805/8–1877), anglican clergyman, classical scholar, and editor of the Irish Times, was son of James Wheeler; his mother's name is unknown. Very little is known of his early life and the records of TCD note that when he entered the college (October 1829) he was 21 (although most sources state that he was born in 1805), that his father was deceased, and that he was ‘self-educated’. He was made a scholar at TCD (1832) and was the senior classical moderator (1834), winning gold medals in ethics and classics. A classical scholar of exceptional ability, he graduated BA (1835) and later MA (1857). He was also a prominent member of Trinity's debating society, the Hist., and was an associate of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (qv), Thomas Davis (qv), William Keogh (qv), and James Anthony Lawson (qv).
Yet despite his vast knowledge of the classics he was never appointed to a lecturing position or awarded a fellowship at Trinity. Instead he worked as a tutor, one of the numerous ‘grinders’ who existed on the fringes of the college and made a living preparing students for their college examinations. He based himself in his rooms at no. 23 College; he was a gifted teacher whose pupils included Hugh McCalmont Cairns (qv), later lord chancellor. He also published nearly fifty books, mostly on classical subjects, including Xenophon's Memorabilia of Socrates, translated with notes (Dublin, 1847), Xenophon's Anabasis: a literal translation (Dublin, 1850), The Hecuba of Euripides (Dublin, 1851), and The works of Virgil (London, 1852). Later works included Homer's Iliad (Dublin, 1857) and Ciceronis oratio pro Lucio Muraena, with notes (1863).
While he earned almost £500 a year as a ‘grinder’, he became disenchanted with this type of teaching, and by the early 1850s had decided to pursue a career in journalism. He initially began to write articles for the Dublin Daily Express and achieved some prominence during the Crimean war when he wrote a series of well-thought-out articles on the state of the army's organisation. As his reputation grew, he began to write articles for the Belfast News Letter, Chambers' Edinburgh Review, the Sunday Magazine, and the Liverpool Courier. A voracious reader, he had a vast knowledge of numerous subjects and could comment intelligently on legal cases and political matters while also being able to write book reviews and lighter prose sketches. When Charles Dickens founded the periodical All the Year Round in 1859, Wheeler began to write for it, and Dickens appreciated the quality of his contributions. In July 1859 he became editor of the Irish Times (founded three months previously) when the serving editor resigned owing to the newspaper's unionist tone; he remained editor until his death. Under Wheeler the paper acquired a reputation for high quality and accurate reporting, being especially reliable on domestic legal cases. His own editorials commented on the major political developments of the day – the land league, the home rule movement, etc. – in a conservative/unionist style.
He took holy orders quite late in life; his first appointment was as chaplain at the Smithfield reformatory prison, where he was an enthusiastic advocate of Sir Walter Crofton's system of reformatory discipline. In 1863 he was appointed curate of St Mary's, Dublin, and was later appointed rector of Ballysax, Co. Kildare (1865–77). This latter incumbency also came with an appointment as chaplain to the army at the Curragh camp and he became a popular figure with the soldiers, his church being crowded on Sundays with both officers and men, while regimental bandsmen made up the choir. A highly effective preacher and lover of nature, he was immensely popular in the Ballysax area, known for his sensitivity and retiring nature.
By the 1870s, therefore, he had settled into this dual career as newspaper editor and clergyman, and went to Ballysax every weekend to be in his parish. On 7 October 1877 he was travelling from Newbridge railway station to Ballysax when his outside car overturned. He broke a thigh bone in the accident and was conveyed to the Crown hotel in Newbridge. When the bone was set it was thought that he would recover, but over the next three weeks his health slowly declined. Prayers were offered for his recovery in both the local protestant and catholic churches, while Lord Cairns daily inquired as to his state of his health. He died at the Crown Hotel, Newbridge, on 21 October 1877. He was buried in Ballysax churchyard, having requested to be buried beside the grave of one of his grandchildren who had died in infancy. He married first (1838) Ellen Charlotte Mathias (d. 1844), daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Williams Mathias, a noted preacher; they had four sons and three daughters. His second wife was Elizabeth Shaw (d. 1913).