Burke, Sir Thomas (c.1750–1813), baronet and landowner, was born in Marble Hill, Co. Galway, son of John Burke (1713–93) of Grallough, Co. Galway, a catholic landowner, and Mary Burke, eldest daughter of Michael Carroll of Killoran, Co. Galway. With the passing of the catholic relief act (1792), Burke became a magistrate in Co. Galway. He succeeded to his father's estates in 1793, including the mansion and plantations at Creggeen, known as Marble Hill since the 1770s. Sharing a lifelong interest in agricultural matters with his father, Burke constantly worked on ways to improve and reclaim his estates, and was especially devoted to his beloved Marble Hill, where he always resided. He planted trees on 42 acres, for which he received bounties from the Dublin Society, and reclaimed mountain land by using marl as manure. The iron works at Woodford were employed to provide refuse, which enabled many high-quality roads to be constructed. The Rev. James Hall in his Tour through Ireland (1813) was sceptical about these methods, but this dissenting voice had little support in Ireland. Burke's efforts were largely deemed successful and his planting of trees in particular won much approval.
Burke's loyal support of government was highly esteemed, because of his vast wealth and his respected position in the catholic community. As a reward, he was created a baronet of Ireland (December 1797). On the eve of the 1798 rebellion he signed the Roman catholic petition given to Lord Camden (qv), the lord lieutenant, promising warm support for government. On 17 March 1799 his second eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married John Thomas de Burgh, 13th earl of Clanricarde (1744–1808). Later allegations that Burke owed all his advancements to this union appear baseless: his elevation as a baronet preceded his daughter's marriage by a good two years.
In the mid 1790s a large number of Ulster catholic families, particularly in Armagh, were forced to leave their homes. Some moved to Galway, where they were settled by Burke on the Slieve Aughty mountains, a barren and unpopulated area purchased by his father. The plantation was to the benefit of both parties: for the families it was an opportunity to establish a secure colony, and for Burke (always interested in afforestation and road-building) it offered a means of implementing his agricultural schemes. In 1804 he again received the thanks of government, this time for promising to raise a regiment of 1,000 men to be commanded by his son Col. John Burke. Under his stewardship, Marble Hill became a recognised seat of hospitality. His tenants had few complaints about their treatment, and many guests and visitors testified to his kindness and warmth.
He married (April 1774) Christian (d. 1833), daughter of James Browne of Limerick; they had three sons and four daughters. He died 22 May 1813 and was succeeded by his eldest son, John.