Luke Honeythunder is philanthropist and guardian to orphans Neville and Helena Landless, whom he arranges to be educated in Cloisterham. Neville is to live with Honeythunder's sister and her son, Septimus, a reverend, who will be his teacher. Neville's sister, Helena, is to live at the Nun's House.
Honeythunder is as loud and overbearing as his name would suggest. Upon reading Honeythunder's letter of request that they take in the boy, the reverend consults his mother about Honeythunder:
"Well, Ma," said Septimus, after a little more rubbing of his ear, "we must try it. There can be no doubt that we have room for an inmate, and that I have time to bestow upon him, and inclination too. I must confess to feeling rather glad that he is not Mr. Honeythunder himself. Though that seems wretchedly prejudiced -- does it not? -- for I never saw him. Is he a large man, Ma?"
"I should call him a large man, my dear," the old lady replied after some hesitation, "but that his voice is so much larger."