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Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Parr
Ch. I. 1747-1752

‣ Ch. I. 1747-1752
Ch. II. 1752-1761
Ch. III. 1761-1765
Ch. IV. 1765-1766
Ch. V. 1767-1771
Ch. VI. 1771
Ch. VII. 1771-1776
Ch. VIII. 1771-1776
Ch. IX. 1776-1777
Ch. X. 1779-1786
Ch. XI. 1779-1786
Ch. XII. 1779-1786
Ch. XIII. 1780-1782
Ch. XIV. 1786-1789
Ch. XV. 1786-1790
Ch. XVI. 1776-1790
Ch. XVII. 1787
Ch. XVIII. 1789
Ch. XIX. 1790-1792
Ch. XX. 1791-1792
Ch. XXI. 1791-1796
Ch. XXII. 1794-1795
Ch. XXIII. 1794
Ch. XXIV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXV. 1794-1800
Ch. XXVI. 1800-1803
Ch. XXVII. 1801-1803
Ch. XXVIII. 1800-1807
Vol. II Contents
Ch I. 1800-1807
Ch II. 1807-1810
Ch III. 1809
Ch IV. 1809-1812
Ch V. 1810-1813
Ch VI. 1811-1815
Ch VII. 1812-1815
Ch VIII. 1816-1820
Ch IX. 1816-1820
Ch X. 1816-1820
Ch XI. 1816-1820
Ch XII. 1816-1820
Ch XIII. 1816-1820
Ch XIV. 1819
Ch XV. 1820-1821
Ch XVI. 1816-1820
Ch XVII. 1820-1824
Ch XVIII. 1820-1824
Ch XIX. 1820-1824
Ch XX. 1820-1825
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A.D. 1747—1752.
Family of Dr. Parr on his father’s side—on his mother’s side—Notice of his father—of his mother—of his stepmother—His early education.

Dr. Samuel Parr was born in the village of Harrow-on-the-Hill, Jan. 26, 1747. His father, Samuel Parr, was the third and the youngest son of the Rev. Samuel Parr, vicar of Hinckley and Stoke, in Leicestershire, and of Dorothy, daughter of the Rev. Francis Brokesby, D.D. rector of Rowley in Yorkshire, and author of the well-known “Life” of the celebrated Henry Dodwell.1 His mother was Ann, daughter of Leonard Mignard,

1Dr. Brokesby was the author of a “Life of Christ,” and of a “History of the government of the Primitive Church.” He communicated to Mr. Hearne, in a letter printed in the 6th vol. of Leland’s Itinerary, some curious observations on British antiquities. “The very learned father of my paternal grandmother, Francis Brokesby, assisted Mr. Ray largely in the collection of English words not generally used. S. P.”—Bibliotheca Parriana, p. 395.

descended from a family of French refugees, and of Elizabeth Bates, of Stamford in Lincolnshire.

The family of Parr1 trace back their origin to a remote antiquity. One of their ancestors was Sir Wm. Parre, who lived in the reign of Edward IV.; and who married Elizabeth, the sister and the coheiress of Henry Lord Fitzhugh. His son, Sir Thomas Parre, married Maud, co-heiress of Sir Thomas Greene, of Greene’s Norton, Northamptonshire, and was the father of Queen Catherine Parre, sixth wife of Henry VIII.; also of Ann Parre, married to William Earl of Pembroke; and of Lord William Parre, afterwards created, successively, Earl of Essex, and Marquis of Northampton. This latter nobleman is described by Camden,2 as “an accomplished courtier;” and, by Fuller,3 as “a brave and skilful warrior.” He died, while on a visit at the Priory at Warwick, and was buried within the chancel of St. Mary’s Church, in that town. There was no monumental inscription, even in the time of Dugdale; and the coat of arms, sword, shield, helmet and crest, which that great antiquarian mentions, as suspended over his grave, have long since disappeared.4

Sir William Parre, the grandfather of this illustrious progeny, had two brothers; of whom, one was Humphrey, Lord Dacre of Guillesland, the other was John Parre; and it is from the latter of these

1 See the Pedigree, App. No. I.

2 Camd. Brit. Leicest. ad fin.

3 Fuller’s Worthies, vol. ii. p. 184. New Ed.

4 Dugdale’s Warwicksh. p. 320. Coventry Ed.

Dr. Parr, in a direct line, is descended. The family, in this branch of it, long lived, with great respectability, in the county of Leicester, and produced several divines of learning and worth in the English church. They were always remarkably distinguished for a firm attachment to the cause of the unfortunate Stuarts, and for a steady adherence to those principles of divine right, both of monarchy and episcopacy, which, though long since exploded, were once maintained by many of the best and most honourable men in the nation.

It is known that Dr. Brokesby, “my learned great-grandfather,”1 as Dr. Parr speaks of him, like his friend, Mr. Dodwell, whose character he admired, and whose virtues he has celebrated,2 was a most conscientious and inflexible non-juror: and it must be told to his high praise, that, rather than deviate in the smallest degree from his own sincere convictions, he resigned his living of Rowley, and intrepidly braved all the serious difficulties, to which those of his party were, at that time, exposed. Of his great-uncle, also, the Rev. Robert Parr, rector of Willey, in Warwickshire, who was an excellent scholar, it is pithily recorded “that he loved, not money, but the Greek fathers, the Pretender, and the church.”3 Integrity, faithful to its cause, whatever that cause may be, and not to be moved by tempting gain or threatening

1 Bibliotheca Parriana, p. 27.

2 See Brokesby’s Life of Dodwell, passim.

3 He was buried at Hinckley, Aug. 8, 1750. See App. No. I.

power, from its even course, who can contemplate without admiration and delight?1

The religious and political principles transmitted to them from their ancestors, were reverently received, and fervently cherished, by Mr. Samuel Parr, the father, and the Rev. Robert Parr, the uncle, of Dr. Parr. The former exhibited a splendid proof of generous devotion to the cause which he had espoused, by advancing the large sum of 800l., being nearly the whole of his fortune, in aid of the young Pretender, at that time engaged in a last desperate effort to recover his lost honours: whilst the latter, when a scholar at Eton, in the same high spirit, refused to renounce, or even to conceal his principles, and was therefore obliged to relinquish the fair prospect, thrown open before him, of obtaining one of its fellowships. At a subsequent period, however, he went to Cambridge, and entered of King’s College, of which he was afterwards elected a Fellow, and ultimately appointed a Tutor. His services were highly estimated by his college;2 and, as some reward, he was presented to the living of Horsted, united with that of Cottishall, in Norfolk. There, he passed the remainder of his days, retired and contented; respectable for his learning,3 venerable for his

1 Magni cujusdam animi, atque ejus viri est, quem de suscepta causa, propositaque sententia, nulla contumelia, nulla vis, nullum periculum posset repellere. Cic.

2 Europ. Mag. Aug. 1809.

3 Fabricii Bibliotheca Græca. This book belonged to Dr. Parr’s learned uncle, rector of Horstead, Norfolk.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 701.

piety, and amiable for his virtue. Dr. Parr speaks of him with affectionate respect, in one of his works, as “his revered uncle.”1 He died, Sept. 8, 1759, and his memory was long cherished in the minds of his parishioners, with unfeigned esteem and gratitude. He was buried in Horsted church, where his merits are recorded in a monumental inscription,2 written in Latin, with much tenderness of feeling, and much energy of expression, by his ingenious and faithful curate, the
Rev. Peter Elkington.

The principles of civil and ecclesiastical polity which, since the era of the Reformation, have been usually denominated the Whig principles, were those adopted, with the strongest convictions of his understanding, and with all the natural ardour of his temper, by Dr. Parr; and contrasted with them, it is curious to remark, in so many of his family, an attachment no less firm and devoted to the opposite principles of highest toryism in church and state. It is believed, however, that these principles, fondly cherished in his father’s mind, received a severe shock from the loss of his fortune, fruitlessly sacrificed in the last rash and ruinous attempt of the Pretender and his misguided adherents. From that time, it is said, Mr. Parr began to consider with favourable attention the more reasonable principles which he had hitherto opposed, and was at length induced to abandon as hopeless, at least, if not unjust, a cause which no longer appeared to be the cause of the nation. But whether this account be either in whole or in part

1 Spital Serm. p. 109. 2 See App. No. III.

correct, certain it is, that under his father’s direction the son was led, at an early age, to peruse the volumes of
Rapin, the excellent historian of England. In studying the pages of that judicious and impartial writer, as Dr. Parr often declared, he found all his hereditary prejudices powerfully counteracted; and it was from them that he imbibed his first notions of those great principles of civil and religious liberty, which he so ardently embraced, and so strenuously maintained, through his future life.1

The family of Mignard, Dr. Parr’s maternal grandfather, as already mentioned, were French Protestants, driven from their native country by the most unwise, as well as most unjust revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685. But it is affirmed by M. de Watelet, author of the “Dictionnaire des Arts et de Peinture,” that the family was of English extraction, and that the original name was More. He relates that there were seven brothers, serving in the army of Henry IV. of France, all of handsome figure, and martial appearance; and that, on being all presented at the same time to that monarch, by the name of More, the king facetiously exclaimed, “Ce ne sont pas là des Mores, mais des Mignards.” Hence they were led to assume the latter, instead of their former name.

One of the seven brothers had two sons, who

1Rapin’s Hist. of England. This book formerly belonged to my father. When a child, I read through these volumes several times. It was the first book of English history I ever read. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 416.

attained considerable eminence as portrait-painters. They were born at Troyes, the one in 1608, the other in 1610. But from the places where they resided, they were commonly known by the names of “Mignard of Avignon,” and “Mignard the Roman.” The latter, who was superior in talent to his brother, was patronised by all the nobles of the French court, and especially by
Louis XIV. himself, who sat to him for his portrait, it is said, no less than ten times. On the death of Charles le Brun he was appointed first painter to the king. Some account of him is given by Lord Orford, in his “Anecdotes of Painting.”

Whether any other branch of the family, besides that of Dr. Parr’s grandfather, took refuge in this country at the same time with them, is not known. It seems probable that Mr. Leonard Mignard was born in England; and it is certain that he married an English lady. He was long established as a surgeon and apothecary, at Harrow; and acquired an extensive practice in that village, and the surrounding country. Mr. Parr, who had been his apprentice, and afterwards married his daughter, on his death became his successor.

On succeeding to the practice of his father-in-law, Mr. Parr soon rose into high repute, both for his professional knowledge and skill, and for the active and faithful discharge of his professional duties. He is described by his son, in a letter to a friend,1 “as a man of very robust and vigorous

1 Dr. Percival of Manchester. See his Life, prefixed to the edition of his works, 4 vols. 8vo.

intellect;” and his natural powers were well cultivated by early education, and by subsequent reading and reflection.1 He possessed many good qualities of heart, as well as of mind; and by strict integrity of principle, by noble independence of spirit, and generous warmth of temper, though not without some degree of sternness of manner, he obtained and he deserved the respectful regards of all, to whom he was known.2

Early in November, 1762, Mr. Parr suffered a severe affliction in the loss of his wife, who was greatly and justly beloved by him, and sincerely and highly esteemed throughout the social circle in which she moved. The son always spoke of his father with profound respect, and of his mother with the fondest affection. He has sometimes been heard to declare, that he recollected being suckled at his mother’s breast. He spoke with perfect sincerity, though with an evident distrust of being believed. There was only one child in the family besides himself, a sister, Dorothy, who was born June 6, 1749. She was married, May 30, 1769, to Mr. William Bowyear, a lace manufacturer of Buckingham, who died January 3, 1775. The issue of this marriage was one daughter, Frances-Dorothy; who, with her mother, is still living. They are affectionately mentioned in

1Boerhaave’s Aphorisms. The gift of Dr. Thomas Carter, formerly under-master, and afterwards vice-provost of Eton, to his intelligent nephew, Samuel Parr, my father. S. P.” “Arbuthnot’s Essays on the nature of Aliments. The gift of Dr. T. Carter to my father, Aug. 9, 1739. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 462.

2 Europ. Mag. Aug. 1809.

Dr. Parr’s will, in which he bequeathes to them a handsome legacy.

Before the expiration of a year, after the death of his first wife, Mr. Parr was induced to marry a second time, to the great offence of his son Samuel, then in his sixteenth year; who, on that occasion, sturdily refused to exchange the garb of mourning, for a dress more suitable to the season of bridal festivity and gaiety. The son always recollected, with evident pleasure, this early instance of respect to the memory of a beloved mother, though in opposition to the views and wishes of a father whom he venerated. “My gray coat with black buttons,” he would often say, “I was ordered to put off, for a coloured one with lapels: but,” he would exultingly add—“I refused!” It does not appear that the stepmother, by her subsequent conduct, endeavoured to remove from her son’s mind the early prejudices which he had naturally conceived against her; nor that she ever obtained any high place in his favourable regards.

Mr. Parr’s second wife was Margaret, daughter of Dr. Coxe, formerly head-master of Harrow School. This connexion, however, was of short duration; for, on January 23, 1766, when he had nearly completed his fifty-fifth year, Mr. Parr died. His widow long survived him; and resided many years at Paddington, where she ended her days, January 4, 1805, at the advanced age of eighty.

Dr. Parr received his earliest instructions, next to those which all owe to maternal cares, from his father, who was a man of sound judgment and
correct taste, and had acquired a good knowledge of the Latin, as well as the English language. It may be truly said, that Dr. Parr’s learned education began in his infancy; since he was successfully taught the rudiments of Latin grammar when he was four years old. It was, perhaps, the recollection of his own case which impressed the opinion so deeply on his mind, of the necessity of commencing, at a very early age, the study of the ancient languages, in order to insure proficiency in classical literature; and which led him to apply to those, who first engage in these pursuits late in life, somewhat contemptuously, the term όψιμαθεις of
Cicero, or that of seri studiorum of Persius. He could not deny, however, that to this rule many very considerable, and some splendid exceptions must be admitted; such as Scaliger, among the learned of the last, and Gibbon the historian, and his own friend, Richard Payne Knight, of the present age.1

For himself, he was, indeed, “puer animi ad praecepta rapacis;” and is entitled to be placed among those who “ante annos, mentemque gerunt, animumque virilem.” Such, it is said, were the displays of intellectual prowess exhibited by him, in almost infantile age, on every subject to which his attention could be directed, as to call forth the loud and the lavish praises of all who witnessed them. Placed upon a chair, or, still

1Homeri Carmina, &c. cum Notis ac Prolegominis studio R. Payne Knight. This Homer was given me by my very acute and very learned friend, the editor. S. P.”—Bibl. Parr. p. 176.

more conspicuously, mounted upon a table, surrounded by a listening audience of friends, he was accustomed to repeat passages from authors, or, from the suggestions of his own mind, to reply to questions proposed, with a propriety and a spirit—which, in a child, none could refuse to admire, and few could forbear to applaud, and not seldom, perhaps, inconsiderately and extravagantly. To this circumstance some, who knew him well, have not hesitated to trace, as its first spring, that excess of vanity and self-complacency, which, though a real foible even in a great character, has too often been magnified unfairly, and exposed ungenerously to public ridicule or reproach.