Pryme, George (DNB00)

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PRYME, GEORGE (1781–1868), political economist, born at Cottingham, Yorkshire, on 4 Aug. 1781, was only child of Christopher Pryme of Hull, merchant [see Pryme, Abraham de la]. The name was originally spelt Priem or Prem. His mother was Alice, daughter of George Dinsdale of Nappa Hall, Wensleydale. After attending private schools at Nottingham and Bunny, and the grammar school at Kingston-upon-Hull, kept by the Rev. Joseph Milner [q. v.], he read privately with John Dawson [q. v.] of Sedbergh. He commenced residence at Trinity College in October 1799; was elected scholar on 25 April 1800, and obtained Sir William Browne's medal for a Latin epigram in 1801, and for a Greek ode in 1802. He graduated B.A. in 1803, when he was sixth wrangler. In 1804 he obtained the prize offered by Dr. Claudius Buchanan [q. v.] for the best Greek ode on the subject 'Γενέσθωφὤς,' and the first members' prize for a Latin essay on 'The Causes of the Decline and Fall of States.' In 1805 he again obtained this prize, with an essay on 'The Researches and Discoveries made by the French in Egypt during the Expedition of Napoleon there,' and on 2 Oct. was elected fellow of his college. The number of prizes which he won gained for him the nickname of 'Prize Pryme.'

In October 1804 Pryme had taken chambers in Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the bar in 1806 (15 Nov.), and began to practise in London; but his health broke down, and under medical advice he returned to Cambridge in October 1808. He obtained the Seatonian prize for a poem on the conquest of Canaan in 1809, and gradually, as his health improved, began to work as a provincial barrister. In this capacity 'Counsellor Pryme,' as he was called, attained a considerable practice. In 1813 (August) he married Jane Townley, daughter of Thomas Thackeray, esq., a surgeon in Cambridge, and took up his residence in a house on the outskirts of the town, called Barnwell Abbey.

In 1816 Pryme began to lecture in the university on political economy, a subject which at that time had not been recognised in any university as part of its regular studies. He obtained the sanction of the vice-chancellor, John Kaye [q. v.], master of Christ's College, before advertising his course; but the heads of colleges, who viewed innovations with suspicion, insisted that the lectures were not to begin before twelve o'clock, lest they should interfere with college lectures. Pryme's courses were well attended, and in 1828 (27 May) he was recognised as professor by grace of the senate. He continued to lecture till 1863.

Pryme, as soon as he became a Cambridge householder, contrary to the established custom of members of the university, interested himself in the affairs of the town. He became a paving commissioner, and, as a whig, was popular with the reforming party in the borough. The control of the freemen by the Duke of Rutland was distasteful even to some of the tory party, and in 1820, in order to keep alive a spirit of independence, the duke's candidates for parliament were opposed by Pryme and Mr. Adeane of Babraham, Cambridgeshire. They polled respectively eighteen and sixteen votes. A similar attempt to open the borough in 1820 was equally unsuccessful. In 1832, however, after the Reform Bill, the nominees of the Duke of Rutland did not offer themselves for re-election, and Pryme headed the poll with 979 votes. His colleague was [[Spring-Rice, Thomas (DNB00) |Thomas Spring Rice]] (afterwards Baron Monteagle) [q. v.] He retained the seat till the dissolution of 1841, when he withdrew owing to ill-health. In the House of Commons Pryme was listened to with respectful attention, and was soon consulted by the government. In his first session he was a member of several committees, and was entrusted by Lord John Russell with the charge of a bill to enable a sect called separatists to affirm. In the session of 1836 he took an active part in the discussion on the Tithe Commutation Act, and moved for leave to introduce a bill for the abolition of grand juries. This was negatived.

Pryme had come forward as a university reformer on 4 Dec. 1833, by proposing graces for a syndicate to consider the propriety of abolishing subscription on graduation, and he had spoken in favour of a petition to the House ot Commons having the same object on 24 March 1834. In 1836 he moved for the appointment of a commission to inquire into the state of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Lord John Russell promised to bring the subject forward when success was probable, and Pryme's motion was withdrawn. In the course of the session of 1839 he got the Metropolitan Police Act amended by the insertion of a clause prohibiting the opening of public-houses before 1 p.m. on Sundays.

The five years following his retirement from parliament in 1841 Pryme spent in Cambridge. He continued his annual course of lectures, practised to some extent as a barrister on the Norfolk circuit, and interested himself in the Norfolk estuary scheme and other local improvements. In 1847 he removed to Wistow in Huntingdonshire, where he had bought a considerable estate. Thenceforth his interests were in the main those of his own neighbourhood, but he continued to visit Cambridge and to promote his favourite study. In 1863 (29 Oct.) he had the satisfaction of learning that the senate had decided to continue the professorship of political economy, with a salary of 300l. On the same day he tendered his resignation. He died on 2 Dec. 1868. By his will he bequeathed his books and pamphlets on political economy to the university of Cambridge for the use of the professor.

Pryme published the following:

  1. 'Poematia numismatibus annuis dignata a.d. 1801-1802.'
  2. 'Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on Political Economy,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1816 (with new editions in subsequent years).
  3. 'Counter-protest of a Layman, in reply to the Protest of Archdeacon Thomas against the formation of an Association at Bath in aid of the Church Missionary Society,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1818.
  4. 'Ode to Trinity College,' 8vo, London, 1822.
  5. 'Letter to the Freemen and Inhabitants of the Town of Cambridge on the state of the Borough,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1823.
  6. 'Memoir of the Life of D. Sykes,' 8vo, Wakefield, 1834.
  7. 'Jephthah and other Poems,' 12mo, London, 1838.
  8. 'Autobiographic Recollections of George Pryme,' 8vo, Cambridge, 1870, edited by his daughter, Mrs. Alicia Bayne.

[Pryme's Recollections, 1870; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, vol. iv.; University Graduati; private information.]

J. W. C-k.