Sammes, Aylett (DNB00)

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SAMMES, AYLETT (1636?–1679?), antiquary, grandson of John Sammes, lord of the manor of Little Totham, Essex, and son of Thomas Sammes by his wife Mary (Jeffrey), was born at Kelvedon in Essex about 1636. His father's younger brother, Edward, married into the Aylett family of Rivenhall. In 1648 he entered Felsted school under John Glascock, a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, and a teacher of repute throughout East Anglia. On 3 July 1655 he was admitted a fellow-commoner of Christ's College; he graduated B.A. in 1657, was admitted of the Inner Temple on 28 Oct. in the same year, and proceeded M.A., probably at Cambridge about 1659, though there appears to be no record of the fact. He was incorporated M.A. at Oxford on 10 July 1677. He had in the previous year issued his elaborate ‘Britannia Antiqua Illustrata, or the Antiquities of Ancient Britain derived from the Phœnicians’ (London, 1676, folio, vol. i., no more published). The volume was licensed by L'Estrange in March 1675, and dedicated to Heneage Finch. The work, which extends to nearly 600 folio pages, brings down the narrative to the conversion of Kent. It deals fully with the Roman period, but its main thesis of the Phœnician derivation is perverse, and, apart from its reproductions of ancient documents, such as the ‘Laws of King Ina,’ it has little intrinsic value. Bishop Nicolson accused the author of plagiarism from Bochartus, and Wood gives currency to a rumour that the work was really written by an uncle of Sammes. These aspersions are rebutted by Myles Davies in his ‘Athenæ Britannicæ’ (i. 135), and Sammes's erudition was praised by Dr. Henry Oldenburg [q. v.], the secretary of the Royal Society (cf. Phil. Trans. No. 124, p. 596). Sammes died before the completion of any further portion of his work, probably in 1679. Besides the ‘Britannia Antiqua,’ he is credited by Lowndes with ‘Long Livers: a curious history of such persons of both sexes who have lived several ages and grown young again,’ London, 1722, 8vo.

[Notes from Christ's College Registers kindly supplied by Dr. Peile; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 363; Morant's Essex, 1768, i. 386; Nicholson's Engl. Hist. Libr. 1776, pp. 21, 32; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn); Allibone's Dict. of English Lit. ii. 1920; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.