Scrymgeour, Henry (DNB00)

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SCRYMGEOUR or SCRIMGER, HENRY (1506–1572), professor of civil law at Geneva, was descended from the ancient family of the Scrymgeours or Scrimgers of Dudhope [see Scrymgeour, Sir James]. He was the second son of Walter Scrimger of Glasswell, provost of Dundee, and was born in that city in 1506. His sister Isobel married Richard Melville of Baldovie, and was mother of James Melville [q. v.], professor of theology at St. Andrews. Another sister, Margaret, became the wife of John Young, burgess of Edinburgh, in 1541, and her second son was Sir Peter Young of Seatoun, tutor of James VI. After a preliminary training in the Dundee grammar school, Scrimger was sent to the university of St. Andrews, where he passed his course of philosophy with great applause. He then proceeded to the university of Paris, and subsequently studied civil law at Bourges under Eginar Baron and François Duaren. There he formed an acquaintance with Jacques Amyot, professor of Greek and afterwards a cardinal. Being appointed secretary to Bernard Bocnetel, bishop of Rennes, he visited Italy with that prelate, who had been appointed ambassador from the court of France. Though professing the catholic religion, Scrimger had been influenced by the reforming spirit of his college companions, George Wishart, George Buchanan, John Erskine of Dun, and Provost Haliburton; and while he was at Padua he came in contact with Francesco Speira, who, it was stated, ‘died under great horror of mind in consequence of his recantation of the protestant religion.’

Having resolved to adopt the new doctrines, he was invited by the syndics and magistrates of Geneva to settle there, and was appointed professor of philosophy. A year or two afterwards his house was burnt down, and he was reduced to great straits; but two of his former pupils sent him money, and Ulrick Fugger, a munificent patron of learning, invited him to Augsburg, where, during a residence of several years, he formed a noble library of printed books and manuscripts. On his return to Geneva he resumed the duties of his professorship of philosophy in 1563. His name appears as one of the witnesses to Calvin's will in 1564, and he was nominated to the chair of civil law in the university of Geneva in 1565. The freedom of the city was conferred upon him, and on 3 Jan. 1569–70 he was elected a member of the council of forty (Fragmens Biographiques et Historiques extraits des Registres du Conseil d'État de la République de Genève, 1815, p. 16).

His nephew, James Melville, in an account of Andrew Melville, says: ‘In Genev he abead fyve years. … Ther he was weill acquented with my eam, Mr. Hendrie Scrymgeour, wha, be his lerning in the laws and polecie and service of manie noble princes, haid atteined to grait ritches, conquesit a prettie roum within a lig [league] to Genev, and biggit thairon a trim house called “the Vilet,” and a fear ludging within the town, quhilks all with a douchtar, his onlie bern, he left to the Syndiques of that town’ (Autobiography and Diary, Wodrow Soc. 1842, p. 42). He enjoyed the friendship of literary men of all shades of opinion throughout Europe, and was in close companionship with Calvin and Beza, as well as with George Buchanan, Andrew Melville, and other leading reformers in Scotland. While at Geneva he composed valuable notes upon Athenæus, Strabo, Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius, the Basilics, Cornutus, Palæphatus, Demosthenes, Cicero's ‘Philosophica,’ and Eusebius's ‘Ecclesiastical History.’ These Scrimger intended to publish; but that intention was frustrated, owing to a dispute between him and Henry Stephen the printer, who suspected him of a design to set up a rival establishment. Most of these notes came eventually into the possession of Isaac Casaubon, who published some of them as his own. Scrimger died at Geneva in November 1572.

Scrimger's only published works are: 1. ‘Exemplvm Memorabile Desperationis in Francisco Spera propter abivratam fidei Confessionem, Henrico Scoto [i.e. Henry Scrimger] avtore,’ printed in ‘Francisci Spieræ … Historia …’ (Geneva? 1549?), 8vo, pp. 62–95 (cf. Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 433). 2. ‘Αὐτοκρατόρων Ἰουστινιανοῦ, Ἰουστίνου, Λέοντος νεαραὶ διατάξεις Ἰουστινιανοῦ ἔδικτα. … Ivstiniani quidem opus antea editum, sed nunc primum ex vetustis exemplaribus studio & diligentia Henrici Scrimgeri Scoti restitutum atque emendatum, et viginti-tribus Constitutionibus, quæ desiderabantur, auctum,’ Geneva, 1558, fol. Scrimger's text is the basis of the current edition of the ‘Novellæ’ by Ed. Osenbrüggen, Leipzig, 1854.

Scrimger bequeathed his manuscripts to his nephew, Sir Peter Young of Seatoun, whose brother Alexander brought them to Scotland in 1576. The care of this unique library devolved upon Dr. Patrick Young, and it is stated by Thomas Smith (Vitæ Illustrium Virorum, 1707, under ‘Peter Junius,’ p. 4) that ‘the most valuable portions of it passed into public collections through his [Sir Peter's] son, Dr. Patrick Young.’ Scrimger's autograph ‘Commentaria in Jus Justinianeum,’ his ‘Collectanea Græco-Latina,’ and other manuscript works by him were sold in London at the dispersal of the library of Dr. John Owen (1616–1683) [q. v.], dean of Christ Church, on 26 May 1684 (Bibliotheca Oweniana, p. 32).

[Buchanani Epistolæ, 1711, p. 17; Dempster's Hist. Eccles. Gent. Scot. 1627, p. 586; European Mag. 1795; Irving's Lives of Scotish Writers, i. 176; Mackenzie's Scotch Writers, ii. 471; Michel's Écossais en France, ii. 262; Millar's Burgesses of Dundee, 1887; Moreri's Grand Dictionnaire, 1740, vii. ‘S.,’ p. 200; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xii. 322, 402, 6th ser. i. 265; Senebier's Hist. Littéraire de Genéve, 1790, i. 365; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 657; Teissier's Eloges des Hommes Savans, 1715, ii. 383; Terasson's Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine, 1750, p. 431; De Thou's Historia, 1733, iii. 69, 70.]

T. C.