Sparrow, John (DNB00)

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SPARROW, JOHN (1615–1665?), mystic, was born on 12 May 1615, probably at Stambourne, Essex. In 1633 he was admitted of the Inner Temple, being then of Stambourne, and was subsequently called to the bar. He co-operated with his kinsman, John Ellistone, of Overhall, Gestingthorpe, Essex, in bringing out an English version of the works of Jacob Boehme. The first of these by Sparrow appears to be ‘XL Questions concerning the Soule’ (1647, 4to; 1648, 4to; 1665, 8vo); the last is ‘The Remainder of Books,’ 1662, 4to. Between these are six quarto volumes of translations by Sparrow alone, and nearly half the translation of ‘Mysterium Magnum’ (a commentary on Genesis), finished by Sparrow after Ellistone's death (22 Aug. 1652), and published 1654, fol., with a life of Boehme by Durand Hotham [q. v.] and a translation of Boehme's ‘Four Tables’ by Henry Blunden. Sparrow is probably the author of ‘Mercurius Teutonicus,’ 1649, 4to, a volume of ‘propheticall passages’ from Boehme. His prefaces show that he resorted to mysticism as a refuge from sectarian religion. In attempting to render Boehme's obscurities, both translators introduce a jargon of their own. Most of their work was reissued, without acknowledgment and with slight modifications (not improvements), by George Ward and Thomas Langcake (anonymously) in 1763–81, large 4to, with illustrations by Andrew Dionysius Freher; a misleading title-page has caused this edition to be regarded as the work of William Law [q. v.] Sparrow was living on 18 Dec. 1664; he probably died soon after. His portrait was drawn and engraved in 1659 by D. Loggan; the print gives the date of his birth.

[Sparrow's prefaces; Granger's Biographical Hist. of Engl. 1779, iii. 108; Walton's Memorial of William Law, 1854, pp. 45, 141, 686; information from J. E. L. Pickering, esq. librarian, Inner Temple.]

A. G.