Urry, John (1666-1715) (DNB00)

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URRY, JOHN (1666–1715), editor of Chaucer, born in Dublin in 1666, was the son of William Urry, by his wife, Jane Scott. William Urry was appointed major of the royal guards in Scotland at the Restoration. He was of Scottish family, and his brother, Sir John Urry or Hurry [q. v.], was a prominent officer in the civil war. The younger John Urry matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 30 June 1682, was elected to a studentship, and graduated B.A. in 1686. He was a man of strong loyalist principles, and bore arms against Monmouth during the rising. On the accession of William III he refused the oath of supremacy and lost his studentship. About the end of 1711 a new edition of Chaucer was projected, and Urry, much against his inclination, was persuaded to undertake it, chiefly through the urgency of the dean of Christ Church, Francis Atterbury [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Rochester. On 25 July 1714 he obtained a patent for the exclusive right of printing Chaucer's works for fourteen years, and on 17 Dec. assigned it to Barnaby Bernard Lintot [q. v.], who issued proposals for publishing the undertaking in January 1714–15 (cf. Gent. Mag. 1779, p. 438). Before the work was completed, Urry died unmarried on 18 March 1714–15, and was buried in the cathedral at Oxford. After his death Thomas Ainsworth of Christ Church, who had already been employed under Urry in transcribing part of the text of Chaucer, was thought the best qualified to proceed with the edition. He died in August 1719, and the work was finally revised by Timothy Thomas, another graduate of Christ Church, and appeared in 1721 under the title ‘The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer compared with the former editions and many valuable MSS.’ (London, fol.). The life of Chaucer prefixed to the volume was the work of the Rev. John Dart, corrected and revised by Timothy Thomas. The glossary appended was also mainly compiled by Thomas. The text of the edition is probably the worst ever prepared on account of Urry's unpardonable habit of lengthening and shortening Chaucer's words, and even introducing words of his own to suit his views of the metre. Urry was a friend of Thomas Hearne, who styles him a ‘thorough pac'd scholar’ and a ‘truly worthy and virtuous, as well as ingenious, gentleman.’ A portrait of Urry, engraved by N. Pigné, is prefixed to the work.

[Pref. to Urry's Works of Chaucer; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 196–9, viii. 304; Noble's Continuation of Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, ii. 294; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ii. 381, iii. 73; Hearne's Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc.), passim; Reliquiæ Hearnianæ (Library of Old Authors), i. 314–18.]

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