1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Parr, Samuel

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PARR, SAMUEL (1747-1825), English schoolmaster, son of Samuel Parr, surgeon at Harrow-on-the-Hill, was born there on the 26th of January 1747. At Easter 1752 he was sent to Harrow School as a free scholar, and when he left in 1761 he began to help his father in his practice, but the old surgeon realized that his son's talents lay elsewhere, and Samuel was sent (1765) to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From February 1767 to the close of 1771 he served under Robert Sumner as head assistant at Harrow, where he had Sheridan among his pupils. When the head master died in September 1771 Parr, after vainly applying for the position, started a school at Stanmore, which he conducted for five years. Then he became head master of Colchester Grammar School (1776-1778) and subsequently of Norwich School (1778-1786). He had taken priest's orders at Colchester, and in 1780 was presented to the small rectory of Asterby in Lincolnshire, and three years later to the vicarage of Hatton near Warwick. He exchanged this latter benefice for Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire, in 1789, stipulating to be allowed to reside, as assistant curate, in the parsonage of Hatton, where he took a limited number of pupils. Here he spent the rest of his days, enjoying his exceOent library, described by H. G. Bohn in Bibliotheca Parriana (1827), and here his friends, Porson and E. H. Barker, passed many months in his company. The degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by the university of Cambridge in 1781. Parr died at Hatton vicarage on the 6th of March 1825.

Dr Parr's writings fill several volumes, but they are all beneath the reputation which he acquired through the variety of his knowledge and dogmatism of his conversation. The chief of them are his Characters of Charles James Fox (1809); and his unjustifiable reprint of the Tracts of Warburton and a Warburtonian, not admitted into their works, a scathing exposure of Warburton and Hurd. Even amid the terrors of the French Revolution he adhered to Whiggism., and his correspondence included every man of eminence, either literary or political, who adopted the same creed. In private life his model was Johnson. He succeeded in copying his uncouthness and pompous manner, but had neither his humour nor his real authority. He was famous as a writer of epitaphs and wrote inscriptions for the tombs of Burke, Charles Burney, Johnson, Fox and Gibbon.

There are two memoirs of his life, one by the Rev. William Field (7828), the other, with his works and his letters, by John Johnstone (1828); and E. H. Barker published in 1828-1829 two volumes of Parriana, a confused mass of information on Parr and his friends. An essay on his life is included in De Quincey's works, vol. v., and a little volume of the Aphorisms, Opinions and Reflections of the late Dr Parr appeared in 1826.