1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Prideaux, Humphrey

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
[ 315 ]

PRIDEAUX, HUMPHREY (1648-1724), English divine and Oriental scholar, was born of good family at Place, in Cornwall, on the 3rd of May 1648, and received his early education at the grammar schools of Liskeard and Bodmin. In 1665 he was placed at Westminster under Busby, and in 1668 went on to Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degrees in the following order: B.A., 1672; M.A., 1675; B.D., 1682; and D.D., 1686. His account of the famous Arundel marbles just given to the university appeared in 1676. In 1679 he was appointed to the rectory of St Clement's, Oxford, and Hebrew lecturer at Christ Church, where he continued until February 1686, holding for the last three years the rectory of Bladon with Woodstock. In 1686 he exchanged for the benefice of Saham in Norfolk. The sympathies of Prideaux inclined to Low Churchism in religion and to Whiggism in politics, and he took an active part in the controversies of the day, publishing the following pamphlets: “The Validity of the Orders of the Church of England” (1688), “Letter to a Friend on the Present Convocation” (1690), “The Case of Clandestine Marriages stated” (1691). Prideaux was promoted to the archdeaconry of Suffolk in December 1688, and to the deanery of Norwich (he had long been one of the canons) in June 1702. In 1694 he was obliged, through ill health, to resign the rectory of Saham, and after having held the vicarage of Trowse for fourteen years (1696-1710) he found himself incapacitated from further parochial duty. He died at Norwich on the 1st of November 1724.

Many of the dean's writings were of considerable value. His Life of Mahomet (1697) was really a polemical tract against the deists and has now no biographical value. Both it and his Directions to Churchwardens (1701) passed through several editions. Even greater success attended The Old and New Testament connected in the History of the Jews (1716), a work which not only displayed but stimulated research. Biographical details of his numerous publications and of his manuscripts are given in the Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, ii. 527-533, and iii. 1319. A volume of his letters to John Ellis, some time under-secretary of state, was edited by E. M. Thompson for the Camden Society in 1875; they contain a vivid picture of Oxford life after the Restoration. An anonymous life (probably by Thomas Birch) appeared in 1748; it was mainly compiled from information furnished by Prideaux's son Edmund.