Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Airay, Christopher

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AIRAY, CHRISTOPHER (1601–1670), a pioneer in English logic, was born at Clifton in Westmoreland in 1600–1. Wood informs us that he ‘became a student in Queen's College, Oxford.’ The entry in the register of admissions to the college runs thus: ‘In Ter. Nat. 1620[–1], Feb[ruary] 5, was admitted batchelor Christoph. Airaye.’ Going ‘through the servile offices,’ he proceeded Master of Arts. In 1627 he ‘was elected fellow.’ ‘About this time’ he ‘entered into holy orders, according to the statutes of the house,’ and became a preacher. He was created B.D. in 1642. Whilst still at the university he published anonymously his one known book, viz.: ‘Fascicvlvs Præceptorvm Logicorvm in gratiam juventutis academicæ compositus et nunc primum typis donatus. Oxoniæ excudebat Gvlielmvs Tvrner Academiæ Typographus. An. D. 1628. Cum Priuilegio’ (pp. 224). The printer signs the ‘Præfatio.’ The following are the main headings: Lib. 1, De Prædicabilibus; 2, De Anteprædicamentis; 3, De Propositione; 4, De Demonstratione; 5, De Syllogismo Topico; 6, De Syllogismo Sophistico. There is a good deal of neatness in the various formulæ, but logic is ever and anon trespassed on by metaphysic, or thought as against the form of thought. The examplar of ‘Fascicvlvs Præceptorvm Logicorvm’ in the British Museum was one of Bishop Juxon's books (8466a). A second edition did not appear until 1660.

Airay was presented to the living of Milford in Hampshire; he died on St. Luke's day, 1670, and was buried in the chancel of his church. His epitaph is still to be read as follows: ‘Memoriæ sacrum Christopheri Airay, S. T. Bac. olim Coll. Reg. Oxon. socii et hujus ecclesiæ Vicarii vigilantissimi, viri summæ integritatis, judicii acerrimi et ingenii literarum omnium capacis: qui difficillime seculo inter æstuantes rerum fluctus clavum rectum tenuit. Mortalitatem tandem exuit 18 Oct. annos natus 69.’ Anthony à Wood speaks of ‘other things’ by him, but they seem to have disappeared.

[Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 907; information supplied by Dr. Magrath, per Rev. R. L. Clark, M.A., librarian of Queen's College, Oxford.]

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