Brydone, Patrick (DNB00)

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BRYDONE, PATRICK (1741?–1818), traveller and author, was born in Berwickshire about 1741. He 'received an excellent education at one of the universities,' and appears to have been for a short time in the army. The study of electricity, to which the discoveries of Dr. Franklin had recently attracted attention, occupied him as a young man, and he travelled through Switzerland, making experiments in connection with this branch of science. In 1767 or 1768, soon after his return from Switzerland, he went abroad again with Mr. Beckford of Somerly and two others as travelling preceptor. In 1770 he made a tour with these gentlemen through Sicily and Malta, the former island being but little known to travellers of that time. This tour forms the subject of his book, ‘A Tour through Sicily and Malta, in a Series of Letters to William Beckford, Esq., of Somerly in Suffolk,’ published in 1773. It was favourably reviewed (Monthly Review, xlix.), and so well received by the reading public, that it went through seven or eight editions in England in his lifetime, and was also translated into French and German (Brit. Mus. Cat.) In Italy, nine years after its publication, Count Borch published a volume of ‘Letters to serve as Supplement to the Voyage in Sicily and Malta of Mr. Brydone.’ And the writer of his biography in the ‘Annual Biography’ says: ‘It may be fairly doubted, after the lapse of near fifty eventful years, whether there be any publication of a similar kind so deserving of notice as the one now under consideration.’ Having returned to England in 1771, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in the end of 1772 or beginning of 1773 (Phil. Trans.) He was also a F.R.S. of Edinburgh and a F.S.A. Besides his book, he wrote occasional papers, chiefly on electricity, which were published in the ‘Philosophical Transactions.’ He held the appointment of comptroller of the stamp office The latter art of his life was spent in retirement, and he died, on 19 June 1818, at Lennel House, Berwickshire.

[Annual Biog. iv. 85-111; Gent. Mag. lxxxviii. pt. i. p. 643.]

G. V. B.