Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Amyot, Thomas
AMYOT, THOMAS (1775–1850), antiquary, was born at Norwich on 7 Jan. 1775, and was descended from one of the Huguenot families settled in that city. Intended for the profession of a country attorney, he was articled to a Norwich firm, and eventually spent a year in London before entering into the full practice of his profession. Having made the acquaintance of Mr. Windham, he became that gentleman's agent during the election contest which followed the dissolution of parliament in 1802, and a permanent friendship was established between them. In 1806, upon Windham becoming war and colonial minister, he appointed Amyot his private secretary, who thereupon threw up his Norwich practice, and came to London. On the death of Windham in 1810, Amyot collected his parliamentary speeches; and they were published, preceded by a memoir, in 1812, in octavo, three volumes.
By the influence of his political
connections and the unbroken friendship of Windham, he obtained in succession several valuable appointments in the colonial department; he thus acquired a position of independence, and he devoted the rest of his life to the illustration of English history through the medium of archæology. He soon joined the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and, having become treasurer of the latter society in 1823, he very actively promoted its interests. He contributed fifteen valuable papers to the Transactions, which will be round in vols. xix., xx., xxi., xxii., xxiii., xxv.; and some time before his death he was appointed a vice-president of the society.
Amyot assisted in founding the Camden Society, and was one of its directors from 1839 until his death. He also largely aided the Percy, the Shakespeare, and other literary societies.
Besides those above mentioned, his writings include a description of Tewkesbury Abbey contributed to ‘Vetusta Monumenta’ (vol. v.), and an edition of ‘The Old Taming of a Shrew, upon which Shakespeare founded his Comedy,’ for the Shakespeare Society, printed in 1844.
Amyot was a favourite with all who knew him, well informed, accomplished, amiable, industrious. He collected a very fine library, and was always ready to give literary assistance. He died on 28 Sept. 1850.
Amyot married, about the year 1806, Miss Colman of Norwich, who bore him eight children. She died in 1848.[Gent. Mag., N.S., xxxv.; Literary Gazette, 5 Oct. 1850; Athenæum, 5 Oct. 1850.]