Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pryme, Abraham de la

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PRYME, ABRAHAM de la (1672–1704), antiquary, descendant of a Huguenot family which migrated from Ypres in Flanders in 1628–9, and lost much money in draining the great fens in the levels of Hatfield Chase, Yorkshire, was born at Hatfield on 15 Jan. 1671–2. He was eldest son of Matthias or Matthew de la Pryme (1645–1694), who married, at Sandtoft chapel on 3 April 1670, Sarah, daughter of Peter Smaque or Smacque, a Huguenot from Paris. He was educated at Hatfield under the Rev. William Eratt, minister of the parish, and began keeping a diary before he was twelve. On 2 May 1690 he was admitted pensioner at St. John's College, Cambridge, held a scholarship there from 7 Nov. 1690 to 6 Nov. 1691, and graduated B.A. in January 16934. He was then ordained deacon in the church of England, and on 29 June 1695 became curate of Broughton, near Brigg, Lincolnshire. He was imbued with the love of natural history and antiquarian study, and contributed to volumes xxii. and xxiii. of the 'Philosophical Transactions' eight papers on the counties of Lincoln and York. With the view of writing the history of Hatfield and its chase, he returned to his native place in November 1697, and dwelt there until September 1698, when he took priest's orders and accepted the post of curate and divinity reader at the church of Holy Trinity, Hull. Here he constructed 'a copious analytical index of all the ancient records of the corporation,' and compiled a history which has formed the basis of all subsequent, works on the borough (Frost, Early History of Hull, p. 3).

De la Pryme was possessed of a good property in Lincolnshire and at Hatfield, but his expensive tastes exhausted his income. Through the favour of the Duke of Devonshire he was appointed, on 1 Sept. 1701, to the vicarage of Thorne, near Hatfield. While visiting the sick he 'caught the new distemper, a fever,' and, after an illness of a few days, died on 12 or 13 June 1704, when he was buried in Hatfield church. He had been elected F.R.S. on 18 March 1701–2.

His diary, containing many interesting notes, was published as vol. liv. of the 'Transactions' of the Surtees Society, under the editorship of Charles Jackson, and with a biographical preface by Charles de la Pryme, his descendant. It belonged to Francis Westby Bagshawe of The Oaks, near Sheffield, and was lent to the Rev. Joseph Hunter, who made copious extracts from it (now Addit. MS. 24475 Brit. Mus.) and embodied much of the matter in his 'South Yorkshire.' De la Pryme's memoir of Thomas Bushell [q. v.], 'The Recluse of the Calf,' also the property of Mr. Bagshawe, was printed in the 'Manx Miscellanies,' vol ii., forming vol. xxx. of the Manx Society 'Transactions.' Mr. Edward Peacock, F.S.A., who possessed De la Prynie's 'History of Winterton' in Lincolnshire, contributed it, with a biographical notice of the author, to the 'Archæologia,' xl. 225—41. His poem on the hermitage at Lindholme is printed in Peck's 'Description of Bawtry,' p. 111.

Particulars of eleven manuscripts in his possession, the last being ‘Curiosa de se,’ possibly identical with his diary, are set out in Bernard's ‘Catalogi Manuscriptorum Angliæ et Hiberniæ’ (1697), ii. pt. i. p. 254. Many of his manuscripts passed to John Warburton the herald, then to Lord Shelburne, and are now the Lansdowne MSS. 889–97 and 972 at the British Museum. Among them are his ‘History of Hatfield and the Chase,’ and some of his collections on Hull, other portions of his memoranda on that town being in the hands of Mr. E. S. Wilson of Melton, near Hull. He corresponded with Thoresby and Sir Hans Sloane. (cf. for his letters, Thoresby's Correspondence, , ii. 3–8; Archæologia, xl. 228–9; Sloane MSS. Brit. Mus. 4056 and 4025; Phil. Trans. vols. xxii. and xxiii.)

[Life prefixed to Surtees Soc. Publ. vol. liv.; Thoresby's Diary, i. 407, 456; Corlass's Hull Authors, pp. 76–82; Peck's Bawtry, 82–4, 105–107, Supplement, pp. 91*–97*.]

W. P. C.