Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux

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TREGELLES, SAMUEL PRIDEAUX (1813–1875), biblical scholar, son of Samuel Tregelles (1789–1828), merchant, of Falmouth, by his wife Dorothy, daughter of George Prideaux of Kingsbridge, was born at Wodehouse Place, Falmouth, on 30 Jan. 1813. Edwin Octavius Tregelles [q. v.] was his uncle. He possessed a powerful memory and showed remarkable precocity. What education he had was received at Falmouth classical school from 1825 to 1828. From 1829 to 1835 Tregelles was engaged in ironworks at Neath Abbey, Glamorgan, and devoted his spare time to learning Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldee. He also mastered Welsh, and sometimes preached and even published in that language. Finding his work distasteful, he returned to Falmouth in 1835, and supported himself by taking pupils. Although both his parents were Friends, he now joined the Plymouth brethren, but later in life he became a presbyterian.

His first book was ‘Passages in the Revelation connected with the Old Testament,’ 1836. In 1837, having obtained work from publishers, he settled in London. He superintended the publication of the ‘Englishman's Greek Concordance to the New Testament,’ 1839, and the ‘Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance to the Old Testament,’ 1843. In 1841 he wrote for Bagster's ‘English Hexapla’ an ‘Historical Account of the English Versions of the Scriptures.’

In 1838 Tregelles took up the critical study of the New Testament, and formed a design for a new Greek text. This plan was the result of finding, first, that the textus receptus did not rest on ancient authority; secondly, that existing collations were inconsistent and inaccurate. His design was to form a text on the authority of ancient copies only, without allowing prescriptive preference to the received text; to give to ancient versions a determining voice as to the insertion of clauses, letting the order of words rest wholly on manuscripts; and, lastly, to state clearly the authorities for the readings. Tregelles was for many years unaware that he was working on the same lines as Lachmann. Like Lachmann, he minimised the importance of cursive manuscripts, thereby differing from Scrivener.

He first became generally known through ‘The Book of Revelation, edited from Ancient Authorities,’ 1844; new edit. 1859. This contained the announcement of his intention to prepare a Greek testament. He began by collating the cod. Augiensis at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1845 he went to Rome with the special intention of collating Codex B. in the Vatican, but, though he spent five months there, he was not allowed to copy the manuscript. He nevertheless contrived to note some important readings. From Rome he went to Florence, Modena, Venice, Munich, and Basle, reading and collating all manuscripts that came within the scope of his plan. He returned to England in November 1846, and settled at Plymouth. In 1849 he went to Paris, but an attack of cholera drove him home. In 1850 he returned and finished the laborious task of collating the damaged ‘Cyprius’ (K). He went on to Hamburg, and thence to Berlin, where he met Lachmann. He also went to Leipzig, Dresden, Wolfenbüttel, and Utrecht, and returned home in 1851. Down to 1857 he was employed collating manuscripts in England. In 1853 he restored and deciphered the uncial palimpsest Z of St. Matthew's Gospel at Dublin.

In 1854 appeared his ‘Account of the Printed Text,’ which remains valuable even after Scrivener. In 1856 he rewrote for Horne's ‘Introduction’ the section on ‘Textual Criticism’ contained in vol. iv.

The first part of the Greek Testament, St. Matthew and St. Mark, was published to subscribers in 1857, but proved unremunerative. Tregelles then went abroad to recruit his health, and stayed at Geneva and Milan. At Milan he made a facsimile tracing of the Muratorian canon, but was unable to publish it until 1867. On the return journey he visited Bunsen at Heidelberg. In 1860 he went on a tour through Spain, where he showed much interest in the protestants. The second part of the Greek testament—St. Luke and St. John—appeared in 1861. In 1862 he went to Leipzig to examine the Codex Sinaiticus, then in Tischendorf's keeping; thence to Halle, to Luther's country, and down the Danube. The Acts and catholic epistles were issued in 1865, and the Pauline epistles down to 2 Thessalonians in 1869. He was in the act of revising the last chapters of Revelations in 1870 when he had a stroke of paralysis, after which he never walked. He continued to work in bed. The remainder of the epistles were published in 1870, as he had prepared them, but the book of Revelations was edited from his papers by S. J. Bloxidge and B. W. Newton in 1872, and the edition lacked the long-expected prolegomena. In 1879 Dr. Hort published an appendix to the Greek Testament, containing the materials for the prolegomena that Tregelles's notes supplied, with supplementary corrections by Annesley William Streane.

Tregelles received the degree of LL.D. from St. Andrews in 1850, and in 1862 a civil list pension of 100l., which was doubled next year. He was on the New Testament revision committee, but was unable to attend its meetings. He died without issue at 6 Portland Square, Plymouth, on 24 April 1875, and was buried in Plymouth cemetery. In 1839 he married his cousin, Sarah Anna, eldest daughter of Walter Prideaux, banker, of Plymouth. His wife survived him until 1882, and half the pension was continued to her.

The other works of Tregelles comprise, in addition to pamphlets: 1. ‘Hebrew Reading Lessons,’ 1845. 2. ‘Prophetic Visions of the Book of Daniel,’ 1847; new editions, 1855, 1864. 3. ‘Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, translated with Additions and Corrections,’ 1847. 4. ‘The Original Language of St. Matthew's Gospel,’ 1850. 5. ‘The Jansenists,’ 1851: based on information obtained at Utrecht from their archbishop. 6. ‘Hebrew Psalter,’ 1852. 7. ‘Defence of the Authenticity of the Book of Daniel,’ 1852. 8. ‘Hebrew Grammar,’ 1852. 9. ‘Collation of the Texts of Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, with that in common use,’ 1854. 10. ‘Codex Zacynthius, Fragments of St. Luke,’ 1861. 11. ‘Hope of Christ's Second Coming,’ 1864. He contributed many articles in Cassell's ‘Dictionary,’ Smith's ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ Kitto's ‘Journal of Sacred Literature,’ and the ‘Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology.’ Rogers's ‘Lyra Britannica’ and Schaff's ‘Christ in Song’ contain hymns by Tregelles. He also edited ‘Prisoners of Hope,’ 1852: letters from Florence on the persecution of F. and R. Madiai.

A portrait of Tregelles is in the possession of Mrs. F. C. Ball, Bromley, Kent, and copies have been placed in the Plymouth Athenæum and Falmouth Polytechnic. There is also an oil painting in the possession of Miss A. Prideaux of Plymouth.

[Manuscript memoir by Miss Augusta Prideaux; communications from G. F. Tregelles, esq., Barnstaple; Western Daily Mercury, 3 May 1875; Professor E. Abbot to New York Independent, 1875; S. E. Fox's Life of Edwin Octavius Tregelles, 1892; Academy, 1875, i. 475; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; Boase's Collectanea, 1027.]

E. C. M.