Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tymms, Samuel

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TYMMS, SAMUEL (1808–1871), antiquary, was born at Camberwell in Surrey on 27 Nov. 1808. Early in life he obtained employment on the staff of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ He seems to have moved into Suffolk while still young, and almost the whole of his antiquarian work is intimately connected with that county, especially with the town of Bury St. Edmunds, where he was engaged on the staff of the ‘Bury Post.’ In 1857 he moved to Lowestoft, setting up a business as bookseller and stationer. There, in 1858, he began to edit and publish the ‘East Anglian,’ a local antiquarian magazine, which he continued to conduct until his death.

About 1840 he became a member of the Genealogical and Historical Society, and in 1853 a fellow of, and afterwards local secretary to, the Society of Antiquaries, in the ‘Proceedings’ of which institution his name not infrequently occurs. He also displayed considerable activity in the work of the West Suffolk Archæological Institute. Tymms died at Lowestoft on 29 April 1871. He married, on 10 July 1844, Mary Anne, daughter of John Jugg of Ely, and had five children.

He wrote:

  1. ‘The British Family Topographer’ (7 vols. 1832–43), giving an encyclopædic account of the antiquities of the different counties of England, classed according to the old English circuits.
  2. ‘Architectural and Historical Account of the Church of St. Mary, Bury St. Edmunds.’ This work appeared in instalments, beginning in 1848, and was reissued as a whole in 1854.
  3. ‘Bury Wills and Inventories,’ perhaps his best known work, which he edited for the Camden Society in 1850.

He also wrote many small antiquarian monographs, guide-books to Ely Cathedral and to Bury St. Edmunds, the latter of which has gone through several editions, and still maintains its position as a cheap handbook. A small treatise on ‘Peg Tankards’ (1827) may be noticed as a very early work. Mention should also be made of his contributions to the ‘Proceedings’ of the Suffolk Institute of Archæology, which he printed; as well as to the ‘East Anglian,’ which he both printed and edited.

There is in the British Museum Library an interesting folio volume consisting of newspaper cuttings—mostly of a biographical nature—extracted and arranged by Tymms, with manuscript notes added.

[East Anglian, 3rd ser. vii. 65 (May 1897)—biographical notice with portrait; Lowestoft Observer, 6 May 1871; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

E. C.-e.