Lemon, George William (DNB00)

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LEMON, GEORGE WILLIAM (1726–1797), master of Norwich school, was born in 1726, and graduated B.A. in 1747, from Queens' College, Cambridge. He took holy orders, and was presented in 1755 to the vicarage of East Walton, near Lynn, and to the rectory of Gaytonthorpe (now the consolidated living of East Walton with Geytonthorpe). He lived at East Walton from 1756 to 1767, and was also curate of Gayton, but in January 1768 accepted an ushership at Bury St. Edmunds. On 23 Dec. 1769 he was elected master of ‘the free grammar school of Norwich,’ succeeding the Rev. Edward Symonds at ‘Lady-day’ 1770. Whatever reputation Lemon might have had as master was naturally eclipsed by his great successor Dr. Parr. He is said to have been not a very skilful teacher, and the school sank under him, but ‘he was a worthy man, had great industry, and much learning’ (Johnstone, Life of Parr, i. 161).

He resigned the mastership in 1778, and soon returned to East Walton, where he remained till his death, a quiet country clergyman and an industrious and scholarly student and writer. It is stated in the ‘Bibliotheca Parriana’ that ‘the Corporation on his resigning gave him a small living.’ Dawson Turner (List of Norfolk Benefices, continued from Blomefield's History of Norfolk, 1847) states that Lemon held the livings of Mundham St. Peter and St. Etheldred, and of Seething, but he was never instituted to them. He died 4 Oct. 1797, aged 71, and was buried at East Walton. There is a tablet in the church to himself and his wife, ‘Elizabeth’ Young (1735–1804), of East Walton, whom he married 31 May 1760.

His published works prove him to have been ‘a man of great industry and much learning.’ They are: 1. ‘Græcæ Grammaticæ Rudimenta, ordine novo, ac faciliori ratione tradita,’ London, 1774. An English introduction is dated Norwich, 25 March 1774. It is a well-printed school book, intended to supersede ‘the Eton grammar, then established in this school.’ The ‘solution of the difficulties’ of his pupils he reserves ‘to the perusal of a much larger work, which I have prepared for your more serious application,’ a work which seems not to have been published. As was usual then, the Greek words are without accents, and mostly without breathings. 2. ‘Two Tracts,’ London, 1773; (a) ‘Additional Observations on the Greek Accents, by the late Edward Spelman, esq.,’ edited by Lemon. (b) ‘The Voyage of Æneas from Troy to Italy, in part intended to “lay before the readers specimens of a much larger attempt, viz: an intire new translation of the works of Virgil.”’ The larger attempt was never published. 3. ‘English Etymology, or a Derivative Dictionary of the English Language,’ London, 1783, 4to, by subscription. A handsome book, well thought of in its day, though only curious and useless now (cf. Critical Review, March and April 1784, lvii. 177–84, 281–93). The writer's view was that most English words were derived from ‘Greek as the radix,’ notwithstanding the dialects they may have passed through. 4. ‘The History of the Civil War between York and Lancaster, comprehending the lives of Edward IV and his brother Richard III. Lynn, printed for the author by W. Whittingham,’ 1792, with preface dated ‘East Walton, 2 Feb. 1792.’ The title-page has ‘the former part written by the late Edward Spelman, esq., but the introduction speaks of ‘the few unfinished sheets he gave me.’ It is a sensible, well-printed book, showing some knowledge both of original authorities and of the latest books on the subject. 5. A new edition in numbers of Dugdale's ‘History of Imbanking and Draining the Fens and Marshes, &c., with several new Additions. Lynn, printed and sold by W. Whittingham,’ Nos. i. ii. iii. were ‘just published’ in 1792.

[Johnstone's Life of Parr, i. 161; Bibliotheca Parriana, p. 698; A General History of the County of Norfolk, 1829, pp. 399, 479, 1051; Critical Review, March 1784, April 1784; Gent. Mag. November 1797, p. 982; Cutting's Gleanings about Gayton in the Olden Time, pp. 46, 160–5; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19166, f. 432; Davy's Athenæ Suffolcenses.]

O. W. T.