Parkhurst, John

, a late learned divine and lexicographer, was the second son of John Parkhurst, esq. of Catesby, in Northamptonshire, by Ricarda Dormer, daughter of judge Dormer. He was born in June 1728, was educated at Rugby school in Warwickshire, and was afterwards of Clare-hall, Cambridge, where he took his degree of B. A. in 1748, that of M. A. in 1752, and was many years fellow of his college. Being a younger brother, he was intended for the church, and entered into orders, but becoming heir to a very considerable estate, he was relieved from the usual anxieties respecting preferment, and was now a patron himself. Still he continued to cultivate | the studies becoming a clergyman and in the capacity of a curate, but without any salary, he long did the duty, with exemplary diligence and zeal, in his own chapel at Catesby, which, after the demolition of the church of the nunnery there, served as a parish-church, of which also he was the patron. When several years after, in 178 4, it fell to his lot to exercise the right of presentation, he presented to the vicarage of Epsom in Surrey, the late rev. Jonathan Boucher (see Boucher), as one who in his opinion had given the best proofs of his having a due sense of the duties of his office. It was by marriage he had become patron of this living, having in 1754 married Susanna Myster, daughter, and, we believe, heiress of John Myster, esq. of Epsom.

In 1753 he began his career of authorship, by publishing in 8vo, “A serious and friendly Address to the rev. John Wesley, in relation to a principal doctrine advanced and maintained by him and his assistants.” This doctrine is what is called the faith of assurance, which Mr. Parkhurst objects to, in the manner stated by Wesley, as leading to presumption and an uncharitable spirit. Mr. Parkhurst’s next publication was of more importance, “An Hebrew and English Lexicon, without points; to which is added, a methodical Hebrew grammar, without points, adapted to the use of learners,1762, 4to. To attempt a vindication of all the etymological and philosophical disquisitions scattered through this dictionary, would be very fruitless; but it is not perhaps too much to say, that we have nothing of the kind equal to it in the English language. The author continued to correct and improve it, through various editions, the last of wjiich was published in 1813. But his philological studies were not confined to the Hebrew language; for he published a “Greek and English Lexicon,” with a grammar, 1769, 4to, which has likewise gone through many editions, the first of which, in octavo, the form in which they are now printed, "was superintended by his. learned daughter, the wife of the rev. Joseph Thomas. The continued demand for both these lexicons seems to be a sufficient proof of their merit; and their usefulness to biblical students has indeed been generally acknowledged.

Mr. Parkhurst’s only remaining publication was entitled, “The Divinity and Pre-existence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, demonstrated from Scripture in answer to | the first section of Dr. Priestley’s Introduction to the history of curly opinions concerning Jesus Christ; together with strictures on some other parts of the work, and a postscript relating to a late publication of Mr. Gilbert Wakefield,” 1787, 8vo. This work was very generally regarded as completely performing all that its title-page promised; and accordingly the whole edition was soon sold off. A very unsatisfactory answer was, however, attempted by Dr. Priestley, in “A Letter to Dr. Home,” c.

Mr. Parkhurst died at Epsom in Surrey, March 21, 1797. He was a man of very extraordinary independency of mind and firmness of principle. In early life, along with many other men of distinguished learning, it was objected to him that he was a Hutchinsonian; and this has been given as a reason for his want of preferment. A better reason, however, may be found in the circumstances of his acquisition of property, which rendered him independent, and his love of retirement, which was uniform. He always gave less of his time to the ordinary interruptions of life than is common. In an hospitable, friendly, and pleasant neighbourhood, he visited little, alleging that such a course of life neither suited his temper, his health, or his studies. Such a man was not likely to crowd the levee of a patron. Yet he was of sociable manners; and his conversation always instructive, often delightful; for his stores of knowledge were so large, that he has often been called a walking library. Like many other men of infirm and sickly frames, he was occasionally irritable and quick, warm and earnest in his resentments, though never unforgiving. Few men, upon the whole, have passed through a long life more at peace with their neighbours, more respected by men of learning, more beloved by their friends, or more honoured by their family.

Of his strict sense of justice, the following has been related as a very striking instance. One of his tenants falling behind-hand in the payment of his rent, which was 500l. per annum, it was represented to his landlord that it was owing to his being over-rented. This being believed to be the case, a new valuation was made; and it was then agreed, that, for the future, the rent should not be more than 450l. Many in his situation would have stopped here, and considered the sacrifice as sufficient. Mr. Parkhurst, however, justly inferring that if the farm was then too dear, it must necessarily have been always too dear, | unasked, and of his own accord, immediately struck off 50l. from the commencement of the lease, and instantly refunded all that he had received more than 450l.

Mr. Parkhurst was in his person rather below the middle size, but remarkably upright, and firm in his gait. He was throughout life of a siqkly habit; and his leading a life so remarkably studious and sedentary (it having, for many years, been his constant practice to rise at five, and, in winter to light his own fire), to the very verge of David’s limits of the life of man, is a consolatory proof to men of similar habits, how much, under many disadvantages, may still be effected by strict temperance and a careful regimen.

Mr. Parkhurst’s first wife died in 1759, leaving him a daughter, now the widow of the rev. James Altham, and two sons, both since dead. In 1761 he married again Milicent Northey, daughter of Thomas Northey, esq. by whom he had the daughter, Mrs. Thomas, whom we have already mentioned. This lady having received, under the immediate inspection of her learned and pious father, an education of the first order, acquired a degree of classical knowledge rarely to be met with in the female world. She wrote a very affectionate memorial of her father’s worth, which is engraven over his remains in Epsom church. Her mother, the second Mrs. Parkhurst, died in 1800. 1


Gent. Mag. vols. LXVII. LXX. Dr. Gleig’s Supplement to the Encyclop.