Purchas, Samuel

, a learned English divine, and compiler of a valuable collection of voyages, was born at Thaxstead in Essex in 1577, and educated at St. John’s college, Cambridge, where he took his master’s degree in 1600, and afterwards that of bachelor of divinity. Ill 1604 he was instituted to the vicarage of Eastwood in Essex; but, leaving the cure of it to his brother, went and lived in London, the better to carry on the great work he had undertaken. He published the first volume in 1613, and the fifth in 1625, under this title, “Purchas his Pil^ grimage, or Relations of the World, and the Religions observed in all ages and places discovered from the Creation unto this present.” In 1615, he was incorporated at Oxford, as he stood at Cambridge, bachelor of divinity; and a little before, had been collated to the rectory of St. Martin’s Ltidgate, in London. He was chaplain to Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, and had also the promise of a deanery from Charles I. which he did not live to enjoy.*


It has been said that, by the publishing of his books, he brought himself into debt, and that he died in prison. This last is certainly untrue, as he died in his own house in 1628. It is not improbable that he might be a sufferer by the expence of printing his books, but his debts are to be referred to a more honourable cause, the kindness of his disposition. In 1618 his brother-in law, William Pridmore, died, and left to him the care of the widow and her family and in the same year his brother Daniel Purchas died, who likewise left four orphan and helpless children, and the arrangement of his affairs, to our author, who says, in his quaint way, that this brother’s “iutangled booke-estate perplexed me in a new kind of bookishness, with heterogean toil of body, and unacquainted vexations of mind, to pay manifold debts,” &c. These circumstances mayaccount for the embarrassments of this sjood and pious man (for such he was) and in addition to his other afflictions, he mentions the death of his mother and of a beloved daughter, in 1619.

His pilgrimages, and the learned Hackluyt’s Voyages, led | the way to all other collections of that kind; and have been, justly valued and esteemed. Boissard, a learned foreigner, has given a great character of Purchas; he styles him “a man exquisitely skilled in languages, and all arts divine and human; a very great philosopher, historian, and divine; a faithful presbyter of the church of England; very famous for many excellent writings, and especially for his vast volumes of the East and West Indies, written in his native tongue.” His other works are, “Purchas his Pilgrim or Microcosmos, or The Historie of Man,1627, 8vo, a series of meditations upon man at all ages and in all stations, founded on Psalm xxxix. 5. In the address to the reader are a few particulars of himself and family, which we have extracted. He published also “The King’s Tower and Triumphal Arch of London,1623, 8vo; and “A Funeral Sermon on Psalm xxx. 5.” is attributed to him, if.it be not mistaken for the Microcosmos. His son, Samuel, published “A Theatre to Political flying Insects,1657, 4to. His Voyages now sell at a vast price. 1

Wood’s Fasti, vol. I.- Biog. Brit. Censura Lit. vol. IV.