Boyer, Abel

, a lexicographer and miscellaneous writer, was born June 13, 1667, at the city of Castres in Upper Languedoc. His great-grandfather and grandfather were masters of the riding-school at Nismes; his father was president of the supreme court at Castres, and his mother was Catherine, daughter of Campdomerius, a celebrated physician, circumstances which have been recorded to prove that he was of a good family. He was certainly of a conscientious one, his relations being exiles for their adherence to the protestant religion. He was first educated by his mother’s brother, Campdomerius, a noted divine and preacher of the reformed church, and then was sent to the protestant school at Puy Laurent, where he applied assiduously, and excelled all his schoolfellows in Greek and Latin. In 1685, when the persecution prevailed against the protestants in France, he followed his uncle to Holland, and pressed by want, was obliged to enter into the military service in 1687; but soon, by the advice of his relations, returned to his studies, and went to the university of Franeker, where he went through a regular course of education, and added to philosophy, divinity, history, &c. the study of the mathematics. In 1689 he came over to England, and the hopes of being able to return to France, which the protestants in general entertained, being disappointed, he was obliged to have recourse to his pen for a livelihood. His first employment appears to have been to transcribe and prepare for the press Camden’s letters from the Cotton ian library, for Dr. Smith, who afterwards published them. In 1692, he became French and Latin tutor to Allen Bathurst, esq. eldest son of sir Benjamin Bathurst, who, being much in favour with the princess Anne of Denmark, afterwards queen of Great Britain, he had hopes of some preferment at court. With this view he paid great | attention to his pupil’s education (who was afterwards lord Bathurst), and for his use composed two compendious grammars, the one Latin, the other French; but the latter only was printed, and to this da,y is a standard book. His hopes of preferment, however, Appear to have been fallacious, which his biographer attributes to his siding with a different party from the Bathurst family in the political divisions which prevailed at that time in the nation, Boyer, like the rest of his countrymen who had fled hither for religion, being a zealous whig. After this, having made himself master of the English tongue, he became an author by profession, and engaged sometimes alone, and sometimes in conjunction with the booksellers, in various compilations, and periodical works of the political kind, particularly a newspaper called the “Post-Boy;” the “Political State of Great Britain,” published in volumes from 1710 to 1729 a “History of William III.” 3 vols. 8vo “Annals of the reign of Queen Anne,” 11 vols. 8vo, and a “Life of Queen Anne,” fol. all publications now more useful than when published, as they contain many state papers, memorials, &c. which it would be difficult to find elsewhere; but his name is chiefly preserved by his French Dictionary, 1699, 4to, and a French Grammar, of both which he lived to see several editions, and which still continue to be printed. His political principles involved him with Swift, who often speaks contemptuously of him, and with Pope, who has given him a place in the Dunciad. He died Nov. 16, 1729, at a house he had built in Five Fields, Chelsea, and was buried in Chelsea church-yard. 1


Biog. Dramatica.—Moreri.—Swift’s Works; see Index.