Gagnier, John

, an eminent orientalist, was a native of Paris, where he was educated; and, applying himself | to study the eastern languages, became a great master in the Hebrew and Arabic. He was trained up in the Roman Catholic religion, and taking orders, was made a canon regular of the abbey of St. Genevieve, but becoming dissatisfied with his religion, and marrying after he had left his convent, he was upon that account obliged to quit his native country, came to England, and embraced the faith and doctrine of that church in the beginning of the eighteenth century. He was well received here, and met with many friends, who gave him handsome encouragement, particularly archbishop Sharp, and the lord chancellor‘ Macclesfield, to which last he dedicated his edition of Abulfeda. He had a master of arts degree conferred upon him at Cambridge; and going thence to Oxford, for the sake of prosecuting his studies in the Bodleian library, he was admitted to the same degree in that university, where he supported himself by teaching Hebrew. He had previously been made chaplain to Dr. William Lloyd, bishop of Worcester, whom he accompanied to Oxford.

In 1706, he published an edition of Joseph Ben Gorion’s “History of the Jews,” in the original Hebrew, with a Latin translation, and notes, in 4to. In 1710, at the appointment of Sharp, abp. of York, he assisted Grabe in the perusal of the Arabic manuscripts in the Bodleian library, relating to the Clementine constitutions; on which the archbishop had engaged Grabe to write a treatise against Whiston. Gagnier accordingly read and interpreted diligently to Grabe all that might be serviceable to his purpose in any of them.

In 1717 he was appointed to read the Arabic lecture at’ Oxford, in the absence of the professor Wallis. In 1718 appeared his “Vindiciae Kircherianae, seu defensio concordantiarum Graecarum Conradi Kircheri, adversus Abr. Trommii animadversiones;” and in 1723, he published Abulfeda’s “Life of Mohammed,” in Arabic, with a Latin translation and notes, at Oxford, in folio. He also prepared for the press the same Arabic author’s Geography, and printed proposals for a subscription, but the attempt proved abortive, for want of encouragement. Eighteen sheets were printed, and the remainder, which was imperfect, was purchased of his widow by Dr. Hunt. It is said that he wrote a life of Mahommed, in French, published at Amsterdam, in 1730, in vols. 12mo. But this wa.s probably a translation of the former life, Gagnier had | before this inserted Graves’s Latin translation of AbulfedaY description of Arabia, together with the original, in the third volume of Hudson’s “Geographiae veteris scriptores Grseci minores,” in 1712, 8vo, and had translated from the Arabic, Rhases on the Small-pox, at the request of Dr. Mead. He died March 2, 1740. By his wife he left a son, Thomas, or as in the Oxford graduates, John Gagnier, who was educated at Wadham-college, Oxford, and commenced M. A. July 2, 1743. Entering into holy orders, he was preferred by bishop Clavering to the rectory of Marsh-Gibbon, in Buckinghamshire, and afterwards obtained that of Stranton, near Hartlepool, in the. bishopric of Durham, where he was living in 1766, but the historian of Durham having concluded his list of vicars with Mr. Gagnier at the year of his induction, in 1745, we are not able to ascertain the time of his death. Preceding accounts of his father mention his being chosen Arabic professor in room of Dr. Wallis, which never was the case. Dr. Hunt was successor to Wallis. 1


Biog. Brit. art. Grabe.