Lye, Edward

, a learned linguist and antiquary, the author of an excellent dictionary of the Saxon and Gothic languages, was born at Totnes in Devonshire, in 1704. | He was educated partly at home, under his father, who kept a school at Totnes, partly under other preceptors, but chiefly (being obliged to return home from consumptive complaints) by his own private care and application. At the age of nineteen, he was admitted at Hart hall (now Hertford college) in Oxford, took his bachelor’s degree in 1716, was ordained deacon in 1717, and priest in 1719, soon after which he was presented to the living of Houghton-parva in Northamptonshire. In this retreat he laid the foundation of his great proficiency in the Anglo-Saxon language. He became master of arts in 1722.

Having now qualified himself completely for a work of that nature, he undertook the arduous task of publishing the “Etymologicum Anglicanum” of Francis Junius, from the manuscript of the author in the Bodleian Library. To this undertaking he was led, as he tells us in his preface, by the commendations which Hickes and other learned antiquaries had given to that unpublished work. In the seventh year from the commencement of his design, he published the work, with many additions, and particularly that of an Anglo-Saxon Grammar prefixed. The work was received with the utmost approbation of the learned. In 1750, Mr. Lye became a member of the society of antiquaries, and about the same time was presented by the earl of Northampton to the vicarage of Yardley Hastings, on which accession he resigned his former living of Houghton; giving an illustrious example of primitive moderation, especially as he had hitherto supported his mother, and had still two sisters dependent upon him. The next publication which he issued, was that of the Gothic Gospels, undertaken at the desire of Eric Benzelius, bishop of Upsal, who had collated and corrected them. This, which he had been long preparing, appeared from the Oxford press in the same year, with a Gothic Grammar prefixed. His last years were employed chiefly in finishing for the press his own great work, the Anglo-Saxon and Gothic Dictionary, which was destined to owe that to another editor, which he had performed for Junius. His manuscript was just completed, and given to the printer, when he died at Yardley Hastings, in 1767; and was there buried, with a commendatory but just and elegant epitaph. His Dictionary was published in 1772, in two volumes folio, by the rev. Owen Manning, with a grammar of the two languages united, and some memoirs of the author, from | which this account is taken. It appears by some original correspondence between Mr. Lye and Dr. Ducarel (for the perusal of which we are indebted to Mr. Nichols), that Mr. Lye had been employed on his dictionary a long time before 1765, and that he had almost relinquished the design from a dread of the labour and expence. In the labour he had none to share with him, but at the time above mentioned archbishop Seeker offered him a subscription of 50l. to forward the work, and he appears to have hoped for similar instances of liberality. 1

1 Memoirs as above, ms Letters in Mr. Nichols’s possession.