Tyrrell, James

, an English historian, descended from an ancient family, was the eldest son of sir Timothy Tyrrell, of Shotover near Oxford, kiit. by Elizabeth his wife, sole daughter of the celebrated archbishop Usher. He was born in Great Queen -street, Westminster, in May 1642, and educated chiefly at the free school of Camberwell in Surrey. In 1657 he was admitted a gentleman commoner of Queen’s college, Oxford, where he continued three years under the tuition of Mr. Thomas Tully and Mr. Timothy Halton. After going to the Temple to study law, he returned to Oxford in September 1663, and was created M. A. In 1665 he was called to the bar, but did not practise, employing his time chiefly in historical researches, particularly respecting the history and constitution of England. Having an independent fortune, he resided chiefly on his estate at Onkeley, near Brill in Buckinghamshire, and was made one of the deputy lieutenants and justices of the peace for that county; in which offices he continued till king James If. turned him and the rest out of the commission, for not assisting in taking away the penal laws and test. On the revolution, he zealously espoused king William’s interest, and wrote with great effect in vindication of his right to the crown.

Having formed the plan of a History of England, he came to reside chiefly at Shotover, near Oxford, for the sake of easy access to the libraries in the university; and the remainder of his life appears to have been devoted to that | and his other literary pursuits. He died in 1718, in his seventy-sixth year, and was buried in Oakeley church. He married Mary daughter and heir of sir Michael Hutchinson, of Fladbury in Worcestershire, knight, by whom he had lieutenant-general James Tyrrell, of Shotover, esq. governor of Gravesend and Tilbury Fort, &c. who died in August 1742, leaving his estate from the Tyrrell family to his kinsman Augustus Schutz.

Mr. Tyrrell’s first appearance as an author was in the dedication of a posthumous work of archbishop Usher’s. Wood says he published this, but the publisher was bishop Sanderson. It was entitled “The Power communicated by God to the Prince, and the obedience required of the Subject,” Lond. 1661, 4to. At this time Mr. Tyrrell was very young, and had not probably left Oxford, or was but just beginning his studies in the Temple; but it might perhaps be thought creditable to appear as the nearest relative of the venerable author, and he might not be sorry to have an early opportunity of paying his court to the restored monarch. This much we may infer from the dedication itself, which he concludes in these words: “I shall now make this my most humble suit to your majesty, that as the reverend author in his life-time publicly professed his loyalty to his sovereign, and constantly prayed for your majesty’s happy and glorious return to these your kingdoms, and in all things shewed himself your loyal subject, so you would be pleased to own him as such, by affording your gracious countenance to this his posthumous work, which will eternize the memory of the deceased author, and thereby confer the greatest temporal blessing on your majesty’s most loyal and obedient subject, James Tyrrell.

In 1686 appeared his vindication of his father-in-law, printed at the end of Parr’s “Life of Archbishop Usher,” under the title of “An Appendix, containing a vindication of his opinions and actions in reference to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, and his conformity thereunto, from the aspersions of Peter Heylin, D. D. in his pamphlet called Respondet Petrus” This pamphlet of Heylin’s was his answer to Dr. Bernard’s book entitled “The Judgment of the late Primate of Ireland, &c. as he is made a party by the said Lord Primate in the point of the Sabbath,” Lond. 1658, 4to. (See Heylin, p. 442 and 443.) Mr. Tyrrell’s notions in politics were adverse to those of some of his contemporaries, who were for carrying the | prerogative to its height, and vindicated passive obedience and non-resistance: he was clearly for a monarchy, but a limited monarchy, and therefore answered sir Robert Filmer in a small volume entitled “Patriarcha non Monarcha, or the Patriarch unmonarched, &c.1681, 8vo. This was animadverted upon by Edmund Bohun, in the preface to the second edition of sir Robert’s “Patriarcha;” but Mr. Tyrrell’s opinions on this and other subjects connected with it are most fully displayed in his political dialogues, which were first published at different times, in 1692, 1693, 1694, and 1695, in quarto, until they amounted to fourteen. They were afterwards collected into one volume folio, about the time of his death, and published under the name of “Bibliotheca Politica, or an Enquiry into the ancient Constitution of the English Government, with respect to the just extent of the regal power, and the rights and liberties of the subject. Wherein all the chief arguments, both for and against the late revolution, are impartially represented and considered. In fourteen dialogues, collected out of the best authors, ancient and modern,” Lond. 1718, reprinted 1727. It appears also that subjects of the religious kind sometimes employed his attention, as in 1692 he published an abridgment of bishop Cumberland’s work on the laws of nature, with the consent and approbation of the right reverend author. This, which was entitled “A brief Disquisition of the Law of Nature, &c.” was reprinted in 1701. But the work which had employed most of Mr. Tyrreli’s time was his “General History of England, both ecclesiastical and civil, from the earliest accounts of time,” 5 vols. fol. generally bound in three, Lond. 1700, 1704. He intended to have brought this down to the reign of William III. but what is published extends no farther than that of Richard II. and of course forms but a small part of the whole plan. It is thought that he left another volume or more ready for the press, but this has never appeared. His chief object seems to be to refute the sentiments of Dr. Brady in his “History of England,” particularly where he asserts that “all the liberties and privileges the people can pretend to were the grants and concessions of the kings of this nation, and were derived from the crown” and that “the commons of England were not introduced, nor were one of the three estates in parliament, before the forty-ninth of Henry III. Before which time the body of commons of England, or freemen collectively taken, had not any share | or votes in making laws for the government of the kingdom, nor had any communication in affairs of state, unless they were represented by the tenants in capite.” In refuting these opinions Mr. Tyrrell will probably be thought not unsuccessful; but the work is ill digested, and less fit for reading than for consultation. As a compilation it will be found useful, particularly on account of his copious translations from our old English historians, although even there he has admitted some mistakes. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II.--.Biog. Brit.