Boys, Thomas (1792-1880) (DNB00)

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BOYS, THOMAS (1792–1880), theologian and antiquary, son of Rear-admiral Thomas Boys of Kent, was born at Sandwich, Kent, and educated at Tonbridge grammar school and Trinity College, Cambridge. The failure of his health from over-study prevented his taking more than the ordinary degrees (B.A. 1813, M.A. 1817), and, finding an active life necessary to him, he entered the army with a view to becoming a military chaplain, was attached to the military chest in the Peninsula under Wellington in 1813, and was wounded at the battle of Toulouse in three places, gaining the Peninsular medal. He was ordained deacon in 1816, and priest in 1822. While in the Peninsula he employed his leisure time in translating the Bible into Portuguese, a task he performed so well, that his version has been adopted both by catholics and protestants, and Don Pedro I of Portugal publicly thanked him for his gift to the nation. In 1848 he was appointed incumbent of Holy Trinity, Hoxton; but before that he had established his reputation as a Hebrew scholar, being teacher of Hebrew to Jews at the college, Hackney, from 1830 to 1832, and professor of Hebrew at the Missionary College, Islington, in 1836. While holding this last post, he revised Deodati's Italian Bible, and also the Arabic Bible. His pen was rarely idle. In 1825 he published a key to the Psalms, and in 1827 a 'Plain Exposition of the New Testament.' Already in 1821 he had issued a volume of sermons, and in 1824 a book entitled 'Tactica Sacra,' expounding a theory that in the arrangement of the New Testament writings a parallelism could be detected similar to that used in the writings of the Jewish prophets. In 1832 he published 'The Suppressed Evidence, or Proofs of the Miraculous Faith and Experience of the Church of Christ in all ages, from authentic records of the Fathers, Waldenses, Hussites … an historical sketch suggested by B. W. Noel's "Remarks on the Revival of Miraculous Powers in the Church." 'The same year produced a plea for verbal inspiration under the title 'A Word for the Bible,' and 1834 'A Help to Hebrew.' He was also a frequent contributor to 'Blackwood' of sketches and papers, for the most part descriptive of his Peninsular experiences. The most important of these was 'My Peninsular Medal, which ran from November 1849 to July 1850. his acquaintance with the literature and antiquities of the Jews was very thorough, but perhaps the best proofs of his extensive learning are to be found in the numerous letters and papers, sometimes under his own name, and sometimes under the assumed name of 'Vedette,' contributed to the second series of 'Notes and Queries.' Of these the twelve papers on Chaucer difficulties are a most valuable contribution to the study of early English literature. He died 2 Sept. 1880, aged 88.

[Times, 14 Sept. 1880; Men of the Time, 1872 ; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

R. B.