Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lemprière, John

LEMPRIÈRE, JOHN, D.D. (1765?–1824), classical scholar, born in Jersey (Plees, Jersey, p. 79) about 1765, was the son of Charles Lemprière of Jersey. He was educated at Winchester College and at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. 14 Jan. 1790, M.A. 10 Oct. 1792, B.D. 9 July 1801, D.D. 14 Jan. 1803 (Cat. Oxf. Grad.) In 1788 he was assistant-master at Reading grammar school (Gent. Mag. 1791, pt. ii. p. 740, and manuscript note in British Museum copy), and in 1789 was connected with the church of St. Helier, Jersey (cp. ib. 1789, pt. ii. pp. 834, 1031, 1066, reviewing a sermon preached there by Lemprière). While at Reading he published his ‘Bibliotheca Classica; or, a Classical Dictionary containing a full Account of all the Proper Names mentioned in Antient Authors’ (Reading, 1788, 8vo). This work, which long remained a popular English authority on mythology and history, has the merit of being readable. Some references to ancient authorities are given, but the articles are often superficial and written from points of view now obsolete. Lemprière acknowledged in the preface his indebtedness to Sabatier's ‘Siècles payens.’ A second edition appeared in 1797 (London, 8vo), ‘greatly enlarged,’ and with tables of coins, weights, &c. The ninth edition appeared in 1815, and among other editions may be mentioned those of 1818, 1828, 1832, 1833 (New York), 1838, 1843, 1888. Several abridgments were published, the first by Lemprière himself in 1808.

In 1791 Lemprière was master of the grammar school at Bolton, Lancashire. From about 1792 till 1808 (or 1809) he was a successful master at the grammar school at Abingdon, and was vicar of Abingdon from 1800 till 1811. While at Abingdon he published the first volume of an English translation of ‘Herodotus,’ with notes, but did not complete the work. He also published a ‘Universal Biography … of Eminent Persons in all Ages and Countries,’ London, 1808, 4to; 1812, 8vo (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. x. 246); 1825, 8vo New York. The articles are brief, and no authorities are cited. In 1809 he became master of the Exeter free grammar school (N. Carlisle, Endowed Grammar Schools, i. 316, 318) with a salary of 40l. a year and a house, and held the post till 1823(?), when he retired in consequence of a dispute with the trustees of the school. In 1811 he was presented to the rectory of Meeth, Devonshire. This living, together with that of Newton Petrock, to which he was appointed in 1823, he held till his death, which took place from a fit of apoplexy on 1 Feb. 1824, in Southampton Street, Strand, London.

[Gent. Mag. 1824 pt. i. p. 283; Biog. Universelle; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Brit. Mus. Cat.; authorities cited.]

W. W.