Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thyer, Robert

THYER, ROBERT (1709–1781), Chetham librarian and editor of Butler's 'Remains,' son of Robert Thyer, silk weaver, by his wife, Elizabeth Brabant, was born at Manchester, and baptised on 20 Feb. 1708-9. Educated at the Manchester grammar school, he obtained an exhibition in 1727 to Brasenose College, Oxford, whence he graduated B.A. on 12 Oct. 1730. Returning to his native town, he was elected librarian of the Chetham library in February 1731-2, and continued in that office until 3 Oct. 1763. His diligence as librarian was certified by the trustees on his retirement, and by his successor, in the Latin preface to the Chetham Library catalogue, 1791. He was one of the scholars who supplied notes to Thomas Newton (1704-1782) [q.v.], afterwards bishop of Bristol, for his edition of Milton's 'Paradise Lost,' He published in 1759 'The Genuine Remains in Verse and Prose of Samuel Butler, with Notes,' 2 vols. 8vo, and he contemplated a new annotated edition of 'Hudibras.' Dr. Johnson praised Thyer's erudition and editorial labours, while Warburton and others have condemned them. A new edition of the 'Remains' came out in 1827, with a portrait of the editor, after a painting by Romney, now in the Chetham Library. John Hill Burton, in his 'Bookhunter,' mentions this portrait, mistakenly thinking that Thyer himself had published it, and speaking unkindly of 'drudging Thyer's … respectable and stupid face.' Thyer was an intimate friend of his townsman John Byrom [q. v.], and many of his letters, as well as a specimen of his verse, are printed in Byrom's 'Remains.' He was also on terms of close friendship with the Egertons of Tatton, Cheshire, and derived considerable pecuniary benefit under the will of Samuel Egerton, M.P. He died on 27 Oct. 1781, and was buried with his ancestors in Manchester collegiate church.

He married, on 9 Dec. 1741, Silence, daughter of John Wagstaffe of Glossop, Derbyshire, and of Manchester, and widow of John Leigh of Middle Hulton in Deane, Lancashire. His children all predeceased him. Some of Thyer's manuscripts are in the Chetham Library.

[Manchester School Register (Chetham Soc.), i. 39; Byrom's Remains (Chetham Soc.), i. 509 et passim; Byrom's Poems (Chetham Soc.); Palatine Note-book, ii. 203; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886.]

C. W. S.