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Elmsley, Peter (1773-1825) (DNB00)

ELMSLEY, PETER (1773–1825), classical scholar, born in 1773, was educated at Hampstead, at Westminster, and at Christ Church College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. 1794, M.A. 1797, B.D. 30 Oct. 1823, D.D. 7 Nov. 1823. He left the university without a fellowship, but with a reputation for great learning. He took orders and was presented in 1798 to Little Horkesley in Essex, which he held till his death. He inherited a fortune from his uncle, Peter Elmsley [q.v.], the bookseller. About 1802 he lived in Edinburgh, and was intimate with the founders of the 'Edinburgh Review,' to which he contributed the articles on Heyne's 'Homer,' Schweighaeuser's 'Athenæus,' Blomfield's 'Prometheus,' and Porson's 'Hecuba.' He was also a contributor to the 'Quarterly Review.' From 1807 till 1816 he lived at St. Mary Cray. Mrs. Grote, in the life of her husband, George Grote, the historian, says that Elmsley was in love with her, and by a false assertion that she was engaged to some one nearly prevented the marriage with Grote. After 1816 he resided chiefly at Oxford. He visited France and Italy several times to collate manuscripts of the classics, and spent the winter of 1818 in the Laurentian Library at Florence. In 1819 he was engaged with Sir Humphry Davy in superintending the development of the papyri from Herculaneum. In 1823 he was appointed principal of St. Alban Hall, Oxford, and Camden professor of ancient history in the university. He held both appointments till his death, which took place, from heart disease at Alban Hall on 8 March 1825. Elmsley is best known for his critical labours on Sophocles and Euripides. Editors who have worked in the same field have praised his judicious and painstaking method and his diligence in bringing together authorities for purposes of illustration. He published: 1. Aristophanes, 'Acharnians,' 1809, 8vo. 2. Euripides, 'Omnia Opera,' 1821. 8vo. Also various plays of Euripides, separately, between 1806 and 1822. 3. Sophocles, 'Œdipus Tyrannus,' 1809, 12mo; also 1811, 8vo, and 1821, 8vo. 4. Sophocles, 'Œdipus Coloneus,' 1823, 8vo. (Compare also 'Elmsleiana Critica,' Cambr. 1833, 8vo, and 'Scholis' on Sophocles, ed. Gaisford, Oxford, 1825, 8vo.)

[Gent. Mag 1825. vol. xcv. pt. i. pp. 284. 374-7; Cat. Oxf. Grad.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. W.