Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/372

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

English poetry, the sale of which in London in 1848 occupied seventeen days.

Lyte is chiefly remembered for his hymns. The best known are: ‘Abide with me, fast falls the eventide,’ and ‘Pleasant are Thy courts above;’ but others, like ‘Far from my heavenly home,’ ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken’ (sometimes erroneously attributed to James Montgomery), and ‘Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,’ are of acknowledged excellence. All these appear in most hymnals. Two of Lyte's secular poems—‘On a Naval Officer’ and ‘The Poet's Plea’—are remarkable for their true poetic feeling. The former was set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. The earliest volume of Lyte's poems, ‘Tales in Verse,’ written at Lymington, appeared in 1826, and reached a second edition. Wilson, reviewing this book in the ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ,’ justly characterised Lyte's verse as ‘the right kind of religious poetry.’ Some of his hymns were first published by him in his ‘Poems chiefly Religious’ (London, 1833); others in his ‘Spirit of the Psalms,’ a metrical version of the Psalter (London, 1834), which passed through several editions. A volume of ‘Remains,’ consisting of poems, sermons, and letters, with a prefatory memoir by his daughter, was published in London in 1850; and the verse in this and in ‘Poems chiefly Religious’ was reprinted under the title of ‘Miscellaneous Poems,’ London, 1868. Lyte also wrote the appreciative ‘Biographical Sketch of Henry Vaughan,’ prefixed to the latter's ‘Sacred Poems,’ London, 1847.

[Remains, with memoir, as above; Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, with authorities there given; Ashwell's Life of Bishop Wiberforce; Holland's Psalmists of Great Britain, ii. 344; Miller's Singers and Songs of the Christian Church; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. pp. 10, 182; Edinburgh Review, lix. 171–82; Dean Hole's Memories (1893), pp. 74 sq.]

J. C. H.

LYTE, THOMAS (1568?–1638), genealogist, born about 1568, was son of Henry Lyte of Lytescary in the parish of Charlton Mackrell, Somerset, by his second wife, Frances, daughter of John Tiptoft of London. He learnt his rudiments at Sherborne school. Wood is the sole authority for the assertion that he kept terms at Oxford. He became a member of Clifford's Inn, and removed thence to the Middle Temple. In 1628 he was one of the four collectors of the subsidy in Somerset, and during the same year was appointed a commissioner to inspect King's Sedgemoor. He died on 18 Sept. 1638, and was buried on the following day in the north transept at Charlton Mackrell Church, where a stone formerly marked the spot (Collinson, Somerset, iii. 194). He married, first, in February 1592 Frances (d. 1615), daughter of Henry Worth of Worth, Devonshire, and by her had five sons and five daughters; secondly, Constance, daughter of Matthew Huntley of Boxwell, Gloucestershire, and widow of Captain Nicholas Baskerville and of Sir John Sidney, who bore him two sons and a daughter. Disputes about his second wife's property involved him in much litigation, and the documents relating to them show that he lived sometimes at Boxwell and at Weston Birt in Gloucestershire. He did much, however, towards the reparation and adornment of his house and chapel at Lytescary.

Lyte devoted himself to a study of history and antiquities, and obtained high praise from Camden (Britannia, in com. Somerset). He drew up the ‘most royally ennobled Genealogy’ of James I, ‘extracted from Brute, the most noble Founder of the Britains,’ which was written on vellum ‘fairer than any print;’ it was also illuminated with ‘admirable flourishes and painting,’ and had the ‘pictures of the kings and queens mentioned therein most neatly performed by the hands of an exact limner,’ one Crinkyn. Camden, after perusing this pedigree, wrote underneath it with his own hand six Latin verses in commendation of it, the limner, and the author. On 12 July 1610 Lyte presented this genealogy to the king, who, after a ‘long and serious perusal’ of it, gave him his portrait in gold, set with diamonds. According to Wood, ‘Charles, prince of Wales,’ then under ten years of age, also gave Lyte his ‘picture in gold’ in recognition of his labours: the donor was more probably Henry, prince of Wales, who is known to have been present at the audience, but of this second royal miniature nothing further is known. The pedigree was hung up in public in one of the rooms at Whitehall, but having become by the carelessness of pages and idlers a little soiled, the king, at the author's request, had it engraved on copper and printed in form of a patent roll. No trace either of the original manuscript or of the prints taken from it can be found. The portrait, which James gave to Lyte—an oval miniature by Nicholas Hilliard—ultimately passed out of the possession of the family, was bought by the Duke of Hamilton from a London dealer, and at the sale of the Hamilton collection, where it formed lot 1615, was acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild for 2,835l.

Lyte compiled also two elaborate pedigrees of his own family, which with another of his manuscripts are in the possession of Mr. H. Maxwell Lyte, C.B.

A portrait of Lyte, dated 14 April 1611,