Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/81

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


8vo; and ‘The Scripture Preservative against Popery: being a Paraphrase, with Notes, on the Revelation of St. John,’ London, 1735, 8vo.

After his death his son Philip published three collections of his discourses in 1773, 1777, and 1783 respectively.

[Richards's Hist. of Lynn, 1813, pp. 1012–23; Mackerell's History of Lynn, 1738, p. 89; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 433; Masters's Hist. of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, p. 38; Le Neve's Fasti; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.; information kindly given by Dr. John Venn of Caius College, Cambridge.]

E. G. H.

PYM, JOHN (1584–1643), parliamentary statesman, born in 1584, was the eldest son of Alexander Pym of Brymore, near Bridgwater, Somerset, and Philippa Coles. His father must have died when he was, at the utmost, six years of age, as in the sermon preached at his mother's funeral in 1620—probably in 1620–1—she is said to have lived more than thirty years with her second husband, Sir Anthony Rous (Death's Sermon, by C. Fitzgeffry; the ‘Notebook’ printed as Pym's from the Brymore MSS. in Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep., is in reality William Ayshcombe's, and the interesting details which it would have furnished if it had been genuine must be unhesitatingly rejected; see the question discussed in the Engl. Hist. Review for January 1895, p. 105). Pym matriculated from Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College) on 18 May 1599, (Register of the Univ. of Oxford, Oxford Hist. Soc. II. ii. 234), and in 1601 is mentioned in a short Latin poem addressed to him by his friend Fitzgeffry, in a collection of verses which bears the name of ‘Affaniæ.’ In 1602 he became a student of the Middle Temple (information communicated by Mr. Joseph Foster), though he was never called to the bar. Mr. Firth, in his preface to Robert Browning's ‘Prose Life of Strafford’ (p. lxiv), having been misled by the notebook at Brymore, makes Pym enter the Middle Temple in 1607, in the same year as Wentworth, and naturally supposes that the friendship between the two men originated here. As a matter of fact, we have no evidence on the duration of Pym's stay in London after 1602, as we know nothing of his career till he entered the House of Commons as member for Calne in 1614. As Wentworth also sat in the same parliament, it is quite possible that Pym's intimacy with him had no earlier origin. All that we know of Pym during the six years which elapsed before parliament again met is that he married Anna Hooker or Hooke (she is called by the latter name in the pedigree at Brymore), and that his wife died in 1620. In the same year, according to the old reckoning, probably February or March 1620–1 (Fitzgeffry, in his sermon already cited, speaks of the impossibility of his attending the funeral, which could hardly be, unless he was detained by his parliamentary duties), he lost his mother.

In the parliament of 1621 Pym again sat for Calne. In the earlier part of the session his name begins to appear on committees; but it is not till after the summer adjournment that he stands forth as one of the leading speakers. His first appearance in this year was in the committee appointed to consider the state of religion and to prepare a petition against ‘papists.’ In his speech on this occasion (Proceedings and Debates, ii. 210) Pym laid stress, in the first place, on the Elizabethan doctrine that ‘papists’ were not coerced because of their religion, but because it was right ‘to restrain not only the fruit, but even the seeds of sedition, though buried under the pretences of religion.’ ‘The aim of the laws in the penalties and restraints of papists was not to punish them for believing and thinking, but that they might be disabled to do that which they think and believe they ought to do.’ In the second place, Pym recommended that an oath of association should be taken by all loyal subjects for the defence of the king's person, and for the execution of the laws in matter of religion. This falling back upon voluntary popular action was no doubt suggested to Pym by the association in defence of Elizabeth against the machinations of Mary Queen of Scots and her accomplices, but it was none the less characteristic of his habits of political thought. Popular opinion, he held to the last, must not be allowed to remain a vague sentiment. It must be organised in support of a government proceeding on the right lines. It was this practical turn which made Pym a power in the land. There is no trace in his speeches of that imaginative oratory which marks those of his contemporary Eliot.

In the struggle over the right of petition which marked the close of this parliament Pym did not take a prominent part; but he was sufficiently identified with it to be ordered to confine himself to his house in London. On 20 April 1622 he was allowed to return to Brymore. In the parliament of 1624, when he again sat for Calne, though he took part in the business of the house, he did not often make himself heard in the public debates, nor did he at any time speak at length. In 1625, in the first parliament of Charles, Pym, who now sat for Tavistock, once more took up the subject which he had