Parkhurst, John (1728-1797) (DNB00)

PARKHURST, JOHN (1728–1797), biblical lexicographer, second son of John Parkhurst (1701–1765) of Catesby House, Northamptonshire, was born in June 1728. His mother was Ricarda, second daughter of Sir Robert Dormer [q. v.] He was educated at Rugby School and Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he proceeded B.A. 1748, M.A. 1752, and was elected fellow. Soon after he had taken orders the death of his elder brother made him heir to considerable estates at Catesby and Epsom, Surrey. For some time he acted as curate for a friend, but received no preferment. The family living of Epsom he gave in 1785 to Jonathan Boucher [q. v.], though he knew him only as a clergyman who had preached loyal doctrine to ‘a set of rebellious schismatics’ in America. He was a considerate landlord, not only reducing lease-rent, but refunding if he thought he had been paid on an over-valuation.

Parkhurst led a life of literary retirement and close study, rising every morning at five, although a valetudinarian. In early life he became a disciple of John Hutchinson (1674–1737) [q. v.]; though admitting Hutchinson's faults as a writer, he adhered in the main to his principles of biblical exegesis. His Hebrew grammar and lexicon, possessing undoubted merits of arrangement, contributed materially to foster that study of unpointed Hebrew of which Samuel Sharpe (1799–1881) [q. v.] was almost the last advocate of repute. From his Greek lexicon he discarded accents and smooth breathings. Both his lexicons contain, in addition to much theological deduction, a large body of useful illustrative matter drawn from travels and general literature, as well as from a minute study of the Scriptures themselves.

He spent the latter part of his life at Epsom, where he died on 21 Feb. 1797. His monument, by Flaxman, in Epsom church bears an inscription by his friend William Jones of Nayland [q. v.] His portrait is prefixed to later editions of his lexicons. He is described as of short stature, erect in bearing, and somewhat quick-tempered, but easily appeased. He married, first, in 1754, Susanna (d. 1759), daughter of John Myster of Epsom; by her he had two sons, who died before him, and a daughter (d. 25 April 1813), married to the Rev. James Altham. He married secondly, in 1761, Millicent (d. 27 April 1800, aged 79), daughter of James Northey of London, by whom he had one daughter, married (1791) to the Rev. Joseph Thomas.

He published: 1. ‘A Serious and Friendly Address to the Rev. John Wesley,’ &c. 1753, 8vo (on the witness of the Spirit). 2. ‘An Hebrew and English Lexicon, … to which is added a Methodical Hebrew Grammar,’ &c., 1762, 4to; last edit. 1830, 8vo. In the later editions a Chaldee grammar was added; the ‘Hebrew and Chaldee Grammar’ was published separately, 1840, 8vo, edited by Prosser. 3. ‘A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament … prefixed a … Greek Grammar,’ &c., 1769, 4to; the edition of 1798, 8vo, was edited by his daughter, Mrs. Thomas; last edit. 1851, 8vo, edited by H. J. Rose and J. R. Major. 4. ‘The Divinity … of … Jesus Christ … in Answer to … Priestley,’ &c., 1787, 8vo. A posthumous letter, on the confusion of tongues at Babel, is in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ August 1797.

[Gent. Mag. 1797 pt. i. pp. 347 sq., 1800 pt. i. pp. 487 sq.; Life, prefixed to Hebrew Lexicon, 1823; Baker's Northamptonshire, i. 287, 291.]

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