Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parry, John Humffreys (1786-1825)

PARRY, JOHN HUMFFREYS (1786–1825), Welsh antiquary, son of the Rev. Edward Parry and Anne, his wife, was born 6 April 1786 (Mold Parish Register). His father was at the time rector of Llangar, but held this living with the curacy of Mold, where he resided and kept school; he did not remove from that town on becoming, in 1790 (Browne Willis, St. Asaph), rector of the neighbouring parish of Llanferres. Parry was educated at Ruthin grammar school, and then entered the office of his uncle, Mr. Wynne, a solicitor at Mold. Inheriting some property through the death of his father, he was in 1807 admitted into the Temple, and in 1811 called to the bar. He practised for a time in the Oxford circuit and the Chester great sessions, but appears to have neglected his profession, encumbered his property, and to have finally turned to literature for a livelihood. In September 1819 he started the ‘Cambro-Briton,’ a magazine for the discussion of topics connected with Welsh history and antiquities; of this three volumes in all appeared (London, 1820, 1821, 1822). He took an active part in the re-establishment of the Cymmrodorion Society in 1820, and edited the first volume of the society's transactions (London, 1822). When in 1823 steps were taken to carry out the decision of the government as to the publication at the national expense of an edition of the ancient historians, the Welsh part of the work was entrusted to Parry. In the same year he won prizes at the Carmarthen Eisteddfod for essays on ‘The Navigation of the Britons’ and ‘The Ancient Manners and Customs of the Britons’ (printed, with a third prize essay, at Carmarthen, 1825). In 1824 appeared ‘The Cambrian Plutarch’ (London: some copies have a different title-page, struck off in 1834), a collection of short biographies of Welsh worthies. On 12 Feb. 1825 he was attacked and killed in North Street, Pentonville, by a bricklayer named Bennett, with whom he had quarrelled in the Prince of Wales's tavern. He left a widow (daughter of John Thomas, solicitor, of Llanfyllin) and five children (the eldest afterwards well known as Serjeant Parry) [see Parry, John Humffreys, 1816–1880], for whom a fund of nearly 1,100l. was subscribed.

[Annual Register for 1825; Leathart's Origin and Progress of the Gwyneddigion Society, 1831; Seren Gomer for April 1825.]

J. E. L.