Weymouth, Richard Francis (DNB12)

WEYMOUTH, RICHARD FRANCIS (1822–1902), philologist, and New Testament scholar, born at Stoke Damerel, Devonport (then called Plymouth Dock) on 26 Oct. 1822, was the only son of Commander Richard Weymouth, R.N., by his wife Ann Sprague, also of a Devonshire family. After education at a private school he went to France for two years. He matriculated at University College, London, in 1843, and graduated in classics—B.A. in 1846, M.A. in 1849. After acting as an assistant to Joseph Payne [q. v.], the educational expert, at the Mansion House School, Leatherhead, he conducted a successful private school, Portland grammar school, at Plymouth. In 1868 Weymouth was the first to receive the degree of doctor of literature at London University, after a severe examination in Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and French and English language and literature. The degree was not conferred again till 1879.

In 1869 also, Weymouth, who was elected fellow of University College, London, was appointed headmaster of Mill Hill School, which had been founded by nonconformists and was now first reorganised on the lines of a public school. A zealous baptist, Weymouth was long a deacon of the George St. baptist chapel, Plymouth, and subsequently a member of the committee of the Essex Baptist Union. At Mill Hill he proved a successful teacher and organiser and a strict disciplinarian, and the numbers increased. Among his assistants was (Sir) James A. H. Murray, editor of the ‘New English Dictionary.’ Weymouth retired with a pension in July 1886, when the school showed temporary signs of decline. Thenceforth he chiefly devoted himself to biblical study. As early as 1851 he had joined the Philological Society, and long sat on its council. He edited for the society in 1864 Bishop Grosseteste's ‘Castell of Loue,’ and contributed many papers to its ‘Transactions,’ one of which (on the Homeric epithet ὄβριμος) was commended by Gladstone in the ‘Nineteenth Century.’ Later contributions to philology comprised ‘Early English Pronunciation, with Especial Reference to Chaucer’ (1874), the views propounded being now generally accepted; a literal translation of Cynewulf's ‘Elene’ into modern English (1888); besides various papers in the ‘Journal of Classical and Sacred Philology’ and the ‘Cambridge Journal of Philology.’ In 1885, as president of the Devonshire Association, Weymouth read an address on ‘The Devonshire Dialect: a Study in Comparative Grammar,’ an early attempt to treat English dialect in the light of modern philology. In 1891 he was awarded a civil service pension of 100l.

On textual criticism of the Greek Testament Weymouth spent many years' study. The latest results of critical research he codified in ‘Resultant Greek Testament, exhibiting the text in which the majority of modern editors are agreed,’ 1886. Then followed a tract, ‘The Rendering into English of the Greek Aorist and Perfect, with appendices on the New Testament Use of gar and oun’ (1894; new edit. 1901).

Weymouth's last work, which was issued after his death and proved widely popular, was ‘The New Testament in Modern Speech’ (1903; 3rd edit. 1909). Based upon the text of ‘The Resultant Greek Testament,’ it was partly revised by Mr. Ernest Hampden-Cook.

Since 1892 Weymouth lived at Collaton House, Brentwood, where he died on 27 Dec. 1902, being buried in the new cemetery.

A portrait, an excellent likeness, by Sidney Paget, was hung in the hall of Mill Hill school; and a memorial window is in the chapel.

Weymouth was twice married: (1) in 1852 to Louisa Sarah (d. 1891), daughter of Robert Marten, sometime secretary of the Vauxhall Bridge Company, of Denmark Hill; and (2) on 26 Oct. 1892 to Louisa, daughter of Samuel Salter of Watford, who survived him with three sons and three daughters, children of the first marriage.

[Private information; London University Register; Norman Brett James's History of Mill Hill School; The Times, 30 Dec. 1902; Weymouth's Works.]

G. Le G. N.