1780 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Parnell

John Nichols, in Select Collection of Poems with Notes Biographical and Historical (1780-82) 3:209-10n.



Thomas Parnell, D.D. descended from an antient family of Congleton in Cheshire, was born in Dublin, in the year 1679; and was admitted a member of Dublin College at the early age of thirteen. He took his degree of M.A. July 9, 1700; and in the same year was ordained a deacon by Dr. William King, then bishop of Derry, having a dispensation from the primate, as being under twenty-three years of age. He was admitted into priests orders about three years after, by Dr. King, then archbishop of Dublin; and was collated by Dr. St. George Ashe, bishop of Clogher, to the archdeanery of Clogher, Feb. 9, 1705. About that time also he married Miss Anne Minchin, a young lady of great merit and beauty, by whom he had two sons, who died young, and a daughter, living in 1770. Swift, in his Journal to Stella, August 24, 1712, says, "I am heartily [sic] for poor Mrs. Parnell's death: she seemed to be an excellent good-natured young woman, and I believe the poor lad is much afflicted: they appeared to live perfectly well together." This event is supposed to have made an indelible impression on his spirits. He was warmly recommended by the Dean to archbishop King: who gave him a prebend in 1713 and the vicarage of Finglas (worth about 400 a year) May 31, 1716. His gratitude is beautifully expressed in a poem on the Dean's birth-day, 1713. He died at Chester, in July 1718, on his way to Ireland; and was buried in Trinity church in that town, without any monument to mark the place of his interment. As he left no male issue, his estate devolved to his only nephew, Sir John Parnell, baronet, whose father was younger brother to the archdeacon, and one of the justices of the king's bench in Ireland. The character of Dr. Parnell is admirably pourtrayed by Dr. Goldsmith, in the Life prefixed to a volume of his Poems, originally published by Mr. Pope, in 1721. A posthumous volume was printed at Dublin in 1758. And both these volumes united, with several additional poems which I had formerly collected, are printed in the forty-fourth volume of the English Poets.