1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Michael Tyson

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 30:141-42.



MICHAEL TYSON, a learned divine and ingenious artist, was the only child of the rev. Michael Tyson, dean of Stamford, archdeacon of Huntingdon, &c. who died in 1794, aged eighty-four, by his first wife, the sister of Noah Curtis, of Wolsthorp, in Lincolnshire, esq. He was born in the perish of All Saints, in Stamford, Nov. 19, 1740, and received his grammatical education in that country. He was then admitted of Bene't college, Cambridge, and passed regularly through his degrees; that of B.A. in 1764, of M.A. in 1767, and of B.D. in 1775; and after taking his bachelor's degree was elected a fellow of his college. In the autumn of 1766 he attended a young gentleman of his college, Mr. Gough (afterwards the celebrated antiquary) in a tour through the north of England and Scotland, and made an exact journal of his several stages, with pertinent remarks on such places as seemed most interesting. At Glasgow and Inverary he had the freedom of the corporations bestowed upon him. After his return, in the following year he was elected a fellow of the society of antiquaries, and in 1769 a fellow of the royal society. In 1770 he was ordained deacon at Whitehall chapel, by Dr. Green, bishop of Lincoln. In 1773, his father being promoted to the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, he gave the officiality of it to his son, which was worth about 50 per ann. and about the same time, being bursar of the college, he succeeded Mr. Colman in the cure of St. Benedict's church, in Cambridge, as he did also in 1776, in the Whitehall preachership, at the request of the late Dr. Hamilton, son-in-law of bishop Terrick, who had formerly been of Bene't college.

In the same year, 1776, he was presented by the college to the rectory of Lambourne, near Ongar, in Essex; but, it being the first time that the college presented to it, the family from which it came litigated the legality of the society's claim, which, however, after a suit in chancery, was determined in favour of the college. But when they threatened another prosecution, Mr. Tyson, who was eager to settle on his living, as he had an intention of marrying, injudiciously entered into a composition with the parties, which, but for the liberality of the college, might have involved his family in debt. He died of a violent fever, May 3, 1780, in the fortieth year of his age, and was interred in Lambourne church. He left an infant son, who died in 1794.

In his early days Mr. Tyson amused himself with some poetical attempts, of which two were published, one On the birth of the prince of Wales, the other An Ode on Peace. He was a good classical scholar, and studied with great success the modern languages, particularly Italian, Spanish, and French. He was also a skilful botanist; but his principal researches were in history, biography, and antiquities, which he very ably illustrated both as a draughtsman and engraver. His taste in drawing and painting is said to have been exquisite. There are several etchings by his hand, particularly the portrait of archbishop Parker, taken from an illumination by T. Berg, in a MS. preserved in the library of Bene't college, and prefixed to Nasmith's catalogue of the archbishop's MSS. Strutt also mentions the portrait of sir William Paulet, and of Jane Shore, from an original picture at King's college, Cambridge. To these we may add that of Michael Dalton, author of The Country Justice, Jacob Butler, esq. of Barnwell, Mr. Cole, and others his private friends. He occasionally corresponded in the Gentleman's Magazine, but his publications were few, as his career was short. In the Archaeologia are two articles by him, a description of an illuminated picture in a MS. in Bene't college, and a letter to Mr. Gough, with a description and draught of the old drinking horn in Bene't college, called Goldcorne's horn. His skill was always liberally bestowed on his friends; and his contributions to works of antiquity, &c. were frequently and readily acknowledged by his learned contemporaries.