Born at Cardigan, son of William Parry, ' a poor man.' About 1695, when (as it would seem) at Cardigan grammar school (and ' a good Latinist'), he was brought by William Gambold to the notice of Edward Lhuyd, who took him on as a helper, and as companion on his travels in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany (there, both were imprisoned as 'spies'). On their return to Oxford (April 1701), Parry matriculated from Jesus College; in 1704 Lhuyd strove to get him a scholarship, but though ' all were fond of Parry,' that 'cold' Fellow John Wynne (afterwards bishop) prevented this. Parry graduated in 1705 (M.A. 1708), and became unpaid under-keeper at the Ashmolean, under Lhuyd. In Lhuyd's Archaeologia, 1707 (270-89), ' an Essay towards a British Etymologicon,' are by Parry. On Lhuyd's death, Parry was appointed (19 July 1709) keeper of the Ashmolean - again without salary, however he may have supported himself. Hearne (Collectanea, ii, 224) avers that there was no one more competent, ' if he would set himself to work '; but Hugh Thomas describes him as ' capable … if he could spare time from his pots and companions; but out of the tipling [ sic ] house he cannot spare one minute even to common civility ' (Cambro-Briton, ii, 369). Later on, Hearne confesses that things were not too good at the Ashmolean, excusing Parry because he was unpaid. A German visited the Ashmolean in 1710, but did not see Parry there - ' the custos, always in the tavern, was too busy guttling and guzzling ' (Mallet, Hist. of the University of Oxford, iii, 22). Parry died in December 1714 - 8 December according to Richard Ellis (below), 10 December according to Hearne (op. cit., v 2), who added: ' being a perfect sot he shortened his days, being just turned of thirty.' Foster gives his academic career correctly, but errs (wherein he is followed by W. Wales Hist. Records, i, 253; iii, 229) in identifying him with another David Parry, vicar of Nolton and Bridell, Pembrokeshire, whose will was proved in 1720.
Published date: 1959
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