Humphrey Primatt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Humphrey Primatt (1734 – c. 1776) was an English clergyman and animal rights writer.[1][2] Primatt has been described as "one of the most important figures in the development of a notion of animal rights."[3]


Primatt was born in London, in 1734.[1] He obtained a BA in 1757 and MA in 1764 from Clare College, Cambridge.[2] He was a Church of England clergyman. He was vicar of Higham (1766-1774) and rector of Brampton (1771–1774). Primatt obtained a Doctor of Divinity from Marischal College, in 1773.[2] He married a Miss Gulliver on 2 October 1769 and retired in 1771 to Kingston upon Thames.[4]

Animal rights[edit]

In 1776, Primatt authored A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals, which argued that all animals were created by God, so deserve humane treatment and that any form of cruelty to animals should be equated with atheism and wickedness.[5][6]

Primatt held that pain is evil and humans have no right to inflict it on animals or each other.[1] He commented that "pain is pain, whether it be inflicted on man or on beast".[7] It was one of the first books to argue for the compassionate treatment of animals and influenced the animal welfare movement.[8][9][10][11]

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers the book a "foundation stone" of their organization as it influenced the founders of their society.[8][12] Arthur Broome was inspired by Primatt's book and republished it in 1822.[13][14] Henry Stephens Salt described it as a "quaint but excellent book".[15] Marc Bekoff has noted that "Primatt was largely responsible for bringing animal welfare to the attention of the general public."[13]

Primatt did not promote vegetarianism.[16] He suggested that man is permitted to kill animals for food but denied that this permits unnecessary suffering.[2]

Selected publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Simons, John. (2002). Animals, Literature and the Politics of Representation. Palgrave. pp. 39-41. ISBN 978-1-349-41045-3
  2. ^ a b c d "Humphry Primatt". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  3. ^ Garrett, Aaron. (2000). Animal Rights and Souls in the Eighteenth Century. Thoemmes Press. p. 19. ISBN 1-85506-826-5
  4. ^ Nichols, John. (1822). Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century. London. p. 839
  5. ^ Nash, Roderick Frazier. (1989). The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 22-23. ISBN 0-299-11840-1
  6. ^ "Jan Morris applauds an 18th-century anglican vicar and his unusual early enthusiasm for animal rights". The Independent. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  7. ^ Evans, Kimberly Masters. (2009). Animal Rights. Cengage Gale. p. 6
  8. ^ a b Niven, Charles D. (1967). History of the Humane Movement. Transatlantic Arts. p. 53
  9. ^ Linda Merz-Perez, Kathleen M. Heide. (2004). Animal Cruelty: Pathway to Violence Against People. AltaMira Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-7591-0304-6
  10. ^ Boddice, Rob. (2008). A History of Attitudes and Behaviours Toward Animals in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 115
  11. ^ Levitt, Lacey; Patronek, Gary; Grisso, Thomas. (2016). Animal Maltreatment: Forensic Mental Health Issues and Evaluations. Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-19-936090-1
  12. ^ Li, Chien-hui. (2019). Mobilizing Traditions in the First Wave of the British Animal Defense Movement. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-137-52650-2
  13. ^ a b Bekoff, Marc. (2010). Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. pp. 484-485. ISBN 978-0-313-35257-7
  14. ^ "A Dissertation on the duty of mercy and sin of cruelty to brute animals by Humphry Primatt". Royal Collection Trust.Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  15. ^ Salt, Henry Stephens. (1922). Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress. London: G. Bell and Sons. p. 117
  16. ^ Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. (2010). Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-313-37556-9