Peter Elmsley

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This article is about the scholar. For his uncle, see Peter Elmsley (bookseller).

Peter Elmsley (1773–1825) was an English classical scholar.

He was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, and having inherited a fortune from his uncle, also Peter Elmsley, a well-known bookseller, devoted himself to the study of classical authors and manuscripts. He took Holy Orders and in 1798 was appointed to the chapelry of Little Horkesley in Essex, which he held until his death.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1814.[1] He travelled extensively in France and Italy, and spent the winter of 1818 in examining the manuscripts in the Laurentian Library at Florence. In 1819 he was commissioned, with Sir Humphry Davy, to decipher the papyri found at Herculaneum, but the results proved insignificant. In 1823 he was appointed principal of St. Alban Hall, Oxford, and Camden Professor of Ancient History. He died in St Alban Hall, Oxford on 8 March 1825.

Elmsley was a man of most extensive learning and European reputation, and was considered to be the best ecclesiastical scholar in England. But it is chiefly by his collation of the manuscripts of the Greek tragedians and his critical labours on the restoration of their text that he will be remembered. He edited The Acharnians of Aristophanes, and several of the plays and scholia of Sophocles and Euripides. He was the first to recognize the importance of the Laurentian manuscript 32.9.[2]


  1. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  2. ^ see Sandy's Hist. of Class. Schol. iii. (1908)