Samuel Lysons

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Samuel Lysons,
by Thomas Lawrence.

Samuel Lysons FRS (1763 – June 1819) was a notable English engraver and antiquary of the late 18th and early 19th century, who – with his older brother, Daniel – published the four-volume The Environs of London (published 1792 to 1796). He was also one of the first archaeologists to investigate Roman sites in Britain, where he specialised in the study of mosaics.


The son of the Reverend Samuel Lysons (1730–1804) and Mary Peach Lysons of Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, Lysons studied law in Bath, was called to the Bar at Inner Temple in 1798 and, choosing the Oxford Circuit, practiced law until December 1803.

Lysons served as director of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1798 to 1809. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1797 and later served as vice-president and treasurer (1810–1819)[1] of the Society. Shortly before he died, he also served as antiquary professor in the Royal Academy. His portrait was painted by, among others, academicians Sir Thomas Lawrence and George Dance the Younger.

He was Keeper of the Records in London from 1803 until his death in 1819. Lysons died close to his Rodmarton birthplace at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in June 1819.


Lysons' drawing of the Orpheus mosaic at Woodchester (detail)

Samuel Lysons illustrated his brother Daniel's Environs of London, and both worked on Magna Britannia, Being a Concise Topographical Account of the Several Counties of Great Britain, published in several volumes from 1806 to 1822.[2]

Lysons also engraved 156 plates in Reliquae Britannico-Romanae (1801–1817). Relating to his native county, Lysons also produced plates for Views and Antiquities of the County of Gloucestershire (1791) and A Collection of Gloucestershire Antiquities (1803). He also wrote An Account of the Remains of a Roman Villa Discovered at Woodchester in the County of Gloucestershire (1815)[3] (this included his discovery of the 'Orpheus' pavement at Woodchester Roman Villa in 1793) and published several works on Roman mosaics, including papers in Archaeologia, published by the Society of Antiquaries in London.