Samuel Lysons

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This article is about the antiquarian and engraver who lived 1763–1819. For his nephew, the antiquarian and proponent of British Israelism, who lived 1806–1877, see Samuel Lysons (priest).
Samuel Lysons,
by Thomas Lawrence.

Samuel Lysons FRS (1763 – June 1819) was an English antiquarian and engraver who, together with his elder brother Daniel Lysons (1762–1834), published several works on antiquarian topics. He was one of the first archaeologists to investigate Roman sites in Britain, and specialised in the study of mosaics.

Origins[edit]

He was born at Rodmarton near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, the younger son of the Reverend Samuel Lysons (1730–1804) by his wife Mary Peach of Rodmarton. His elder brother was Daniel Lysons (1762–1834), his collaborator in much of his works.

Career[edit]

Samuel studied law at Bath in Somerset and was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1798 and having chosen the Oxford Circuit, he practised law until December 1803. Samuel 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.

From 1803 until his death in 1819 he was Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London, then one of the principal storage sites for historic government documents and other archives until the opening in 1838 of the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane (since superseded by the National Archives, Kew).

Death[edit]

Samuel died in June 1819, near Rodmarton, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, his birthplace.

Works[edit]

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

Samuel Lysons' works included:

  • Environs of London, illustrated by Samuel Lysons, written by Daniel Lysons.
  • Magna Britannia, Being a Concise Topographical Account of the Several Counties of Great Britain, written by both Samuel and Daniel, published in several volumes from 1806 to 1822 including:[2]
    • Volume 6: Devon, 1822
  • Reliquae Britannico-Romanae (1801–1817), in which 156 plates were engraved by Samuel.
  • Views and Antiquities of the County of Gloucestershire (1791), relating to his native county, for which he produced plates.
  • A Collection of Gloucestershire Antiquities (1803), for which he produced plates.
  • An Account of the Remains of a Roman Villa Discovered at Woodchester in the County of Gloucestershire (1815), written by Samuel.[3] This included descriptions of his discovery of the 'Orpheus' pavement at Woodchester Roman Villa in 1793.
  • Several works on Roman mosaics, including papers in Archaeologia, published by the Society of Antiquaries in London.

References[edit]