Thomas Stanley (author)

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Sir Thomas Stanley
Thomas Stanley 1660.jpg
Born 1625
Cumberlow, Hertfordshire
Died 12 April 1678(1678-04-12) (aged 53)
Suffolk Street, Strand, London
Resting place St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Occupation Author and translator
Language English
Education B.A. (Cantab), M.A. (Cantab)
Alma mater Pembroke Hall, Cambridge
Notable works The History of Philosophy,
The History of Chaldaick Philosophy
Spouse Dorothy Emyon,
Catherine Killigrew

Sir Thomas Stanley (1625 – 12 April 1678) was an English author and translator.


He was born in Cumberlow, Hertfordshire, the son of Sir Thomas Stanley of Cumberlow, Hertfordshire and his wife, Mary Hammond. Mary was the cousin of Richard Lovelace, and Stanley was educated in company with the son of Edward Fairfax, the translator of Tasso. He proceeded to Cambridge in 1637, in his thirteenth year, as a gentleman commoner of Pembroke Hall. In 1641 he took his M.A. degree, but seems by that time to have proceeded to Oxford.[1] He subsequently embarked on a legal career.

He was wealthy, married early, and travelled much on the Continent. He was the friend and companion, and at need the helper, of many poets, and was himself both a writer and a translator of verse. His portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely and by Sir Godfrey Kneller; in all he was painted at least fifteen times.


Stanley is a transitional figure in English literature. Born into a later generation than that of Waller and Denham, he rejected their reforms, and was the last to cling to the old prosody and forms of fancy. He is the frankest of all English poets in his preference of decadent and Alexandrine schools of imagination; among the ancients he admired Moschus, Ausonius, and the Pervigilium Veneris; among the moderns, Joannes Secundus, Gongora and Marino. The English metaphysical school closes in Stanley, in whom it finds its most delicate and autumnal exponent, who went on weaving his fantastic conceits in elaborately artificial measures far into the days of Dryden and Butler.

Stanley's most serious work was his The History of Philosophy, which appeared in three successive volumes between 1655 and 1661. A fourth volume (1662), bearing the title of The History of Chaldaick Philosophy, was translated into Latin by Jean Le Clerc (Amsterdam, 1690). The three earlier volumes were published in an enlarged Latin version by Godfrey Olearius (Leipzig, 1711). In 1664 Stanley published in folio a monumental edition of the text of Aeschylus.

His The History of Philosophy was long the principal authority on the progress of thought in ancient Greece. It took the form of a series of critical biographies of the philosophers, beginning with Thales; what Stanley aimed at was the providing of necessary information concerning all "those on whom the attribute of Wise was conferred." He is particularly full on the great Attic masters, and introduces, "not as a comical divertisement for the reader, but as a necessary supplement to the life of Socrates," a blank verse translation of The Clouds of Aristophanes. Richard Bentley is said to have had a very high appreciation of his scholarship, and to have made use of the poet's copious notes, still in manuscript (in the British Museum, now the British Library), on Callimachus.


History of philosophy, 1731


His first wife was Dorothy Emyon, daughter and coheir of Sir James Emyon, of Flower, Northamptonshire, with issue:

  • Thomas Stanley (1650-d. unknown)

After Dorothy's death, he remarried to Catherine Killigrew, with no issue

He died at his lodgings in Suffolk Street, Strand, London on 12 April 1678, and was buried in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields.[disputed ]

His widow died in Cumberlow in 1689.


  1. ^ "Stanley, Thomas (STNY639T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ London: printed for Humphrey Moseley, at the signe of the Princes Armes in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1647


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