Samuel Purchas

Date bap. 1577, d. 1626
Biographical NotesEnglish clergyman and editor of geographical works. Son of a cloth merchant, he was educated at St John's College, Cambridge; he received a Lambeth BD in 1615 and was also incorporated as an Oxford BD. Spent his professional life in a series of preferments in the Church of England. Notably he was chaplain to his patron Archbishop George Abbot in 1613 or 1614, and later a fellow of King James's College at Chelsea.

Purchas is best remembered for his large cosmologies and edited collections of travel writing. The first of these was the cosmology 'Purchas his Pilgrimage' (1613) which also appeared in substantially extended editions in 1614, 1617, and 1626. During these years he also composed the works 'Purchas his Pilgrim: Microcosmus, or, The Historie of Man' (1619) and a sermon titled 'The Kings Towre' (1623). Though these also referred to travel they were essentially works of Calvinist speculative theology.

Purchas was a contemporary and acquaintance of Richard Hakluyt, a well known editor of large collections of travel narratives. The works of these two men are often compared with Purchas frequently presented as a continuer of Hakluyt's project. Hakluyt lent Purchas books and manuscripts toward the second edition of his 'Pilgrimage' (1614). The subsequent 'Hakluytus Posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes' (1624–25), for which Purchas is best remembered, was partially based on Hakluyt's surviving papers, which Purchas acquired around 1620. See ODNB and also 'The Purchas Handbook: Studies of the Life, Times and Writings of Samuel Purchas 1577-1626'. ed. L.E. Pennington (Hakluyt Society, 1997).
Work(s)Author of [Remarks on travel in Purchas's Hakluytus Posthumus] (1625) in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes. Contayning a History of the World, in Sea Voyages & Lande-Travells, by Englishmen & others. Wherein Gods Wonders in Nature & Providence, the Actes, Arts, Varieties, & Vanities of Men, with a World of the Worlds Rarities, are by a World of Eywitnesse-Authors, Related to the World. Some Left Written by M. Hakluyt at his Death. More Since Added. His also Perused & Perfected. All Examined, Abreviated with Discourse. Adorned with Pictues and Expressed in Mapps