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The Diary of Ralph Thoresby.


Covering the years 1677 to 1724.

Ralph Thoresby, FRS.

About Ralph Thoresby.


Ralph Thoresby was born on the 16th of August, 1658 in Leeds in the West Riding of Yorkshire in England as the second son of John Thoresby and Ruth, née Ruth Idle. Ralph's father, John, had taken part in the English Civil War (1642-1651) supporting and fighting for the Parliamentarian cause.

Ralph was destined to become a merchant like his father and, after an early education at the Leeds Grammar School, he was sent to a relative in London to get practical experience of the ins and outs of merchant life. When he was 20 years old further mercantile experience was gained when he was sent to Holland for a 7 month stint studying the skills needed by an international merchant. On his return from Holland he remained in Leeds until his death.

He married Anna Sykes, daughter of one of the Lords of the Manor of Leeds (Richard Sykes), on 25th February, 1685.

Like his father, Ralph Thoresby was a deeply religious man - a life-long non-conformist and his Diary reflects his constant struggle between his principles and what the State required of him (and other citizens of the country), for example, he was prosecuted as non-conformist in 1683.

He was not a particularly successful businessman - possibly because he indulged in his other interests of religion, collecting antiquities, ancient documents and coins as well as documenting local items, places and people ... all of his interests are liberally mentioned thoughout his Diary.

His Diary was not intended to be published but as a repository of his day to day life alongwith some admissions of his religious tendencies (which would have got him into serious trouble had they become public knowledge) - however, he did publish three major works: He created a Museum,which became increasingly well known, of locally collected antiquities and manuscripts he had garnered from local Leeds people. His reputation as an antiquarian grew until in 1697 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.

In October of 1724 a paralytic stroke reduced him to a state of great mental and bodily weakness; and on the 16th of October 1725, a second stroke killed him.

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Updated: 24th October, 2013.
Researched & Compiled by Eric Soons.

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