was born on the 16th of August, 1658
in the West Riding of Yorkshire
as the second son of John Thoresby
and Ruth, née Ruth Idle
. Ralph's father, John
, had taken part in the English Civil War
) supporting and fighting for the Parliamentarian cause
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
, 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:
Ducatus Leodiensis; or the Topography of the ancient and populous Town and Parish of Leedes and parts adjacent in the West Riding of the County of York, 1715.
Museum Thoresbyanum, or A Catalogue of his Museum, with the Curiosities Natural and Artificial, and the Antiquities; particularly the Roman, British, Saxon, Danish, Norman and Scotch coins, with Modern Medals, 1715.
Vicaria Leodiensis: or the History of the Church of Leedes in Yorkshire, 1724.
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.
Updated: 24th October, 2013.
Researched & Compiled by Eric Soons.