Humphry Primatt

(fl. c. 1766—1790) Church of England clergyman and writer on animal welfare

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Humphrey Primatt was a clergyman who wrote on moral issues in natural philosophy. He was baptised in 1735 and died in 1776/7. He became a pensioner at Clare College Cambridge in 1752 and gained a BA in 1757 and an MA in 1764. He was Vicar of Higham, Suffolk from 1766 to 1774, and rector of Brampton, Suffolk from 1771 to 1774, when he resigned. He gained a DD at Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1773. His only known work, A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals (1766), attacks what the author sees as unnecessary cruelty to animals, including that inflicted through hunting and other sports. His argument opens from the position that justice is a universal rule, stemming from God. Therefore, as animals are created by God, justice must extend to them as well. Primatt's theological views are founded on notions of divine goodness and love: ‘love is the great hinge upon which universal nature turns’ (p. 1), and the creation of all things must be seen as an act of divine love. He acknowledges that man is permitted to kill animals for food or necessary use, but denies that this permits unnecessary suffering. Cruelty to animals, he says, amounts to wickedness. This work was reprinted in 1790 and became popular again in the 1820s.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.