KEY, Thomas Hewitt. London 20.3.1799 — London 29.11.1875. British Classical Scholar. Son of Thomas Key, a physician, and Mary Lux Barry. Educated at Buntingford grammar school, Hertfordshire. Studies at St. John’s and Trinity Colleges, Cambridge, graduated B.A. 1821, M.A. 1824. Also studied medicine. In 1825-27 Professor of Pure mathematics at the new University of Virginia. Unhappy with climate he resigned and returned to England. From 1828 Professor of Latin at University of London (learned comparative method from his colleague Rosen), in 1842 changed to the chair of Comparative Grammar, taught until his death (without salary). Also Headmaster of the school attached to University College. Married 1824 Sarah Troward, seven children.
Admitting that he did not know Sanskrit he tried to deny its usefulness for Indo-European studies. Concentrating on Bopp and Max Müller he thought he had defeated the whole “German school”. In his opinion all Sanskrit literature is very late. He offered funny etymologies, thus through/durch comes from door/Tür.
Publications: “The Sanskrit Language as the Basis of Linguistic Science and Labors of German School in that Field – are they not overvalued?”, Transactions of Philos. Soc. 1863, 48 p., republ. in his Philological Essays .L. 1868.
– A Latin-English Dictionary. Cambridge, 1888 (with etymologies, incomplete); other works on Latin.
Sources: *Chr. Stray, Oxford D.N.B.; W.D. Whitney, Oriental and Linguistic Essays. N.Y. 1873, 204ff.; W.W[orth], D.N.B. 31, 84-86; Wikipedia with portrait.
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