Thomas Hallam was apparently an accomplished phonetician, but very little seems to be known about his life. Here is what I have been able to find.
TH was a native of the Peak District in North Derbyshire. I am certain that he died sometime between 1890 and 1896. He collaborated with, and was highly praised by, such phonetics and philological luminaries as Alexander Ellis (1814-1890) and Walter Skeat (1835-1912). I came across TH in the publication part of whose title page you can see to the left. This was published in 1896 by the English Dialect Society.
In his introduction to the first of the two collections Skeat says of Hallam:
TH himself wrote the introduction to the second collection (actually two collections conflated into one) and in this gave a very detailed account of all the symbols and diacritics used, together with a description of the sounds involved. The pronunciations he recorded were printed for the first collection introduced by Skeat, but unfortunately TH died before he could provide Skeat with the pronunciations for the second collection.
There is no doubt that Skeat had taken on a difficult task with these two collections and he freely admits he would have been hard pressed without TH’s work. The collections were made by Samuel Pegge (1704-1796), a clergyman, who for the latter part of his life was the vicar in Old Whittington near Chesterfield. Skeat acquired the manuscript of the collections in 1873. They were difficult to read and were rather chaotically thrown together. The introduction by Pegge, which deals amongst other things with pronunciation, is practically incomprehensible. The frustration Skeat must have felt is well illustrated by this extract from a footnote:
TH wrote at least one other work for the English Dialect Society. You can see part of the title page to the right. This was published in 1885. The four words concerned have the following (approximate) meanings:
clem = suffer from hunger or thirst
lake = to play
nesh = susceptible to cold
oss = to try
The only one of these I am familiar with is nesh, which was commonly used in Derby when I was young, and probably still is.
The paper is amazingly detailed and must have involved journeys by TH all over the country. You can read it online. It is part of the file which contains Ellis’s English Dialects – Their Sounds and Homes.
I would love to know more of the details of TH’s life. If anyone has any further information, please let me know.
My thanks go to JDL for providing the Pegge article. You can read it online here.