Jacob Bryant (1715-1804), English antiquarian and writer on mythological subjects, was born at Plymouth. His father had a place in the customs there, but was afterwards stationed at Chatham. The son was first sent to a school near Rochester, whence he was removed to Eton. In 1736 he was elected to a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, where he took his degrees of B.A. (1740) and M.A. (1744), subsequently being elected a fellow. He returned to Eton as private tutor to the duke of Marlborough, then marquess of Blandford; and in 1756 he accompanied the duke, then master-general of ordnance and commander-in-chief of the forces in Germany, to the continent as private secretary. He was rewarded by a lucrative appointment in the ordnance department, which allowed him ample leisure to indulge his literary tastes. He twice refused the mastership of the Charterhouse. Bryant died on the 14th of November 1804 at Cippenham near Windsor. He left his library to King's College, having, however, previously made some valuable presents from it to the king and the duke of Marlborough. He bequeathed £2000 to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and £1000 for the use of the superannuated collegers of Eton.
His principal works are: Observations and Inquiries relating to various Parts of Ancient History (1767); A New System, or an Analysis, of Ancient Mythology, wherein an attempt is made to divest Tradition of Fable, and to reduce Truth to its original Purity (1774-1776), which is fantastic and now wholly valueless; Vindication of the Apamean Medal (1775), which obtained the support of the great numismatist Eckhel; An Address to Dr Priestley upon his Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity (1780); Vindiciae Flavianae, a Vindication of the Testimony of Josephus concerning Jesus Christ (1780); Observations on the Poems of Thomas Rowley, in which the Authenticity of those Poems is ascertained (1781); Treatise upon the Authenticity of the Scriptures, and the Truth of the Christian Religion (1792); Observations upon the Plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians (1794); Observations on a Treatise, entitled Description of the Plain of Troy, by Mr de Chevalier (1795); A Dissertation concerning the War of Troy, and the Expedition of the Grecians, as described by Homer, with the view of showing that no such expedition was ever undertaken, and that no such city as Phrygia existed (1796); The Sentiments of Philo Judaeus concerning the λόγος or Word of God (1797).