James Morgan Pryse

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James Morgan Pryse (14 November 1859 – 22 April 1942) was an author, publisher, and theosophist.

Emblem of the Theosophical Society

Family Background and Early Life[edit]

Pryse was born in New London, Ohio ( a suburb of Cincinnati ), and died in Los Angeles, California.

His father was James Morgan Pryse, Sr. (April 15, 1827 - March 10, 1891),[1] who had immigrated with his family to the U. S. about 1838 from Tredegar, Monmouth County, Wales, and his mother was Mary Morgan (July 4, 1825 - Nov. 7, 1903)[2] of Palmyra, Ohio. They married on May 19, 1848 in Ravenna County, Ohio, and had several children. James' father became a Presbyterian minister, who also belonged to the Welsh order of Druid Bards.

Pryse married Jessica "Jessie" Mayer (died on Aug. 27, 1928 ) on Dec. 1, 1902 at Galesville, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin.

James had a brother named John Morgan Pryse (Sept. 9, 1863 - Sept. 5, 1952)[3] who died in Los Angeles and who was also a publisher and writer on esoteric subjects.

James began his career in law, but gave it up for journalism. In adult life he travelled extensively, helping create a utopian colony in Topolobampo, Mexico, and editing the Topolobampo periodical from his New Jersey home.

The Pryse Brothers and the Theosophical Society[edit]

James settled in Los Angeles, California in 1886. He joined the Los Angeles branch of the Theosophical Society on July 28, 1887. His brother John was already a member at that time. John later dropped out of the Theosophical Society and founded the Gnostic Society in 1928. The original headquarters of the Gnostic Society was in John's home in Los Angeles ( address: 919 South Bernal Avenue, Los Angeles, California).[4]

In July 1888 the Pryse brothers arrived in New York City. In 1889, members of the Theosophical Society from New York City and Chicago purchased a printing press and type, for the purpose of setting up a publishing company which would handle the publishing needs of the various branches of the Theosophical Society located in the United States. This theosophical publishing company, named the Aryan Press, was located at 144 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. James was recruited to set up and operate the Aryan Press, which was in full operation by December 1889.

Due to the success of the Aryan Press, a larger printing press was purchased and shipped to London, England. In August 1890, James was contacted by Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) (co-founder of the Theosophical Society) and summoned to London, for the purpose of setting up and operating this new publishing company, known as the H. P. B. Press (Printers to the Theosophical Society). This printing press was also referred to as the "Blavatsky Press." James left New York City for London in September 1890, at which time his brother John took over operation of the Aryan Press. The H. P. B. Press (Blavatsky Press) was installed in London ( at 42 Henry Street, Regent's Park, London, N. W.) about November 1890.

Blavatsky had asked James to publish her Esoteric Instructions in the United States, so the work would be accessible to members of the American branches of the Theosophical Society.[5] Blavatsky's Esoteric Instructions was duly published by the Aryan Press in 1890.[6]

In The Apocalypse Unsealed (1910) Pryse published the secret key to decoding the esoteric meaning of the Biblical Book of Revelation. His The Restored New Testament (1914) also shows esoteric meaning.[7]

Publications of James Morgan Pryse (1859-1942)[edit]

Publications of John Morgan Pryse (1863-1952)[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=pryse&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GSsr=41&GRid=25175953&df=all&
  2. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=pryse&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GSsr=41&GRid=25175888&df=all&
  3. ^ http://vitals.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ca/death/search.cgi?surname=pryse&given=john
  4. ^ http://theosophy.katinkahesselink.net/canadian/Vol-33-12-Theosophist.htm (Scroll down to the Obituary section on pp. 185-186 to read John M. Pryse's obituary)
  5. ^ Boris de Zirkoff (1889). H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. 12, p. 499. Quest Books.
  6. ^ http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/hpbes1extract.htm
  7. ^ Michael Wassil, Dance of Ecstasy, 13 Mar 2011 <www.dance-of-ecstasy.net>
  8. ^ The DeVinne Press, named after typographer and printer Theodore Low De Vinne (1828-1914), was located in the DeVinne Press Building at 393-399 Lafayette Street (at the corner of East 4th Street), Manhattan, New York City, New York.

External links[edit]