1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ayscough, Samuel

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AYSCOUGH, SAMUEL (1745-1804), English librarian and index-maker, was born at Nottingham in 1745. His father, a printer and stationer, having ruined himself by speculation, Samuel Ayscough left Nottingham for London, where he obtained an engagement in the cataloguing department of the British Museum. In 1782 he published a two-volume catalogue of the then undescribed manuscripts in the museum. About 1785 he was appointed assistant librarian at the museum, and soon afterwards took holy orders. In 1786 he published an index to the first seventy volumes of the Monthly Review, and in 1796 indexed the remaining volumes. Both this index and his catalogue of the undescribed manuscripts in the museum were private ventures. His first official work was a third share in the British Museum catalogue of 1787, and he subsequently catalogued the ancient rolls and charters, 16,000 in all. In 1789 he produced the first two volumes of the index to the Gentleman's Magazine, and in 1790 the first index-concordance to Shakespeare. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and has been called “The Prince of Indexers.” He died at the British Museum on the 30th of October 1804.