1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Douce, Francis

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DOUCE, FRANCIS (1757-1834), English antiquary, was born in London in 1757. His father was a clerk in Chancery. After completing his education he entered his father's office, but soon quitted it to devote himself to the study of antiquities. He became a prominent member of the Society of Antiquaries, and for a time held the post of keeper of manuscripts in the British Museum, but was compelled to resign it owing to a quarrel with one of the trustees. In 1807 he published his Illustrations of Shakespeare and Ancient Manners (2 vols. 8vo), which contained some curious information, along with a great deal of trifling criticism and mistaken interpretation. An unfavourable notice of the work in The Edinburgh Review greatly irritated the author, and made him unwilling to venture any further publications. He contributed, however, a considerable number of papers to the Archaeologia and The Gentleman's Magazine. In 1833 he published a Dissertation on the various Designs of the Dance of Death, the substance of which had appeared forty years before. He died on the 30th of March 1834. By his will he left his printed books, illuminated manuscripts, coins, &c., to the Bodleian library; his own manuscript works to the British Museum, with directions that the chest containing them should not be opened until the 1st of January 1900; and his paintings, carvings and miscellaneous antiquities to Sir Samuel Meyrick, who published an account of them, entitled The Doucean Museum.