Crabb, George (DNB00)

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CRABB, GEORGE (1778–1851), legal and miscellaneous writer, was born 8 Dec. 1778 at Palgrave, Suffolk. He was educated at a school at Diss and under a private tutor. He commenced the study of medicine, but being unable to endure the dissecting-room resigned his medical studies to become assistant to a bookseller. This he also in a short time resigned to study for the ministry at Northampton, but a sudden change in his religious views rendered it necessary for him again to make choice of a new profession. In 1797 he came to London, and after his marriage to a Miss Southgate, who subsequently edited ‘Tales for Children from the German,’ became classical master at Thorp Arch School, Yorkshire. In order to acquire a mastery of the German language he went in 1801 to Bremen, where he supported himself at the same time by teaching English. On his return he published a ‘German Grammar for Englishmen,’ ‘Extracts from German Authors,’ and ‘German and English Conversations,’ all of which became very popular as instruction books, and passed through many editions. He also wrote an ‘English Grammar for Germans.’ In 1814 he entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner, and graduated B.A. in 1821 and M.A. in 1822, with mathematical honours. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1829, and adopted the practice of conveyancer and chamber counsel, but on account of his retiring manner was not very successful, although his ability as a lawyer is sufficiently shown by his various legal publications. The principal of these are a ‘History of English Law,’ 1829, founded on Reeves's ‘History of English Law;’ ‘Digest and Index of all the Statutes at Large,’ 4 vols., 1841–7; ‘Law of Real Property,’ 2 vols., 1846; ‘Series of Precedents in Conveyancing and Common and Commercial Forms,’ 3rd ed. 1845. He was also the author of various dictionaries which obtained wide popularity, including a ‘Dictionary of English Synonymes,’ ‘Universal Technological Dictionary,’ a ‘Universal Historical Dictionary,’ and a ‘Dictionary of General Knowledge;’ and the ‘New Pantheon or Mythology of all Nations.’ His later years were passed in eccentric seclusion, and he died 4 Dec. 1851.

[Gent. Mag. xxxvii. new ser. (1852), pp. 307–308; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. F. H.