Dart, John (DNB00)

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DART, JOHN (d. 1730), antiquary, was bred an attorney, but meeting with little success in that profession, he turned to the church as a means of subsistence. Although his life could not be regarded as exemplary, he contrived to obtain a title for orders, and in 1728 was presented by the master of St. Cross Hospital, Winchester, to the perpetual curacy of Yateley, Hampshire. He served the church there from the neighbouring village of Sandhurst, Berkshire, where he died in December 1730, and was buried on the 20th at Yateley. By his handwriting in the parish register he appears to have been a more than ordinary scribe for those days. He obliged the world with a modernised version of Chaucer's supposititious poem, ‘The Complaint of the Black Knight,’ 8vo, London, 1718; a ridiculous ‘Life’ of Chaucer prefixed to Urry's edition, fol. London, 1721; and a truly wretched paraphrase of Tibullus, 8vo, London, 1720. Still worse is ‘Westminster Abbey, a poem,’ 8vo, London, 1721, afterwards included in his ‘Westmonasterium.’ He is now only remembered by his ‘History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Canterbury,’ fol. London, 1726, and ‘Westmonasterium; or the History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster,’ 2 vols. fol. London, 1742, which sold for less than the engravings were worth. Of the former work Gough (British Topography, i. 452) says that if Dart ‘had done as much justice to his subscribers as his engravers did, his book would have been a much more valuable one than it is,’ a remark which applies equally to both performances. A mezzotint engraving of Dart by J. Faber is prefixed to the ‘Westmonasterium.’

[Information from the vicar of Yateley; Noble's Continuation of Granger, iii. 353; Gough's British Topography, i. 763; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 198 n.; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. iii. 28, 96, 197, xii. 15.]

G. G.