Gilchrist, Octavius Graham (DNB00)

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GILCHRIST, OCTAVIUS GRAHAM (1779–1823), antiquary, was born at Twickenham in 1779. His father, Stirling Gilchrist, lieutenant and surgeon in the 3rd dragoon guards, on the return of his regiment to England quitted the service and retired to Twickenham. Octavius was one of a family of sixteen. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, but left the university early without a degree, in order to assist a relative (Alderman Joseph Robinson, grocer) in business at Stamford. In 1803 he was elected F.S.A.; and in the following year he married Elizabeth, daughter of James Nowlan, merchant, of the Hermitage, Wapping. He printed in 1805, for private circulation, a little volume of ‘Rhymes,’ 8vo; and in 1807 he published a full and valuable edition of the ‘Poems,’ 8vo, of Richard Corbet [q. v.], sometime bishop of Oxford and Norwich. To his friend William Gifford he addressed in 1808 ‘An Examination of the Charges maintained by Messrs. Malone, Chalmers, and others of Ben Jonson's enmity towards Shakespeare,’ 8vo, pp. 62; and in 1811 ‘A Letter on the late edition [by H. Weber] of Ford's Plays, 8vo,’ pp. 45. Gifford, in his editions of Jonson and Ford, acknowledged the help that he received from Gilchrist's investigations. The ‘Quarterly Review’ for June 1812 contains a severe article by Gilchrist on Stephen Jones's edition of Baker's ‘Biographia Dramatica.’ Jones published a reply entitled ‘Hypercriticism Exposed,’ 1812. Early in 1814 Gilchrist printed, but never circulated, proposals for publishing ‘A Select Collection of Old English Plays in 15 vols. 8vo, with Biographical Notices and Notes Critical and Explanatory:’ the scheme was abandoned owing to the appearance of Dilke's ‘Old English Plays.’ Notes of Gilchrist are incorporated in the third edition (by J. P. Collier) of Dodsley's ‘Old Plays,’ 1825–7. The ‘Quarterly Review’ for October 1820 had some uncomplimentary remarks on William Lisle Bowles [q. v.], in a review of ‘Spence's Anecdotes.’ Bowles hastened to reply in ‘The Pamphleteer,’ vol. xvii., ascribing the ‘Quarterly’ article to Gilchrist, who (while disclaiming the authorship) published a vigorous ‘Letter to the Rev. William Lisle Bowles,’ Stamford, 1820, 8vo. An acrimonious controversy ensued. Gifford (introduction to Ford's Works) declared that ‘in the extent and accuracy of his critical knowledge’ Gilchrist was ‘as much superior to the Rev. Mr. Bowles as in good manners.’ On 30 June 1823 Gilchrist died at his house in the High Street, Stamford; he had long been suffering from a consumptive complaint. His library, which contained some choice Elizabethan and early printed books, was sold by auction 5–11 January 1824. Gilchrist probably supplied much of the material for Drakard's ‘History of Stamford,’ 1822.

[Gent. Mag. lxxix. 53, xci. 291, 533, vol. xciii. pt. ii. p. 278; information kindly supplied by Justin Simpson, esq., Stamford.]

A. H. B.