Gunn, William (DNB00)

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GUNN, WILLIAM (1750–1841), miscellaneous writer, born on 7 April 1750 at Guildford, Surrey, was the son of Alexander Gunn of Irstead, Norfolk. He attended Fletcher's private school at Kingston-upon-Thames for six years. In 1784 he entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as a sizar (College Admission Register). He took holy orders, in 1784 became rector of Sloley, Norfolk, and in 1786 obtained the consolidated livings of Barton Turf and Irstead. The latter he resigned in 1829 in favour of John Gunn upon receiving the vicarage of Gorleston, Suffolk. In 1795 he obtained the degree of B.D. as a 'ten-year man.' During a residence in Rome he obtained permission to search the Vatican and other libraries for manuscripts relating to the history of England, and published anonymously, as the result of his research, in 1803, a collection of 'Extracts' from state papers of the sixteenth century, describing the ancient manner of placing the kingdom in military array, the various modes of defence adopted for its safety in periods of danger, and the evidence of foreigners as to the national character and personal bravery of the English. In the Vatican he discovered a tenth-century manuscript of the 'Historia Britonum,' commonly ascribed to Nennius, which he printed in 1819 with an English version, facsimile of the original, notes, and illustrations (another edition of the translation only, with a few additions, was published by J. A. Giles in 1841). His 'Inquiry into the Origin and Influence of Gothic Architecture,' 8vo, London, appeared in 1819. Gunn's most important work was 'Cartonensia; or, an Historical and Critical Account of the Tapestries in the Palace of the Vatican; copied from the designs of Raphael, etc. To which are subjoined Remarks on the Causes which retard the Progress of the higher Departments of the Art of Painting in this Country,' 8vo, London, 1831 (2nd edit, 1832). He died at Smallburgh, Norfolk, on 11 April 1841.

[Gunn's Works; Gent. Mag. 1841, pt. ii. 548-549.]

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