Mavor, William Fordyce (DNB00)

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MAVOR, WILLIAM FORDYCE (1758–1837), compiler of educational works, was born on 1 Aug. 1758 at New Deer, Aberdeenshire. In 1775 he became an assistant in a school at Burford, Oxfordshire, and he subsequently taught a school at Woodstock. After instructing the children of the Duke of Marlborough in writing, he obtained a title for holy orders in 1781. In 1789 the duke gave him the vicarage of Hurley, Berkshire, which he retained until his death; and in the same year the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the university of Aberdeen. He was afterwards presented by the duke to the rectory of Stonesfield, Oxfordshire, which he exchanged in 1810 for the rectory of Bladon-with-Woodstock. On 12 July of that year he was licensed by the bishop to the head-mastership of Woodstock grammar school, In 1808 he was elected mayor of Woodstock, and served the office ten times. He died on 29 Dec. 1837, and was buried at Woodstock, where there is a tablet to his memory.

Mavor was a successful compiler of educational books, many of which, particularly ‘The English Spelling Book,’ 1801, passed through numerous editions. He also invented a system of shorthand, which he explained in a treatise entitled ‘Universal Stenography,’ 8 vo, 1779 (2nd edit. 1785, and several later editions).

His other writings are: 1. ‘The Springs of Parnassus, or Poetic Miscellanies,’ 8vo, 1779. 2. ‘Poetical Cheltenham Guide,’ 12mo, 1781. 3. ‘The Geographical Magazine,’ 2 vols. 4to, 1781, published under the name of Martyn. 4. ‘Dictionary of Natural History,’ 2 vols. fol. 1784, issued under the same pseudonym. 5. ‘Elegy to the Memory of Captain James King,’ 4to, London 1785. 6. ‘Blenheim, a poem, to which is added a Blenheim Guide,’ 4to, 1787. 7. ‘New Description of Blenheim,’ 8vo, 1789 (many subsequent editions). A French version appeared in 1791. At page 124 Mavor states that he had for several years been making collections for a history of Woodstock, which, however, never appeared. 8. ‘Vindiciæ Landavenses, or Strictures on the Bishop of Landaff's Charge’ (Bishop Watson), 4to, 1792. 9. ‘Poems,’ 8vo, 1793. 10. ‘Appendix to the Eton Latin Grammar,’ 12mo, 1796. 11. ‘The Youth's Miscellany, or a Father's Gift to his Children,’ 12mo, 1797 (reprinted in 2 vols. 1805 and 1814). 12. ‘Historical Account of the most celebrated Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries from the time of Columbus to the present period,’ 25 vols. 12mo, 1798-1802. 13. ‘The British Tourists, or Traveller's Pocket Companion through England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland,’ 6 vols. 12mo, 1798-1800, a series of tours by various authors. The third edition, 1809, contained a reprint, with alterations and omissions, of Mayor's ‘Tour in Wales in 1805,’ which had been published anonymously by Sir Richard Phillipps in 1806, and in that form is now rare. 14. ‘The British Nepos, or … Lives of Illustrious Britons,’ 12mo, 1798 (many editions). 15. ‘Elements of Natural History,’ 12mo, 1799. 16. ‘The Young Gentleman's and Lady's Magazine,’ 2 vols. 12mo, 1799. 17. ‘Natural History,’ 12mo, London, 1800 (2nd edit. 1801). 18. ‘The Lady's and Gentleman's Botanical Pocket Book,’ 12mo, 1800. 19. ‘A Selection of the Lives of Plutarch,’ abridged, 12mo, 1800. 20. ‘The Modern Traveller, with illustrative notes,’ 4 vols. 12mo, 1800. 21. ‘Classical English Poetry for the use of young persons,’ 12mo, 1801, edited in conjunction with Samuel Jackson Pratt. 22. ‘The New Speaker, or English Class Book,’ 12mo, 1801. 23. ‘Universal History, ancient and modern … to the General Peace of 1801,’ 25 vols. 18mo, 1802-1804. 24. ‘The History of Greece,’ 2 vols. 12mo, 1804. 25. ‘The History of Rome,’ 3 vols. 12mo, 1804. 26. ‘The History of England,’ 2 vols. 12mo, 1804. 27. ‘Proverbs, or the Wisdom of all Nations,’ 12mo, 1804. 28. ‘Holmes's Art of Rhetoric made easy,’ improved, 12mo, 1807. 29. ‘A Circle of the Arts and Sciences,’ 12mo, 1808. 30. ‘The Eton Latin Grammar, with explanatory notes,’ 12mo, 1809. 31. ‘General View of the Agriculture of Berkshire,’ 8vo, London 1809, undertaken for the board of agriculture. 32. ‘The Mother's Catechism; or first principles of Knowledge,’ 12mo, 1809. 33. ‘Catechism of General Knowledge,’ 12mo, 1809. 34. ‘The Catechism of Health,’ 12mo, 1809. 35. ‘Collection of Catechisms,’ 2 vols. 12mo, 1810. 36. ‘General Collection of Voyages and Travels,’ 28 vols. 12mo, London 1810. 37. ‘The Garland: a selection of short poems … a new edition,’ 12mo, London 1812. 38. ‘Catechism of the Biography of some of the more eminent Britons,’ 12mo, London 1820. 39. ‘Catechism of the History of Scotland and of Ireland … with an Appendix respecting Wales,’ 12mo, London 1820. Mavor also published a new edition of Blackwall's ‘Introduction to the Classics,’ 12mo, 1809, abridged Bourgoanne's ‘State of Spain,’ 12mo, 1812, and edited with notes and a glossary Thomas Tusser's ‘Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie,’ 4to, 1812. To a selection from his works—‘Miscellanies,’ Oxford, 1829—was prefixed his portrait, engraved in mezzotint by C. Turner, A.R.A., after Saxon.

[Gent, Mag. 1838 i. 434-5, 1841 ii. 252; Marshall's Early Hist. of Woodstock Manor; Notes and Queries, passim; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. G.