A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Burton, John Hill

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Burton, John Hill (1809-1881).—Historian, was b. and ed. at Aberdeen, was in 1831 called to the Bar, but had little practice, and in 1854 was appointed Sec. to the Prison Board of Scotland, and in 1877 a Commissioner of Prisons. He became at an early period of his life a contributor to Blackwood's Magazine and other periodicals, and in 1846 pub. a life of Hume, which attracted considerable attention, and was followed by Lives of Lord Lovat and Lord President Forbes. He began his career as an historian by the publication in 1853 of History of Scotland from the Revolution to the Extinction of the last Jacobite Insurrection, to which he added (1867-70) History of Scotland from Agricola's Invasion to the Revolution, in 7 vols., thus completing a continuous narrative. Subsequently he pub. a History of the Reign of Queen Anne (1880). Other works of a lighter kind were The Book-Hunter (1862), and The Scot Abroad (1864). B.'s historical works display much research and a spirit of candour and honesty, and have picturesque and spirited passages, but the style is unequal, and frequently lacks dignity. On the whole, however, his is regarded as the most generally trustworthy and valuable history of Scotland at present existing.