A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Mitford, William

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Mitford, William (1744-1827). -- Historian, e.s. of John M. of Exbury, Hants, descended from an old Northumbrian family, was b. in London, and ed. at Cheam School and Oxf. He studied law, but on succeeding to the family estates devoted himself to study and literature, and to his duties as an officer of the militia. His first pub. was an Essay on the Harmony of Language (1774). His great work, The History of Greece, is said to have been undertaken at the suggestion of Gibbon, who was a fellow-officer in the South Hants Militia. This work, the successive vols. of page 275which appeared at considerable intervals between 1784 and 1810, was long a standard one, though it is now largely superseded by the histories of Thirwall and Grote. M. wrote with strong prejudices against democracy, and in defence of tyrants, but his style is forcible and agreeable, and he brought learning and research to bear on his subject. He sat for many years in Parliament.