Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Black, William Henry

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BLACK, WILLIAM HENRY (1808–1872), antiquary, was the eldest son of John Black of Kintore, in Aberdeenshire, and was born 7 May 1808. From his mother, who came of a good family (the Langleys), possessing estates in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, he imbibed his love of religion, and also his thirst for antiquarian knowledge. He was educated at a private school, and at seventeen years of age became himself a tutor among families residing at Tulse Hill and neighbourhood.

As a reader at the British Museum he became acquainted with many literary men, through whose influence he obtained a situation in the Public Record Office, attaining at last to the position of assistant keeper. It was during the time he filled this post that he corrected the errors in Rymer's ‘Fœdera.’ He was a prolific writer, especially on antiquarian subjects. He prepared an edition of the British part of the ‘Itinerary of Antoninus’ (never issued), and contributed to Samuel Bentley's ‘Excerpta Historica.’ He catalogued the manuscripts of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, the Arundel MSS. in the library of the College of Arms, and Colfe's library at Lewisham, and left behind him a monograph on the Roman mile, which still awaits editing and publication.

At the time of his death he was in nomination for, and would have been elected on, the council of the Society of Antiquaries. He was one of the earliest members of the British Archæological Society, the Surrey, London and Middlesex, and Wiltshire Archæological Societies, and the founder of the Chronological Institute of London, Palestine Archæological Association, and Anglo-biblical Institute, besides being a member of the Camden Society.

His religious views were somewhat peculiar. He was the pastor of a small sect called the Seventh Day Baptists, whose chapel is in Mill Yard, Lemon Street, Whitechapel, and maintained that Saturday was the Sabbath. Black died 12 April 1872. As a conscientious and painstaking antiquary, he has had few equals in the present century.

[Private information.]

J. A.