Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bailey, Nathan
BAILEY, NATHAN or NATHANIEL (d. 1742), lexicographer, published in 1721 'An Universal Etymological English Dictionary,' which was greatly esteemed in its day. The library of the British Museum contains copies of no fewer than twenty-five separate editions of this work. Of the compiler nothing is known beyond the fact that he belonged to the seventh-day baptists, being admitted to membership 6 Nov. 1691, and kept a boarding school at Stepney, where he died on 27 June 1742. A supplementary volume of his dictionary appeared in 1727, and in 1730 a folio, entitled 'Dictionarium Britannicum, collected by several hands. The Mathematical part by G. Gordon, the Botanical by P. Miller. The whole revis'd and improv'd with many thousand additions by N. Bailey.' This contains many technical terms. Thirty editions of the dictionary appeared, the latest at Glasgow in 1802, and it was reprinted by various booksellers. It is the basis of the English-German dictionaries of Arnold (3rd edition, 1761), A. E. Klausing (8th edition, 1792), and J. A. F. Krüger (11th edition, 1810). Lord Chatham is said to have read it through twice, and Chatterton obtained many sham-antique words from Bailey and Kersey. Johnson made an interleaved copy the foundation of his own. Bailey also published a spelling-book in 1726; 'All the Familiar Colloquies of Erasmus Translated,' 1733, of which a new edition appeared in 1878; 'The Antiquities of London and Westminster,' 1726; 'Dictionarium Domesticum,' 1736; Selections from Ovid and Phædrus; and 'English and Latin Exercises.' In 1883 appeared 'English Dialect Words of the Eighteenth Century as shown in the … Dictionary of N. Bailey, with an introduction by W. E. A. Axon (English Dialect Society),' giving biographical and bibliographical details.
[Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Gent, Mag. xii. 387; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Notes and Queries, 5th series, i. 448, 514, ii. 156, 258, 514, iii. 175, 298, 509, iv. 276, vii. 447, viii. 52.]