Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bigland, Ralph
BIGLAND, RALPH (1711–1784), Garter king-of-arms, was born at Kendal in Westmoreland in 1711, his father being Richard Bigland, the descendant of an old family originally from Bigland in Lancashire. He was appointed head of the College of Arms in 1780, after passing through all the minor offices. He had been elected Bluemantle in 1757, Somerset and registrar 1763, Norroy king-of-arms May 1773, Clarenceux August 1774; but he enjoyed his elevation as Garter king-of-arms only a few years, dying 27 March 1784 at the age of seventy-three, in St. James's Street, Bedford Row. He married at Frocester, 13 June 1737, Ann, daughter of John Wilkins of that town, by whom he had one son, born on 3 April 1738, and who died at the early age of twenty-two on 1 Dec. 1738. Bigland afterwards married Ann, daughter of Robert Weir; this marriage also being of short duration, for she died 5 April 1766, leaving no issue. The collections which he had made during his lifetime for a history of Gloucestershire were intended to have been arranged and presented by him to the public. After his death they were partly published by his son, Richard Bigland of Frocester, Gloucestershire, under the title of ‘Historical, Monumental, and Genealogical Collections relative to the County of Gloucester' (fol. 1791-2). Among some of his other literary labours may be mentioned his ‘Account of the Parish of Fairford, co. Gloucester, with a description of the celebrated windows and monuments.' In 1764 he also published a small work entitled ‘Observations on Marriages, Baptisms, and Burials, as preserved in Parochial Registers,' in which he pointed out the necessity of these documents being accurately kept ‘for the benefit of society.’ An interesting correspondence between him and Mr. G. Allan on various subjects was published in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes.'
[Noble's History of the College of Arms, 1804, 417-18; Lowndes's Bibliographers' Manual, 1864, i. 203; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, 1814, viii. 713-18; Gent. Mag. 1788, lviii. 344; 1791. lxi. 345, 725; 1793, lxiii. 655.]