Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Griffith, Edward

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GRIFFITH, EDWARD (1790–1858), naturalist, son of William Griffith of Stanwell, Middlesex, was born in 1790. He entered St. Paul's School in 1800 and left it in 1806, entering the common pleas office as a clerk. He afterwards became a solicitor and a master in the court of common pleas. He was one of the original members of the Zoological Society, and a fellow of the Linnean (1822), Antiquaries, and Royal Societies. In 1821 he published the first part of what was designed to be an extensive work, ‘General and Particular Descriptions of the Vertebrated Animals,’ with excellent coloured plates. This first part deals only with the monkeys and lemurs. It may have been abandoned in favour of another work, which he was able to complete, viz. a translation of Cuvier's ‘Animal Kingdom,’ with considerable additions, in fifteen volumes. This work, which is described as containing ‘descriptions of all the species hitherto named and of many not before noticed,’ was published between 1827 and 1834, Griffith being the chief editor, assisted by Major Charles Hamilton Smith and Edward Pidgeon in the part dealing with the mammalia, by the lastnamed in that dealing with the mollusca, and by John Edward Gray [q. v.] in that dealing with birds. The work is extensively illustrated with coloured plates. In addition to these scientific works, Griffith published two others of a professional character. The first was ‘A Collection of Ancient Records relating to the Borough of Huntingdon, with Observations illustrative of the History of Parliamentary Boroughs in General,’ London, 1827 [misprinted 1727], arising out of an election petition, and urging that the borough franchise rightly belonged to all burgesses or resident householders paying scot and lot, and not, as held by a parliamentary committee, to the corporation. The other, published in 1831, is entitled ‘Cases of supposed Exemption from Poor Rates claimed on the ground of Extraparochiality, with a … Sketch of the Ancient History of the Parish of St. Andrew, Holborn.’ Griffith died on 8 Jan. 1858.

[Gardiner's Admission Registers of St. Paul's School, 1884, and the books above enumerated.]

G. S. B.