Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pilkington, Matthew

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PILKINGTON, MATTHEW (1700?–1784), author of the ‘Dictionary of Painters,’ was born in Dublin about 1700. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a scholar in 1721, and graduated B.A. in 1722. Shortly afterwards he was appointed vicar of Donabate and Portrahan, co. Dublin, and occupied this benefice until his death about 1784.

Pilkington is known as the author of ‘The Gentleman's and Connoisseur's Dictionary of Painters,’ London, 1770, 4to. This useful work, the first of its kind in England, embraced about fourteen hundred artists, and continued a standard book until the appearance, 1813–16, of Bryan's ‘Dictionary of Painters and Engravers,’ which was to a certain extent based upon it. In the meantime Pilkington's ‘Dictionary’ had been very largely transformed in successive new editions. The first of these, ‘with remarks on the present state of the art by James Barry,’ and a supplement, appeared in 1798 (London, 4to). Another edition by John Wolcott, M.D., 1799, 4to, was followed by a new edition with alterations and additions by Henry Fuseli, 1805, 4to, reprinted in 1810; another, revised and corrected, 2 vols. 8vo, 1824; a sixth edition, revised and corrected by Richard Alfred Davenport [q. v.], 2 vols. 8vo, 1829; a seventh, with introduction and new lives by Alan Cunningham, 1840, 8vo; again by R. Davenport, 1851, 8vo; by Cunningham and Davenport, 1852, 8vo, and 1857, 8vo. A supplement by Edward Shepard appeared in 1803.

The lexicographer is to be distinguished from the husband of Lætitia Pilkington [q. v.] and also from Matthew Pilkington, divine (1705–1765), son of Middlemore Pilkington (1670–1752) of Stanton-le-Dale, Derbyshire, by his wife Hannah (Smith), who was baptised 25 May 1705 and graduated LL.B. from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1728, was collated to the prebend of Ruiton in Lichfield Cathedral on 25 Jan. 1748 and died in 1765. He was author of ‘A Rational Concordance, or an Index to the Bible,’ Nottingham, 1749, 4to, a volume containing many words not included in Priestley's ‘Index to the Bible,’ 1805; and of ‘Remarks upon several passages of Scripture,’ Cambridge and London, 1759, 8vo (Le Neve, Fasti; Horne, Bibl. Bibl. p. 133; Orme, Bibl. Bibl.; Lowndes, Brit. Lib. 89).

[Webb's Compendium of Irish Biogr.; Taylor's University of Dublin; Ottley's Painters and Engravers, 1875, pref.; Blackwood's Mag. xxiii. 579; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ix. 264; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.