Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shilleto, Richard
SHILLETO, RICHARD (1809–1876), classical scholar, son of John Shilleto of Ulleskelf, Yorkshire, was born on 25 Nov. 1809. He was educated first at Repton and then at Shrewsbury school, under Dr. Butler, and subsequently at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted a scholar on 12 Feb. 1828. He graduated B.A. as second classic, was bracketed ‘wooden spoon’ in 1832, and proceeded M.A. in 1835. An early marriage prevented him from obtaining a fellowship at Trinity. He took orders, and remained at Cambridge as a private coach. He examined in the classical tripos in 1839 and 1840, was for some years lecturer at Trinity, and lectured at King's College up to the time of his death.
For some thirty years Shilleto devoted his best energies to coaching. He did the work that the colleges ought to have done, and taught all the best scholars that Cambridge produced. At length in 1867 he was elected fellow of Peterhouse, being the first fellow elected under a statute of the college that permitted the election of eminent scholars though married. He was appointed assistant tutor, dean, and prælector of Peterhouse. He then relinquished his private coaching. He died at his house in Bateman Street on 24 Sept. 1876, leaving a widow and numerous family (Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vi. 280).
Shilleto was justly pronounced the greatest Greek scholar in England since the death of Gaisford. His knowledge of Greek prose diction was consummate, but he left few published proofs of his remarkable attainments. An admirable edition by him of Demosthenes's ‘De Falsa Legatione’ appeared in 1844 (other editions 1853, 1864, 1874), and he wrote various ‘Adversaria’ to classical authors, such as Thucydides, Hyperides, and Aristotle, part of which, with a mass of excellent composition, still remains unpublished. He long cherished a scheme of editing the whole of Thucydides, but he only completed the first book (1872) and part of the second; and even what he did is scarcely worthy of his great powers.
Shilleto sustained a polemic against Cobet with credit, and his pamphlet, entitled ‘Thucydides or Grote,’ published in 1851, though it was not in the best taste, brought a charge against Grote's claims to exactness from which the historian's reputation was only partially vindicated. He contributed some translations to Kennedy's ‘Sabrinæ Corolla’ and ‘Arundines Cami.’ He sent some ‘Conjectures on Thucydides’ to the first number of the ‘Journal of Philology,’ 1868, and three papers read in 1875 and 1876 before the Cambridge Philological Society were published posthumously in the same journal (vol. vii. 1877). He made numerous contributions to ‘Notes and Queries’ under the anagram ‘Charles Thiriold.’ His skits in Latin, Greek, or English were the current topic of every Cambridge combination-room. Some pieces that appear over his initials were partly the work of pupils.
His son, Arthur Richard Shilleto (1848–1894), born on 18 June 1848, and educated at Harrow, graduated B.A. as scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1871, and M.A. in 1875. Ordained deacon in that year and priest in 1872, he served curacies at Lambourne, Essex (1871–3), Holy Trinity, Hoxton (1874–5), and Haigh, Lancashire (1876). In 1877 he was appointed second master at King Edward VI's grammar school at Stratford-on-Avon, and from 1879 to 1882 he was master of Ulverston school. He was curate of Satterthwaite, Lancashire, from 1881 to 1883, and of Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire, from 1883 to 1885. He died, after many years' suffering from mental disease, on 19 Jan. 1894. He translated for Bohn's ‘Classical Library’ ‘Pausanias’ (2 vols. 1886), and Plutarch's ‘Morals’ (1888), and for Bohn's ‘Standard Library’ ‘Josephus’ (5 vols. 1889–90). He also prepared notes for an edition of Burton's ‘Anatomy of Melancholy,’ which was published in 1893, with an introduction by Mr. A. H. Bullen. He was a frequent contributor to ‘Notes and Queries’ under the anagram ‘Erato Hills.’
[Personal knowledge; private information; Obituary by B. H. Kennedy in Journal of Philology, 1877, pp. 163–8; Athenæum, 1851 p. 804, 1876 p. 434; Times, 25 Sept. 1876; Cambridge Chronicle, 30 Sept. 1876.]