Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Statistical Account

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The present volume brings the ‘Dictionary of National Biography’ to the end of the alphabet, and thus completes an undertaking of exceptional magnitude in the history of publishing. The goal has been reached after eighteen years of unremitting labour, and, like travellers at the end of a long and difficult journey, those who are responsible for the design and execution of the Dictionary turn their thoughts instinctively on the conclusion of their task to the general features of the ground they have traversed and to some of the obstacles they have surmounted on the road. A detailed history of the enterprise is needless, for it has been conducted in the full light of day. But facts and figures are in accord with the spirit of the Dictionary, and a few facts and figures may be fittingly presented here by way of recalling the chief incidents in its progress and of indicating some of the statistical results which a survey of the completed work suggests.

The ‘Dictionary of National Biography’ owes its existence to Mr. George M. Smith, of Smith, Elder, & Co. In 1882, after a career as a publisher which had already extended over nearly forty years, he resolved to produce a cyclopaedia of biography which should be of permanent utility to his countrymen and should surpass in literary value works of similar character that had either been published or were in course of publication on the Continent of Europe. Mr. Smith's first design was an improved and extended cyclopaedia of universal biography on the plan of the ‘Biographia Universelle,’ the latest edition of which was issued in forty large volumes in Paris between 1843 and 1863. He proposed to render his projected work more complete and more trustworthy than any that had preceded it by entrusting its preparation to a numerous staff of editors and contributors at home and in foreign countries. But Mr. Smith took counsel with Mr. Leslie Stephen, who convinced him that the measureless growth throughout the world in late years of the materials of historical and biographical research rendered the execution of a cyclopædia of universal biography on the suggested scale almost impracticable. Acting on Mr. Stephen's advice, Mr. Smith resolved to confine his efforts to the production of a complete dictionary of national biography which should supply full, accurate, and concise biographies of all noteworthy inhabitants of the British Islands and the Colonies (exclusive of living persons) from the earliest historical period to the present time. The change of plan was justified on many grounds. While it was impossible to deal exhaustively and authoritatively with universal biography within the compass of a single literary undertaking, that field had been more or less efficiently surveyed in France and Germany, and English students had at their command modern cyclopædias on the subject in foreign tongues which made some approach to adequacy. On the other hand, although in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, and Sweden cyclopædias of national biography had been set on foot with a view to satisfying the just patriotic instinct of each nation, as well as the due requirements of historical knowledge, there had been no earnest endeavour of a like kind for nearly a century in this country. Only one venture in national biography of an exhaustive and authoritative kind had been previously carried to completion in this country, and that venture belonged to the eighteenth century. ‘The Biographia Britannica, or the Lives of the most Eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain and Ireland from the Earliest Ages down to the Present Times,’ was inaugurated in 1747, and was completed in seven folio volumes in 1766. A second edition in five folio volumes, which was begun in 1778, reached the beginning of the letter P in its fifth volume in 1793, and did not go further. This was the latest effort in national biography of which the country could boast before the ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’ Alexander Chalmers's ‘Biographical Dictionary,’ which was completed in thirty-two volumes in 1814, and Rose's ‘New General Biographical Dictionary,’ which was begun in 1889 and completed in twelve volumes in 1847, were inadequate experiments in universal biography; and after 1847, when the twelfth volume of Bose's Dictionary was published, the field both of universal and of national biography was for the time practically abandoned by English workers. In the years that followed, the need for an exhaustive and authoritative treatment of national biography was repeatedly admitted by general readers and students, and was often passively contemplated by men of letters and by publishers, but no one had the boldness seriously to face the execution of the task until Mr. Smith began operations on this Dictionary in 1882. The design satisfied none of the conditions of a merely commercial venture. It was obvious from the first that the outlay would far exceed that hitherto involved in publishers' undertakings, and there was little or no prospect of a return of the capital that was needed to secure the completion of the work on a thoroughly adequate scale. But it was in no commercial spirit that Mr. Smith embarked on the enterprise, and he has ignored considerations of profit and loss in providing for its conduct to a successful issue.

Mr. Leslie Stephen was appointed editor in the autumn of 1882, and active work was then commenced. A list of names which it was judged desirable to treat under A was compiled under Mr. Stephen's direction by Mr. H. R. Tedder, with some assistance from Mr. C. F. Keary. It was essential that the Dictionary should codify all scattered biographical efforts that had hitherto been made in the country. Thus the first, like the subsequent lists of names, which formed the primary foundation of the work, comprised all names that had hitherto been treated in independent works of biography, in general dictionaries, in collections of lives of prominent members of various classes of the community, and in obituary notices in the leading journals and periodicals. At the same time it was found that many names which had hitherto escaped biographical notice were as important as many of those which had already received some kind of attention from biographers. These omissions it was the special province of a new and complete Dictionary to supply. For this purpose it was necessary to explore in the task of gathering the names a wide field of historical and scientific literature, and to take a survey of the most miscellaneous records and reports of human effort. The first list of names, which was compiled in accordance with these principles, was, as soon as it was printed, posted on the 10th of January 1883 to persons — most of them being specialists of literary experience — who it was believed would be willing and competent to write articles. Numerous applications were received from those who were prepared to contribute to the Dictionary, and the names in A were distributed among the applicants by Mr. Stephen. Meanwhile the original editorial staff was finally constituted by the appointment of Mr. Thompson Cooper to the post of compiler of the lists of names to be treated under B and future letters, and Mr. Stephen selected Mr. Sidney Lee in March 1883 to fill the office of assistant-editor.

The second list of names (Baalun−Beechey) was completed in June 1883, and by the kindness of the editor of the ‘Athenæum’ it was printed in the columns of that journal. Headers of the ‘Athenæum’ were invited to offer suggestions or corrections to the editor of the Dictionary. The result was very valuable, and all subsequent lists were every half-year — in October and April — submitted to the like test of public criticism before they were distributed among the contributors to the Dictionary.

It was determined at the outset to publish successive volumes of the work at quarterly intervals. Much research was involved and much time was required in the compilation and editing of a sufficient number of articles to make up a volume. Not only was it intended to present as far as possible in every case the latest results of biographical and historical research, but the principles of the Dictionary obliged contributors to seek information from first-hand authorities, and often from unpublished papers and records. It was made an indispensable condition that writers should append to each article a full list of the sources whence their information was derived. In order to insure punctuality in the projected quarterly issue, it was therefore necessary that the work should be far advanced before the first volume appeared. Two years' preliminary preparation was essential before publication could be safely commenced. Accordingly it was not until the 1st of January 1885 that the first volume (Abbadie to Anne) was published. The volume contained 505 separate articles, from the pens of eighty-seven contributors.

Since the date of the appearance of the first volume a further instalment, averaging 460 pages, has been issued with unbroken punctuality on every successive quarter-day until the completion of the work. From Christmas 1884 until Midsummer 1900, through fifteen and a half years, the original promise of quarterly publication has been faithfully kept. No similar literary undertaking, embodying equally thorough and extensive research, and proceeding from an equally large body of writers, has either been produced with a like regularity in regard to the issue of the several parts, or has been finally completed within a shorter period of time.

The publication of sixty-three quarterly volumes in fifteen and a half years compares very favourably with the modes and rates of publication which have characterised the issue of cyclopædias of national biography abroad. The successive volumes of foreign dictionaries have invariably appeared at irregular intervals, and in the case of every work which has any claim to be compared with this Dictionary, the publication of the whole has spread over far more years than in the case of the ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’ The publication of the Swedish Dictionary of National Biography in twenty-three volumes covered twenty-two years (1885−57); the Dutch Dictionary, in twenty-four volumes, occupied twenty-six years (1852−78); the Austrian Dictionary, in sixty volumes, thirty-five years (1856−91); and the German Dictionary, in forty-five volumes, twenty-five years (1875−1900); while the ‘Biographie Nationale’ of Belgium, though it has been thirty-one years in progress (1866−97), has not yet passed beyond the letter M. Appleton's ‘Cyclopædia of American Biography’ was planned on a far less elaborate scale than the works that have just been enumerated, and consequently it was found possible to publish its six volumes in the very brief period of two years.

During the progress of the work changes have taken place in the editorial staff. Twenty-one volumes were published under Mr. Stephen's sole editorship, and they brought the alphabet as far as Gloucester. The twenty-first volume appeared at the end of December 1889. The severe strain of editorial duties, coupled with his labours as writer of many of the most important memoirs, had then somewhat seriously impaired Mr. Stephen's health, and early in 1890 his assistant, Mr. Sidney Lee, after working under him for seven years, became joint-editor with him. Volumes xxii. to xxvi., which were published between March 1890 and March 1891, and brought the alphabet from Glover to Hindley, appeared under the joint-editorship of Mr. Stephen and Mr. Lee. In the spring of 1891 Mr. Stephen, owing to continued illhealth, was compelled to resign his part in the editorship, after eight and a half years' service. Happily for the literary success of the undertaking, re-established health enabled him to remain a contributor, and almost every succeeding volume of the Dictionary has included valuable memoirs from his pen. The last volume includes important articles by him on the poet Wordsworth and Edward Young, the author of the ‘Night Thoughts.’ On Mr. Stephen's retirement, in 1891, the full responsibilities of editorship passed into the hands of Mr. Lee, under whose guidance the last thirty-seven volumes have appeared. These are numbered xxvii. to lxiii., and bring the names from Hindmarsh to Zuylestein.

Various changes have also taken place during the progress of the undertaking in the subordinate editorial offices. Mr. T. F. Henderson and the Rev. William Hunt gave some sub-editorial assistance in 1885. Mr. C. L. Kingsford acted as assistant to Mr. Lee from November 1889 to July 1890, and was then succeeded by Mr. W. A. J. Archbold. After Mr. Lee's assumption of the office of editor in May 1891, Mr. Archbold and Mr. Thomas Seccombe, who then began a long and important association with the Dictionary, became sub-editors. At the same date Mr. Thompson Cooper resigned his place on the editorial staff, after having prepared the lists of names from the letter B as far as the name Meyrig. Mr. Cooper has remained a valued contributor of memoirs to the Dictionary until its close. The lists of names from the middle of the letter M to the end were prepared by Mr. Seccombe and his colleagues. Mr. Archbold retired at the end of 1892, and his place was filled by the appointment of Mr. A. F. Pollard, who has ably and zealously performed the duties of sub-editor since that date, besides contributing numerous useful memoirs. At the beginning of 1896 the final change was made in the arrangements of the editorial office by the appointment of Mr. E. Irving Carlyle as an additional sub-editor, whose chief function was to compile a large number of the smaller miscellaneous articles. Thus at the completion of the undertaking the editorial staff consists of Mr. Lee, whose connection with it has lasted nearly seventeen and a half years; of Mr. Seccombe, whose term of service extends over nine years; of Mr. Pollard, whose term of service extends over seven years and a half; and of Mr. Carlyle, whose term of service extends over four years and a half.

Mr. H. E. Murray has acted as clerk in charge of the Dictionary while the undertaking has been in progress, and has continuously rendered most valuable service to editors and publishers. The whole work has been printed by Messrs. Spottiswoode & Co., and all the proofs have been finally read by Mr. Frederick Adams, their learned and efficient corrector of the press, to whom the Dictionary stands indebted for many useful suggestions and for the detection and removal of many errors.

The ‘Dictionary of National Biography’ supplies notices of 29,120 men and women; of these 27,195 are full substantive articles, and 1,925 are briefer subsidiary articles. It is believed that the names include all men and women of British or Irish race who have achieved any reasonable measure of distinction in any walk of life; every endeavour has been made to accord admission to every statesman, lawyer, divine, painter, author, inventor, actor, physician, surgeon, man of science, traveller, musician, soldier, sailor, bibliographer, book-collector, and printer whose career presents any feature which justifies its preservation from oblivion. No sphere of activity has been consciously overlooked. Niches have been found for sportsmen and leaders of society who have commanded public attention. Malefactors whose crimes excite a permanent interest have received hardly less attention than benefactors. The principle upon which names have been admitted has been from all points of view generously interpreted; the epithet ‘national’ has not been held to exclude the early settlers in America, or natives of these islands who have gained distinction in foreign countries, or persons of foreign birth who have achieved eminence in this country. Great pains have been bestowed on the names of less widely acknowledged importance, and every endeavour has been made to maintain the level of the information, in the smaller as well as in the larger articles, at the highest practicable standard of fulness and accuracy.

The number of memoirs in this Dictionary is far in excess of the number of memoirs to be found in national biographies of other countries. The ‘Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie,’ which has just been completed in forty-five volumes under the auspices of the King of Bavaria, by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian ‘Königliche Akademie der Wissenschaften,’ over which Rochus von Liliencron has presided, contains only 23,273 articles—or some six thousand fewer articles than appear in this Dictionary. The Austrian dictionary, ‘Der grosse Oesterreichische Hausschatz: biographisches Lexicon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich,’ which has been edited by Dr. Constant von Wurzbach under the auspices of the Imperial Academy of Vienna, does not exceed the German dictionary in the number of its memoirs. The ‘Cyclopædia of American Biography’ reaches a total of twenty thousand. The Dutch dictionary, ‘Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden,’ edited by A. G. Van der Aa, supplies only some ten thousand articles, and the Swedish, ‘Biographiskt Lexicon öfver Namnkunnige Svenskamän,’ about four thousand. The unfinished ‘Biographie Nationale de Belgique,’ which has been prepared under the auspices of the ‘Académie Royale de Belgique,’ at present falls below a total of five thousand, but may, when completed, reach ten thousand.

The table on the next page gives statistics of the memoirs in the Dictionary, according both to the initial letters under which they fall and the centuries to which they belong. This table excludes five genealogical articles on the history respectively of the families of Arundell, Bek, Berkeley, Plantagenet, and Vere, and some eleven articles on legendary personages or creatures of romance who have been mistaken for heroes of history (e.g. Arthur of the Round Table, Fleta, Guy of Warwick, Robin Hood, Sir John Mandeville, Merlin, Didymus Mountain, Mother Shipton, St. Ursula, Matthew Westminster).

The distribution of the memoirs over the centuries suggests various reflections and admits of various interpretations. Leaving out of account the dark periods that preceded the sixth century, it will be seen that the ninth and tenth prove least fruitful in the production of men of the Dictionary's level of distinction. The seventh century was more than twice as fruitful as the ninth, and the tenth was far less fruitful than the sixth or eighth. Since the tenth century the numbers for the most part steadily increase. The eleventh century gives twice as many names as its predecessor, and supplies no more than half as many as its successor. The successive rises in the thirteenth
Table of totals of memoirs in each letter of the alphabet arranged century by century.
Century A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Total for
To end of
5th Century
1 1 9 1 1 3 3 1 1 2 2 4 1 4 1 1 36 To end of
5th century
6th Century
4 6 22 5 5 5 3 1 2 10 1 1 5 2 3 4 1 1 81 6th Century
7th Century
6 9 23 8 13 12 4 4 1 1 5 9 9 7 3 14 2 1 3 134 7th Century
8th Century
7 9 10 6 12 2 3 2 1 2 1 3 4 5 8 2 2 7 2 1 7 96 8th Century
9th Century
2 7 7 3 11 3 2 1 1 1 5 2 4 1 4 2 1 57 9th Century
10th Century
13 3 9 3 13 2 1 1 4 1 1 5 2 9 2 1 4 1 1 76 10th Century
11th Century
18 11 9 4 14 4 10 12 2 3 12 15 3 20 8 14 9 6 3 9 186 11th Century
12th Century
17 35 24 4 8 22 28 21 3 10 10 29 12 25 18 62 14 11 1 3 20 377 12th Century
13th Century
18 75 41 10 9 22 31 19 8 10 6 20 54 27 17 35 4 26 35 11 2 6 31 1 515 13th Century
14th Century
18 111 40 28 11 19 31 42 5 12 12 34 56 24 16 32 30 82 26 10 5 32 1 1 678 14th Century
15th Century
14 63 56 20 6 30 24 43 8 10 12 29 45 28 18 45 53 73 31 5 4 38 4 659 15th Century
16th Century
66 262 210 92 23 99 104 192 5 26 56 82 135 63 44 148 84 202 60 15 22 137 11 2138 16th Century
17th Century
191 587 520 287 83 249 277 500 22 123 117 321 410 153 109 347 5 247 479 173 9 76 366 19 4 5674 17th Century
18th Century
175 608 530 289 123 203 315 524 30 152 144 286 474 131 106 364 5 265 428 199 12 68 330 19 9 5789 18th Century
19th Century
320 1290 1033 556 292 493 652 1056 68 308 281 629 1057 264 229 790 17 672 1065 525 15 112 821 57 6 12608 19th Century
Total number
each letter
870 3078 2542 1316 619 1165 1490 2420 160 656 635 1437 2310 716 618 1807 31 1462 2420 1054 75 296 1797 111 21 29104 Grand Total
and fourteenth centuries are proportionately smaller, and there is a well-marked decline in the fifteenth century for which it is difficult to account. The sixteenth makes a notable bound, the aggregate memoirs belonging to that era being three times as many as those of the previous century. The upward progress is continued, although not at quite so high a rate, in the seventeenth century, which supplies more than twice, but less than thrice, as many names as the sixteenth. In the eighteenth the number remains almost stationary: only a slight increase of 115 names is on the record. In the nineteenth century the advance recommences at a very rapid pace, the total number of nineteenth-century names more than doubling those of the previous century. In mental and physical activity the nineteenth century resembles the sixteenth; but the advance of the nineteenth century upon the eighteenth in the total of memoirs is relatively far smaller than the advance of the sixteenth upon the fifteenth.

Other deductions from the table are possible, if the population estimates of the country be compared with the tabulated results. When we compare the total of thirty thousand memoirs in this work with the total number of persons who are believed to have reached adult life (i.e. their twenty-fourth year) in these islands through the historic ages, it appears that as many as one in every five thousand has gained a sufficient level of distinction to secure admission to this Dictionary. If the calculation be based on the whole number of births, and not on the number of persons who have reached the mature age of twenty-four, every infant's chance of attaining the needful level of distinction has been one in ten thousand. The ratio for adults is seen from the annexed table to be more or less progressive from the tenth century to the nineteenth. In the sixteenth century the ratio for adults seems to have stood at one in 6,250. Through the seventeenth century it rose to one in six thousand, but it fell slightly in the eighteenth century, when the increase of population did not produce any proportionate increase in the total of men and women of the Dictionary's level of distinction. In this century, when we include the English-speaking inhabitants of our colonies (the United States are excluded from the Dictionary), the ratio is seen to rise sensibly — viz. to one in four thousand.

It would not be pertinent to speculate here on the causes of the rise, fall, or stagnation of the ratio of distinction which the figures indicate. The stagnation of the ratio in the eighteenth century may be attributable to the absence of such stupendous crises in our national history as offered exceptionally extended opportunities of distinction to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the rise of the ratio of distinction in the present century it may be necessary to make some allowance for the inevitable propensity to exaggerate the importance of contemporary achievement, and, more especially, for the multiplication of printed records; yet the rise may not be wholly inexplicable on philosophic grounds. By the multiplication of intellectual callings take engineering and its offshoots, for example and by the specialisation of science and art, the opportunities of distinction, of the lesser magnitudes at any rate, have been of late conspicuously augmented. Improvements in educational machinery may, too, have enlarged the volume of the nation's intellectual capacity, which is the ultimate spring of distinctive achievement. The largeness of the number of names belonging to the nineteenth century need not consequently be held to impair the historical perspective which ought to govern the design of the Dictionary.

The conclusions to be drawn from the distribution of the names over the alphabet are less subtle or arguable. The most favoured initial letter of British and Irish surnames is B with 3,078 names. C approaches it nearest with 2,542 names, and is very closely followed by the two letters S and H, each of which yields the same total of 2,420. M yields 2,310 names. In the descending scale P and W enjoy almost equal popularity, P providing 1,807 and W 1,797. G lags somewhat behind with 1,490, and is followed by K and L, the former with 1,462, the latter with 1,437. There succeed D with 1,316, F with 1,165, T with 1,054. A musters 870, N 716, J 656, and K, E, and O almost tie with 635 in the first case, 619 in the second, and 616 in the third. The remaining letters present very modest totals. V affords 296, I 160, Y 111, U 75, and Q 31. Z with 21 appropriately occupies the last place. X is not represented at all.

The surname which claims the largest number of memoirs is Smith (Smith, Smyth, or Smythe); biographies of 195 persons bearing this surname are published in the Dictionary. Jones follows with 132. Stewart (Steuart, Steward, Stewart, or Stuart) is the title of 112 memoirs; Hamilton of 106 memoirs; Brown (Broun, Brown, or Browne) of 102; Clark (Clarke, Clerk, or Clerke) of 99; Moore (Moor, Moore, or More) of 88; Taylor (or Tayler) of 86; Douglas (or Douglass) of 85; Scott (or Scot) of 83; Grey (or Gray) of 81; Williams of 81; Gordon of 80; Wilson (or Willson) of 80; Thompson (or Thomson, Tomson, and Tompson) of 78; Campbell of 72; Murray of 71; Davies (or Davis) of 68; Howard of 66; and Robinson of 63. There are 389 names with the beginning prefix Mac-; 220 names beginning with the prefix O'; and 133 beginning with the prefix Fitz-.

The full number of pages in the Dictionary is 29,108. The number of articles is 29,120. It therefore follows that the average length of an article is slightly less than one page. Volume by volume the average length of articles has slightly risen in the progress of the work. The following articles are among the longest in the Dictionary:—

Shakespeare (by Mr. Sidney Lee) . . . . . . . 49
The Duke of Wellington (by Col. E. M. Lloyd, R.E.) . . . 34
Francis Bacon (by Dr. S. Rawson Gardiner and the Rev. Dr. Thomas Fowler) . . . . . . . . . . 32
Oliver Cromwell (by Mr. C. H. Firth) . . . . . . 31
Queen Elizabeth (by the Rev. Dr. Augustus Jessopp) . . . 28
Sir Robert Walpole (by Mr. I. S. Leadam) . . . . . 28
John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (by Mr. Leslie Stephen) . 26
Sir Walter Scott (by Mr. Leslie Stephen) . . . . . . 25
Edward I (by the Rev. William Hunt) . . . . . . 24
Byron (by Mr. Leslie Stephen) . . . . . . . . 24
Charles II (by Dr. A. W. Ward) . . . . . . . 24
Sir Isaac Newton (by Mr. R. T. Glazebrook, F.R.S.) . . . . 23
Swift (by Mr. Leslie Stephen) . . . . . . . . 23
Edward III (by the Rev. William Hunt) . . . . . . 22
Sterne (by Mr. Sidney Lee) . . . . . . . . 22
Wycliffe (by the Rev. Hastings Rashdall) . . . . . . 21

The total number of contributors to the Dictionary is 653, of whom fifty-six have died during the publication of the work. Of these, 224 have contributed one article apiece, and 329 from two to twenty articles apiece. The remaining one hundred can be described as more or less regular and voluminous contributors, either through the whole progress of the work or during prolonged periods in the course of its preparation. It is by these one hundred regular and voluminous contributors that the bulk of the work has been done. In fact, they have written nearly three-fourths of the whole. These one hundred regular contributors include experts in nearly all departments of knowledge, and they have treated many of the more prominent names, as well as the names of smaller importance, in their special fields of study. In a single instance the whole of one department of biographical knowledge has been entrusted to a single regular contributor. All the naval biographies have come from the pen of Professor J. K. Laughton. Similarly the memoirs of all but a very few actors and actresses have been written by Mr. Joseph Knight. The treatment of other special fields has engaged the attention of two or more regular contributors, or in the course of the work one specialist has been succeeded by another, or one regular writer has undertaken a share of more than one branch of special study. The lives of soldiers have been chiefly handled by Mr. H. Morse Stephens (until the letter F), the late H. Manners Chichester, Colonel R. H. Vetch, R.E., C.B., and Colonel E. M. Lloyd, R.E. In mediaeval history the chief part of the work has been executed by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, K.C.B., the Rev. William Hunt, Professor T. F. Tout, Mr. J. H. Round, Mr. James Tait, Mr. C. L. Kingsford, Mr. R. L. Poole, Mr. T. A. Archer, Miss Kate Norgate, and Miss Mary Bateson. In sixteenthcentury history Dr. Mandell Creighton, the present Bishop of London, Mr. James Gairdner, C.B., Dr. Augustus Jessopp, Mr. W. A. J. Archbold, Mr. A. F. Pollard, and Mr. I. S. Leadam have treated notable statesmen and politicians. Dr. S. R. Gardiner, Mr. C. H. Firth, and Dr. A. W. Ward have dealt with leading figures in the history of the seventeenth century, while many men of smaller note have been treated by Mr. W. A. Shaw and Miss Bertha Porter. Eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury lawyers and politicians have been noticed by Mr. J. M. Rigg, Mr. J. A. Hamilton, Mr. G. F. Russell Barker, Mr. William Carr, and Mr. Fraser Rae; men of varied kinds of distinction in the nineteenth century by the late Mr. G. C. Boase, Mr. G. Le Grys Norgate, and Mr. E. Irving Carlyle; Indian administrators by Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, K.C.S.I.; early settlers in America by Mr. J. A. Doyle, and colonial statesmen by Mr. C. Alexander Harris, C.M.G. The careers of some distinguished personages in the history of the City of London have been chronicled by Mr. Charles Welch. Mr. Robert Dunlop, Mr. Richard Bagwell, Mr. Litton Falkiner, the Rev. Thomas Olden, and Dr. Norman Moore have dealt with eminent Irishmen of various periods; Sheriff Mackay, Mr. T. F. Henderson, Mr. A. H. Millar, and Mr. Thomas Bayne with eminent Scotsmen, and Mr. Lleufer Thomas and Mr. J. E. Lloyd with eminent Welshmen. Many memoirs of Anglican bishops and divines are from the pens of the Rev. Canon Overton, the late Rev. Canon Venables, Mr. J. Bass Mullinger, the Rev. W. H. Hutton, the Rev. A. R. Buckland, and the Rev. Ronald Bayne. The Rev. Alexander Gordon has dealt with a very large number of the nonconformist clergy of the three kingdoms. Roman Catholic divines and writers have been entrusted to Mr. Thompson Cooper, and, in later volumes, also to Mr. T. G. Law; and numerous Quakers to Miss Fell Smith.

Some of the greatest names in literature and philosophy have been dealt with by Mr. Leslie Stephen, and his contributions include memoirs of Addison, Burns, Byron, Carlyle, Coleridge, Defoe, Dickens, Dryden, Goldsmith, Hume, Landor, Macaulay, the Mills, Milton, Pope, Scott, Swift, Thackeray, and Wordsworth. Many Elizabethan men of letters and politicians have been treated by Mr. Sidney Lee, and his contributions include memoirs of Ascham, Lodge, Lyly, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Walsingham, Archbishop Whitgift, and Sir Thomas Wyatt, as well as Lord Herbert of Cherbury and Laurence Sterne, of later periods. In the earlier volumes Mr. A. H. Bullen also wrote of many prominent Elizabethan and Jacobean authors. Mr. Thomas Seccombe has covered a wide field, chiefly in literature of the last three centuries: his contributions include memoirs of Smollett and of Sir John Vanbrugh. Mr. G. A. Aitken has treated of several writers of the Restoration and Queen Anne's reign. Mr. W. P. Courtney has written nearly six hundred articles on Cornishmen and on literary workers of the eighteenth century. Mr. Austin Dobson has likewise contributed memoirs of several eighteenth-century men of letters, including Richard Steele and Horace Walpole. Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., has dealt with numerous men of letters of the nineteenth century, including Bossetti, Shelley, and Southey; some minor women writers of the same period have been commemorated by Miss Elizabeth Lee. Mr. H. R. Tedder has described the careers of printers and bookcollectors; and various authors of Lancashire birth have been treated by Mr. C. W. Sutton. Orientalists have been mainly undertaken by Professor Stanley Lane-Poole, Professor R. K. Douglas, Professor Cecil Bendall, and the Rev. Professor Margoliouth. Artists have been entrusted to Mr. Lionel Cust, Mr. Austin Dobson, Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse, Mr. R. E. Graves, Mr. F. M. O'Donoghue, Mr. Campbell Dodgson, and Sir Walter Armstrong; architects in later volumes to Mr. Paul Waterhouse; numismatists and medallists throughout the work to Mr. Warwick Wroth, and musicians to Mr. W. Barclay Squire, Mr. J. A. Fuller Maitland, Mr. H. Davey, Mr. F. G. Edwards, Mr. J. Cuthbert Hadden, Mr. R. H. Legge, and Miss Middleton. Physicians have been handled by Dr. J. F. Payne and by Dr. Norman Moore, who has also treated of many writers in the Irish tongue; surgeons, from the letter L, by Mr. D'Arcy Power; astronomers by Miss A. M. Clerke; botanists by Mr. G. S. Boulger and Mr. B. B. Woodward; geologists, from the letter M, by Professor Bonney, F. R. S.; chemists, from the letter M, by Mr. P. J. Hartog; many engineers and inventors by Mr. R. B. Prosser; mathematicians by Mr. E. Irving Carlyle; agriculturists, from the letter P, by Sir Ernest Clarke, F.S.A.; and economists, from L, by Professor W. A. S. Hewins.

The table on the pages that follow shows the total number of pages contributed by the thirty-four largest regular contributors. Only those whose contributions reach a total of pages nearly equivalent to half a volume or more are included. It will be seen that this table accounts for the production of no less than thirty-eight volumes.

The names of only seven contributors appear in the prefatory lists of all the sixty-three volumes namely, Mr. Thompson Cooper, Mr. W. P. Courtney, the Rev. Alexander Gordon, the Rev. William Hunt, Professor J. K. Laughton, Mr. Sidney Lee, and Dr. Norman Moore. The name of Mr. J. M. Rigg is absent only from one volume — viz. Volume LII. Dr. Garnett's name appears in all but two (Volumes XXVI. and LVI.), and

The thirty-four contributors who have written the largest
number of pages in the dictionary

Name Full Amount of
approximately in
number of pages
Amount of Contributions
reckoned in volumes
No. of
Mr. Sidney Lee . . . . 1370 Three volumes 820
Professor J. K. Laughton . . 1000 Two and a quarter 904
Mr. Leslie Stephen . . . . 1000 Two and a quarter 378
Mr. T. F. Henderson . . . 900 Two 918
Mr. Thompson Cooper . . . 900 Two 1422
Rev. William Hunt . . . . 830 Two 595
Rev. Alexander Gordon . . . 750 One and three-quarter 691
Mr. Gordon Goodwin . . . 730 One and three-quarter 1178
Mr. Thomas Seccombe . . . 680 One and a half 578
Mr. W. P. Courtney . . 610 One and a third 595
Mr. J. M. Rigg . . . . . 560 One and a quarter 610
Mr. C. H. Firth . . . . 500 One 222
Mr. G. F. Russell Barker . . . 470 One 300
The later Mr. George C. Boase . . 470 One 723
Mr. Joseph Knight, F.S.A. . . 460 One 351
The later Mr. H. Manners Chichester 430 One 499
Professor T. F. Tout . . . . 430 One 240
Mr. A. F. Pollard . . . . 410 One 426
Mr. E. I. Carlyle . . . . 380 Seven-eights 569
Colonel R. H. Vetch . . 360 Three-quarters 183
Mr. C. L. Kingsford . . . . 330 Three-quarters 378
Mr. Lionel Cust, F.S.A. . . . 320 Three-quarters 760
Mr. J. A. Hamilton . . . . 320 Three-quarters 293
Mr. Robert Dunlop . . . . 310 Three-quarters 169
Dr. A. W. Ward . . . . 300 Two-thirds 58

The thirty-four contributors who have written the largest
number of pages in the dictionary

Name Full Amount of
approximately in
number of pages
Amount of Contributions
reckoned in volumes
No. of
Dr. Norman Moore . . . . 280 Two-thirds 454
Mr. James Gairdner, C.B. . . 270 Five-eights 77
Sheriff Mackay . . . . . 260 Five-eights 125
Dr. Author:Richard Garnett, C.B. . . 230 One half 177
Mr. W. A. J. Archbold . . . 220 One half 351
Mr. G. Le Grys Norgate . . . 220 One half 241
Mr. James Tait . . . . 210 One half 118
Mr. H. Morse Stephens . . . 210 One half 229
Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse . . . 200 One half 137
Totals . 16920 Thirty-eight 15769

Mr. Leslie Stephen and Mr. C. W. Sutton in all but three. Mr. T. F. Henderson and Mr. Joseph Knight figure in every volume excepting four, Mr. J. A. Hamilton in every volume excepting five. Mr. C. H. Firth and Mr. Warwick Wroth contribute to fifty-seven of the sixtythree volumes, the late Mr. G. C. Boase to fifty-six volumes, Mr. G. F. Russell Barker and Mr. Lionel Cust to fifty-five volumes, Professor T. F. Tout to fifty-four volumes, and Mr. Thomas Bayne to fifty volumes.

The following regular contributors have died during the progress of the work: G. T. Bettany (d. 1892); George Clement Boase (d. 1897); H. Manners Chichester (d. 1894); C. H. Coote (d. 1898); Dr. John Westby Gibson (d. 1892) ; Sir John T. Gilbert (d. 1898); John Miller Gray, curator of Scottish National Gallery (d. 1894) ; Dr. W. A. Greenhill (d. 1894); Dr. A. B. Grosart (d. 1899) ; Robert Harrison, late librarian of the London Library (d. 1897) ; the Rev. Dr. Luard (d. 1891); Walter H. Tregellas (d. 1894); and the Rev. Canon Venables (d. 1895). Memoirs of the last three contributors have been included in volumes of the Dictionary that have been published subsequently to the dates of their deaths. Special commemoration is due to the late G. C. Boase and the late H. Manners Chichester, whose contributions in their several lines of study were very numerous. Their zeal for the undertaking was great, and it is cause for deep regret that they did not live to witness its completion.[1]

The occasional contributors, who are larger numerically than the regular contributors, although their contributions cover a smaller area, include distinguished experts in every branch of knowledge, and they have usefully supplemented the labours of the regular contributors by undertaking memoirs to the preparation of which they brought peculiarly apposite experience. The following is a list of some of the more interesting and valuable articles due to occasional contributors:[2]

    The Rev. Canon Ainger on Charles Lamb and Tennyson.
    Mr. Robert Boyle on Philip Massinger.
    Sir Frederick Bramwell, Bart., F.R.S., on James Watt the engineer.
    Professor A. H. Church, F.R.S., on Josiah Wedgwood.
    The Rev. Andrew Clark on Anthony à Wood.
    Mr. Sidney Colvin on Flaxman, Keats, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
    Mr. Francis Darwin, F.R.S., on Charles Darwin.
   *Sir William Flower, F.R.S. (d. 1899), on Sir Richard Owen.
    Sir Michael Foster, K.C.B., on Francis Maitland Balfour.
   *Professor E. A. Freeman (d. 1892) on Alfred the Great.
    The Very Rev. the Hon. W. H. Fremantle, Dean of Ripon, on Archbishop Tait.
    The Right Hon. Sir Edward Fry on John Selden.
    Mr. R. T. Glazebrook, F.R.S., on Sir Isaac Newton.
    Mr. Edmund Gosse, LL.D., on Walter (Horatio) Pater.
    Professor J. W. Hales on Chaucer.
    Professor C. H. Herford on Ben Jonson and Middleton.
    Mr. Henry Higgs on Arthur Young.
   *The Rev. Professor Hort (d. 1892) on Bishop Lightfoot.

    Professor G. B. Howes, F.R.S., on William Kitchin Parker.
   *Mr. R. H. Hutton (d. 1897) on Walter Bagehot.
   *Mr. Alexander Ireland (d. 1894) on Leigh Hunt.
    Professor Sir Richard Jebb on Bentley and Porson.
    The Hon. Francis Lawley on Admiral Rous.
    Mr. W. S. Lilly on Cardinal Newman.
    Sir Theodore Martin on Prince Albert, John Singleton Copley (Lord Lyndhurst), and Croker.
    Sir Alfred Milner, G.C.B., on Arnold Toynbee.
    The Right Hon. John Morley on Richard Cobden,
    Sir George Herbert Murray, K.C.B., on Thomas Tooke.
    The Hon. George Peel on Sir Robert Peel.
    Mr. F. C. Penrose, F.R.S., on Christopher Wren.
    Mr. G. W. Prothero on Sir John Robert Seeley.
    Mr. . E. Prothero on Dean Stanley.
    The Rev. Hastings Rashdall on Wycliffe.
    Mrs. Richmond Ritchie on Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
    Professor Goldwin Smith on Lord Cardwell.
    The Very Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, Dean of Winchester, on St. Anselm.
    Professor Silvanus Thompson, F.R.S., on Sir Charles Wheatstone.
   *Professor Tyndall (d. 1893) on Michael Faraday.
    Sir Henry Trueman Wood on Sir William Siemens.
    Dr. Aldis Wright on Edward Fitzgerald.

Much voluntary assistance has been rendered to the Dictionary in the course of its publication. Information on points of family history has been placed at the disposal of editors and contributors too frequently and too abundantly to render specific acknowledgment practicable. Special thanks are due to the editor of the ‘Athenæum,’ who generously printed successive lists of names of persons, memoirs of whom were to appear in the Dictionary. Many readers of the ‘Athenæum’ forwarded suggestions, by which the Dictionary has greatly benefited. Nor ought omission to be made of critics of the Dictionary, who carefully examined each volume on publication and noted defects or ambiguities. One of these critics, the Rev. John Russell Washbourn, Rector of Rudford, Gloucester, forwarded his remarks with great regularity, volume by volume, through the first thirty-five volumes, until his death in 1893. Another critic, the Rev. W. C. Boulter, contributed a series of quarterly papers of corrections to 'Notes and Queries' through the whole progress of the undertaking.

Much help has been received from the custodians of archives of the public offices at home and abroad, from the officials of the British Museum, of the Bodleian and Cambridge University Libraries, and of the Inns of Court, as well as from librarians in all parts of the United Kingdom and from the secretaries of learned societies in the colonies and in America. Many clergymen have, at the request of editors or contributors, consulted their parish registers without charging fees. At both Oxford and Cambridge, not only have the keepers of the University Registers been always ready in answering inquiries, but the heads of many colleges have shown great zeal in making researches in their college archives on behalf of the Dictionary. Particular recognition is due in this regard to the Rev. Dr. Magrath, provost of Queen's College, Oxford, and to Dr. John Peile, master of Christ's College, Cambridge. Information respecting members of the great society of Trinity College, Cambridge, has been freely placed at the Dictionary's disposal by Dr. Aldis Wright, the vice-president, while no inquiry addressed to Mr. R. F. Scott, bursar of St. John's College, Cambridge, or to Dr. John Venn, fellow and lecturer of Caius College, Cambridge, has failed to procure a useful reply. The successive registrars of Dublin University have also shown the readiest disposition to render the information supplied by the Dictionary concerning the graduates of Trinity College as precise as possible.

Criticism or appreciation of the completed enterprise would be out of place here. That there are errors in the Dictionary those who have been most closely associated with its production are probably more conscious than other people. On that subject it need only be said that every effort will be made, as soon as opportunity serves, to correct those errors that have been pointed out to the editor, all of which have been carefully tabulated. But whatever the shortcomings of the work, the Dictionary can fairly claim to have brought together a greater mass of accurate information respecting the past achievements of the British and Irish race than has been put at the disposal of the English-speaking peoples in any previous literary undertaking. Such a work of reference may be justly held to serve the national and the beneficial purpose of helping the present and future generations to realise more thoroughly than were otherwise possible the character of their ancestors' collective achievement, of which they now enjoy the fruits. Similar works have been produced in foreign countries under the auspices of State-aided literary academies, or have been subsidised by the national exchequers. It is in truer accord with the self-reliant temperament of the British race that this ‘Dictionary of’ ‘National Biography’ is the outcome of private enterprise and the handiwork of private citizens.

  1. Memoirs of Messrs. Boase and Chichester, as well as of Sir John T. Gilbert, John Miller Gray, Dr. W. A. Greenhill, and Dr. A. B. Grosart (among deceased regular contributors), will be issued in a Supplement to the present issue of the Dictionary, which will be published next year.
  2. Six of these writers, whose names are here marked with an asterisk, have died since the cited articles were prepared. Of these contributors a memoir of Professor Tyndall is given in Vol. LVII. of the Dictionary. Notices of the other five deceased contributors who are mentioned in the above list will appear in the Supplement to the Dictionary. The following occasional contributors who died while the work was in progress are already noticed in volumes issued subsequently to the dates of their deaths:— Octavian Blewitt (d. 1884), Dutton Cook (d. 1883), Mrs. Anne Gilchrist (d. 1885), Robert Hunt, F.R.S. (d. 1887), Westland Marston (d. 1890), F. R. Oliphant (d. 1894), Wyatt Papworth (d. 1894), George Groom Robertson (d. 1892), Dr. Hack Tuke (d. 1896), Henri van Laun (d. 1896), Cornelius Walford (d. 1885), Edward Walford (d. 1897), and John Ward, C.B. (d. 1890). The Supplement will include the following names of occasional contributors, in addition to those already indicated, who have died during the progress of the work: Grant Allen (d. 1899), Sheldon Amos (d. 1886), John Eglinton Bailey (d. 1888), Professor W. G. Blaikie (d. 1899), Wilkie Collins (d. 1889), the Rev. Canon Dixon (d. 1900), J. P. Earwaker (d. 1895), Arthur Locker (d. 1893), Professor John Nichol (d. 1894), John Ormsby (d. 1895), the Rev. Canon Perry (d. 1897), and the Rev. Nicholas Pocock (d. 1897).