Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Echard, Laurence

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ECHARD, LAURENCE (1670?–1730), historian, son of the Rev. Thomas Echard or Eachard of Barsham, near Beccles, Suffolk, by his wife, the daughter of Samuel and Dorothy Groome, was born at Barsham, and on 26 May 1687, at the age of seventeen, was admitted a sizar of Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1691 and M.A. in 1695. Echard, having been ordained by Moore, bishop of Norwich, was presented to the livings of Welton and Elkington, Lincolnshire, and was appointed chaplain to the Bishop of Lincoln. For more than twenty years Echard resided in Lincolnshire, chiefly at Louth, where during that time he wrote a number of works. On 24 April 1697 he was installed prebendary of Louth in the cathedral of Lincoln, and on 12 Aug. 1712 archdeacon of Stow (Browne Willis, Survey, 1742, iii. 213, 131). In 1707 he brought out his ‘History of England from the first entrance of Julius Cæsar and the Romans to the end of the Reign of James the First.’ In 1718 he published two further volumes, bringing the history down to the ‘establishment of King William and Mary,’ and in 1720 an appendix, ‘consisting of explanations and amendments, as well as new and curious additions to that History. Together with some apologies and vindications.’ Archbishop Wake, in a letter to Addison, dated 31 Dec. 1717, calls his attention to ‘honest Mr. Eachard, who is now on his way hither to publish his History, and present it, as we agreed, to his majesty. His circumstances are so much worse than I thought, that if we cannot get somewhat pretty considerable for him, I doubt he will sink under the weight of his debts. … I verily believe that 300 guineas for the 3 vols. may as easily be procured from the king as 200l.’ (Aikin, Life of Addison, 1843, ii. 211–12). Echard's ‘History,’ though it gave rise to many adverse criticisms, retained its popularity until it was superseded by Tindal's translation of Rapin. It is chiefly remarkable for the insertion of Captain Lindsey's astonishing narrative concerning Cromwell's interview with the devil on the morning of the battle of Worcester (3rd edit. p. 691). In or about 1722 Echard was presented by George I to the livings of Rendlesham and Sudborne in Suffolk. Here he lived in bad health for nearly eight years. He died at Lincoln, while on his way to Scarborough for the benefit of the waters, on 16 Aug. 1730, and was buried in the chancel of St. Mary Magdalen's Church on the 29th of the same month. Echard married twice, first Jane, daughter of the Rev.—Potter of Yorkshire, and secondly Justin, daughter of Robert Wooley of Well, Lincolnshire. There were no children by either marriage. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a near relation of John Eachard [q. v.], the author of the ‘Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy.’ In some of Laurence Echard's earlier books his name is spelt ‘Eachard.’ His portrait, by Vertue after Kneller, is prefixed to the third edition of the ‘History of England,’ London, 1720, folio. Besides the ‘History’ and two single sermons he published the following works, all of which were originally issued in London:

  1. ‘An Exact Description of Ireland,’ &c., 1691, 12mo.
  2. ‘A Description of Flanders, or the Spanish Netherlands,’ 1691.
  3. ‘A Most Compleat Compendium of Geography, General and Special; describing all the Empires, Kingdoms, and Dominions in the whole World,’ &c., 1691, 12mo; fourth edition, 1697, 12mo; sixth, 1704, 12mo; seventh, 1705, 12mo; eighth, 1713, 12mo.
  4. ‘Plautus's Comedies, Amphitryon, Epidicus, and Rudens made English; with Critical Remarks upon each Play,’ 1694, 8vo; second edition, corrected, 1716, 12mo.
  5. ‘Terence's Comedies, made English. With his Life; and some Remarks at the end. By several hands, 1694, 8vo; second edition, corrected, 1698, 12mo; third edition, 1705, 12mo. ‘By Mr. Laurence Echard and others. Revised and corrected by Dr. Echard and Sir R. L'Strange;’ fifth, 1718, 8vo; sixth, 1724, 12mo; ninth, 1741, 12mo.
  6. ‘The Gazeteer's or Newsman's Interpreter: being a Geographical Index of all the considerable Cities, Patriarcships, Bishopricks, … in Europe,’ &c. Third edition, 1695; sixth, 1703; eighth, 1706; tenth, 1709; eleventh, 1716; twelfth, 1724; fifteenth, 1741, all 12mo. It was also translated into French, Italian, and Spanish.
  7. ‘The Roman History from the Building of the City to the Perfect Settlement of the Empire by Augustus Cæsar,’ &c., vol. i., fourth edition, 1699, 8vo.
  8. ‘The Roman History from the Settlement of the Empire by Augustus Cæsar to the Removal of the Imperial Seat by Constantine the Great … Vol. II. For the use of His Highness the Duke of Gloucester,’ 1698, 8vo. This history was completed in five volumes, but Echard wrote the first two only, the other three being written, as he states in the preface to the third volume, ‘by one whose person is unknown to me;’ they, however, appear to have been revised by him. A number of editions of each volume were published, and the sets are made up of different editions.
  9. ‘An Abridgment of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World in Five Books,’ &c., 1700, 8vo.
  10. ‘A General Ecclesiastical History from the Nativity of our blessed Saviour to the First Establishment of Christianity by Humane Laws under Emperour Constantine the Great,’ &c., 1702, fol.; second edition, 1710, 8vo, 2 vols.; third, 1712, 8vo; sixth, 1722, 8vo.
  11. ‘The Works of Lucian, translated from the Greek by several eminent hands,’ 1710?–11, 8vo, 4 vols. The only piece attributed in the contents to Echard is ‘The Auction of Philosophers,’ iii. 323–44.
  12. ‘The Classical Geographical Dictionary, revised, with a recommendatory preface by Laurence Echard,’ 1715, 12mo.
  13. ‘Maxims and Discourses, Moral and Divine: taken from the Works of Arch-Bishop Tillotson and Methodiz'd and Connected,’ 1719, 8vo.
  14. ‘The History of the Revolutions in England under the Family of the Stuarts, from the year 1603 to 1690. … By F. J. D'Orleans of the Society of Jesus. Translated from the French original printed at Paris. To which is prefixed an Introduction to this History, by Laurence Echard.’ The second edition, 1722, 8vo.
  15. ‘The History of the Revolution and the Establishment of England in the year 1688. Introduc'd by a necessary Review of the Reign of King Charles and King James the Second. In three books,’ 1725, 8vo; another edition, Dublin, 1725, 8vo.

[Biog. Brit. (1793), v. 532–5; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. (1814), xiii. 15–18; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England (1806), iii. 106–8; Cunningham's Lives of Eminent Englishmen (1835), iv. 416–18; Graduati Cantabr. (1823), p. 150; European Mag. (1806), xlix. 418–19; Davy's Suffolk Collections, vol. lii. (Addit. MS. 19128); Birch's Biog. Anecd. (Addit. MS. 4222; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.