Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gough, Richard

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GOUGH, RICHARD (1735–1809), antiquary, born on 21 Oct. 1735 in Winchester Street, London, was the only son and heir of Harry Gough, esq., of Perry Hall, Staffordshire, by Elizabeth, daughter of Morgan Hynde, a wealthy brewer of London. The father (1681–1751) went, when only eleven years old, to China with Sir Richard Gough, his uncle, kept all his accounts, and was called by the Chinese ‘Ami Whangi,’ or the ‘white-haired boy.’ He commanded the ship Streatham from 1707 to 1715, when he retired with a competency from the service of the East India Company. Subsequently he became a director of the company and M.P. for Bramber. He refused several offices from Sir Robert Walpole, whose confidence he possessed.

Richard Gough acquired the first rudiments of Latin under the tuition of a Courlander named Barnewitz, on whose death he was entrusted to the care of Roger Pickering, a learned dissenting minister. He finished his Greek studies under Samuel Dyer [q. v.], the friend of Dr. Johnson. At the early age of eleven he began a work which, by the indulgence of his mother, was printed under the title of ‘The History of the Bible, translated from the French, by R. G., Junior, 1746, London, printed [by James Waugh] in the year 1747.’ Of this curious volume, consisting of 160 sheets in folio, twenty-five copies were privately printed; and the colophon announced that the translation, made from a work by David Martin, printed at Amsterdam in 2 vols. fol. 1700, was ‘done at twelve years and a half old’ (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iii. 100, 165). Another juvenile work was ‘The Customs of the Israelites, translated from the French of the Abbé Fleury, by R. G.,’ 1750, 8vo, also privately printed by Waugh. Gough likewise prepared for the press an elaborate compilation entitled ‘Atlas Renovatus; or Geography Modernized,’ 1751, fol. The manuscript afterwards came into the possession of his friend John Nichols, F.S.A.

His father died in 1751, leaving him the reversion of the Middleton estate in Warwickshire and of much property in other counties. He was admitted in July 1752 a fellow-commoner of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, a college where many famous antiquaries from the days of Parker downwards had been educated. His college tutor was Dr. John Barnardiston, afterwards master. Some extracts from a journal kept by him at this period have been printed in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ new ser., ix. 150. Cole says that Gough was a rigid presbyterian, and that Barnardiston was particularly enjoined by his relatives ‘not to suffer him to be matriculated, by which he avoided taking the oaths, and not to let him receive the sacrament, otherwise he was to go to the college chapel as others’ (Addit. MS 5870, f. 113). He ‘was very shy and awkward, and much the joke of his fellow-collegians; and hardly ever stirred out of college but with his tutor’ (ib. 5824 f. 62 b, 5852 f. 111, 5886 f. 22). At the university his studies were regular and severe. Numerous works which he compiled or translated at this period are still extant in manuscript, and bear witness to the diversity of his literary tastes and his indefatigable industry. In July 1756 he left Cambridge without a degree, and visited Peterborough, Croyland Abbey, and Stamford. In subsequent years he traversed nearly the whole of England, making copious notes, which he digested for an augmented edition of Camden's ‘Britannia,’ the result of twenty years' excursions. In his earlier tours he made many creditable sketches. His last regular topographical tour was through Cumberland and Scotland in 1771; but till within two years of his death he made at least one annual excursion, often accompanied by his friend John Nichols, the printer. His earliest antiquarian publication was an elaborate disquisition on ‘The History of Carausius; or an examination of what has been advanced on that subject by Genebrier and Dr. Stukeley’ (anon.), 1762, 4to. He was highly esteemed by John Howard, the philanthropist, who often pressed him to become his travelling companion. In 1767 Gough was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and from 1771 till 12 Dec. 1797 was director of the society. He was a fellow of the Royal Society from 1775 to 1795. From 1767 onwards he was a regular correspondent of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ under the signature of ‘D. H.’—the final letters of his name—and succeeded John Duncombe [q. v.] in 1786 as a leading reviewer for the magazine. His political criticisms were strongly conservative in tone (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. vi. 272).

On the death of his mother (27 May 1774) he came into possession of the family mansion at Enfield, Middlesex, and of the extensive landed estates bequeathed to him in reversion by his father. He married, on 18 Aug. 1774, Anne, fourth daughter of Thomas Hall, esq., of Goldings, Hertfordshire. To the property at Enfield, where he permanently resided, he made many additions by purchase. His friend and biographer Nichols dwells on the happiness of his domestic life and on his pleasant and easy manners as a host (ib. vi. 310).

Gough was much distressed by the disastrous fire which destroyed Nichols's valuable property in 1808. In the same year his health failed and his reason was threatened. He died on 20 Feb. 1809, and was buried on the 28th in the churchyard of Wormley, Hertfordshire.

Gough's independent fortune pre-eminently qualified him for the labours of an antiquary, whose researches rarely receive adequate remuneration. His person was short, inclining to corpulence. His features bespoke the energy and activity of his mind. In youth he was shy; but as his intercourse with society advanced his manner became easier, and his conversation was always lively, often with a pleasant flow of humour, and his disposition communicative (Chalmers, Biog. Dict. xvi. 133). His portrait has been engraved by Sawyer from a sketch taken at the Duchess of Portland's sale in 1786 (Evans, Cat. of Engraved Portraits, i. 143).

His library (with the exception of the department of British topography bequeathed to the Bodleian Library) was sold in April 1810 for 3,552l. His prints, drawings, coins, medals, and other antiquities were sold in 1810 for 517l. By his will Gough gave to the university of Oxford all his printed books and manuscripts on Saxon and northern literature ‘for the use of the Saxon professor;’ all his manuscripts, printed books and pamphlets, prints and drawings, maps and copper plates, relating to British topography (of which he had in 1808 printed a nearly complete catalogue); his interleaved copies of his own works, the ‘British Topography,’ Camden's ‘Britannia,’ and the ‘Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain,’ with all the drawings, the copperplates of the ‘Monuments’ and the ‘Topography,’ and fourteen volumes of drawings of sepulchral and other monuments in France. All these he willed and desired to ‘be placed in the Bodleian Library, in a building adjoining to the Picture Gallery, known by the name of the Antiquaries' Closet, erected for keeping manuscripts, printed books, and other articles relating to British topography; so that all together they may form one uniform body of English antiquities.’ A catalogue of the collection by Dr. Bulkeley Bandinel was published at Oxford in 1814. The manuscripts are very numerous, and many of the printed books contain manuscript notes by Gough and other eminent antiquaries.

Among Gough's numerous contributions to antiquarian literature three works, his ‘British Topography,’ his ‘Sepulchral Monuments,’ and his edition of Camden's ‘Britannia,’ possess the highest permanent value. The first, planned when he was a youth at college, appeared in London in 1768, 4to, under the title of ‘Anecdotes of British Topography,’ and again as ‘British Topography, or an Historical Account of what has been done for illustrating the Topographical Antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland,’ much enlarged, in 2 vols., London, 1780, 4to. It contains a minute and exhaustive description of all the public records, chronicles, heralds' visitations, printed books, manuscript collections, maps, charts, engravings, articles in periodicals, and other materials then available for the elucidation of the antiquities and topography of Great Britain and Ireland from the earliest times.

In 1786 Gough published the first volume of the ‘Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain applied to illustrate the History of Families, Manners, Habits, and Arts from the Norman Conquest.’ This volume (imp. fol.) dealt with the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. The second volume, published in 1796, and an introduction to it in 1799, treated of the fifteenth century. Here Gough stopped instead of continuing the work to the end of the sixteenth century as he originally intended. The three volumes are usually bound in five. The number and beauty of the plates, chiefly engraved by the Basires, give this work an almost unique interest among English books. Gough looked forward to preparing a new edition, and with this object obtained an ample store of new and accurate drawings by eminent artists. All these, with the numerous plates already engraved, form part of his bequest to the university of Oxford.

In 1773 Gough began a greatly augmented edition of ‘Camden's Britannia.’ He spared no trouble or expense in obtaining information, personally visited every county, and forwarded proof-sheets to antiquarian friends and others likely to make useful suggestions. The work, which he was seven years in translating and nine in printing, appeared under the title of ‘Camden's Britannia, translated from the edition published by the Author mdcvii. Enlarged by the latest Discoveries,’ in 3 vols., London, 1789, folio. The edition of 1806, fol., 4 vols., is a reprint of the 3 vols., with additions and corrections to the first volume, which was the only one Gough superintended, having quarrelled with the publisher. A third edition, begun at the press in 1806, was rapidly advancing when the destructive fire at Mr. Nichols's printing-office on 8 Feb. 1808, and the declining state of Gough's health, put a stop to the undertaking.

Gough's other works are:

  1. ‘A History of the Society of Antiquaries of London,’ prefixed to the first volume of their ‘Archæologia,’ 1770. To the eleven succeeding volumes, whose publication he superintended, he contributed various articles, enumerated in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes,’ vi. 299–301.
  2. ‘Description des Royaulmes d'Angleterre et d'Escosse, composée par Etienne Perlin (Par. 1558). Histoire de l'Entrée de la Reine Mère dans la Grande Bretagne, par De la Serre, Paris, 1639. Illustrated with Plates, English Notes, and Historical Prefaces,’ London, 1775, 4to.
  3. ‘A Catalogue of the Coins of Canute, King of Denmark and England, with specimens,’ London, 1777, 4to.
  4. ‘History of the Town of Thetford, in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk,’ London, 1779, 4to, edited from the manuscript collections of Thomas Martin of Palgrave, and illustrated by Captain Grose.
  5. An enlarged edition (1780) of the plates of the ‘Medals, Coins, and Great Seals,’ executed by Simon, and first published by Vertue in 1753.
  6. ‘An Essay on the Rise and Progress of Geography in Great Britain and Ireland; illustrated with specimens of our oldest maps,’ 1780, 4to.
  7. ‘Catalogue of Sarum and York Missals,’ 1780; this and the preceding work are extracted from the ‘British Topography.’
  8. Several essays in Nichols's ‘Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica,’ including the Memoirs of Edward Rowe-Mores, No. i.; of the Gales, and of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding, Nos. ii. and xx.; preface to ‘Antiquities of Aberdeen,’ No. iii.; of Sir John Hawkwood, Nos. iv. and xix.; ‘History of Croyland,’ No. xi. (to which he afterwards added a ‘second appendix,’ in addition to one previously communicated by Mr. Essex); and a ‘Genealogical View of the Family of Cromwell,’ No. xxxi.
  9. ‘History of the famous Royston Club,’ in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1783, liii. 613.
  10. ‘A Comparative View of the Antient Monuments of India, particularly those in the Island of Salset, near Bombay, as described by different writers, illustrated with ten curious plates,’ London, 1785, 4to.
  11. Oldys's ‘Life of Sir John Fastolf,’ fol. (1793), enlarged and revised.
  12. ‘Account of a Missal executed for John, Duke of Bedford,’ London, 1794, 4to; this missal is now in the British Museum.
  13. An English translation of the ‘Arabian Nights' Entertainments,’ 1798, with notes and a preface by Gough, showing that the supplementary tales published by Dom Chavis are forgeries.
  14. ‘List of the Members of the Society of Antiquaries’ (1717–96), London, 1798, 4to.
  15. ‘The Parochial History of Castor [Northamptonshire] and its dependencies … with an account of Marham, &c.’ Printed with the Rev. Kennett Gibson's ‘Comment upon part of the fifth Journey of Antoninus through Britain,’ London, 1800 and 1819, 4to.
  16. ‘The History and Antiquities of Pleshy, in the county of Essex,’ London, 1803, 4to.
  17. ‘Coins of the Seleucidæ, Kings of Syria; from the establishment of their reign under Seleucus Nicator to the determination of it under Antiochus Asiaticus. With Historical Memoirs of each reign. Illustrated from the cabinet of Matthew Duane, engraved by F. Bartolozzi,’ London, 1804, 4to.
  18. ‘Description of the Beauchamp Chapel, adjoining to the Church of St. Mary at Warwick, and the Monuments of the Earls of Warwick in the said church and elsewhere,’ London, 1809, 4to.
  19. Verses by Gough in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes,’ vi. 332–43.
  20. ‘A Syllabus of Churches,’ describing the various parts of our most ancient religious edifices.
  21. ‘Antiquities and Memoirs of the Parish of Myddle (co. Salop),’ London [1833?], fol.

Gough also assisted in the following: Hutchins's ‘History of Dorset’ (both editions); Nichols's ‘Collection of Royal and Noble Wills;’ Nash's ‘History of Worcestershire;’ John Carter's ‘Specimens of Antient Sculpture and Painting;’ Nichols's ‘History of Leicestershire;’ Schnebbelie's ‘Antiquaries' Museum;’ Manning and Bray's ‘History of Surrey;’ and Kippis's edition of the ‘Biographia Britannica.’

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vi. 262–343; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit.; Biographical Preface [by John Nichols] to the Catalogue of Gough's Library, 1810; Memoirs by John Nichols, extracted from Gent. Mag. for March and April 1809; Malcolm's Lives of Topographers and Antiquaries; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 225, 2nd ser. x. 249, 509, 6th ser. vii. 108, 398; Shaw's Staffordshire; Upcott's British Topography, vol. i. pref. p. ii; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn); Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities; Addit. MSS. 5834 f. 213; 5844 f. 40; 5886 ff. 1, 14, 22; 29309, 29936, 29944; Egerton MSS. 2374 ff. 304, 325, 329, 2382.]

T. C.