White, Henry (1812-1880) (DNB00)

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WHITE, HENRY (1812–1880), historical and educational writer, born on 23 Nov. 1812, was the son of Charles White of Minster Street, Reading. He was educated at Reading grammar school under Richard Valpy [q. v.], and proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge. He also studied at the university of Heidelberg, where he obtained the degree of Ph.D. In the earlier part of his career, after working at Geneva with Merle d'Aubigné for some time, he was chiefly occupied with scholastic work, and published several historical text-books of considerable merit. Perhaps the best known is his ‘History of France,’ Edinburgh, 1850, 12mo, which attained an eighth edition in 1870. In 1858 he was appointed to superintend the compilation of the ‘Catalogue of Scientific Papers’ issued by the Royal Society, and was engaged in this work until his death. For some years he also acted as literary critic to the ‘Atlas’ during the editorship of Henry James Slack [q. v.]

In 1867 he published his most important book, ‘The Massacre of St. Bartholomew, preceded by a History of the Religious Wars in the Reign of Charles IX,’ London, 8vo, a work of genuine research. White's was the first English treatise to show that the massacre was the result of a sudden resolution, and not of a long-prepared conspiracy. The merits of his monograph were recognised by Alfred Maury, who reviewed it elaborately in the ‘Journal des Savants.’ White died in London on 5 Jan. 1880. In 1837 he married Elizabeth King of Boulogne-sur-Mer, and left issue.

Besides the works already mentioned, White was the author of:

  1. ‘Elements of Universal History,’ Edinburgh, 1843, 12mo; 13th ed. Edinburgh, 1872, 8vo.
  2. ‘Outlines of Universal History,’ Edinburgh, 1853, 8vo; 10th ed. 1873, 12mo.
  3. ‘History of Great Britain and Ireland,’ Edinburgh, 1849, 12mo; 20th ed. 1879.

He also compiled several school histories, and between 1843 and 1853 translated Merle d'Aubigné's ‘History of the Reformation.’ In conjunction with Thomas W. Newton he prepared the ‘Catalogue of the Library of the Museum of Practical Geology,’ published in 1878.

[Information kindly given by Mr. Henry White's son, Mr. A. Hastings White; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Trübner's American, European, and Oriental Record, 1880, p. 12; Athenæum, 1880, i. 58.]

E. I. C.