The son of the writer William Duncombe and the nephew of Spenser's editor John Hughes, John Duncombe attended Corpus Christi College Cambridge (B.A. 1749, Fellow 1751-58, M.A. 1752) and was Vicar of West Thurrock, Essex, preacher at St. Anne's, Soho, Rector of St. Andrew and St. Mary Bredman, Canterbury (1757-86); Vicar of Herne, Kent (1773), chaplain to the Archbishop, master of Harbledown and St. John's Hospital. He married a daughter of the painter Joseph Highmore. Under the name "Crito" Duncombe contributed biography, poems, and criticism to the Gentleman's Magazine, where he acted as review editor. His parody of Gray's Elegy was frequently reprinted.
1748[Untitled, "Deep in the winding mazes of a wood."]
1751The Feminiad: a Poem.
1751[Untitled, "Sunk was the solemn taper's sickly glare."]
1753An Evening Contemplation in a College. Being a Parody on the Elegy in a Country Church-Yard.
1754To Thomas Edwards, Esq.
1754Verses to the Author [George Jeffreys].
1755Ode to Health.
1760 ca.Kensington Gardens. A Pastoral.
1763Farewell to Hope. An Ode.
1764Horace Book III. Ode IV. imitated. To Liberty.
1778An Elegy, written in Canterbury Cathedral.
An evening contemplation in a college. 1753.
Horace, book 2 satire vii imitated, by Sir Nicholas Nemo. 1754.
The feminiad: a poem. 1754.
A select collection of original letters ... from the reign of Henry VIII to the present time [ed. Duncombe]. 2 vols, 1755.
Works of Horace, by several hands [ed. William Duncombe]. 2 vols, 1757, 1767.
A sermon preached ... for a general thanksgiving. 1759.
Letters by several eminent persons deceased [including John Hughes; ed. Duncombe]. 2 vols, 1772; 3 vols, 1773.
Surry triumphant, or the Kentish men's defeat: being a parody of Chevy Chase. 1773.
An elegy written in Canterbury Cathedral. 1778.
Select works of the Emperor Julian. 2 vols, 1784.
Fishing: a translation from Vaniere book xv Upon fish. 1809.