1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Gregory

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 16:292-93.



GEORGE GREGORY, D.D. a divine and miscellaneous writer, was descended from a family, originally from Scotland, but a branch of which was settled in Ireland. His father, who had been educated in Trinity college, Dublin, held, at the time of his son's birth, the living of Edernin, and a prebend in the cathedral of Ferns. Dr. Gregory was born April 14, 1754, and after his father's death in 1766, was removed to Liverpool, where his mother fixed her residence. He passed some time under the tuition of an excellent schoolmaster of the name of Holden, by whom he was much distinguished for his proficiency in learning. As it was his mother's desire that he should be brought up to commerce, he spent some years in mercantile employments; but a taste for literature, which continued to be his ruling propensity, produced a final determination in favour of a learned profession. Although the regular process of education for this purpose had been interrupted, the intervening variety of pursuit and observation proved the foundation of a great store of information relative to the arts and sciences, to commerce, manufactures, and political institutions, that was very useful in his subsequent compilations. When his destination was fixed, he passed an interval of study at the university of Edinburgh, and in 1776 entered into holy orders. He first officiated as a curate at Liverpool, where he distinguished himself as a preacher, and wrote some occasional pieces in the periodical journals and magazines, particularly against the slave trade, which he had the spirit to attack in the principal seat of that traffic. In 1782 he removed to London, and obtained the curacy of St. Giles's Cripplegate, in which parish he became very popular, both in that capacity and afterwards as their morning preacher. His other London preferments, if they may be so called, were the curacy and lectureship of St. Botolph's, the lectureship of St. Luke's, one of the weekly lectureships of St Antholin's, and a small prebend in St. Paul's, which he relinquished for the rectory of Stapleford in Hertfordshire. He was also some time one of the evening preachers at the Foundling hospital. In 1804 he was presented by Mr. Addington, now lord Sidmouth, to the valuable living of West Ham in Essex, where in a little time the powers of his constitution, although apparently a strong one, suddenly gave way, and he died, after a short confinement, March 12, 1808.

The greater part of Dr. Gregory's time, after his arrival in London, was spent in literary employment, and principally in compilations that were successful and useful. He was the first who, about 1782-3, suggested a series of extracts from eminent authors, which were published by the late Mr. Kearsley of Fleet-street, under the name of " Beauties," and had a very extensive sale. He afterwards published an original work, entitled "Essays historical and moral," 1785, 8vo, which introduced him very favourably to the notice of the public, and reached a second edition in 1788. This was followed by, l. A translation of Lowth's Lectures on the sacred poetry of the Hebrews, 1787." 2. "Church History," 1788, and 1795, 2 vols. 3. "Life of Chatterton," 1780, 8vo, inserted afterwards in the "Biographia Britannica," for which it was originally intended. 4. "Sermons," 1789. 5. A translation of Telemachus, or rather a revisal of Hawkesworth's translation, 1795, 4to. 6. "The Economy of Nature," 3 vols. 8vo. 7. "A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences," 1806, 2 vols. 4to. To some of these it is supposed he contributed little more than his name; but the number of works which he compiled without his name, would furnish perhaps a more numerous list. Among others he was many years editor of the "New Annual Register," conducted through the whole of the French war with bitter hostility to the measures of the British government. He took advantage, however, of the short interval of peace, to give it a turn favourable to the then administration, which it is said procured him the living of West Ham. He left in the press "Letters on Natural and Experimental Philosophy," and a "Series of Letters to his Son," which have since been published.