1867 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen

Joseph Smith, in A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends' Books (1867) 2:927.



Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen, was born in the year 1792 at Woburn, Bedfordshire. His parents were members of the Society of Friends, to whose religious sentiments he adhered from conviction. He was, at an early age, placed at a school at Hitchin; but on the death of his father, his mother being left with a family, he was removed for economy, to Ackworth School, near Pontefract. His adventures there were limited to the elements of an English education. At the age of fourteen he engaged himself as assistant in a Friends' Academy at Epping. At the age of nineteen he opened an Academy at Woburn. In 1812 he united with two of his friends in publishing Poems by three friends; and in 1819 he put forth his "Aonian Hours," shortly followed by "Julia Alpinula" and a translation of the fourth canto of the "Jersusalem Delivered of Tasso," as a specimen of a new translation of the whole. Towards the close of 1820, the Duke of Bedford offered him the post of Librarian at Woburn Abbey, which he accepted and went to reside there in 1821. Here he completed his translation of Tasso and the Works of the Spanish poet Garcilasso de la Vega. The first edition of his Tasso in 2 volumes quarto was destroyed by a fire at the printer's when just on the eve of publication; and here he began his "Historical Memoirs of the House of Russell," published in 1833, after seven years of research and labour.

He married in 1828, removing his residence to the village of Froxfield, where he passed the remainder of his days, retaining his appointment of Librarian to the Duke of Bedford. His death in the year 1836 was sudden. He was interred in the Friends' burial-ground at a hamlet vulgarly called Hogsytend, now Woburn-Sands. In the same ground lies also the Editor of the "Letters of Lady Rachel Russell, widow of the Patriot."