Banks, John

, an English miscellaneous writer of some note, was born at Sunning, in Berkshire, in 1709, and put apprentice to a weaver at Reading but accidentally breaking his arm before the expiration of his time, he was unable to follow his trade, and for some time, probably, lived upon charity. Ten pounds, however, being left him by a relation, he came up to London, and set up a book-stall in Spital-nelds, hoping to be as lucky as Duck, who about this time raised himself to notice by his poem called “The Thresher,” in imitation of which Banks wrote “The Weaver’s Miscellany,” but without success, which he afterwards acknowledged was not unjust. He then quitted this settlement, and lived some time with Mr. Montague, a bookseller and bookbinder, employing his leisure hours in the composition of small poems, for a collection of which he solicited a subscription, and sent his proposals, with a poem, to Mr. Pope, who answered him in a letter, and subscribed for two copies. He was afterwards concerned in a large work in folio, intituled the “Life of Christ,” which was drawn up with much piety and exactness. He also wrote the celebrated “Critical Review of the Life of Oliver Cromwell,” 12mo, which has been often printed, and is, upon the whole, an impartial work. Towards the end of his life he was employed in writing the Old England and Westminster Journals, and was now enabled to live in easy circumstances. He died of a nervous disorder at Islington, April 19, 1751. His biographer represents him as a pleasing and acceptable companion, and a modest and unassuming man, free from every inclination to engage in contests, or indulge envy or malevolence. 2


Gibber’s Lives, vol. V.