Echard, Laurence

, a clergyman, and author of several historical and other works, was nearly related to Dr. John Eachard, although they chose to spell the name differently. He was born at Cassam, near Beccles, in Suffolk, about 1671, and was the son of a clergyman, who, by the death of an elder brother, became possessed of a good estate in that county. Having passed through a course of grammar-learning, he was sent to Christ’s college, Cambridge, and, in 1691, he took the degree of bachelor of arts, and that of master in 1695. He afterwards entered into holy orders, and was ordained by More, bishop of Norwich, being presented for ordination by Whiston, then the bishop’s chaplain, who says that his character was unexceptionable. Echard then was promoted to the livings of Welton and Elkinton, in Lincolnshire, where he spent above twenty years of his life; and, during that time, he published a variety of works. One of his first publications was, “The Roman History, from the building of the City to the perfect Settlement of the Empire by Augustus Caesar.” This was so well received, that the fourth edition, in one volume 8vo, was published in 1699. He also published “The History, from the Settlement of the Empire, by Augustus Caesar, to the removal of the Imperial Seat of Constantine the Great,” said to be “for the use of his highness the duke of Gloucester,” to whom it was dedicated; and the second edition, in 8vo, was printed in 1699. Two continuations of this work, one of which was revised by Mr. Echard, were afterwards published in 3 vols. 8vo. In 1702, our author published, in folio, with a dedication to queen Anne, “A General Ecclesiastical History, from the Nativity of our blessed Saviour to the first establishment of Christianity by Human Laws, under the emperor Constantine the Great. Containing the space of about 313 years. With so much of the Jewish and Roman History as is necessary and convenient to illustrate the work. To | which is added, a large chronological table of all the Roman and Ecclesiastical affairs, included in the same period of time.” This work was so well received, that the sixth edition of it was published in 1722, in 2 vols. 8vo. Dean Prideaux says, that it is the best of its kind in the English tongue.

In 1707, when he was become prebendary of Lincoln, and chaplain to the bishop of that diocese, he published, in one volume folio, “The History of England: from the first entrance of Julius Csesar and the Romans to the end of the reign of king James the First,” dedicated to the duke of Ormond; by whom, he informs us in the dedication, he was excited to engage in the undertaking. In his preface, he gives some account of the materials and authors from which his work was collected. He particularly enumerates the Roman, Saxon, English, and monkish historians together with Hall, Grafton, Polydore Vergil, Holinshed, Stow, Speed, Baker, Brady, and Tyrrell and, among the writers of particular lives and reigns, he mentions Barnes, Howard, Goodwin, Camden, Bacon, Herbert, and Habington. “From all these several writers,” says be, “and many others, I have collected and formed this present history; always taking the liberty either to copy or to imitate any parts of them, if I found them really conducing to the usefulness or the ornament of my work. And, from all these, I have compiled an history as full, comprehensive, and complete, as I could bring into the compass of the proposed size and bigness. And, that nothing might be wanting, I have all the way enriched it with the best and wisest sayings of great men, that I could find in larger volumes, and likewise with such short moral reflections, and such proper characters of men, as might give life as well as add instruction tothe history.

In 1712, Mr. Echard was installed archdeacon of Stowe; and, in 1718, he published the second and third volumes of his History of England, which brings it down to the revolution. To these volumes he prefixed a dedication to king George the First. The same year, Dr. Edmund Calamy‘ published, in 8vo, “A Letter to Mr. archdeacon Echard, upon occasion of his History of England: wherein the true principles of the Revolution are defended, the Whigs and Dissenters vindicated, several persons of distinction cleared from aspersions, and a number of historical mistakes | rectified.” In this piece the author has made a variety of what he reckons remarks on the misrepresentations in Echard’s History; though he acknowledges it to be, in several respects, a work of considerable merit. “When I became your reader,” says he, “I was ready to make all the candid allowances you can desire. According to your own motion, I perused your work in order as it was written; and not by leaps, and starts, and distant parcels. And, now I have gone through the whole, am so little inclined to detract from you, that I can freely say a great deal in your commendation. The clearness of your method, and the perspicuity of your language, are two very great excellencies, which 1 admire. I am singularly pleased with the refreshing divisions of your matter, and the chronological distinction of the several parts of your history. I neither make any objections against the form of it as irregular or disproportionate, nor the general method as intricate and confused, nor the colouring as weak and unaffecting, nor the style as mean, flat, and insipid; which are the things about which you appear peculiarly concerned. And yet I thought a public animadversion both proper and necessary, and can meet with none of your readers, how different soever in their sentiments, views, and principles, but what herein agree.” Dr. Calamy also speaks of the “smooth and poliie way” in which Mr. Echard’s History is written; and says, that it has several beauties above many that had gone before him. But he adds, that he reckons his first volume to be by much the best of the three. It was also attacked, but with less candour, by Oldmixon in his “Critical History of England,” and his “History of the Stuarts.

This History of England was at first, in general, well received, and passed through several editions; but it appears to have greatly sunk in reputation after the publication of Rapin. Echard related facts with perspicuity, whatever objection may be made to his political bias; and his work is rendered the more entertaining by short characters of the most eminent literary men in the different periods of his history.

In 1719 he published, in a thin volume, 8vo, “Maxims and Discourses, moral and divine: taken from the works of archbishop Tillotson, and methodized and connected.” He was presented by king George I. to the livings of Rendlesham, Sudborn, and Alford, in Suffolk; at which places | be lived about eight years; but in a Continual ill state of health. Finding himself grow worse, and being advised to go to Scarborough for the benefit of the waters, he set out, but, declining very fast, he was unable to proceed farther than Lincoln, where soon after his arrival, going out to take the air, he died in his chariot, on the 16th of August, 1730, and was interred in the chancel of St. Mary Magdalen’s church, but without any monument or memorial of him. He was a member of the Society of Antiquaries. He married two wives; first, Jane, daughter to the rev. Mr. Potter, of Yorkshire; and, "Secondly, a daughter of Mr. Robert Wooley, a gentleman of Lincolnshire: but he had no children by either of them.

Besides the works already mentioned, Mr. Echard was also the author of “A History of the Revolution in 1688,” one volume, 8vo; of “The Gazetteer’s or Newsman’s Interpreter, being a Geographical Index of all the considerable cities, &c. in Europe,” &c. of which the eleventh edition, in i-’iiu), was published in 1716; and of “A Description of Ireland,” Lond. 1691, 12mo. He likewise published a translation of three comedies of Piauius, being the Amphitryon, Epidicns, and Rudens. Of this the second edition was published in 1716. He had also some share in a translation of Terence, but the language of this and of his Plautus is vulgar and degrading. The ninth edition of the translation of Terence, which is said to be “by Mr. Lawrence Echard, and others,” was published in 12mo, in 174-1. 1


Biog. Brit.