Hearne, Thomas

, an eminent English antiquary, and indefatigable collector and editor of books and manuscripts, was the son of George Hearne, parish-clerk of White Waltham, Berkshire, by Edith, daughter of Thomas Wise. He was born at Littlefteld-green in the above parish, in 1678, and baptised July 11th of that year. He appears to have been born with a taste for those researches which formed afterwards the business of his life; and even when he had but attained a knowledge of the alphabet, was seen continually poring over the old tomb-stones in the church-yard. As to education, he had very little. His father, who kept a writing-school, and who, as parishclerk, was also a kind of amanuensis to the illiterate part of his neighbours, could teach him English and writing, in both which he made considerable proficiency; but he had other children, and, instead of being able to place Thomas at any superior school, was obliged to let him earn his | subsistence as a day-labourer. His natural abilities, however, appeared through this disadvantage, and his being a better reader and writer than could have been expected from his scanty opportunities, recommended him to the kind attention of an early patron, whom he calls “that pious and learned gentleman Francis Cherry, esq.” By this gentleman, in whose house he was for some time a menial servant, he was placed at the free-school of Bray in Berkshire, in the beginning of 1693, and rewarded his care by such diligent application, as to acquire an accurate knowledge of Greek and Latin. He was on this account much respected both by the master and his fellow-scholars, who were accustomed to consult him in their little difficulties, and used to listen to his information respecting English history, which his original taste had led him to study as he found opportunity.

His patron, Mr. Cherry, pleased with the happy effects of his care, determined to take our young antiquary into his house, and maintain him as his son. In this it is said he partly followed the advice of the learned Mr. Dodwell, who then lived in the neighbourhood, and had probably watched the progress of Hearne’s education. He was accordingly taken into Mr. Cherry’s house about Easter 1695, and his studies in classical learning promoted by this gentleman, or by Mr. Dodwell, both taking that trouble with him, which, from his diligence and apt memory, they foresaw would not be lost. With the same benevolent views, Mr. Cherry sent him to Oxford, where, in Michaelmas term of the above year, he was entered of Edmundhall, but returned immediately after his matriculation, and pursued his studies both at Mr. Cherry’s, and at the school of Bray.

In Easter term 1696, he came to reside at Edmund-hall, a society which had probably been recommended to Mr. Cherry by Dr. White Kennet, who was at that time viceprincipal, and also rector of Shottesbrooke, which he received from Mr. Cherry. The learned Dr. John Mill was at this time principal. Both his tutor, Dr. Kennet, and his principal, Dr. Mill, appear to have soon discovered the bent of his studies; and Dr. Mill, who was then employed“on the appendix to his edition of the Greek Testament, finding young Hearne an apt reader of Mss. employed him in the laborious task of collation. It was also at the doctor’s request, that when he was about three years | standing, he went to Eton to compare a ms. of Tatian and Athenagoras in that college library. The variations he discovered were afterwards made use of by Mr. Worth in his edition of Tatian, in 1700, and by Dechair in his edition of Athenagoras, 1706; but Mr. Hearne complains, and with some justice, that neither mentioned the person who collated the Mss. Hearne‘ s own copy of the variations is now in the Bodleian. About this time Mr. Cherry sent for him to Shottesbrooke, and employed him in transcribing sir Henry Spelman’s” History of Sacrilege,“which was soon after printed at London. Mr. Dodwell also appears to have employed him in transcribing two copies of his” Paraenesis." At Edmund Hall Dr. Grabe availed himself of his useful talents in transcribing and collating various old manuscripts.

Irr act term 1699, he took his bachelor’s degree, soon after which a proposal was made to him by Dr. Kennet to go to Maryland, as one of Dr. Bray’s missionaries. What particular fitness Dr. Kennet discovered in Hearne for a situation of this kind we know not. He says, indeed, that he mentioned him as “a man of a pious, sober, and studious inclination,” but we are much mistaken if Hearne’s habits were not at this time irreconcileahle with the functions of a missionary; and accordingly we find Dr. Kennet endeavouring to render the office palatable, by informing our antiquary, that besides the stipend, &c. he was to have a library worth 50l. was to be librarian to the whole province, and visitor of all the public libraries.

Hearne, as may be expected, had no inclination to accept this offer, and exchange the libraries of Oxford for those of Maryland; and his refusal appears to have been sanctioned by some, although not all, of his best friends. Having now obtained access to the Bodleian library, he visited that noble repository every day, and his visits were so long, and his knowledge of books so visibly increasing, that in 1701, when Dr. Hudson was chosen librarian, he applied for leave to employ him as an assistant, and soon, found him a very useful one. Having by this official appointment obtained a wider range, he began by examining the state of Dr. Hyde’s catalogue, published in 1674, and finding it, from the gradual increase of the library, very defective, he endeavoured to supply what was wanting in. an interleaved copy, and afterwards transcribed his additions into two volumes, which he entitled “Appendix | Catalog! librorum impressorum Bibl. Bod.” This was intended to have been printed by itself, but it was afterwards incorporated with Hyde’s catalogue. The same service Mr. Hearne afterwards performed for the catalogue of Mss. and of coins.

In act term 1703, he took his master’s degree, and was offered a chaplainship of Corpus college by Dr. Turner, the president, provided he could keep his place in the library; but Dr Hudson objecting to this, he declined it, as he did, for the same reason, a chaplainship of All Souls. He had been made janitor of the library, and in 1712 succeeded to the place of second keeper, with which he was allowed to hold his office of janitor; and, as he says, it was “by virtue of these two offices being united that he still kept the keys of the library, &c.” In 1713 an offer was made to him of the place of librarian to the royal society and keeper of their museum, which he declined, “his circumstances not permitting him to leave Oxford.” It is less accountable why he should at this time decline the honour of being made a fellow of this society. The offer, however, shows that the society thought him worthy of it, and that, with all his peculiarities, he had at this time attained considerable reputation in the learned world.

In January 1714-15, he was elected architypographus, and esquire beadle of civil law in the university of Oxford, which post he held, together with that of under-librarian, till November following; but then, finding they were not tenable together, he resigned the beadleship, and very soon after the other place also, by reason of the oaths to government, with which he could not conscientiously comply. He continued a nonjuror to the last, much at the expence of his worldly interest; for, on that account he refused several preferments which would have been of great advantage and very agreeable to him. So many indeed were the offers made, that his motives for refusal must have been urgent and conscientious. His enemies took some pains to bring a charge of inconsistency against him, by publishing <; A Vindication of those who take the Oath of Allegiance to his present majesty.“This he wrote when a very young man, in king William’s reign, but, as he very justly remarks, it proves no more than that he had viewed the question in another light, and surely must be accounted sincere, when we find him refusing so many profitable situations. In the latter part of his life he | appears to have resided in Edmund-hall, preparing and publishing his various works, but not, as will be noticed in our catalogue of them, without interruption from what he thought the candid declaration of his political sentiments clashing with those of the university, and of the nation at large. This, in one or two instances, occasioned serious prosecutions, and considering himself as an injured man, he was not sparing in his censures of some of his most learned contemporaries, who, in their turns, were equally disrespectful in their notices of him. With these disputes the present age has little to do, and it owes too much to the industry of Hearne to trace his failings with anxious care, or treat them with the animosity that might have been natural in his own times. How useful his industry was, may be estimated from the number of valuable pieces which he hid in public or private repositories, of no utility even to the possessors of them, for want of persons who have perseverance enough to travel through the drudgery, or spirit enough to hazard the expence of printing them. By a life of the greatest regularity and ceconomy, Hearne was enabled in a great measure to prevent this injury to literature: and his endeavours were assisted by the encouragement of many noble and opulent patrons. It might therefore be matter of surprize, though no reflection upon his character, that a sum amounting to upwards of 1000l. was found in his room after his decease. His death, which happened June 10, 1735, was occasioned by a severe cold and a succeeding fever, which, being improperly treated, terminated in a violent flux. He was buried in the church yard of St. Peter’s in the East, where is erected over his remains a stone with an inscription written by himself:” Here lyeth the body of Thomas Hearne, M. A. who studied and preserved Antiquities. He died June 10, 1735, aged 55 years. Deut. xxxii. 7. * Remember the clays of old, consider the years of many generations; ask thy father, and he will shew thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee.’ Job viii. 8, 9, 10. “Enquire I pray thee,‘ &c.” -This stone was repaired by Dr. Rawlinson in 1754. As the value of Hearne’ s labours have been much underrated, and indeed grossly misrepresented, in the Biog. Britannica, and its servile copyists, we shall make no apology for adding the sentiments of his Oxford biographer, Mr. Huddesford: “Since that kind of study pursued by Mr. Hearne is more general now than it was in | his time, to praise and speak well of him will of consequence be more safe, as it will be better received. His chief excellence, so often celebrated, but to the misfortune of learning so little imitated, was unwearied industry, which began almost with his life, and continued in full vigour till within a few weeks of his death. By means of this industry, and of a good disposition, he raised himself from the lowest state of dependence to a station of ease and honour. When his worth was in some sort acknowledged, by the offer of the best offices the university had to bestow, he manifested uncommon integrity in declining those offers, because the acceptance of them appeared to him inconsistent with the principles which he had adopted. If there was a singularity in his exterior behaviour or manner which was the jest of the man of wit and polite life, he secretly enjoyed the approbation, favour, and correspondence of the” greatest men of the age. Succeeding times have given testimony to his abilities, which the age in which he lived so lightly esteemed. It is, at least, not flattery, to consider him as a pattern to all whose duty it is, as well as inclination, to unite much learning and erudition, with the greatest plainness and simplicity of manners."

Much of Hearne’s personal history, opinions, and peculiarities, might be derived, if a piece of minute biography were undertaken, from his correspondence, and particularly from his manuscript diary, of which there are 150 small paper books in the Bodleian. Some information gleaned from these has lately been given to the public in that valuable and curious work, “Letters written by eminent persons, &c.” printed in 3 vols. 8vo, 1813, to which we have often to own our obligations. It appears that Hearne’s anxiety to recover manuscripts became in him a species of religious enthusiasm, and that he was accustomed to return thanks in his prayers for success of this kind .*


Of such forms of thanksgiving, the following is a specimen; and, we most agree with the editor of the “Letters,” exemplifies the native simplicity of —Hearne’s character as much, perhaps, as any anecdote that has descended to us. “O most gracious and merciful Lord God, wonderful in thy provideuce, I return all possible thanks to thee for the care thou hast always taken of me. I continually meet with signal instances of this thy providence, and one act yesterday, when I unexpectedly met with three old Mss. for which, in a particular manner, I return my thanks, beseeching thee to continue the same protection to me, a poor helpless sinner, and that for Jesus Christ his sake.

It is more to be regretted that his perpetual recurrence to Jacobite | sentiments, in his prefaces, where they were surely out of place, created him many enemies, kept him at perpetual variance with his neighbours in the university, and promoted an irritability of temper, and a querulous disposition, which made him unhappy. For social enjoyments he was not well qualified. His manners were originally clownish and simple, and little improved by his intercourse with the world.

Hearne left his ms collections by will to Dr. William. Bedford, of whom Dr. Rawlinson purchased them for an hundred guineas, and at his death bequeathed them with his own Mss. to the Bodleian library. Among other injurious reports at the time of Hearne’s death, one was, that he died a Roman catholic, an imputation on the nonjurors not very uncommon at that time, but which, as to Hearne, has been fully disproved in a letter printed by Mr. Huddesford in his life. Hearne had no more of popery than antiquaries in general, who can never forgive the injuries done to libraries at the time of the reformation.

His publications were, 1. “An Index to L’Estrange’s translation of Josephus,1702, fol. 2. “Reliquiae Bodleianae, or some genuine remains of sir Thomas Bodley, &c.1703. 3. “Plinii Fpistolae et Paneg\ricus, &c.1703. 4. “Eutropius.‘ Messala Corvinus. Julius Obsequens, &c.1703. 5. “Indices tres locupletissimi in Cyrilli opera,” Ox. 1733. 6. “Ductor Historicus,” 2 vols. They did not come out together; a second edition of the first was published in 1705, and the second volume was published in 1704. Our author was not solely concerned in this work, some parts of it being written by another hand, as was the preface. He had made great collections for a third volume, but laid aside this design upon the appearance of the English translation of Puffendorf’s introduction, which begins where the second volume of the “Ductor Historicus” ends, and continues the history to the present times. 7. “Index to Dr. Edvards’s Preservative against Socinianism,1740, 4to. 8. “Index to Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion,” fol. 1704. This “little work,” or opella, he informs us, he undertook at the request of dean Aldrich. 9. An edition of “Justin,1705, a very good one, compiled from four Mss. but not equal in value to his “Eutropius.” 10. “Livy,1708, 6 vols. 8vo, a very accurate edition, which, in the opinion of Dr. Harwocd, does honour to Hearne, It has of late risen very | much in price. 11. “A Letter containing an account of some Antiquities between Windsor and Oxford, with a list of the several pictures in the school gallery adjoining to the Bodleian library,” printed in 1708, in the “Monthly Miscellany, or Memoirs for the Curious;” and reprinted at the end of the fifth volume of Leland’s “Itinerary,” but without the list of the pictures j for which, however, there being a demand, he reprinted 100 copies of the whole in 1725. 12. “The Life of Alfred the Great, by sir John Spelman, from the original ms. in the Bodleian library, 1710” 13. “The Itinerary of John Leland the antiquary, intermixed with divers curious discourses, written by the editor and others, 1710,” 9 vols. A new edition was printed in 1744. 14. “Henrici Dodwell de Parma Equestri Wood ward iana dissertatio,1713. Some expressions in his preface to this brought upon him a serious loss, as the work was prohibited until he had cancelled the offensive parts. Of this some no* ice has already been taken in our account of Dodwell. 15. “Lelandi de rebus Bntannicis collectanea,” 17 15, 6 vols. 16. “Acta Apostolorum, Grasco Latine, literis majusculis. E codice Laudiano, &c. 1715.” 17. “Joannis Rossi antiquarii Warwicensis historia regum Anglue, 1716.” It was printed again with the second edition of Leland’s “Itinerary,” and now goes along with that work. 18. “Titi Livii Foro-Juliensis vita Henrici V. regis Anglire. Accedit sylloge epistolarum a variis Angliae principibus scriptarum, 1716.” 19. “Aluredi Beverlacensis annales; sive historia de gestis regum Brittannin, &c. 1716.” 20. “Gulielmi Roperi vita D. Thomse Mori equitis aurati, lingua Anglicana coutexta,” 17l6. 21. “Gulielmi Camdeni Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicarum, regnante Elizabetha,1717, 3 vols. 22. “Gulielmi Neubrigensis historia sive chronica rerum Anglicarum,1719. 23. “Thomas Sprotti Chronica, &c.1719. 24. “A Collection of curious Discourses written by eminent antiquaries upon several heads in our English antiquities,1720. 25. “Textus RorTensis,’ &c.1720. 26. “Roberti de Avesbury historia de mirabiliKus gestis Edwardi III. &c. Appendicem etiam subnexuit, in qua inter alia continentur Letters of king Henry VIII. to Anne Boleyne,” 1720. 27. “Johannis de Fordun Scotichronicon genumum, una cum ejusdem supplemento ac continuatione,1722. 28. “The History and Antiquities of Glastonbury, &c.1722. 29. “Hemingi Chartularium | ecclesis; Wigorniensis, &c.” 1723. 30. “Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle,1724, &c. in 2 vols. 31. “Peter Langtoft’s Chronicle, as illustrated and improved by Robert of Brune, from the death of Cadwaladon to the end of king Edward the Ist’s reign, c.1720, 2 vols. 32. ' Johannis, confratris et monachi Glustoniensis, chronica: sive historia de rebus Glastoniensibus, &c.“1726. 33.” Adami de Domerham. historic de rebus gestis Glastoniensibus, &c.“1727, 2 vols. 34.Thomas de Elmham vita et gesta Henrici V. Anglorum regis,“&c. 1727. 35.” Liber niger Scaccarii, &c.“1728, 2 vols. 36.” Historia vitae et regni Richardi II. Anglioe regis, a monacho quodam de Evesham consignata,“1729. 37.” Thomae Caii vindiciae antiquitatisacademiseOxoniensis, &c.“1730, 2 vols. 38.” Walteri Hemingforde, canonici de Gisseburne, historia de rebus gestis Edvardi I. II. III. &c.“1731, 2 vols. 39.” Duo rerurn Anglicarum scriptores veteres, videlicet, Thomas Otterbourne et Johannes Wethamstade, ab oriine gentis Britannicae usque ad -Edvardum IV. &c.“1733, 2 vols. 40.” Chronicon sive annaies prioratus du Dunstable, &c.“1733. 41.Benedictus, abbas Petroburgensis, de vita et gestis Henrici II. Richardi I. &c." 1735, 2 vols.

Such are the general titles of Hearne’s works, but it must be understood that almost every one of these volumes contains various articles relating to antiquities and biography, perfectly distinct, and indeed generally nowise connected with the principal subject; many of which have been acknowledged the most useful of his productions. It cannot be denied, however, th:it he would have been more generally useful had he now and then questioned the importance of what he was about to publish; but with Hearne an old ms. seemed to possess an infallible claim to public attention merely because it was old and unknown. Nobody, says Mr. Gough, will condemn him for the pains he took to preserve Leland’s pieces; but Ross’s compendium contains very little that is interesting, and Alfred of Bevcrley, if genuine, is legendary. Hearne himself seems almost ashamed of Sprott’s Chronicle, to which, however, he has tacked a valuable anonymous fragment relating to the first eight years of Edward IVth’s teign. Avesbury and Elmham’s relations of Edward III. and Henry V. are accurately and methodically put too ether. Livius Koro-juliensis’s life of this last prince is an elegant abridgment of Elmham’s too pompous work. Healing’s Chartulary and | the “Textus Roffensis” are valuable collections of the most ancient monuments of their respective churches. Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle takes precedence of all English poets. The two monks of Glastonbury are historians of their own house, of which its English history by an anonymous later hand gives a tolerable account. Death, adds Mr. Gough, prevented Hearne from encumbering our libraries with a meagre history of England, or additions, to Martin Polanus’s Annals, ascribed to one John Murelynch, a monk of Glassenbury, and another from Brute or Ina to Edward I. by John Bever, a monk of Westminster, borrowed from the “Flores Historiarum.” His friend Thomas Baker, the Cambridge antiquary, “often cautioned him against fatiguing himself too much, and overloading his constitution; but he was not to be advised, and so died a martyr to antiquities.” It appears from some of his correspondence, that even in his own time his works rose very much in price, and it is well known that of late years they have been among the most expensive articles brought to market, the best of them being now beyond the reach of common purchasers. A few years ago, Mr. Bagster, of the Strand, with a spirit of liberality and enterprize, published one or two of them in an elegant and accurate manner, as the prelude to a reprint of the whole series; but it is to be regretted that this scheme was soon obliged to be abandoned for want of encouragement. 1


Life of —Hearne from his own ms. published by Huddesford with the Lives of —Leland and Wood, 2 vols. 8vo, m2. —Gent. Mag. vols. LVII. LVIII. LXIX. Letters by eminent persons. Cough’s Topography. Dibdin’s Bibliographer, vol. I. and II. Nichols’s Bowyer.