Horsley, John

, author of a very learned and excellent work, entitled, “Britannia Romana,” by which only he is known, is supposed to have been a native of Northumberland, where, at a village called Long-Horsley, near Morpeth, the family, in all probability, originated. This parent stock, if such it was, is now lost in the Witheringtons, by the marriage of the heiress of Long-Horsley, about the middle of this century, with a person of that name. We know only of two other branches; one settled in Yorkshire, the other in the West, from which latter, we understand the late learned bishop of St. Asaph to have sprung: but the branches have been so long separated, that they cannot trace their relationship to each other. John Horsley was educated in the public grammar-school at Newcastle, and afterwards in Scotland, where he took a degree; he was finally settled at Morpeth, and is said, in Hutchinson’s View of Northumberland, to have been pastor to a dissenting congregation in that place. The same author adds, from Randall’s manuscripts, that he died in 1732,­which was the same year in which his great work appeared; but the truth is, as we learn from the journals of the time, that he died Dec. 12, 1731, a short time before the publication of his book. He was a fellow of the royal society. A few letters from him to Roger Gale, esq. on antiquarian subjects, are inserted in Hutchinson’s book; they are all dated in 1729. His “Britannia Romana” gives a full and learned account of the remains and vestiges of the Romans in Britain. It is divided into three books; the first | containing “the History of all the Roman Transactions in Britain, with an account of their legionary and auxiliary forces employed here, and a determination of the stations per lineam valli; also a large description of the Roman walls, with maps of the same, laid down from a geometrical survey.” The second book contains, “a complete collection of the Roman inscriptions and sculptures, which have hitherto been discovered in Britain, with the letters engraved in their proper shape, and proportionate size, and the reading placed under each; as also an historical account of them, with explanatory and critical observations.” The third book contains, “the Roman Geography of Britain, in which are given the originals of Ptolemy, Antonini Itinerarium, the Notitia, the anonymous Ravennas, and Peutinger’s Table, so far as they relate to this island, with particular essays on each of those ancient authors, and the several places in Britain mentioned by them,” with tables, indexes, &c. Such is the author’s own account in his title-page; and the learned of all countries have testified that the accuracy of the execution has equalled the excellence of the plan. The plates of this work were purchased of one of his descendants for twenty guineas by Dr. Giftbrd, for the British Museum, where is a copy of the work, with considerable additions by Dr. Ward. 1


Nichols’s Bowery