North, George

, an English antiquary, was the son of George North, citizen of London, and was born in 1710. He received his education at St. PauPs school, whence, in 1725, he went to Bene’t college in Cambridge, where he took his degrees of B. A. in 1728, and M. A. in 1744. In 1729 he was admitted into deacon’s orders, and went to officiate as curate at Codicote, a small village near Welwyn, in Herts. In 1741 he published, without his name, “An Answer to a scandalous libel, entitled The Impertinence and Imposture of Modern Antiquaries displayed.” This “scandalous libel,” a quarto pamphlet, professed to be a “refutation of the *ev. Mr. Wise’s Letter to Dr. Mead, concerning the white horse, and other antiquities in Berkshire,” and was written by the rev. Will. Asplin, vicar of Banbury, and had a preface added to it by William Burnstead of Upton, co, Warwick, esq. formerly the supercargo of the prince Frederic, East Indiaman. Mr. North’s refutation and censure of the pert arrogance of Messrs. Asplin and Bumstead recommended him not only to the notice and esteem of the gentleman whose cause he had so generously espoused (to whom he was at that time a perfect stranger), but also of several dignified members of the Society of Antiquaries, into which he was elected early in 1742, and soon distinguished himself as a very useful member, and drew up in that year, a catalogue of the earl of Oxford’s coins, for the public sale of them.

In 1743 he was presented to the vicarage of Codicote, and in 1744 was appointed chaplain to lord Cathcart. In the same year he took his degree of M. A. and drew up a catalogue of Mr. West’s series of coins, intending a prefatory account of them, and a catalogue of Dr. Ducarel’s English coins. With this last gentleman he continued his correspondence in 1748 and 1749, copious extracts from which are given in our authority. In the spring of 1750 he made a tour into the West; and on his return communicated very freely to Dr. Ducarel his ideas of the proceedings respecting a charter, then in agitation at the Society of Antiquaries, and of which he appears to have entertained very groundless fears. By one of his letters, in August 1750, it appears that he had not enjoyed three days of good health for more than a year; and was then labouring under several bodily complaints, and apprehensive of an epilepsy. He continued, however, as often as he was able, to indulge in literary pursuits, and extend his researches into every | matter of antiquity that engaged the attention of his contemporaries and correspondents. In 1751, the rev. Charles Clarke, of Baiiol college, Oxford, published “Some Conjectures relative to a very antient Piece of Money lately found at Eltham in Kent, endeavouring to restore it to the place it merits in the Cimeliarch of English Coins, and to prove it a coin of Richard the first king of England of that name. To which are added, some Remarks on a dissertation (lately published*) on Oriuna the supposed wife of Carausius, and on the Roman coins there mentioned,1751, 4to. To this Mr. North published an answer, entitled “Remarks on some Conjectures, &c. shewing the improbability of the notion therein advanced, that the arguments produced in support of it are inconclusive or irrelative to the pointin question,1752, 4to. In this answer, which was the first piece published by any of the society after their incorporation, Mr. North considered at large the standard and purity of our most ancient English coins, the state of the mints, and the beginning of sterling, from the public records; and added to it, “An Epistolary Dissertation (addressed to Mr. Vertue) on some supposed Saxon gold coins; read before the Society of Antiquaries, Dec. 19, 1751.” No man could be better qualified for this task than Mr. North, who, by his intimacy with Mr. Holmes and Mr. Folkes (the latter of whom he mentions in the highest terms), became perfectly acquainted with the records and whole state and history of the English coinage. Mr. Charles Clarke, however, a member of the Society, announced a design of proving Mr. North wrong in his “Epistolary Dissertation” but luckily for himself, discovered that his own premises would not support any such conclusion, and therefore his publication never appeared.

In 1752 Mr. North had made a considerable progress in “Remarks on the Money of Henry III.” which had then engaged his attention for more than three years, and for which he had actually engraved two plates, and hoped to have it ready for publication in the ensuing winter; but nothing on the subject was found among his Mss. after his death. The plates, however, which were purchased at Dr. Lort’s sale by Mr. Gough, who worked off a few impressions for his friends, are now in the possession of the

*

By Dr. Kennedy, who asserted that Oriuna was that emperor’s guardian goddess. See his article, vol. XIX

. | rev. Rogers Ruding, F. S. A. vicar of Maldon in Surrey, from whom the public may soon expect a very elaborate work on English coinage. In 1752 Mr. North was involved in law suits with his parishioners, some of whom had not paid him for tithes or offerings for many years, and obliged him to take the harshest steps to obtain j ustice, which was the more hard upon him, as his living was a very small one. 6n this painful subject he had frequent occasion to consult with Dr. Ducarel, to whom he also this year addressed several letters relative to the proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries; and others respecting the tour which Dr. Ducarel made to Normandy, for the purpose of inspecting its antiquities. In this correspondence, much of which is inserted in Mr. Nichols’s valuable work, the reader will find many curious remarks on subjects of architecture, and on scarce books and coins. To such matters his whole attention was devoted, except in one instance, in which he appears to have been under the influence of a more tender passion, and addressed some lines entitled Welwyn Spaw," lamenting the cold disdain of some apparently real Celia. These are inserted in the Literary Magazine for 1755, p. 209; in which year also he drew up the catalogue of Dr. Mead’s coins for public sale; and in the following year meditated some account of the Cromwell family.

Soon after this period he was afflicted with disease and melancholy, which seem to have interrupted his accustomed studies, as we hear no more of him until 1766, when he addressed to the earl of Morton, then president of the Royal Society, some valuable observations on the introduction of Arabic numerals into this kingdom. These were afterwards communicated to the Society of Antiqaaries by Mr. Gough, and are printed in the Archaeologia, vol. X. In 1769, when this society determined to publish their transactions, application was made to Mr. North for his materials towards compiling a history of its foundation. With this he complied, but the greater part of his collections for the purpose had been burnt, with his other papers, by himself, during a dangerous illness about four years before, “from a conviction,” he says, how ungenerously such things are commonly used after a person’s death."

Mr. North died June 17, 1772, having just completed his sixty-fifth year, at his parsonage-house at Codicote, | where he had resided from the time of his taking orders, without any other preferment than this small vicarage, which did not produce him above 80l. a year, in addition to which he had a small patrimony. He was buried at the east end of the church-yard of the parish, in which he had lived in as much obscurity, as his astyes now rest. That such a man should have been neglected in the distribution of preferments, reflects no credit on the patrons of his time. He was learned, able, and industrious, beyond most of. his contemporaries; and his correspondence gives a very favourable idea of his private character. He left his library and his collection of English coins to Dr. Askew and Dr. Lort, the latter of whom, on the death of Dr. Askew, got more of the books, which, on the sale of his library in 1791, fell into the hands of Mr. Gough. Among these was a ms account of Saxon and English coins by him, with, drawings by Mr. Hodsol, now in possession of Mr. Ruding. 1

1

Nichols’s Bowyer. Cole’s ms Athnae in Brit. Mus.