Brand, John

, secretary to the society of antiquaries, and rector of the united parishes of St. Mary-hill and St. Andrew Hubbard, in the city of London, was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, about 1743, and educated at Lincoln college, Oxford, where he took his bachelor’s degree, but left college in 1774, on being presented by Matthew Ridley, esq. to the curacy of Cramlington, a chapel of ease to St. Nicholas at Newcastle, from which it is distant about eight miles. While at the university, he published a poem “On Illicit Love; written among the Ruins of Godstow Nunnery,1775, 4to. The spot where this poem was written is the burial-place of the celebrated Rosamond, mistress of Henry II. whose history has afforded subject for various productions both of the amorous and elegiac kind; but perhaps none in which the criminality of an unlawful passion is more forcibly exposed, or chastity recommended in a warmer strain of poetry than in this production by Mr. Brand. The sentiments are glowing and just, the imagery is animated, and the poem is in general beautiful, pathetic, and moral. Mr. Brand, however, does not appear to have much cultivated his poetical talent, and had already begun to devote himself to researches into the antiquities of his native country. In 1777 he evinced a general knowledge of ancient manners and customs, by publishing “Observations on Popular Antiquities, including the whole of Mr. Bourne’s Antiquitates Vulgares, with Addenda to every chapter of that work; as also an Appendix, containing such articles on the subject as have been omitted by that author,” 8vo. This work is dated from Westgate-street, Tyne, where the author then resided. He afterwards continued to augment his materials by subsequent and more extensive researches, and left a much enlarged edition in ms. which is now in the hands of an eminent antiquary, and is intended for publication. About the time of the publication of his “Popular Antiquities,” he was admitted a member of the society of Antiquaries, and in 1784 was presented by the duke of Northumberland, who, if we mistake not, had been his earliest | friend and patron, to the rectory of St. Mary-hill. In the same year he was elected resident secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, on the death of Dr. Morell, the duties of which office he performed with uncommon ability, and to the entire satisfaction of the society, who continued to re-elect him annually until his death.

In 1789, he published “The History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne,” 2 vols. 4to, a very elaborate work, embellished with views of the public buildings, engraved by Fittler, at an expence of 500l. In the sale, however, from various circumstances, and particularly the death of his bookseller, he was peculiarly unfortunate, notwithstanding its high merit as a piece of local history. Mr. Brand also communicated manypapers on subjects of antiquity to the society, the principal of which are printed in the Archseologia, vols. VIII. X. XIII. XIV. and XV.

He was twice prosecuted by common informers for nonresidence, having let his parsonage-house when he went to reside in the society’s apartments at Somerset-house; although none could exceed him in the punctual discharge of his parochial duties, both on Sundays and week-days. After the late regulations respecting residence, he constantly slept in the rectory-house. He always took much exercise, and on the day before his death, had a long ramble with two much-valued friends, with whom he parted in the evening apparently in perfect health, Sept. 10, 1806. He rose next morning about seven o’clock, his usual hour, and went into his study, when his servant took him an egg, which he usually ate before he went to Somerset- house. The servant afterwards wondering at his remaining so long in his study, went into the room and found him lying on the floor lifeless. He died unmarried, and without leaving any relation except a very aged aunt. He was buried in the chancel of his church Sept. 24. In him the Society of Antiquaries sustained a very great loss. Although his publications were few, his knowledge of antiquities was very extensive, and he had accumulated a very numerous and curious library, rich in old English literature, which was sold by auction some time after his death. His manners, somewhat repulsive to a stranger, became easy on closer acquaintance, and he loved to communicate to men of literary and antiquary taste, the result of his researches on any subject in which they might require information. Many | of his books were supplied with portraits drawn by himself in a style not inferior to the originals, of which they were at the same time perfect imitations. A small silhouette likeness of him is in the frontispiece to his “History of Newcastle.1

1 Gent. Mag. 1806.