White, Gilbert

, an English divine, and very ingenious naturalist, was the eldest son of John White of Selborne, in Hampshire, esq. and of Anna, the daughter of the rev. Thomas Holt, rector of Streatham, in Surrey. He was born at Selborne, July 18, 1720, and received his school education at Basingstoke, under the rev. Thomas Warton, vicar of that place, and father of those two distinguished characters, Dr. Joseph, and Mr. Thomas Warton. In Dec. 1739, he was admitted of Oriel college, Oxford, and took his degree of B. A. in 1743. In March 1744 he was elected fellow of his college. He became M. A. in Oct. 1746, and was admitted one of the senior proctors of the university in April 1752. Being of an unambitious temper, and strongly attached to the charms of rural scenery, he early fixed his residence in his native village, where he spent the greater part of his life in literary occupations, and especially in the study of nature. This he followed with patient assiduity, and a mind ever open to the lessons of piety and benevolence, which such a study is so well calculated to afford. Though several | occasions offered of settling upon a college living, he could never persuade himself to quit the beloved spot, which is, indeed, a peculiarly happy situation for an observer. He was much esteemed by a select society of intelligent and worthy friends, to whom he paid occasional visits. Thus his days passed, tranquil and serene, with scarcely any other vicissitudes than those of the seasons, till they closed at a mature age on June 26, 1793.

Mr. White is known to the learned world by a very elegant publication “The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, in the county of Southampton. In a series of letters to the hon. Daines Barrington and Thomas Pennant, esq.1789, 4to. Mr. White’s idea of parochial history was, that it should consist of natural productions and occurrences, as well as antiquities. He has accordingly directed his attention to the former, and from a long series of obr servations made and repeated with care and skill, has enlarged our knowledge of natural history, and may be considered as no unequal successor of Ray and Derham. At the same time he has not neglected the antiquities of his favourite village, and in his history of the priory of Selborne has proved himself a very able antiquary. What renders the book more valuable than works of this kind generally are, is that it consists principally, if not entirely, of original matter, or information derived from records to which the public have no access. In 1713 a new edition of this work was published in a splendid form, with considerable additions, and the above brief memoir of the author’s life. 1


Life, as above.