1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ellis, Sir Henry

16093831911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 9 — Ellis, Sir Henry

ELLIS, SIR HENRY (1777–1869), English antiquary, was born in London on the 29th of November 1777. He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ school, and at St John’s College, Oxford, of which he was elected a fellow. After having held for a few months a sub-librarianship in the Bodleian, he was in 1800 appointed to a similar post in the British Museum. In 1827 he became chief librarian, and held that post until 1856, when he resigned on account of advancing age. In 1832 William IV. made him a knight of Hanover, and in the following year he received an English knighthood. He died on the 15th of January 1869. Sir Henry Ellis’s life was one of very considerable literary activity. His first work of importance was the preparation of a new edition of Brand’s Popular Antiquities, which appeared in 1813. In 1816 he was selected by the commissioners of public records to write the introduction to Domesday Book, a task which he discharged with much learning, though several of his views have not stood the test of later criticism. His Original Letters Illustrative of English History (first series, 1824; second series, 1827; third series, 1846) are compiled chiefly from manuscripts in the British Museum and the State Paper Office, and have been of considerable service to historical writers. To the Library of Entertaining Knowledge he contributed four volumes on the Elgin and Townley Marbles. Sir Henry was for many years a director and joint-secretary of the Society of Antiquaries.