Broughton, Thomas (1704-1774) (DNB00)


BROUGHTON, THOMAS (1704–1774), divine, biographer, and miscellaneous writer, born in London on 5 July 1704, was the son of the rector of St. Andrew's, Holborn. He was educated at Eton, and, being superannuated on that foundation, went about 1772 to Cambridge, where 'for the sake of a scholarship he entered himself of Gonville and Caius College.' In 1727, after taking B.A., he was admitted to deacon's orders, and in 1728 he was ordained priest, and proceeded to the M.A. He served for several years as curate of Offley, Hertfordshire, and in 1739 became rector of Stepington, Huntingdonshire; the patron, the Duke of Bedford, also appointing him one of his chaplains. As reader to the Temple, to which he was chosen soon afterwards, he won the favour of the master, Bishop Sherlock, who in 1744 presented him to the vicarage of Bedminster, near Bristol, with the chapels of St. Mary Redcliffe, St. Thomas, and Abbot's Leigh annexed. To the same influence he owed a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral, and on receiving this he removed from London to Bristol, where he died on 21 Dec. 1774. He was an industrious writer in many kinds of composition. He published (1742) an 'Historical Dictionary of all Religions from the Creation of the World to the Present Times,' a huge work in two volumes folio; he translated Voltaire's 'Temple of Taste,' and part of Bayle's 'Dictionary;' vindicated orthodox Christianity against Tindal; converted a Roman catholic book ('Dorrel on the Epistles and Gospels') to protestant uses; edited Dryden; wrote in defence of the immortality of the soul; and contributed the lives marked 'T' in the original edition of the 'Biographia Britannica.' Hawkins, in his 'Life of Johnson,' credits Broughton with being the real translator of Jarvis's 'Don Quixote.' 'The fact is that Jarvis laboured at it many years, but could make but little progress, for being a painter by profession, he had not been accustomed to write, and had no style. Mr. Tonson, the bookseller, seeing this, suggested the thought of employing Mr. Broughton . . . who sat himself down to study the Spanish language, and in a few months acquired, as was pretended, sufficient knowledge thereof to give to the world a translation of "Don Quixote" in the true spirit of the original, and to which is prefixed the name of Jarvis.' Broughton was a lover of music, and acquainted with Handel, whom he furnished with words for some of his compositions, including the drama of 'Hercules,' first given at the Haymarket in 1745. In private life he was of a mild and amiable disposition, but in controversy, though not discourteous according to the standard of his time, he was very economical in his concessions to his opponents, and he has been characterised in some respects as a weak and credulous writer.

[Biog. Brit. (Kippis), ii. pref. ix-x; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 730; Hawkins's Life of Dr. Johnson, 1787, p. 216; Lowndes's British Librarian, 1839-42, p. 1250.]

J. M. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.38
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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464 i 34 Broughton, Thomas (1704-1774) : before the vicarage insert a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral, to which belonged
37-8 omit To the same influence he owed .... Salisbury Cathedral
38-9 for and on receiving this read On this