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BURN, RICHARD, D.C.L. (1709–1785), legal writer and topographer, was born at Winton in Westmoreland in 1709, and educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1733. In 1736 he was elected, presented, and instituted to the vicarage of Orton in Westmoreland. He was justice of the peace for the counties of Westmoreland and Cumberland, and he was appointed by Bishop Lyttelton, in 1765, chancellor of the diocese of Carlisle. He died at Orton on 12 Nov. 1785. He was succeeded in the chancellorship of Carlisle by his friend Paley.

His works are:

  1. ‘The Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer, upon a plan entirely new, and comprehending all the law to the present time,’ 2 vols. London 1755 8vo. The twenty-ninth edition, 6 vols., London, 1845, 8vo, greatly enlarged, was edited by T. Chitty, with the exception of the title ‘Poor,’ for which Commissioner Bere was responsible. From two thin octavos this work has increased, under the hands of various editors, to ‘six huge closely printed volumes, each containing about 1,200 pages.’ It is the most useful book ever published on the law relating to justices of the peace.
  2. ‘A Digest of the Militia Laws,’ London 1760, 8vo.
  3. ‘Ecclesiastical Law,’ 2 vols., London, 1760, 4to. The ninth edition with considerable additions by R. Phillimore, is in 4 vols., London, 1842, 8vo. Burn, by his diligent and accurate research, and by judgment in the selection and use of his materials, laid the foundation of a work which subsequent editors have reared to a complete treatise on ecclesiastical law.
  4. 'A History at the Poor Laws,' London, 1764, 8to.
  5. 'Sermons on Practical Subjects; extracted chiefly from the works of divines of the last century,' 4 vols., London, 1774, 8to.
  6. 'Observations on the Bill intended to be offered to Parliament for the better Relief and Employment of the Poor,' London, 1776, 8vo.
  7. 'The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmoreland and Cumberland,' 2 vols., London, 1777, 4to. Written in conjunction with Joseph Nicolson, nephew of Dr. William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, who had left large manuscript collections for the history of the two counties.
  8. 'A New Law Dictionary,' 2 vols., London, 1792.

A posthumous work of little value, edited, with a continuation, by the author's son, John Burn [q. v.] The author's portrait is prefixed.

Burn also brought out the ninth, tenth, and eleventh editions of Sir William Blackstone's 'Commentaries on the Laws of England.'

[Addit MSS. 28104, f. 43, 28167, f. 56; Atkinson's Worthies of Westmoreland, ii. 119-32; Bridgman's Legal Bibliography, 42; Bromley's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, 358; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Clarke's Bibl. Legum Angliæ, 69, 117, 274; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, 1611; Gent. Mag. lv. (ii.) 922; Gough's British Topography, i. 279, ii. 312; Jefferson's Hist. of Carlisle, 417-21; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), iii. 251; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), 317, 318; Marvin's Legal Bibliography, 163; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iii. 310, iv. 568, 586-8, 666, v. 266, 267; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 113, vi. 441, viii. 236, 237, 696, 705, 734, 740; Nicolson and Burn's Westmoreland and Cumberland, i. 484; Cat. of Oxford Graduates (1851), 101.]

T. C.