Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burton, William (1609-1657)

BURTON, WILLIAM (1609–1657), antiquary, son of William Burton, sometime of Atcham, in Shropshire, was born in Austin Friars, London, and educated in St. Paul's school. He became a student in Queen's College, Oxford, in 1625; but as he had not sufficient means to maintain himself, the learned Thomas Allen, perceiving his merit, induced him to migrate to Gloucester Hall, and conferred on him a Greek lectureship there. He was a Pauline exhibitioner from 1624 to 1632. In 1630 he graduated B.C.L., but, indigence forcing him to leave the university, he became the assistant or usher of Thomas Farnaby, the famous schoolmaster of Kent. Some years later he was appointed master of the free school at Kingston-upon-Thames, in Surrey, where he continued till two years before his death, ‘at which time, being taken with the dead palsy, he retired to London.’ He died on 28 Dec. 1657, and was buried in a vault under the church of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand. Bishop Kennett calls ‘this now-neglected author the best topographer since Camden,’ while Wood tells us that ‘he was an excellent Latinist, noted philologist, was well skill'd in the tongues, was an excellent critic and antiquary, and therefore beloved of all learned men of his time, especially of the famous Usher, archbishop of Armagh.’

His works are: 1. ‘In [laudem] doctissimi, clarissimi, optimi senis, Thomæ Alleni ultimo Septembris mdcxxxii Oxon iis demortui, exequiarum justis ab alma Academia postridie solutis, orationes binæ’ (the first by Burton, the second by George Bathurst), London, 1632, 4to. 2. ‘Nobilissimi herois Dn. C. Howardi comitis Nottinghamiæ ἀποθέωσις ad illustrissimum V. Dn. C. Howardum, comitem Nottinghamiæ, fratrem superstitem’ (London, 1 April 1643), on a small sheet, fol. 3. ‘The beloved City: or, the Saints' Reign on Earth a Thousand Years, asserted and illustrated from 65 places of Holy Scripture,’ Lond. 1643, 4to, translated from the Latin of John Henry Alstedius. 4. ‘Clement, the blessed Paul's fellow-labourer in the Gospel, his First Epistle to the Corinthians; being an effectuall Suasory to Peace, and Brotherly Condescension, after an unhappy Schism and Separation in that Church,’ London, 1647, 1652, 4to, translated from Patrick Yong's Latin version, who has added ‘Certaine Annotations upon Clement.’ 5. ‘Græcæ Linguæ Historia (Veteris Linguæ Persicæ λείψανα)’ 2 parts, London, 1657, 8vo. 6. ‘A Commentary on Antoninus his Itinerary, or Journies of the Roman Empire, so far as it concerneth Britain,’ Lond. 1658, fol. With portrait engraved by Hollar, and a ‘Chorographicall Map of the severall Stations.’ At pp. 136, 137, Burton gives some account of his family, and relates that his great-grandfather expired from excess of joy on being informed of the death of Queen Mary.

[Biog. Brit. (Kippis), iii. 42; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Gardiner's Registers of St. Paul's School, 34,400; Gough's British Topography, i. 5; Knight's Life of Dr. John Colet, 402; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England (1824), iv. 56; Kennett's Life of Somner, 19; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), 330, 478; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 438.]

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