Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Digby, Kenelm Henry

1217284Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 15 — Digby, Kenelm Henry1888Thompson Cooper

DIGBY, KENELM HENRY (1800–1880), miscellaneous writer, born in 1800, was the youngest son of the Very Rev. William Digby, dean of Clonfert, who belonged to the Irish branch of Lord Digby's family, and was descended from the ancient Leicestershire family of the same name. He received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B.A. in 1819 (Graduati Cantab. ed. 1873, p. 116). While a student at the university he entered into an examination of the antiquities of the middle ages, and subsequently made a searching inquiry into the scholastic system of theology, the result being that at an early age he became a convert to Roman catholicism. Most of his subsequent life was spent in literary leisure in the metropolis, and he died at his residence, Shaftesbury House, Kensington, on 22 March 1880.

By his wife, Jane Mary, daughter of Thomas Dillon of Mount Dillon, co. Dublin, he left an only son, Kenelm Thomas Digby, formerly M.P. for Queen's County.

His principal works are:

  1. ‘The Broadstone of Honour, or Rules for the Gentlemen of England,’ Lond. 1822, 12mo, 2nd edition, enlarged, 1823; both these editions are anonymous. Afterwards he rewrote the book, omitting its second title, and enlarging it into four closely printed volumes, to which he gave the titles respectively of ‘Godefridus,’ ‘Tancredus,’ ‘Morus,’ and ‘Orlandus.’ These appeared in 1826–7, and other editions in 3 vols. 1828–9 and 1845–8. An édition de luxe in 5 vols. 8vo was published at London 1876–1877. Julius Hare characterises the ‘Broadstone of Honour’ as ‘that noble manual for gentlemen, that volume which, had I a son, I would place in his hands, charging him, though such admonition would be needless, to love it next to his bible’ (Guesses at Truth, 1st edit. i. 152).
  2. ‘Mores Catholici; or Ages of Faith,’ 11 vols. Lond. 1831–40; Cincinnati, 1840, &c., 8vo; 3 vols. Lond. 1845–1847.
  3. ‘Compitum; or the Meeting of the Ways at the Catholic Church,’ 7 vols. Lond. 1848–54; 6 vols. 1851–5.
  4. ‘The Lover's Seat. Kathemérina; or Common Things in relation to Beauty, Virtue, and Faith,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1856, 8vo.
  5. ‘The Children's Bower; or What you like,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1858, 8vo.
  6. ‘Evenings on the Thames; or Serene Hours, and what they require,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1860, 8vo; 2nd edit. Lond. 1864, 8vo.
  7. ‘The Chapel of St. John; or a Life of Faith in the Nineteenth Century,’ Lond. 1861, 1863, 8vo.
  8. ‘Short Poems,’ Lond. 1865, 1866, 8vo.
  9. ‘A Day on the Muses' Hill,’ Lond. 1867, 8vo.
  10. ‘Little Low Bushes, Poems,’ Lond. 1869, 8vo.
  11. ‘Halcyon Hours, Poems,’ Lond. 1870, 8vo.
  12. ‘Ouranogaia,’ a poem in twenty cantos, Lond. 1871, 8vo.
  13. ‘Hours with the First Falling Leaves,’ in verse, Lond. 1873, 8vo.
  14. ‘Last Year's Leaves,’ in verse, Lond. 1873, 8vo.
  15. ‘The Temple of Memory,’ a poem, Lond. 1874, 1875, 8vo.

[Academy, 1880, i. 252; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Athenæum, 1880, i. 411, 440; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hibern. iv. 179; Life of Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle (privately printed), 1878, p. 6; Dublin Review, xxv. 463, xlviii. 526; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Men of the Time (1879); Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iii. 264, 6th ser. i. 292, vi. 375, vii. 256, 314; Tablet, 27 March 1880, p. 403; Times, 24 March 1880, p. 11; Weekly Register, 27 March 1880, p. 403.]

T. C.