Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gifford, Richard

GIFFORD, RICHARD (1725–1807), miscellaneous writer, was the second son of the Rev. John Gifford of Bishop's Castle, Shropshire. He entered Balliol College, Oxford, as batler in March 1744, and took the degree of B.A. in 1748. He did not proceed to the degree of M.A., owing, it is said, to some disagreement with the fellows of his college, arising from his holding strong whig opinions, while they were zealous tories. He published in 1748 a pamphlet entitled ‘Remarks on Mr. Kennicott's Dissertation upon the Tree of Life in Paradise’ (8vo, 1748), and, after studying theology for some time, took holy orders, and was appointed curate of Richard's Castle in Herefordshire. Later he became morning preacher at St. Anne's, Soho, and in 1758 domestic chaplain to the Marquis of Tweeddale. He was presented in the following year to the vicarage of Duffield in Derbyshire, and in 1772 to the rectory of North Okendon in Essex. He lived chiefly at Duffield, but resided at North Okendon for part of the summer, until rendered totally unable to do so by the effect of the Essex climate on his health. He satisfied his conscience on the score of his non-residence by preaching gratuitously in many churches in the neighbourhood of Duffield. He died there on 1 March 1807.

In 1753 he published anonymously ‘Contemplation, a Poem,’ four lines of which were quoted with considerable alteration in Johnson's ‘Dictionary’ under the word ‘Wheel,’ a fact which gave him great pleasure. Long afterwards, when at Nairn, Johnson repeated the lines to Boswell, restoring one of the original words (Birkbeck Hill, Boswell's Johnson, v. 117, 118, note). Gifford also wrote: ‘Outlines of an answer to Dr. Priestley's Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit,’ 8vo, 1781; the translation of part of Domesday in Nichols's ‘Leicestershire;’ and some contributions to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ under the signature ‘R. Duff.’ Fourteen letters from him to Nichols are printed in Nichols's ‘Literary Illustrations,’ v. 182–97.

[Gent. Mag. xlii. 440, lxxvii. pt. i. pp. 381, 477, 478; Balliol Coll. MS. Reg.]

E. C-n.