Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Griffith, Richard (d.1788)

Contains subarticle: Richard Griffith (1752-1820)

GRIFFITH, RICHARD (d. 1788), author, was elder son of Edward Griffith, by his wife Abigail, third daughter of Sir William Handcock, recorder of Dublin. His grandfather, Richard Griffith, was rector of Coleraine and dean of Ross. The family, originally of Penrhyn, Carnarvonshire, settled in Ireland in the reign of James I. Griffith received little regular education, but at an early age showed literary tastes. If he be identical with the Richard Griffith who became a scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1719 (B.A. 1721, and M.A. 1724), he must have been born about 1704—ten years earlier than the date commonly assigned. He tried to earn a living as a farmer, residing at Maiden Hall, co. Kilkenny. After a long engagement he married, about 1752, Elizabeth Griffith, who obtained a reputation as a novelist. About 1760 he seems to have received some post from the Duke of Bedford, lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He joined his wife in the publication of their love-letters in 1757, and also issued with her two companion novels [see under Griffith, Mrs. Elizabeth]. He subsequently issued on his own account in 1764 a novel of loose morality, entitled ‘The Triumvirate, or the Authentic Memoirs of A[ndrews], B[eville], and C[arewe] by Biograph Triglyph.’ A piece called ‘The Koran,’ which is printed in the works of Sterne in the collected editions of 1775 and 1795, has been attributed to Griffith's son, also Richard Griffith (Gent. Mag., 1797, ii. 755; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 418). But if the work be rightly attributed to a Richard Griffith at all, the father would seem, if only on chronological grounds, to have a better claim to it than the son. Griffith is credited with a comedy called ‘Variety,’ acted at Drury Lane 25 Feb. 1782, and eight times subsequently. Miss Farren, Baddeley, Palmer, and other well-known actors took part in the performance, but it was condemned as ‘uniformly dull’ (Genest, Hist. of Stage, vi. 217). Griffith is said to have taken to immoral courses in later life. But he seems to have died at his son's residence, Millicent, Naas, co. Kildare, on 11 Feb. 1788 (Gent. Mag. 1788, pt. i. p. 271, where the Christian name appears wrongly as Henry). He left two children; his daughter, Catherine, married the Rev. John Buck, D.D., rector of Desertcreat, co. Tyrone.

Richard Griffith (1752-1820), the only son, born on 10 June 1752, made early in life a fortune in trade in the East Indies, settled at Millicent, Naas, co. Kildare, in 1786, was deputy-governor of the county, and represented Askeaton in the Irish parliament (1783-90). The corporation of Dublin subsequently presented him with the freedom of the city, in consideration of his spirited defence of their rights and privileges in parliament. He was buried at Millicent on 30 June 1820. He married (1), on 17 Sept. 1780, Charity, daughter of John Bramston, esq., of Oundle, Northamptonshire (she died June 1789), and (2), on 24 Feb. 1793, Mary, daughter of DNB lkpl|Burgh, Walter Hussey|Walter Hussey Burgh}} [q. v.] (she died on 10 Sept. 1820). By his first wife he was father of Sir Richard John Griffith [q. v.], the civil engineer.

[Art. supra Griffith, Mrs. Elizabeth; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Burke's and Foster's Baronetage; authorities cited above.]

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