Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Middleton, Erasmus

MIDDLETON, ERASMUS (1739–1805), author, born in 1739, was son of Erasmus Middleton of Horncastle, Lincolnshire. On 4 June 1767 he matriculated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford (Forster, Alumni Oxon., 1715–1886, iii. 951), but was expelled from the university in May 1768, along with five other members of the hall, for publicly praying and preaching (Gent. Mag. 1768, pp. 225, 410). The affair caused considerable stir at the time, and some pamphleteering (cf. Boswell, Life of Johnson, edit. 1848, p. 241; see Macgowan, John). Middleton nevertheless obtained ordination, and subsequently entered himself at King's College, Cambridge, but does not appear to have graduated there. He became in succession minister at Dalkeith, curate of Chelsea, lecturer of St. Benet, Gracechurch Street, and St. Helen, Bishopsgate, curate of St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, and in 1804 rector of Turvey, Bedfordshire. He was also chaplain to the Countess of Crawford and Lindsay. He died on 25 April 1805.

Middleton wrote: 1. ‘A Letter to A. D., Esq.’ [on walking with God], 8vo (Edinburgh), 1772. 2. The theological, philosophical, critical, and poetical branches of a ‘New Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,’ fol. 1778, an indifferent compilation. 3. ‘Biographia Evangelica, or an Historical Account of the Lives and Deaths of the most eminent and evangelical Authors or Preachers both British and Foreign in the several Denominations of Protestants,’ 4 vols. 8vo, London, 1779–86, a useful work, written in a singularly uncouth style. 4. ‘Versions and Imitations of the Psalms of David,’ 8vo, London, 1806, on the title-page of which he is styled B.D. He also published several sermons.

There are two engraved portraits of Middleton, one by A. Smith.

[Gent. Mag. 1805, pt. i. p. 490; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, ii. 279.]

G. G.