Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Riddle, Joseph Esmond

RIDDLE, JOSEPH ESMOND (1804–1859), scholar and divine, eldest of the eight children of Joseph Riddle of Old Market Street, Bristol, was born there on 7 April 1804. From Mr. Porter's school in Bristol he was sent by the Bristol society for educating young men for the church to Mr. Havergal at Astley Rectory, Worcestershire. He matriculated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, on 18 Jan. 1825. He obtained a first class in classics, graduating B.A. in Michaelmas term 1828, and M.A. in 1831.

From 1828 to 1830 Riddle lived at Ramsgate, where he took pupils and began a translation of Scheller's folio Latin dictionary, ‘Lexicon totius Latinitatis,’ which was published at the Clarendon Press in 1835. Several abridgments followed, and in 1838 he issued a useful ‘Complete English-Latin Dictionary,’ and in 1849 ‘A Copious and Critical Latin-English Lexicon, founded on the Dictionaries of Dr. W. Freund.’ Riddle was also joint editor of Latin dictionaries with John T. White [q. v.], and of an ‘English-Latin Dictionary’ with Thomas Kerchever Arnold [q. v.]

Meanwhile, in 1830 Riddle was ordained deacon, and was successively curate of Everley, Upper Slaughter (from 1832), Reading, and All Souls', Marylebone. In 1836 he was assistant minister at Brunswick Chapel, Upper Berkeley Street, and in 1837 he became curate of Harrow, whence he soon removed to Shipton Mayne, Gloucestershire. Subsequently he returned to Oxford in order to make use of the libraries. He was select preacher at Oxford in 1834 and 1854, and Bampton lecturer in 1852. But from 1840 until his death, on 27 Aug. 1859, he was incumbent of St. Philip's, Leckhampton, Gloucestershire.

Riddle married, in 1836, Margaret Sharwood, who survived him, and by whom he had a son—Arthur Esmond Riddle, rector of Tadmarton, Banbury—and a daughter.

He was a painstaking and laborious scholar, a vigorous defender of evangelical principles against the tractarian movement, and an earnest but unimpassioned preacher. His chief publications, apart from his efforts in lexicography, were: 1. ‘A Course of Scripture Reading for every Day in the Year,’ Oxford, 1831. 2. ‘Illustrations of Aristotle on Men and Manners from the Dramatic Works of Shakspeare,’ Oxford, 1832. 3. ‘A Scriptural Commentary on the First Epistle of Peter,’ London, 1834. 4. ‘Letters from an absent Godfather,’ 1837. 5. ‘Luther and his Times,’ London, 1837. 6. ‘Sermons Doctrinal and Practical,’ London, 1838. 7. ‘Manual of Christian Antiquities,’ London, 1839. 8. ‘Ecclesiastical Chronology,’ London, 1840. 9. ‘British Commentary on the Gospels,’ London, 1843. 10. ‘The Gospels in Greek, for Schools,’ 1844. 11. ‘A Progressive Latin-English Vocabulary,’ London, 1847. 12. ‘Churchman's Guide to the Use of the English Liturgy,’ London, 1848. 13. ‘Natural History of Infidelity and Superstition in contrast with Christian Faith’ (Bampton Lectures), Oxford and London, 1852. 14. ‘History of the Papacy to the Period of the Reformation,’ London, 1854. 15. ‘Manual of Scripture History,’ London, 1857. 16. ‘Household Prayers,’ London, 1857; reissued 1887.

Riddle contributed to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana’ ‘Annals of the East, from the Rise of the Ottoman Empire to the Capture of Constantinople; and ‘Ecclesiastical History of the Fifteenth Century.’

[Information communicated by Mrs. Riddle; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Catalogue of Brit. Mus.]

E. C. M.