Gifford, John (DNB00)

GIFFORD, JOHN (1758–1818), miscellaneous writer, whose name was properly John Richards Green, born in 1758, was the only son of John Green, and after the early death of his parents lived with his grandparents. In 1772 he lost his grandfather, and became heir to a large property inherited from his grandmother. He was educated at Repton and entered St. John's College, Oxford, 28 April 1775, becoming a student of Lincoln's Inn at the same time. By the age of twenty-three he had run through his fortune, and found it expedient to retire to France in 1781 or 1782, and to change his name to Gifford. According to one account he became the delight of the British embassy at Paris; an apparently more authentic narrative (Gent. Mag. 1818, i. 403) states that he never went to Paris at all, but lived at Lille and Rouen. About 1788 he returned to England, and soon became known as an active writer upon the government side. He wrote a ‘History of France,’ in 5 vols. 4to, 1791–4. He wrote in 1794 the ‘Reign of Louis XVI, a complete History of the French Revolution.’ He published a ‘Plain Address to the Common Sense of the People of England,’ to which was annexed an ‘Abstract of Thomas Paine's Life and Writings’ (1792), and afterwards an ‘Address to Members of Loyal Associations,’ of which it is said that one hundred thousand copies were sold. In 1797 he prefixed ‘A Rod for the Backs of the Critics,’ by ‘Humphry Hedgehog,’ to William Cobbett's ‘Bone to gnaw for the Democrats.’ He is said also to have become editor of a morning and an evening paper in 1796. The ‘Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner,’ edited by his namesake, William Gifford [q. v.], was dropped, after running from November 1797 to July 1798. John Gifford then started the ‘Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or Monthly Political and Literary Censor,’ which lasted from 1798 to 1821. The names of the authors are marked in the first six volumes of a copy in the British Museum. None of the distinguished writers in W. Gifford's ‘Anti-Jacobin’ contributed, as is erroneously stated in Lowndes's Manual (art. ‘Anti-Jacobin’). J. Gifford and Andrew Bisset were the chief writers. James Mill, who came to London in 1802, obtained an introduction to Gifford, and was employed by him as a reviewer (Bain, James Mill, pp. 37, 41). Upon the death of Pitt, Gifford wrote a history of his ‘Political Life,’ which appeared in six volumes in 1809. He was rewarded for this by an appointment as police magistrate, first in Worship Street, Shoreditch, and afterwards in Great Marlborough Street. He lived much at Bromley in Kent, to be near a physician in whom he believed, and died 6 March 1818. His first wife died in 1805. By his second wife, daughter of Walter Galleper, he left no family.

Besides the above-mentioned works Gifford wrote a letter to the Earl of Lauderdale, 1795 (2nd ed. 1801), and a letter to the Hon. Thomas Erskine, 1797, and translated some French anti-revolutionary pamphlets. He appears to have been a vigorous pamphleteer on the tory side, but of no particular mark.

[Annual Obituary for 1819, pp. 311–37; Gent. Mag. 1818, i. 279, 403; Jerdan's Autobiography, ii. 232, 270.]

L. S.