Offor, George (DNB00)
OFFOR, GEORGE (1787–1864), biographer, born in 1787, was son of George Offor. He started in business as a bookseller at 2 Postern Row, Tower Hill, from which he retired with a competency. By the advice of his friend, J. S. C. F. Frey, he learnt Hebrew, and afterwards studied Greek and Latin, while his knowledge of English black-letter literature, especially of theology, became very extensive. For a long period his collection of early printed English bibles, psalters, and testaments, was one of the completest in the kingdom. In religion a baptist, Offor was an enthusiastic admirer of John Bunyan, and gathered together a unique collection of Bunyan's scattered writings and of the early editions of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress.’ In his zeal for the memory of William Tindal he visited Brussels in the hope of discovering among the archives accurate particulars of his martyrdom, and while pursuing his researches in the neighbourhood at Vilvoord, during the revolution at Brussels in 1830, he was taken prisoner by a detachment of Dutch troops, and for a short time was detained in the prison built on the ruins of the castle at Vilvoord, where Tindal was confined. Offor died at Grove House, South Hackney, on 4 Aug. 1864, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery.
His fine library, in which the ‘Bunyaniana’ extended to five hundred lots, was to have been disposed of at an eleven days' sale at Sotheby's, from 27 June to 8 July 1865; but the greater part was consumed by fire in the auction-rooms on 29 June. The residue was sold as salvage to an American agent for 300l.
Offor's best work was the bibliography prefixed to a collected edition of Bunyan's ‘Works,’ 3 vols. large 8vo, 1853 (another edit. 1862). The works were unfortunately not printed in chronological order. Although he was the earliest to realise the wealth of material which lay hid in the State Paper Office, his biography was marred by a cumbrous style and bitter polemical spirit, while the edifying introductions prefixed to the works are crowded with wearisome platitudes. The biography of Bunyan's writings is, however, admirable. Through the Hanserd Knollys Society, he issued in 1848 an accurate reprint of the first edition of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ with notices of all the subsequent additions and alterations made by the author. Two other editions of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ with memoir and notes, ‘principally selected from Bunyan's works,’ were published by him in 1856 and 1861. He also edited Bunyan's ‘Profitable Meditations,’ a poem, 4to, 1860.
Offor's contributions to biblical literature comprise a revised edition of the ‘Hebrew Psalter,’ 12mo, 1820, and a reprint of the ‘New Testament,’ published in 1526 by William Tindal, with a memoir of his life and writings, 8vo, 1836 (another edit. by J. P. Dabney, 8vo, Andover, U.S.A., 1837). He likewise contemplated a reprint of the first English version of the entire Bible, by Miles Coverdale, for which the Duke of Sussex offered to lend his copy; and he left unfinished a history of the English Bible, illustrated with numerous facsimiles of the earlier editions.
His other works are: 1. ‘An Easy Introduction to reading the Hebrew Language,’ 8vo, London, 1814. 2. ‘The Triumph of Henry VIII over the Usurpations of the Church, and the Consequences of the Papal Supremacy,’ 8vo, London, 1846. He edited Increase Mather's ‘Remarkable Providences’ in the ‘Library of Old Authors’ series, 8vo, 1856. In the British Museum Library are many books, chiefly Bibles or books dealing with scriptural bibliography, with copious annotations by Offor.
[Gent. Mag. 1864, pt. ii. pp. 396, 528; Athenæum, 24 June 1865, p. 831, 3 April 1886, p. 449; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vi. 150, 485, viii. 20, 85, 160.]