who have given any credence to either have been compelled to start the hypothesis that there were two persons of the name of Gildas, one of whom, flourishing in the fifth century, they call ‘Gildas Albanius,’ while the author of the British history they call ‘Gildas Badonicus.’ But this is mere guesswork, and leaves so many difficulties that other writers have assumed the existence of three, if not four, historical Gildases.
Gildas's historical work is called in the rubric of the oldest extant manuscript, ‘Liber querulus de excidio Britanniæ.’ It is divided in the editions into a first part called ‘Historia Gildæ,’ and a second part ‘Epistola Gildæ;’ but it is plainly a continuous work, and the division seems due to early transcribers. The literary merit of the work is very small, and its historical value depends mainly upon the absence of better authorities. The style is extraordinarily verbose, rhetorical, involved, and obscure, while very few definite facts can be extricated. Bæda describes it as a ‘sermo flebilis.’ It was believed by William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and Giraldus Cambrensis, that the curious compilation now generally assigned to Nennius [q. v.] was the work of Gildas, but that is plainly impossible. Pits and Bale attribute a long list of works to Gildas, but they have no good authority for doing so.
Gildas's history was first printed at London by Polydore Vergil in 1525, and has been many times reprinted. In 1568 John Joscelyn, Archbishop Parker's secretary, published a new edition. In 1691 it was again printed by Gale in the third volume of his ‘Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores.’ The best editions are that of Mr. Stevenson (English Historical Society, 1838), reprinted in 1844 by Sainte-Marthe (Schulz) at Berlin, and that in the ‘Monumenta Historica Britannica’ (1848). ‘The Epistle of Gildas, faithfully translated out of the Original Latine, with introduction by J. Habington’ (London, 1638, 12mo), was the first version in English. Another English translation can be found in Bohn's ‘Six Old English Chronicles,’ pp. 295–380. There are only two manuscripts of Gildas extant, both in the Cambridge University Library.
[Hardy's Preface to Monumenta Historica Britannica, pp. 59–62; Stevenson's Prefaces and Notes to the English Historical Society's edition of the Historia; Wright's Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Saxon period, pp. 115–35; Schöll, De Ecclesiasticæ Britonum Scotorumque Historiæ fontibus, cap. i.; Skene's Four Ancient Books of Wales, vol. i. cap. iii.; A. de la Borderie in Revue Celtique, vol. vi.; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Dictionary of Christian Biography; Bædæ Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum; Annales Cambriæ MS. A., confused in Mon. Hist. Brit. and in Rolls Ser. edition with less authoritative sources, but recently carefully printed by itself from the tenth-century Harleian MS., by Mr. Phillimore in the Transactions of the Cymmrodorion Society, ix. 141–83. Walter, Das alte Wales, pp. 41–2, gives a list of several other sources, many of very little critical value. The Life of Gildas by the monk of St. Gildas de Ruys has been published completely by Mabillon in the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti, i. 138–89, and less fully in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum, January, tom. iii. 573 sq. The Life ascribed to Caradog was first published from the manuscript in Corpus Christi Coll. Cambridge, by Stevenson in the Engl. Hist. Soc. edition of Gildas; for other lives see Hardy's Descriptive Cat. of Materials, i. pt. i. 132–7, 151–6, pt. ii. 799.]
GILDAS minor or Nennius. [See Nennius.]
GILDERDALE, JOHN (d. 1864), divine, was educated at Howden grammar school in Yorkshire. His tastes were early disposed towards a seafaring life, but he eventually adopted a literary and scholastic profession. On the completion of his school career he matriculated from St. Catharine's Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1826, proceeded to his degree of M.A. in 1830, and to that of B.D. in 1853. He proceeded ‘ad eundem’ in the university of Oxford 25 June 1847. After leaving Cambridge he was appointed lecturer of the parish church of Halifax, Yorkshire, through the influence of Dr. Musgrave, archdeacon of Craven. This office, however, he resigned on being presented to the living of Walthamstow, where he was also principal and trustee of the Forest School in that parish. He died at Candle Stourton, Dorsetshire, on 25 Sept. 1864, in the sixty-second year of his age.
- ‘An Essay on Natural Religion and Revelation, considered with regard to the legitimate use and proper limitation of Reason,’ London, 1837, 8vo. This work is dedicated to the Rev. William Dealtry, D.D. [q. v.], rector of Clapham and chancellor of the diocese of Winchester.
- ‘A Course of Family Prayers for one month, with Short Forms for several occasions, dedicated to the Ven. Charles Musgrave, Prebendary of York and Vicar of Halifax.’ London, 1838, 12mo.
- ‘A Letter to Lord Brougham on National Education,’ London, 1838, 8vo.
[Gent. Mag. 1864, pt. ii. p. 661; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Guardian, October 1864.]