1902 Encyclopedia > Anthony Wood

Anthony Wood
English antiquary
(1632-95)




xWOOD, ANTHONY A1 (1632-1695), antiquary, was the fourth son of Thomas Wood (1580-1643), B.C.L. of Oxford,
1 In the Life he speaks of himself and his family as Wood and not a Wood, a pedantic return to old usage adopted by himself. A pedigree is given in Bliss's edition, 1848, p. 357.
where Anthony was born 17th December 1632. He was sent to New College school in that city in 1641, and at the age of twelve was removed to the free grammar school at Thame, where his studies were interrupted by civil war skirmishes. He was then placed under the tuition of his brother Edward (1627-55), of Trinity College; " while he continued in this condition his mother would alwaies be soliciting him to be an apprentice which he could never endure to heare of " (Life, 1848, p. 33). He was entered at Merton College in 1647, and made post-master. In 1652 "he began to exercise his natural and insatiable genie he had to musick " (ibid., 53), and was examined for the degree of B.A. He engaged a music-master, and obtained permission to use the Bodleian, " which he took to be the happiness of his life." He was admitted M.A. in 1655, and in the following year published a volume of sermons of his late brother Edward. Dugdale's Warwickshire came into his hands, and he describes how " his tender affections and insatiable desire of knowledge were ravished and melted downe by the reading of that book. What by musick and rare books that he found in the public library, his life, at this time and after, was a perfect Elysium" (ibid., p. 68). He now began systematically to copy monumental inscriptions and to search for antiquities in the city and neighbour-hood. He went' through the Christ Church registers, " at this time being resolved to set himself to the study of antiquities." Dr John Wallis, the keeper, allowed him free access to the university registers in 1660 ; "here he layd the foundation of that book which fourteen years afterwards he published, viz., Hist, et Antiq. Univ. Oxon." He steadily investigated the muniments of all the colleges, and in 1667 made his first journey to London, where he visited Dugdale, who introduced him into the Cottonian library, and Prynne showed him the same civility for the Tower records. On October 22, 1669, he was sent for by the delegates of the press, " that whereas he had taken a great deal of paines in writing the Hist, and Antiq. of the Universitie of Oxon, they would for his paines give him an 100 li. for his copie, conditionally, that he would suffer the book to be translated into Latine" (ibid., 167). He accepted the offer and set to work to prepare his English MS. for the translators, Richard Peers and Richard Reeve, both appointed by Dr Fell, dean of Christ Church, who undertook the expense of printing. The translation was supervised by Fell, with whom and the translators Wood has endless quarrels about alterations of his text. In 1674 appeared Historia et Antiquilates Universitatis Oxoniensis, handsomely printed " e Theatro Sheldoniano," in two folio volumes, the first devoted to the university in general and the second to the colleges. Copies were widely distributed, and university and author received much praise. On the other hand, Bishop Barlow told a correspondent that " not only the Latine but the history itself is in many things ridiculously false" (Genuine Remains, 1693, p. 183). In 1678 the university registers which had been in his custody for eighteen years were removed, as it was feared that he would be implicated in the Popish Plot. To relieve himself from suspicion he took the oaths of supremacy and allegiance. During this time he had been gradually completing his great work, which was produced by a London publisher in 1691-92, 2 vols, folio, Athenx Oxonienses: an Exact History of all the Writers and Bishops who have had their Education in the University of Oxford from 1500 to 1690, to which are added the Fasti, or Annals for the said time. On 29th July 1693 he was condemned in the vice-chancellor's court for certain libels against the late earl of Clarendon, fined, banished from the university until he recanted, and the book burnt. The proceedings were printed in a volume of Miscellanies

published by Curll in 1714. Wood was attacked by Bishop Burnet in a Letter to the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, 1693, 4to, and defended by his nephew Dr Thomas Wood, in a Vindication of the Historiographer, to which is added the Historiographer's Answer, 1693, 4to, reproduced in the subsequent editions of the Athenee. The nephew also defended his uncle in An Appendix to the Life of Bishop Seth Ward, 1697, 8vo. On 9th October 1695 Wood had an interview with the earl of Clarendon, but was not able to get his fine remitted. After a short illness he died 28th November 1695, in his sixty-third year, and was buried in the ante-chapel of St John Baptist (Merton College), in Oxford, where he superintended the digging of his own grave but a few days before.
He is described as "a very strong lusty man," of uncouth manners and appearance, not so deaf as he pretended, of reserved and temperate habits, not avaricious, aud a despiser of honours. He received neither office nor reward from the university which owed so much to his labours. He never married, and led a life of self-denial, entirely devoted to antiquarian research. Bell-ringing and music were his chief relaxations. His literary style is poor, aud his taste and judgment are frequently warped by prejudice, but his two great works and unpublished collections form a price-less source of information on Oxford and her worthies. He was always suspected of being a Roman Catholic, and invariably treated Jacobites and Papists better than Dissenters in the Athense, but he died in communion with the Church of England.
Wood's original manuscript(purchased by the Bodleian in 1846), -was first published by John Guteh, as The History and Antiquities _of tlie Colleges and Halls in the University of Oxford, with a con-tinuation, 1786-90, 2 vols. 4to, aud The History and. Antiquities _of the University of Oxford, 1792-96, 3 vols. 4to, with portrait of Wood. To these should be added 'The Antient and Present State _of the City of Oxford, chiefly collected by A. a Wood, with additions by Sir J. Peshall, 1773, 4to. A new edition is in preparation by the Oxford Historical Society. Modius Solium, a Collection of Pieces -of Humour, chiefly ill-natured personal stories, was published at Oxford in 1751,12mo. Some letters between Aubrey and Wood were given in the Gentleman's Magazine (3d ser., ix., x., xi.). Wood consulted Dr Hudson about getting a third volume of the Athense printed in Holland, saying, "When this volume comes out I'll make you laugh " (Reliq. Hearnianee, i, 59). This was included in a second edition of the Athense published by Tonson in 1721, 2 vols, folio, " very much corrected aud enlarged, with the addition of above 500 new lives." The third appeared as " a new edition, with additions, and a continuation by Philip Bliss," 1813-20, 4 vols. 4to. The Ecclesiastical History Society proposed to bring out a fourth __edition, which stopped at the Life, ed. by Bliss, 1848, 8vo (see Gent. Mag., N.S., xxix. 135, 268). Dr Bliss's interleaved copy is in the Bodleian, and Dr Griffiths announced in 1859 that a new _edition was contemplated by the Press, and asked for additional matter (see Notes and Queries, 2d ser., vii. 514, and 6th ser., vi. .5, 51). Wood bequeathed his library (127 MSS. and 970 printed books) to the Ashmolean Museum, and the keeper, William Huddesford, printed a catalogue of the MSS. iu 1761. In 1860 "the whole collection was transferred to the Bodleian, where 25 volumes of Wood's MSS. had been since 1690. Many of the original papers from which the Athense was written, as well as several large volumes of Wood's correspondence and all his diaries, are in the Bodleian.
The chief authority is the Life of Wood written by himself, and first published
by Heartie in the appendix to _. Caii Vindicise, 1780; toe memoirs after 1672
were compiled by Rawlinson from the original diaries, and printed by Huddesford
with the Lives of Leland and llearne, 1772, 2 vols. Svo. A new edition was issued
by Bliss, 184S. See also Reliquire Hearnianse, cd. Bliss, 2d ed., 1869, 3 vols. 12mo ;
Hearne's Remarks and Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc, 18S5,<fcc.); Macray's Annals
of the Bodleian Library, 1868; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, i., iv., v., viii.;
Noble's Biogr. History of England, i. (H. R. T.)







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