Samuel Ayscough

Samuel Ayscough (1745-1804) was a librarian and indexer, known as ‘The Prince of Indexers’.

Life

He was the grandson of William Ayscough, a stationer and printer of Nottingham, where he introduced the art of typography about 1710, and died on 2 March 1719, and the son of George Ayscough, who succeeded to his father’s business, which he carried on Upwards of forty years. [1]

George Ayscough was much esteemed in the neighborhood, and was connected with some of the most respectable families in the county. His first wife died childless. He then married Edith, daughter of Benjamin Wigley of Wirksworth, by whom he had her, Samuel, and a daughter, Anne. He inherited a good business, but instead of devoting his energies to its development, launched into various wild speculations, among which being extracted from the dross of coals. Having gained a great deal of experience in the history of the United States, Leicestershire is one of the most beautiful and most beautiful cities in the world. Two children. [1]

Samuel Ayscough was born in 1745, and was educated at the free grammar school in Nottingham . The son assisted his father in the successive failures of business, speculations and farm. At last, when complete ruin confronted the family, Samuel hired himself to take care of a mill in the neighbourhood, and bravely labored as a laborer to keep his father and sister. Mr. Eamer (afterwards Sir John Eamer , lord mayor of London), hearing of his distress, about the year 1770 sent to him to come to town , Clothed him, and procured for him a situation as overlooker of street-paviors. It was doubtless this employment which gave him the capacity for such rude labor as index-making. Soon afterwards he entered the shop of Mr. Rivington, bookseller, of St. Paul’s Churchyard, and subsequently obtained a commitment to a very modest salary as assistant in the cataloging department under the main librarian of the British Museum. This was the turning-point of his career and career. His value was soon recognized by a small increase in his weekly stipend, and he was able to occupy some of his leisure time arranging private libraries. These additions to his income, added to some assistance from Mr. Eamer, enabled him to send for his father, in November 1783. [1] And a very modest salary as an assistant in the cataloging department under the main librarian of the British Museum. This was the turning-point of his career and career. His value was soon recognized by a small increase in his weekly stipend, and he was able to occupy some of his leisure time arranging private libraries. These additions to his income, added to some assistance from Mr. Eamer, enabled him to send for his father, in November 1783. [1] And a very modest salary as an assistant in the cataloging department under the main librarian of the British Museum. This was the turning-point of his career and career. His value was soon recognized by a small increase in his weekly stipend, and he was able to occupy some of his leisure time arranging private libraries. These additions to his income, added to some assistance from Mr. Eamer, enabled him to send for his father, in November 1783. [1]

Ayscough’s excellent catalog of the undescribed manuscripts in the British Museum was begun in April 1780 and published in 1782 by leave of the trustees, but as a private venture of the compiler. The plan of the book was original, and the publication reflects credit on the enterprise of Ayscough, which claims. He acknowledges the help from past catalogs and has a great deal of interest in the work of Ayscough’s unaided efforts. He states that the catalog was drawn up on 20,000 separate slips of paper. Each manuscript was specially examined. The classification is ample, and two indexes, The first of the numbers of the manuscripts and pages of the catalog where they are described, and the second of all the names mentioned in the two volumes, render the book of easy reference. In 1783, he issued anonymously a small pamphlet in reply to the ‘Letters of an American Farmer,’ printed the year before by Hector St. John [Crevecœur], a French settler. Ayscough (1783, liii, 1036) ‘an insidious’, which was published in the journal Gentleman’s Magazine, And fatal tendency, which this writer, as an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] And the second of all the names mentioned in the two volumes, render the book of easy reference. In 1783, he issued anonymously a small pamphlet in reply to the ‘Letters of an American Farmer,’ printed the year before by Hector St. John [Crevecœur], a French settler. Ayscough (1783, liii, 1036) ‘an insidious’, which was published in the journal Gentleman’s Magazine, And fatal tendency, which this writer, as an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] And the second of all the names mentioned in the two volumes, render the book of easy reference. In 1783, he issued anonymously a small pamphlet in reply to the ‘Letters of an American Farmer,’ printed the year before by Hector St. John [Crevecœur], a French settler. Ayscough (1783, liii, 1036) ‘an insidious’, which was published in the journal Gentleman’s Magazine, And fatal tendency, which this writer, as an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] Printed by Mr. Hector St. John [Crevecoeur], a French settler. Ayscough (1783, liii, 1036) ‘an insidious’, which was published in the journal Gentleman’s Magazine, And fatal tendency, which this writer, as an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] Printed by Mr. Hector St. John [Crevecoeur], a French settler. Ayscough (1783, liii, 1036) ‘an insidious’, which was published in the journal Gentleman’s Magazine, And fatal tendency, which this writer, as an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] As an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1] As an Englishman, is highly laudable for endeavouring to detect and counteract. [1]

After 17 years of experience in the history of the arts, about 1785 Ayscough was appointed an assistant librarian at the museum. He had long wanted to take holy orders, and in spite of some difficulties, the exact nature of which could not be traced, was at length enabled to accomplish his desire. The precise period of the event is uncertain. Nichols places it soon after 1785, and a notice of the death of the father (Gentleman’s Magazine, ii. 982) supports this view; But he styles himself ‘clerk’ on the title of his ‘Catalog’ (1782), and a letter of the father, dated January 13, 1781 (Nichols’s Illustrations, iii. He was ordained to the curacy of Normanton-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, And afterwards appointed Assistant Curator of the Parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. Dr. Buckner, afterwards bishop of Chichester, Mr. Southgate, Dr. Willis, and other eminent persons. A general index to the ‘Annual Register’ (1758-80), which came out in 1783, is ascribed to Ayscough without sufficient evidence. In 1786 the Conductors of the ‘Monthly Review’ have published a volume of a periodical, compiled by Ayscough, the first volume consisting of the articles, & c., Classified under subquestions with a full index, and the second forming An alphabetical index to passages in the body of the ‘Review.’ A continuation extending to the eighty-first volume, and issued in 1796, was from the same hand. His publications have been of a private nature; His next appearance was in connection with his official position. The catalog of books in the British Museum, printed in 1787, 2 vols. Folio, was compiled by Dr. PH Maty, S. Harper, and Ayscough; One-third of the work is due to the last. On 12 March 1789 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquities. [1]

All students of the history of the eighteenth century are grateful to Ayscough For His share in indexing the ‘ Gentleman’s Magazine (1731-1786), consistant of the two volumes printed in 1789, the first year of qui includes index of the essays, term papers , And historical passages in one alphabet, and the second being divided into four parts, is devoted to poetry, names of persons, plates, and books noticed. Useful as it is, the index is not by any means perfect. The lists of persons in each volume of the periodical had unfortunately never been furnished with Christian names. This method was continued by Ayscough in his general index, so that in the case of common names, such as Smith or Williams, There are hundreds of references, making the task of hunting up any particular fact almost hopeless. In the continuation on the same plan, published in 1821, the evil is made worse by the increase of the materials, so that there are no less than 2,411 entries under Smith without further particulars. It has been calculated that, owing to the time taken up in referring back to each volume, it would occupy eighty hours of hard work to look through all the Smiths in search of a particular individual of that name (see Wheatley’s What is an Index? P.46). Until Ayscough brought out his ‘Index’ in 1790 there was no concordance to Shakespeare . This was a speculation on the part of the publisher, John Stockdale , who paid two hundred guineas for the index, Which was specially designed to accompany his ‘Dramatic Works,’ in 2 flights. roy. 8vo. In this excellent compilation the words are arranged alphabetically with the lines in which they occur, then the name of the play, and in five separate columns the act, scene, page, column, and line. The last three peculiarities of the race, the only edition of 1790, may be made to serve any other text. Francis Twiss compiled a ‘Verbal Index’ in 1805, not so useful as that of Ayscough, and both were superseded by Mrs. Cowden Clarke’s valuable ‘Concordance’ (1845). All three are devoted to the plays alone, and require to be supplemented by Mrs. Furness’s ‘Concordance to Shakespeare’s Poems’ (1874). There is still no concordance to the entire works. [1]

Ayscough was read to deliver the Fairchild readings, established in 1729 by Thomas Fairchild , of Shoreditch, who was a summons for a sermon on each of the Wonderful Works of God in the Creation. The first sermon was delivered by Ayscough in 1790 before the Royal Society at Shoreditch Church, and he completed the series of fifteen sermons in 1804. They were to have been printed after his death, but never appeared. [1]

Dr. Birch had left for his papers at the Museum a collection of historical letters written during the reigns of James and Charles, which Ayscough proposed to publish if he could find two hundred subscribers at a couple of guineas apiece. But it was left to Mr. RF Williams to carry the scheme into effect in 1849, when the documents were printed under the title of ‘The Court and Times of James I and Charles I,’ 4 flights. 8vo. An important piece of work that remains in a manuscript is Ayscough’s catalog of the ancient rolls and charters in the British Museum, forming three large folio volumes, with two indexes, and the second to names of persons . A table of contents records the number of charters, rolls, and seals at 16,000. The preparation of the catalog occupied from 8 May 1787 to 18 August 1792, with a few additions subsequently made. It is still used for reference. Ayscough’s last work at the Museum consisted in arranging the books in classes and cataloging the King’s Tracts. [1]

Cudham in Kent by John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon . Although from his official position he was permitted non-residence, he conscientiously fulfilled his religious duties, making the journey of seventeen miles each Saturday, and returning on the Monday. He never passed the workhouse without calling to read prayers or to preach. He took great pains to excel as a preacher. Letsome’s ‘Preacher’s Assistant’ (1753, 2 parts, 8vo) marked with those sermons which could be consulted at the Museum, and with twenty-one leaves of manuscript . Ayscough’s salary has been recently increased, which, added to his clerical preference, Placed him in a position of comparative comfort; But his bountiful disposition to his money. In 1802 he edited, with John Caley, a volume of the patent rolls in the Tower, but not in the ‘Taxatio Ecclesiastica Nicholai IV’ (1802) also published by the Record Commission, and sometimes ascribed to him . He died of dropsy in the chest, at his apartments in the Museum, on October 30, 1804, and was buried in the cemetery of St. George’s, Bloomsbury , behind the Foundling Hospital. [1] With John Caley, a volume of the patent rolls in the Tower, is published in the ‘Taxatio Ecclesiastica Nicholai IV’ (1802) also published by the Record Commission, and sometimes ascribed to him. He died of dropsy in the chest, at his apartments in the Museum, on October 30, 1804, and was buried in the cemetery of St. George’s, Bloomsbury , behind the Foundling Hospital. [1] With John Caley, a volume of the patent rolls in the Tower, is published in the ‘Taxatio Ecclesiastica Nicholai IV’ (1802) also published by the Record Commission, and sometimes ascribed to him. He died of dropsy in the chest, at his apartments in the Museum, on October 30, 1804, and was buried in the cemetery of St. George’s, Bloomsbury , behind the Foundling Hospital. [1] George’s, Bloomsbury , behind the Foundling Hospital. [1] George’s, Bloomsbury , behind the Foundling Hospital. [1]

Assessment

Ayscough has been termed the ‘Prince of Index-makers,’ and if the title conveys any idea of ​​the extent and usefulness of his plows he well deserves it. Bridges’ ‘Northampton’, to Manning’s’ Surrey, ‘and, according to Nichols, the indices to the’ New Review , ‘edited by Dr. Maty. His life of indexing produced him altogether about £ 1,300, not to be compared with the vast sums gained by those fortunate persons who jobbed the indices to the journals of parliament, but sufficiently handsome when one remembers the usual rate of pay for such work. Ayscough was no mere drudge, but did his laborious tasks with careful skill and loving diligence, And the variety of his services is not to be exceeded in the annals of literary hewing and delving. In spite of imperfect education and a youth of toil, he attained by his own exercises a very extensive knowledge of history, antiquities, and bibliography. His acquirements in palaeography have made it possible in order to copy and to assist in the arrangement of the records in the Tower. He was a frequent contributor to the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine.’ Although somewhat blunt in manner, students found in him a ready and accomplished helper. His friend Nichols pays a touching tribute to his good heart and benevolent character. He was of tall and bulky figure, as is shown by his portrait. A friend tells a long story (ib. 1811, p. 319) about a young lady who was repro- Curiosities’ by Ayscough, ‘a man who has never been born,’ and ‘who, although an old bachelor, was a great admirer of beauty.’ One of the duties of the assistant librarians was to take parts of visitors, and Ayscough, unlike some of his brother officers, seems to have taken an interest in this service. [1]

Works

Besides two contributions to the ‘Archæologia’ (1797) and his share in the production of several books, Ayscough published the following works:

  • ‘A Catalog of the MSS. Preserved in the British Museum hitherto undescribed, consisting of 5,000 volumes, including the collections of Sir Hans Sloane, the Rev. Thomas Birch, and about 500 volumes bequeathed, presented, or purchased at various times, London, 1782, 2 vols. 4to.
  • ‘Remarks on the Letters from an American Farmer; Or a detection of the errors of Mr. J. Hector St. John, pointing out the pernicious tendency of those letters to Great Britain, London, 1783, 8vo (Anon.).
  • ‘A General Index to the Monthly Review from its beginning to the end of the 70th volume [1749-84], London, 1786; A continuation down to the 81st volume (1784-89) was compiled by Ayscough in 1796, 8vo; And there is a continuation by another hand down to 1816.
  • ‘A General Index to the first fifty-six volumes of the Gentleman’s Magazine, from its beginning in 1731 to the end of 1786,’ London, 1789, 2 vols. 8vo; Continued by Nichols to 1818, 2 vols. 8vo, with an index to the plates (1731-1818), by Ch. St. Barbe.
  • ‘An Index to the remarkable words and passages made use of by Shakespeare, calculated to point out the different meanings to which the words are applied,’ London, 1790, roy. 8vo; Reprinted in Dublin 1791, and second edition, revised and enlarged, London, 1827, demy 8vo; The last is adapted to the edition of the plays published in 1823 by the booksellers.
  • ‘A general index to the first 20 volumes of the British Critic, in two parts; left. Contains a list of all books reviewed, part ii. An index to the extracts, criticism, & c., London, 1804, 8vo (Anon.), Continued by Dr. Blagdon. [1]

Writings

  • An Index to the Remarkable Passages and Words Made by Shakespeare; Calculated to Point out the Different Meanings to Which the Words are Applied

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:k Tedder 1885 .

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