Maurice, Thomas

Maurice, Thomas an English divine and scholar, noted particularly for his studies of the antiquities of India, was born about 1755 at Hertford, where his father was then head-master of the Christ's Hospital school. After his father's death the family was impoverished by al unfortunate marriage of the widow, and his education proceeded irregularly till Dr. Parr, on opening his school at Stanmore, was prevailed on to receive him as a pupil, and treated him with great generosity and kindness. Destined for the Church, he entered at nineteen St. John's College, Oxford, whence he removed next year to University College. After taking his degree of B.A., he was ordained by bishop Lowth, and held for some time the curacy of the large parish of Woodford, in Essex, which in 1785 he resigned for a chapel at Epping, in order to obtain greater leisure for study. His turn for historical studies had been fostered at University College by his distinguished tutor Lord Stowell, and he now began to concentrate his attention on the history of India, for treating upon which he made proposals in 1790 in a published letter addressed to the East India directors. The irreligious spirit of the French Revolution, alarming Mr. Maurice's mind, induced him to remodel his first work after it was nearly completed, and to devote a considerable proportion of it to dissertations on the Hindu mythology. In 1791 he came before the public with two volumes of his Indian Antiquities: the rest were brought out at intervals, the completion of the work being mainly owing to the liberality of the earl of Harborough; and the seventh and last volume appeared in 1797. This work remains to our day a trustworthy book of reference. Meantime he had undertaken a History of Hindostan, the three volumes of which, in quarto, were published in 1795, 1798, 1799, and a second edition appeared in 1821. In 1798 earl Spencer presented him to the vicarage of Wormleighton, in Warwickshire; next year he was appointed assistant librarian in the British Museum; in 1800 bishop Tomline obtained for him the pension that had been held by the poet Cowper; and in 1804 he received from the lord chancellor the vicarage of Cudham, in Kent. His Modern History of Hindostan, in two volumes, appeared in 1802 and 1804. Several other volumes on Eastern history and theology, and attempts in verse, succeeded this work; and one of his last undertakings was his Memoirs, comprehending the History of the Progress of Indian Literature, and Anecdotes of Literary Characters in Britain, during a Period of Thirty Years. Of this work the three volumes appeared in 1819, 1820, and 1822. He died March 30, 1824. See English Cyclop. s.v.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Gorton, Biog. Dict. s.v.

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