Friday, 25 September 2015

Joseph Ritson

Joseph Ritson (1752 - 18030 was a lawyer, Writer and Antiquarian.

"Born at Stockton on 2nd October, 1752 and educated in the town by Rev John Thompson, he was then
The engraving is a caricature of Joseph Ritson made 
by James Sayers in 1803
articled to a solicitor, Mr J. S. Raisbeck but soon joined the practice of  Ralph Bradley, Conveyancer.

Ritson soon developed an interst in literature, published pamphlets and became friendly with writers and musicians. In 1772 he became a vegetarian and during the following year he made an archeological tour of Scotland.  Two years later  he joined a conveyancing firm in London and 1780 he began his own business as a conveyancer in Gray's Inn. 

In May 1784, Joseph Ritson was appointed High Baliff of the Liberty of the Savoy, a post which was worth about £150 annually, and at Easter 1784, he became a student at Gray's Inn. Five years later, he was called to the bar and carried on with his conveyancing business with meticulous accuracy.

Away from his business, Ritson had a consuming interest in ancient literature, poetry and drama. he became one of the earliest collectors of local verse and published a number of northern collections during the 1780's and early 1790's, but eccentricity resutled in controvesies with other writers. many of these were conducted in th ecolumns of  Gentleman's Magazine and during the mid 1780's he successfully demonstrated that John Pinkerton's Select Scottish Ballads was mostly made up of forgeries.

He made frequent visits to Stockton and in 1781 issued The Stockton Jubilee or Shakespeare in all his glory, a witty attack on the senior citizens of his home town. For a number of years he supported the jacobite cause and following a visit to Paris in 1791 where he found himself in full sympathy with the leaders of the French Revolution, Ritson gave his firm backing to a Republican calander and frequently publicised his democratic views but by the late 1790's he was faced with nervous troubles and financial problems.

As his illness worsened, so his collected works were at risk but he lingered until 23rd September, 1803, when he died at the house of a friend in Hoxton. he was buried at Bunhill Fields and soon afterwards his library of rare books and manuscripts were sold in separate lots. Ref. Local Records of Stockton neighbourhood by  T. Richmond in Cleveland Hall of Fame and Infamy

Rev. John Brewster, in his Parochial History of  Stockton on Tees tells us -

Read on line or download  here

His collection of the Robin Hood ballads is perhaps his greatest single achievement, called Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads, Now Extant, Relative to That Celebrated English Outlaw: To Which Are Prefixed Historical Anecdotes of His Life. In Two Volumes..

Read on line or download here 

Bibliography from
Verses addressed to the Ladies of Stockton. First printed in the Newcastle Miscellany, MDCCLXXII, 1780
Observations on the three first volumes of the history of English poetry by T. W. in a letter to the author, by Thomas Warton and Joseph Ritson, 1782
A Select Collection of English Songs, 1783
The Spartan Manual, or Tablet of Morality, being a genuine collection of the apophthegms, maxims and precepts of the philosophers ... and other ... celebrated characters of antiquity, etc, 1785
A Digest of the proceedings of the Court Leet of the Manor and Liberty of the Savoy, 1789
Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry: From Authentic Manuscripts and Old Printed Copies, 1791, (Kessinger Publishing, 2007) ISBN 0-548-60052-X
The Office of Constable: being an entirely new compendium of the law concerning that ancient minister for the conservation of the peace, etc, 1791
Cursory criticisms on the edition of Shakespeare published by Edmond Malone, 1792
The Northumberland Garland; or, Newcastle Nightingale: a matchless collection of famous songs. Edited by Joseph Ritson, 1793
Law-Tracts. L.P, 1794
Poems on interesting events in the reign of Edward III. written in the year MCCCLII. ... With a preface, dissertations, notes, and a glossary by J. Ritson, by Laurence Minot and Joseph Ritson (editor), 1795
Ancient Songs and Ballads from the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution in Two Volumes, (BiblioBazaar, 2009) ISBN 1-103-18694-9
Bibliographia poetica: a catalogue of Engleish sic poets, of the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth, centurys, with a short account of their works, by Joseph Ritson, Philip Bliss, James Boswell, and John Payne Collier, 1802
Ancient Engleish Metrical Romance√ęs, 1802, (Kessinger Publishing, 2009) ISBN 1-104-02459-4
An Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food, as a Moral Duty, edited by Sir Richard Philips, London, 1802, (Kessinger Publishing, 2009) ISBN 1-4367-7108-0
A catalogue of the entire and curious library and manuscripts of the late Joseph Ritson, 1803
The jurisdiction of the Court leet: Exemplified in the articles which the jury or inquest for the King, in that court, is charged and sworn, and by law enjoined, to inquire of and present, W. Clarke and Sons; 2d ed, with great additions, edition 1809
Northern Garlands, R. Triphook, 1810
The Office Of Bailiff Of A Liberty, 1811
A Select Collection of English Songs, with Their Original Airs: and a Historical Essay on the Origin and Progress of National Song, London, 1813, (Adamant Media Corporation, 2005) ISBN 1-4212-6009-3
The Caledonian Muse: A Chronological Selection of Scottish Poetry from the Earliest Times, 1821, (Kessinger Publishing, 2007) ISBN 0-548-73946-3
Some account of the life and publications of the late Joseph Ritson, esq, by Joseph Haslewood, 1824
Life of King Arthur from Ancient Historians and Authentic Documents, London, 1825, (Kessinger Publishing, 2003) ISBN 0-7661-8100-6
Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots and of Strathclyde, Cumberland, Galloway and Murray, London, 1828, (BiblioBazaar, 2008) ISBN 0-554-48196-0
Memoirs of The Celts or Gauls, Joseph Ritson and Joseph Frank, 1829, (BiblioBazaar, 2009) ISBN 1-103-37230-0
Letters from Joseph Ritson to George Paton, 1829, (Kessinger Publishing, 2008) ISBN 1-4370-2591-9
Fairy Tales, Now First Collected: To which are prefixed two dissertations: 1. On Pygmies. 2. On Fairies, London, 1831, (Adamant Media Corporation, 2004) ISBN 1-4021-4753-8
Robin Hood: A Collection of All the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads, Now Extant Relative to That Celebrated English Outlaw: To Which are Prefixed Historical Anecdotes of His Life, London, 1832, (Adamant Media Corporation, 2004) ISBN 1-4212-6209-6
The Letters of Joseph Ritson edited chiefly from originals in the possession of his nephew J. Frank. To which is prefixed a memoir of the author, by Joseph Ritson, Joseph Frank, and Nicholas Harris Nicolas, 1833, (Kessinger Publishing, 2007) ISBN 0-548-72425-3
Gammer Gurton's Garland or the Nursery Parnassus: A Choice Collection of Pretty Songs and Verses, 1866, (Kessinger Publishing, 2007) ISBN 0-548-69412-5
Scotish Songs (sic), 1869, (Kessinger Publishing, 2008) ISBN 1-4371-0663-3
Fairy Tales, Legends & Romances Illustrating Shakespeare & Other Early English Writers, 1875, (Kessinger Publishing, 2003) ISBN 0-7661-4981-1
The Boy Knight ; or, Kindness Rewarded, James B. Knapp, 1877
Ancient Popular Poetry V1: From Authentic Manuscripts and Old Printed Copies, by Joseph Ritson and Edmund Goldsmid, 1884, (Kessinger Publishing, 2009) ISBN 1-104-01763-6
Ancient English metrical romances, E. & G. Goldsmid, 1884
Northern Garlands: A Collection of Songs, 1887
A dissertation on romance and minstrelsy: To which is appended the ancient metrical romance of Ywaine and Gawin, 1891, (Kessinger Publishing, 2007) ISBN 0-548-78222-9
Joseph Ritson: A Critical Biography, by Henry A. Burd, Illinois, 1916, (BiblioBazaar, 2008) ISBN 0-554-58449-2
Joseph Ritson, scholar-at-arms. With plates, including portraits, and a bibliography, by Bertrand Harris Bronson, 1938


No comments:

Post a Comment