The Reverend Gilbert White (1720-1793) was the author of The natural history and antiquities of Selborne. Other than the authorship of this famous work, Gilbert White's biography is unremarkable. Educated at Oxford, he entered the Church and settled down to a conventional clerical career. He held curacies at Selborne itself and in neighbouring Farringdon, but was never vicar of Selborne.
White was the archetypal eighteenth-century amateur scientist, whose undemanding clerical duties allowed him to indulge his passionate interest in all aspects of the natural world. The natural history of Selborne is little more than a collection of letters written by a country parson describing the natural history of his native parish. Yet it is the most popular book ever written on natural history. This enduring popularity may be attributed to White's unaffected style of writing, his quiet humour, the accuracy of his observations, but above all, the respect and affection with which he viewed the natural world.
While at Oriel College, Oxford, White met John Mulso (1721-1791) who was to become an enduring friend and a regular informant of events in the church and in literary circles. Mulso corresponded with White and visited Selborne on a number of occasions; in 1747 White addressed to him the first version of his most sustained poetic effort, 'An Invitation to Selborne'.
Gilbert White never married, but he had seven brothers and sisters who survived to adulthood - Thomas (1724-1797), Benjamin (1725-1794), Rebecca (1726-1771) who married Henry Woods, John (1727-1780), Francis (1728/9-1750), Anne (1731-1807) who married Thomas Barker, and Henry (1733-1788) - and over thirty nephews and nieces. Gilbert White corresponded with his family frequently.
The Earls of Stamford were related to the White family through the marriage of Rev. William Grey (1819-1872) to Harriet, daughter of Rev. Francis Henry White. Their only child was William Grey (1850-1910), who became the 9th Earl of Stamford.