Correspondence of Richard Gough, John Nichols and J.B. Nichols concerning the second edition of The history and antiquities of the county of Dorset

Scope and Content

Letters to Richard Gough, John Nichols and J.B. Nichols, with many draft replies, 1770-1817, concerning the second edtition of John Hutchins, The history and antiquities of the county of Dorset (4 vols., London, 1796-1815), arranged alphabetically, A-C, P-Y. The volume containing correspondents D-O is MS. Top. gen. d. 3.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Gough (1735-1809), antiquary, was born in London, received a private education, and was admitted a fellow-commoner of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in July 1752, but left in 1756 without taking a degree. From the age of eleven he was a prolific writer, but after his Cambridge days devoted himself almost exclusively to British topography and antiquities, making annual tours through different parts of Britain, often in company with John Nichols, his printer and publisher, and employing artists such as Jacob Schnebbelie and James Basire to illustrate his notes. In 1767 he became FSA and from 1771-97 was Director of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1774, on the death of his mother, extensive estates fell to him, which his father (who died in 1751) had bequeathed to him in reversion.

Gough's chief works were his British Topography (1768, and 2 vols. 1780, an account of the literature of the subject), the Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain (1786-99), and a greatly augmented edition of Camden's Britannia (3 vols. 1789; 4 vols. 1806; a third edition was begun in 1806, but not finished and never published). His numerous minor publications on classical, antiquarian and topographical subjects evince immense industry and activity, while his independent means enabled him to devote himself to his chosen pursuits. In the course of his life he amassed a large library of books and engravings, chiefly topographical, which included many volumes from the libraries of Ducarel, Lort, Blomefield, Peter Le Neve, Hutchins, West and others.

John Nichols (1745-1826) and his son, John Bowyer Nichols (1779-1863), were both printers and antiquaries, and were proprietors of the Gentleman's Magazine. Details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

Bought by the Library, Sotheby's, 18 Nov. 1929, lot 154.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

M. Clapinson and T.D. Rogers, Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford. Acquisitions 1916-1975. (Oxford, 1991), vol. II, nos. 53893-4.

Related Material

See also the correspondence of Richard Gough (MSS. Gough gen. top. 39-44), the Enfield collections of Richard Gough (MSS. Gough Middlesex 8-12) and the Gough Collection (MSS. Gough).


Geographical Names