(1768–1847) A lawyer who became an enthusiastic student of Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon literature, and found much new material, especially among the unexplored Cottonian manuscripts (see Cotton, Sir Robert). His interest was, however, more historical than literary. Between 1799 and 1805 he published his History of the Anglo-Saxons from the Earliest Period to the Norman Conquests, which was greatly admired, by Henry Hallam, Robert Southey, and Walter Scott, amongst others. He continued his histories up to the death of Elizabeth I. His insistence on the use of original first sources was important to future historiography. As John Murray's legal adviser, he was involved in the controversies surrounding the publication of Lord Byron's Don Juan. He was also legal adviser to the Quarterly Review.
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.