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HENRY BRADSHAW (1831—1886)

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Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 374 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRY BRADSHAW (1831—1886), British scholar and librarian, was born in London on the and of February 1831, and educated at Eton. He became a fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and after a short scholastic career in Ireland he accepted an appointment in the Cambridge university library as an extra assistant. When he found that his official duties absorbed all his leisure he resigned his post, but continued to give his time to the examination of the MSS. and early printed books in the library. There was then no complete catalogue of these sections, and Bradshaw soon showed a rare faculty for investigations respecting old books and curious MSS. In addition to his achievements in black-letter bibliography he threw great light on ancient Celtic language and literature by the discovery, in 1857, of the Book of Deer, a manuscript copy of the Gospel in the Vulgate version, in which were inscribed old Gaelic charters. This was published by the Spalding Club in 1869. Bradshaw also discovered some Celtic glosses on the MS. of a metrical paraphrase of the Gospels by Juvencus. He made another find in the Cambridge library of considerable philological and historical importance. Cromwell's envoy, Sir Samuel Morland (1625—1695), had brought back from Piedmont MSS. containing the earliest known Waldensian records, consisting of translations from the Bible, religious treatises and poems. One of the poems referred the work to the beginning of the 11th century, though the MSS. did not appear to be of earlier date than the 15th century. On this Morland had based his theory of the antiquity of the Waldensian doctrine, and, in the absence of the MSS., which were supposed to be irretrievably lost, the conclusion was accepted. Bradshaw discovered the MSS. in the university library, and found in the passage indicated traces of erasure. The original date proved to be 1400. Incidentally the correct. date was of great value in the study of the history of the language. He had a share in exposing the frauds of Constantine Simonides, who had asserted that the Codex Sinaiticus brought by Tischendorf from the Greek monastery of Mount Sinai was a modern forgery of which he was himself the author. Bradshaw exposed the absurdity of these claims in a letter to the Guardian (January 26, 1863). In i866 he made a valuable contribution to the history of Scottish literature by the discovery of 2200 lines on the siege of Troy incorporated in a MS. of Lydgate's Troye Booke, and of the Legends of the Saints, an important work of some 40,000 lines. These poems he attributed, erroneously, as has since been proved, to Barbour (q.v.). Unfortunately Bradshaw allowed his attention to be distracted by a multiplicity of subjects, so that he has not left any literary work commensurate with his powers. The strain upon him was increased when he was elected (1867) university librarian, and as dean of his college (1857—1865) and praelector (1863—1868) he was involved in further routine duties. Besides his brilliant isolated discoveries in bibliography, he did much by his untiring zeal to improve the standard of library administration. He died very suddenly on the loth of February 1886. His fugitive papers on antiquarian subjects were collected and edited by Mr F. Jenkinson in 1889. An excellent Memoir of Henry Bradshaw, by Mr G. W. Prothero, appeared in 1888. See also C. F. Newcombe, Some Aspects of the Work of Henry Bradshaw (1905). Scriptorum Illustrium, cant. ix. No. 17. 2 Ames, Typographical Antiquities (ed. W. Herbert, 1785; P. 294).
End of Article: HENRY BRADSHAW (1831—1886)
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