Francis Grose

?1731-1791 [Captain Grose]; Adjutant and paymaster in a British regiment; prolific English antiquarian and draughtsman; he served as Richmond Herald (Coll. of Arms), 1755-63; elected FSA, 1757; exhibited tinted landscape drawings at Royal Academy; met Robert Burns during a Scottish tour and became the dedicatee of Burns’ poem “Tam o’ Shanter”; issued Antiquities of England and Wales (1773-87), with num. engraved plates; also Antiquities of Scotland (1789-91); Grose’s Antiquities is short title used to name Antiquities of Ireland, 2 vols. (London 1791-95; rep. Dublin 1804) which was edited and largely written as to text by Edward Ledwich [q.v.] following Grose’s death in Dublin, where he travelled to supply a set of illustrations for the London printer S. Hooper - after which the publisher solicited Ledwich, who had just published his own Antiquities of Ireland in 1790, to bring it to completion;

the resulting 2 vol. work incorporates sections on ancient buildings, ecclesiastical buildings, and military buildings in Ireland and seven pages of descriptions; - his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (London 1785) is highly prized and his Advice to Officers in the British Army 90, in the manner of Swift"s Advice to Servants, has been reprinted in Philadephia and New York on different occasions; d. May 1791; bur. Drumcondra [Glasnevin Cem.]; a full-length portrait of Grose appears as a frontispiece to the 1811 reprint of his Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence .. altered and enlarged as Lexicon Balatronicum (1811). ODNB RIA

[ See notice on Antiquities of Ireland under Edward Ledwich [q.v.], who was the author of the textual parts of that book. Note that Ledwich says prefatorily that Grose wrote seven pages to accompany his plates which Ledwich thereafter expanded in the descriptive sections of the book. It is apparent from testy remarks about Charles Vallencey in the Introduction to Volume I and the allusions to Grose death and (‘the late Captain GROSE’) and his genial character in the Preface that Ledwich - who therein recounts that he met him - is the author throughout. Hence quotations from the book are to be found under Ledwich’s page in RICORSO - as infra. ]

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Antiquarian (illustrations)
  • The Antiquities of Scotland, 2 vols. (London: printed for S. Hooper, No. 212, High Holborn, MDCCLXXXIX [1789]), Vol. I, [2],xxiii, [1],308, ivpp.; pls. 
  • The Antiquities of Ireland (London: S. Hooper 1791-95 [rep. 1797), Introduction [i]-xiii, 1-93pp. [pls.] Note: The 1797 edition is said to be an almost line-for-line resetting of the 1791-95 edition rather than a mere reissue, with a preface by Ledwich dated 1794 [i.e., written for the 1795 edition]. In the 1797 edition the printer’s name in the Dedication is given as M. Hooper but S. Hooper on the t.p. [See details at COPAC - online]. The work contains 120 plates of buildings from Dunluce Castle (Antrim) to Strancally Castle (Waterford) arranged by county in the table of contents with non-continuous page-numbers attached - e.g., St. John’s Castle (Limerick), p.91, followed by Kilmaine Castle (p.20). A further six plates of architectural details are included in the Introduction and listed finally in the Table of Contents (e.g., Dun Aengus, Glendalough, &c.)
Other works
  • A guide to Health, Beauty, Riches, and Honour. - The second edition. 1796 (Hooper and Wigstead 1796), 64pp. [collection of advertisements made by Francis Grose with a preface by him] - available at Internet Archive [online].
  • Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (London; S. Hooper 1785 & edns.); Do., [2nd edn., as anon.] (London: Hooper 1788), [248]pp.; Do. rep as Lexicon balatronicum: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence (1811) - available at Internet Archive [online]; Do. [unabridged from 1811 edn.], foreword by Robert Cromie (Stroud: Amberley 2008), 224pp.
  • Military Antiquities respecting a history of the English Army: from the conquest to the present time, 2 vols. (London: S. Hooper 1786-88)
  • [q.pp.]; Do. [new edn., with material additions & improvements. (A treatise on ancient armour and weapons, illustrated by plates taken from the original armour in the Tower of London, &c.)], 2 vols. (London: Stockdale 1812), q,pp. [4o.]
  • Advice to the Officers of the British Army (London [Hooper] 1783) [see details of num. editions - infra].
  • The Grumbler: containing Sixteen Essays, by the Late Francis Grose, Esq. F.A.S.of London and Perth (London: S. Hooper MDCCXCI. [1791]), viii., 71pp. [end of first part].
  • A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs and Popular Superstitions (London: Hooper 1787); Do., rep. 1811, 124pp.; and Do. [facs. rep. of 1st edn.] (Scolar Press 1968), 382 unnum. pages.
  • The Analysis of Beauty, by William Hogarth, and Rules for drawing Caricaturas [sic]: with an Essay on comic painting, by Francis Grose, Esq. FRS and AS (London: printed for Samuel Bagster, in the Strand [1810]), vii, [1], xxx, [31]-240pp., ill. [2 lvs. of pls.; port.; 23 cm.]; cf. Rules for Drawing Caricatures, with an Essay on Comic Painting (q.d.).
Related texts
  • Address to the people of Scotland, respecting Francis Grose, Esq.; ... By Robert Burns ... To which are added, verses on seeing the ruins of an ancient magnificent structure ([Glasgow] [1795]), 8pp.
Mod. Reprints
  • Superstitions: Omens, Charms, Cures [1787]: from an original text by Francis Grose; intro. by John Simpson (Oxford: Bodleian Library 2011), 104pp. [called ‘the sparkling tail-piece to the Provincial glossary’, p.7].

Bibliographical details
Advice to the Officers of the British Army (London [Hooper] 1783); Do. [5th Edn.] Advice to the Officers of the British Army: with the addition of some hints to the drummer and private soldier (London: printed by W. Richardson for G. Kearsley 1783), iv., 134pp.; Do. [6th edn.] (London: Kearsley 1787), iv, 170pp.; Do [with John Williamson] (London: printed for G. Kearsley, at No. 46, in Fleet-Street MDCCLXXXVII [1787]), iv, iv, 170, [2]pp., pl.); Do. [by John Williamson, writer on military subjects] (Dublin: W. Wilson 1787), iv, 170pp., 12º; Do. [facs. rep. with unsigned preface] (NY: Agathynian Club 1867), xx, iv, 134, 5pp. [120 copies; based on 6th London edition]; Do., another edn. [Francis Grose Society] (Owlswick Press 1978), xi, 144pp. [follows 1867 edn.; bibl. refs].

Mary Cusack, The Liberator [Life of Daniel O’Connell] (London: 1872), makes reference to Captain Grose of whom Burn’s wrote, ‘A chiel’s among you takin’ notes / And, faith, he’ll prent em.’ (ftn. p.319); also notes a story of O’Connell’s, who wrote that ‘Grose ... came to Ireland full of strong prejudices against the people, but gave way beneath the influence of Irish drollery’, and further tells a story of a ‘sly, waggish butcher’ who survey’s Grose’s fat, ruddy face and corpulent person, only to remark, “Well, plaze your honour, I won’t ask you to buy since it puts your honour in a passion. But I’ll tell you how you’ll sarve me. … Just tell all your friends that its Larry Heffernan that supplies your honour with mate [for meat], and never fear I’ll have enough custom.” (p.320.)

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Extensive quotations from the Antiquities of Ireland, (2 vols. 1791-95) are given under Edward Ledwich [q.v.] - who was the author of all the textual parts of that work and who refers to Grose in the third person in the Preface and the Introductions.

Popular Superstitions: "It will scarcely Be conceived how great a number of superstitious notions and practices are still remaining and prevalent in different parts of these kingdoms, many of which are still used and alluded to even in and about the metropolis ; and every person, however carefully educated, will, upon examination, find that he has some how or other imbibed and stored up in his memory a much greater number of these rules and maxims than he could at first have imagined.

To account for this, we need only turn our recollection towards what passed in our childhood, and reflect on the avidity and pleasure with which we listened to stories of ghosts, witches, and fairies, told us by our maids and nurses. And even among those whose parents had the good sense to prohibit such relations, there is scarce one in a. thousand but may remember to have heard, from some maiden aunt or antiquated cousin, the various omens that have announced the approaching deaths of different branches of the family: a copious catalogue of thugs lucky and unlucky; a variety of charms to cure warts, the cramp, and tooth-ache ; preventatives against the night-mare; with observations relative to sympathy, denoted by shiverings, burning of the cheeks, and itchings of the eyes and elbows. The effects of ideas of this kind are not easily got the better of; and the ideas themselves rarely, if ever, forgotten.

In former times these notions were so prevalent, that it was deemed little less than atheism to doubt them ; and in many instances the terrors caused by them embittered the lives of a great nmnber of persons of all ages; by degrees almost shutting them out of their evvn houses, and deterring them from going from one village to another after sun-set. The room in which the head of a family had died, was for a long time untenanted; particularly if they died without a will, or were supposed to have entertained any particular religious opinions. [...] (In A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs and Popular Superstitions (rep. 1811, p.99.)

On Fairies: ‘This piece of Superstition seems to come from the East, and was probably imported into Europe by some of the Crusaders; as this kind of spirits, in many instances, resembles the genii, of whom so many wonderful stories are lold by the Arabians; though some derive them from the lares and larvee of the Romans.’ (p.98.)

Note: The text deals with The Ghost, A Witch, A Sorcerer or Magician; Fairies [as below]; The Second Sight; Omens Portending Death; Charms and Ceremonies for knowing future events; Superstitious Cures and Preventatives; Sympathy; Things Lucky and Unlucky; Miscellaneous Superstitions.


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Ann Cruikshank and the Knight of Glin [Fitzgerald], Irish Portraits 1600-1860 (1969) notes that Nathaniel Hone (The Elder) sent his painting Two Gentlemen in Masquerade (1774), to the Royal Academy (London) - being a satirical composition which shows Grose and Theophilus Forrest as two Franciscan friars regaling themselves with punch, one stirring the liquid with a crucifix, but was persuaded to replace the latter with a ladle for the exhibition, and later restored it. (See , p.47.)


Grose as author
: Captain Francis Grose was an Army paymaster and he author of a Advice to the Officers of the British Army as well as "Rules for Drawing Caricatures, with an Essay on Comic Painting (q.d.); A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs and Popular Superstitions (rep. 1811, 124pp.); Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) - reissued as Lexicon Balatronicum (1811); A Guide to Health, Beauty, Riches and Honour", the last being a collection of curious advertisements of quacks, money-lenders, &c.

Advice to the Officers of the British Army: a facsimile reprint of the sixth London edition, with introduction and notes [rep. edn.] (NY Agathynian Club 1867) [120 copies], Preface ([i]-xx) - quotes from the satire reprinted here: ‘[...] To all the British Dealers in Blood and Slaughter who are under the rank of Ensign. / Soldiers, Gentlemen, Heroes, / For such you are, whatever was your former station or employment in life. He who was yesterday the ninth part of a man, by becoming a soldier to-day has multiplied his existence by at least three times three. Yet, hard fate! the integer of to-day is much more liable to be destroyed than the paltry fraction of yesterday. But what is that to your employers, you know? The more danger, the more honour; needs must when the devil drives.’ (Quoted prefatorally, p.v-vi; copy in Bodleian Library available at Internet Archive online; accessed 05.02.2024.) [Note that the work reprinted here retains the f-for-s font of the original and reproduces the t.p. of the sixth edition issued at M DCC LXXXIII [1783] - a date that falls within Grose’s lifetime. The piece is held to be in the style of #146quot;s Advice to Servants (see Maty’s review, Nov. 1782, rep. in front matter.)

The Agathynian preface contains a biographical notice: ‘Captain Francis Grose, the reputed author of the Advice to the Officers of the British Army, was a distinguished antiquary of the last century, who wrote several works on the antiquities of England, Scotland and Ireland, besides one on military antiquities, and another on ancient armor. Himself an officer of the militia, a devoted student, and thrown, during camp and garrison service, into constant association with officers of the army of all grades, he was enabled to acquire the knowledge of their {xvi} errors and habits which enabled him to write the present volume. (pp.xv-xvi.) [There follows a copy of his correspondence about his son and his own situation in the army which had been reprinted in Nichol"s Literary Anecdotes, Vol. VIII, p.693.] The present work he is not known to have acknowledged, although it has been, by common consent, attributed [xviii] to him. It first appeared in London in 1783, and rapidly run through several editions. It was in the same year re-published in Philadelphia. (pp.xviii-xix.)

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