Thomas Leland

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Leland, Thomas, D.D., author of an Irish history and other works, was born in Dublin, 1722, "of parents worthy and respectable, but not opulent or exalted." He was educated at Dr. Sheridan's school; in 1737 entered Trinity College as a pensioner, and in 1746 was chosen Fellow. In 1754 he and his friend Dr. John Stokes published an edition of the Philippic Orations of Demosthenes, with a Latin version and notes; and between 1754 and 1761, partly at the solicitation of Lord Charlemont, he brought out an English translation of the same. His History of Philip, King of Macedon, appeared in 2 vols. 4to. in 1758. In 1768 he commenced his History of Ireland, published in London and Dublin, in 3 vols. 4to. in 1773. This last was written principally at his vicarage at Bray. He was the author of sermons, and numerous works not necessary to specify. In 1773 he exchanged to the vicarage of St. Anne's, Dublin. We are told that "from the time he became a parish minister he was unwearied and exemplary in the discharge of every part of his duty, and particularly that of a public instructor." In 1781 he resigned his fellowship for the rectory of Ardstraw, in the County of Londonderry.

He died in Dublin, August 1785, aged about 63. Disraeli speaks of him as "the eloquent translator of Demosthenes"; Allibone, as "a profound scholar and most eloquent preacher." In a notice of Dr. Leland in the Anthologia Hibernica, vol. i., in which will be found a portrait and list of his works, the author remarks: "His fame for classical learning is unrivalled... He never evidenced the smallest specimen of fondness for, or researches into, Irish antiquities... In this history, on which his friends, with ill-judged fondness dwell, we find very trifling intimations of the constitution, government, and laws of Ireland; nothing of its learning, commerce, coin, or shipping; nothing of its architecture, poetry, or music, though admirable specimens of these exist; nothing of the language, dress, diversions, diet, and customs of the Irish. What then, it may be asked, does it contain? I answer, a dull, monotonous detail of domestic convulsions, a weak government, and a barbarous people."

Sources

8. Anthologia Hibernica. 4vols. Dublin, 1793-'4.

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

42. Biographical Dictionary: Rev. Hugh J. Rose. 12 vols. London, 1850.

119. Ecclesiastical History of Ireland: Rev. John Lanigan. 4 vols. Dublin, 1822.

214. Leland, Thomas, D.D., Sermons, with Memoir prefixed. 3 vols. Dublin, 1788.
Leland, Thomas, D.D., see No. 172.

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