Richard Gough (antiquarian)

For other people with the same name, see Richard Gough (disambiguation).

Richard Gough (21 October 1735 20 February 1809) was an English antiquarian.

He was born in London, where his father Harry was a wealthy M.P. and director of the British East India Company. In 1751 he entered Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he began his work on British topography, published in 1768. Leaving Cambridge in 1756, without a degree,[1] he began a series of antiquarian excursions in various parts of Great Britain.

Gough was chosen a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1767, and was its director from 1771 to 1791. As director, he urged the Society to increase the scope of its publications, especially as a means of recording England's Gothic architecture; as the intermittent series Vetusta Monumenta was the only record of its research.[2] He was elected F.R.S. in 1775. His books and manuscripts relating to Anglo-Saxon and northern literature, all his collections in the department of British topography, and a large number of his drawings and engravings of other archaeological remains, were bequeathed to the University of Oxford. Notable in the bequest is the so-called Gough Map, an outstanding medieval map of Britain, which is now known by Gough’s name.


Gough was a precocious child, and at twelve had translated from the French a history of the Bible, which his mother printed for private circulation. Aged fifteen he translated Abbé Fleury's work on the Israelites; and at sixteen he published an elaborate work entitled Atlas Renovatus, or Geography modernised. In 1773 he began an edition in English of William Camden's Britannia, which appeared in 1789.

Meantime he published, in 1786, the first volume of his work the Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, applied to illustrate the history of families, manners, habits and arts at the different periods from the Norman Conquest to the Seventeenth Century. This volume, which contained the first four centuries, was followed in 1796 by a second volume containing the 15th century, and an introduction to the second volume appeared in 1799.

Among the minor works of Gough are An Account of the Bedford Missal (in manuscript); A Catalogue of the Coins of Canute, King of Denmark (1777); History of Pleshey in Essex (1803); An Account of the Coins of the Seleucidae, Kings of Syria (1804); and "History of the Society of Antiquaries of London," prefixed to their Archaeologia.


  1. "Gough, Richard (GH753R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 'An Aspect of the Early Gothic Revival: The Transformation of Medievalist Research, 1770-1800' John Frew Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes Vol. 43, (1980), pp. 174-185' (abstract)
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