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Henry, Robert

HENRY, ROBERT (1718-1790), British historian, was the son of James Henry, a farmer of Muirton, near Stirling. Born on the 18th of February 1718 he was educated at the parish school of St Ninians, and at the grammar school of Stirling, and, after completing his course at Edinburgh University, became master of the grammar school at Annan. In 1746 he was licensed to preach, and in 1748 was chosen minister of a Presbyterian-congregation at Carlisle, where he remained until 1760, when he removed to a similar charge at Berwick-on-Tweed. In 1768 he became minister of the New Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh, and having received the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University in 1771, and served as moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland in 1774, he was appointed one of the ministers of the Old Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh, in 1776, remaining in this charge until his death on the 24th of November 1 790. During his residence in Berwick, Henry commenced his History of Great Britain, written on a new plan; but, owing to the difficulty of consulting the original authorities, he did not make much progress with the work until his removal to Edinburgh in 1768. The first five volumes appeared between 1771 and 1785, and the sixth, edited and completed by Malcolm Laing, was published three years after the author's death. A life of Henry was prefixed to this volume. The History covers the years between the Roman invasion and the death of Henry VIII., and the " new plan " is the combination of an account of the domestic life and commercial and social progress of the people with the narrative of the political events of each period. The work was virulently assailed by Dr Gilbert Stuart (1742-1786), who appeared anxious to damage the sale of the book; but the injury thus effected was only slight, as Henry received 3300 for the volumes published during his lifetime. In 1781, through the influence of the earl of Mansfield, he obtained a pension of 100 a year from the British government.

The History of Great Britain has been translated into French, and has passed into several English editions. An account of Stuart's attack on Henry is given in Isaac D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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