Joseph Ritson, FSA
Person Male Born 2/10/1752 Died 23/9/1803
Literary antiquarian. Born Co. Durham. Trained as a lawyer and from 1780 had chambers in Gray's Inn where he specialised in conveyancing.
Odd in a number of ways: aged 20 converted to vegetarianism after reading Bernard de Mandeville's "The Fable of the Bees", 2 years later he lost a wife (married in Newcastle and then moved to London without her and never mentioned her again), used an unusual and erratic phonic spelling system.
His criticism of other writers' literary analysis was often vicious and personal but he also exposed a number of forgeries. His final years were troubled with financial difficulties and madness. He locked himself in his Gray's Inn chambers, burnt manuscripts and threatened visitors with violence, telling them he was "writing a pamphlet proving Jesus Christ an impostor". He was removed by force and taken to the home of Sir Jonathan Miles at Hoxton, where he died 2 weeks later. Buried in Bunhill burial ground.