Historians Reconsidered: J.H. Round

L.G. Pine assesses John Horace Round: to the chronicles of family history he brought the acumen and industry of a great historian.

In one sense it is very easy to place John Horace Round on the roll of great historians, provided it is understood that generalizations always need correction in detail. He was the first man to devote to the chronicles of family history the same formidable talents and critical acumen that such diverse historians as Hume, Gibbon, Macaulay, Tillemont, Mommsen, Ranke, Stubbs, Acton and Creighton had given to national, imperial and ecclesiastical history. Round began to write in 1879 and continued almost to his death in 1928. Before him, genealogy was regarded by even great historians as practically the preserve of the retired sea captain or army officer, or of the spinster aunt. Round delighted in pillorying some of the more grotesque and fanciful pedigrees in the Burke’s Peerage and Landed Gentry of his youth. The statements which appealed to the romantic sense of Sir Bernard Burke, however, can be paralleled again and again in our older historians.

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