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Edward Gibbon Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Edward Gibbon passes away in 1794.

Edward Gibbon was a British historian and politician.

Gibbon was born on May 8th, 1737 at Lime Grove in the town of Putney, Surrey, England. In his youth, he was a self described "puny child." He felt he was neglected by his mother and starved by his nurse. At nine he was sent to Kingston Upon Thames. Shortly after his mother passed away. After his mother's passing, he attended the Westminster School, a boarding school. The school was owned by his adored "Aunt Kitty" Catherine Porten. Gibbon bounded with Porten and many of his later opinions and political stances were influenced by her. Gibbon was sent to Magdalen College, Oxford where he enrolled as a gentlemen-commoner. He was not well suited for the college atmosphere and later would describe his time at the College as, "the most idle and unprofitable" of his life.

While at Oxford, Gibbon converted to Roman Catholicism for about a year and a half. It is believe that various deists of the time influenced Gibbon to convert. He converted back to Protestantism after his father threatened to disinherit him.

Gibbon was removed from Oxford when he converted to Catholicism and was sent to Switzerland to study under a pastor. After his return to England he joined the South Hampshire militia in 1759. His enlistment ended with the dispersal of his unit at the end of the seven years war. In 1761, Gibbon wrote and published his first book.

In 1770, Gibbon's father passed away. His father left him with some inheritance, enough to make him financially secure and to move into London, where he was part of the social scene. It was at this time that he began writing his most famous work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He worked on the book for almost seven years. At various times he was tempted to through it all away because of a lack of confidence in his writing. There would be a total of six volumes of the book.

Gibbon passed away on January 16th, 1794 from peritonitis after a surgery. Gibbon was called the "English giant of the Enlightenment."

Gibbon was a member of Lodge of Friendship No. 3, London, England.