Conyers Middleton, an English clergyman, born in Richmond, Yorkshire, Dec. 27, 1683, died at Hildersham, Cambridgeshire. July 28, 1750. He graduated at Trinity college, Cambridge, in 1702, was ordained deacon, was elected a fellow of his college in 1706, and in 1708 signed the petition against Bentley, the master. This was the beginning of a controversy between them, long continued in the university and in the courts. Middleton being twice convicted of libel. The office of principal librarian of the university was created for him. In 1726 Middleton published an attack upon the medical profession, entitled De Medicorum apud Veteres Romanos degen-tium Conditione Dissertatio. In 1729 appeared his "Letter from Rome" (which he had visited in 1724), in which he attempted to show that "the religion of the present Romans was derived from their heathen ancestors." He also attacked the miracles of the Roman Catholic church in a way which awakened a suspicion of his disbelief in the miracles of the New Testament. A letter to Dr. Water-land published in 1731 gave still more serious offence to the clergy, and Middleton found it necessary to publicly avow his belief in Christianity. In 1735 he published "A Dissertation concerning the Origin of Printing in England," and in 1741 his most popular work, " The History of the Life of M. Tullius Cicero" (2 vols., London), from the profits of which he purchased a small estate at Hildersham, 6 m. from Cambridge, where he passed the rest of his days.
The "History" was followed by a translation of the correspondence of Cicero and Brutus, together with a defence of its authenticity (1743), and a "Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church from the Earliest Ages" (1749), which exposed him again to the charge of infidelity. In 1750 appeared his " Examination of the Bishop of London's [Dr. Sherlock's] Discourses concerning the Use and Intent of Prophecy." His works, with the exception of the " Life of Cicero," were collected and published in 1752, in 4 vols. 4to, and subsequently in 5 vols. 8vo.