Joseph Ritson, an English antiquary, born in Stockton, Oct. 2, 1752, died Sept. 23, 1803. He was a lawyer, but devoted himself chiefly to literary pursuits. His numerous writings are marked by great accuracy, honesty, and learning, and by their abusive spirit. His harshness led to controversies, in which he seems to have been constantly engaged until his death. An " Essay upon Abstinence from Animal Food as a Moral Duty" was fiercely attacked by the " Edinburgh Review " (April, 1803), in an article written by Sydney Smith and Lord Brougham. Ritson's chief works are: "Remarks Critical and Illustrative on the Text of the last Edition of Shakspeare" (1783), an attack upon Johnson and Steevens; "A Select Collection of English Songs" (3 vols. 8vo, 1783; 2d ed., 1813); "Ancient Songs from the time of King Henry III. to the Revolution" (1790; 2d ed., 1829); "The English Anthology" (3 vols., 1793-'4); "A Collection of Scottish Songs, with the Original Music" (2 vols., 1794; new ed., 18mo, 1866); "Robin Hood, a Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads now extant relating to that Outlaw" (2 vols., 1795; 3d ed., 1858); "Ancient English Metrical Romances, with Dissertation and Glossary" (3 vols., 1802); "Bibliographia Poetica," an account of English poets from the 12th to the 16th century, never completed, but forming a treasury from which many others have drawn. - See "Letters of Joseph Ritson, Esq., with a Memoir," by Sir Harris Nicolas (2 vols., 1833).