He was born in or near Market Bosworth, and was educated at the town grammar school under Anthony Blackwall, and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he was elected fellow in 1731. His eccentricities and frank speaking made him unpopular. His health broke down as a result of his sedentary life, and he took to bell-ringing at Great St Mary's as exercise. He was a bitter enemy of Richard Bentley, who he declared knew nothing of Greek except from indexes. In 1738 Dawes was appointed to the mastership of the grammar school, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, combined with that of St Mary's hospital. His mind seems to have become unhinged; his continual disputes with his governing body ruined the school, and in 1749, he resigned and retired to Heworth, where he spent most of his time boating.
The book on which Dawes' fame rests is his Miscellanea critica (1745), which gained the commendation of such distinguished continental scholars as LC Valckenaer and Johann Jakob Reiske. The Miscellanea, which was re-edited by T Burgess (1781), Gottlieb Christoph Harless (1800) and Thomas Kidd (1817), for many years enjoyed a high reputation, and although some of the "canons" have been proved untenable and few can be accepted universally, it will always remain an honourable and enduring monument of English scholarship.
See J Hodgson, An Account of the Life and Writings of Richard Dawes (1828); HR Luard in Dictionary of National Biography; John Edwin Sandys, Hist, of Classical Scholarship, ii. 415.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.