1747–1822

January 15, 1747, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, England.

December 7, 1822, Stoke Newington, London, England.

St. Mary’s churchyard, Stoke Newington, London, England.

portrait

John was the son of John Ai­kin, a dissenting minister, and brother of hymnist An­na Bar­bauld.

He received his elementary education at the Nonconformist academy at War­ring­ton, where his father was a tutor. He studied medicine at the University of Ed­in­burgh, and in Lon­don under Dr. Will­iam Hun­ter. He practiced as a surgeon at Ches­ter and War­ring­ton. Finally, he went to Lei­den, Hol­land, earned an M.D. (1780), and in 1784 established himself as a doctor in Great Yar­mouth.

In 1792, one of his pamphlets having given offense, he moved to Lon­don, where he practiced as a consulting physician. However, he concerned himself more with the advocacy of liberty of conscience than with medicine, and he began at an early period to devote himself to literary pursuits, to which his contributions were incessant. When Richard Phil­lips founded The Monthly Magazine in 1796, Aikin was its first editor. In conjunction with his sister An­na, he published a popular series of volumes titled Evenings at Home (six volumes, 1792–95), for elementary family reading, which were translated into almost every Eur­o­pe­an language. He also edited the General Biographical Dictionary.

From 1798 till the time of his death, Ai­kin lived at Stoke New­ing­ton.

  1. While Sounds of War Are Heard Around