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To Pavillard he owed kindly and competent instruction and the formation of regular habits of study.
Edward, too, had independent means throughout his life.
He was the eldest and the only survivor of seven children, the rest dying in infancy.
This characteristic remained with him throughout his life.
His great work was composed without consulting other scholars and is impressed with the seal of his unique personality.
Gibbon’s grandfather, Edward, had made a considerable fortune and his father, also Edward, was able to live an easygoing life in society and Parliament.
He married Judith, a daughter of James Porten, whose family had originated in Germany.
She was well known as the wife of Jacques Necker, the French finance minister under Louis XVI.
During the next five years Gibbon read widely and considered many possible subjects for a historical composition.
Gibbon’s own childhood was a series of illnesses and more than once he nearly died.
Neglected by his mother, he owed his life to her sister, Catherine Porten, whom he also called “the mother of his mind,” and after his mother’s death in 1747 he was almost entirely in his aunt’s care.