Born at Islington, son of E. J. Hartland, a Congregational minister. No particulars of his education are recorded. On 13 August 1873, he married Mary Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Price Morgan, vicar of Llansamlet, Glamorganshire.
Hartland came from Bristol to Swansea, and practised as a solicitor there from 1871 to 1890; in the latter year he was appointed county court and district registrar at Gloucester, subsequently becoming district probate registrar as well. Both at Swansea and at Gloucester he took a prominent part in local government, especially in matters of education. He was mayor of Gloucester in 1902.
The whole of his leisure was devoted to the study of anthropology and folklore, and he was a prominent member of the company of ardent spirits, who founded a science that had then not yet been professionalized. The record of his publications is referred to below; but among his more important works were: The Science of Fairy Tales, 1891; The Legend of Perseus, 3 vols., 1892-6; Primitive Paternity, 2 vols., 1910; Primitive Society, 1921; and Primitive Law, 1924. He was a constant attendant at congresses and meetings connected with his subject, received honorary degrees from the universities of S. Andrews and Wales (D.Litt., 1924), was president of the Folklore Society in 1899, delivered the first Fraser lecture in Oxford in 1922, and was awarded the Huxley medal in 1923. He died after a long illness on 19 June 1927, and left a widow, a son, and two daughters. His library and manuscripts were acquired by the National Library of Wales after his death.
Published date: 1959
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