Gutch, John (1746-1831) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Gutch, John (1746-1831)

by Morgan George Watkins
Contains subarticle on his 2nd son Robert Gutch

GUTCH, JOHN (1746–1831), antiquary and divine, was son of John Gutch, gentleman, of Wells, where he was born 21 Jan. 1746. When nineteen years of age he matriculated at All Souls, Oxford. In 1766 he began 'looking after the museum,' and in the same year on 7 Nov. was appointed a clerk of his college. He became B.A. in 1767, M.A. in 1771, and in 1768 was ordained and took charge as curate of Wellow and Foxcote, near Bath. In 1770 he was appointed chaplain of All Souls, and became successively curate of Cumnor and Wootton, Berkshire, and rector of Waterstock, Oxfordshire, and of Kirkby, Lincolnshire. In 1778 he was made chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and became a notary public at Oxford in 1791, and registrar of the university in 1797. He married in 1775 Elizabeth Weller, by whom he had a large family, lived in Oxford, and was rector of St. Clement's in that city from 1795 to his death, 1 July 1831, at the age of eighty-five.

Seldom quitting home, and leaving behind him no correspondence, Gutch, besides being an active man of business in his generation, is best known to posterity by his books. His portrait faces the title-page of his 'Antiquities of the University,' and was reproduced in the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' He gave the pictures of Philip II (husband of Queen Mary) and of Edmund Gibson, bishop of London (a, three-quarter length, with his 'Pastoral Epistles' in his hand), to the Bodleian picture gallery. In 1824, on his resignation of the registrarship, the university granted him an annuity of 200l. per annum. The Rev. P. Bliss succeeded him in this office, but Gutch retained to his death the registrarship of the chancellor's court. In 1819 he was presented by All Souls' College with a silver inkstand bearing his own and the arms of the college. He was the oldest resident member of the university at his death. Gutch was of small stature, courteous and suave in manner and of a gentle disposition, somewhat negligent in looking after his own money matters, and ever ready to help antiquaries. There are inscriptions to his memory both in the churchyard of St. Peter's-in-the-East and in St. Clement's at Oxford.

Gutch's works are: 1. 'Collectanea Curiosa, or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to the History and Antiquities of England and Ireland, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and a variety of other Subjects, chiefly collected and now first published from the MSS. of Archbishop Sancroft, given to the Bodleian Library by the late Bishop Tanner,' 2 vols. 1781, dedicated to the warden and fellows of All Souls. It was published by subscription, and 750 subscribed. James (Letters, p. 191) speaks of the offence the publication of this book gave in Oxford by its proposals to reform the universities by eliminating the Jacobite principles which were at that time so common in them, and especially by limiting the tenure of fellowships to twenty years, in order to obviate their holders being (overrun with the spleen and becoming sottish.'

2. 'The History and Antiquities of the Colleges and Halls in the University of Oxford,' l vol. 1786. 3. 'Fasti Oxonienses, or a Commentary on the Supreme Magistrates of the University,' 1790. 4. 'The History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford, in two Books by Anty. à Wood,' 2 vols. in three parts, 1792-6. The last volume is dedicated to Richard Gough. These three works represent Anthony à Wood's version of his 'History of Oxford,' which the university had purchased from him in 1670 for 100l. By the orders of Dr. Fell, Richard Peers, student of Christ Church, and Richard Reeves, master of Magdalen College School, translated the work into Latin. Fell, who published it at his own expense, revised the translation and made alterations and additions of his own (1674). Wood, much displeased, set to work to rewrite his history in English, and to add much information. At his death he bequeathed it in two massive folio volumes to the Ashmolean Library, whence it was transferred to the university archives, and in 1860 was placed in the Bodleian. Thomas Warton, poetry professor, urged Gutch to publish it, and the last three works were the result. Gutch not only fulfilled his work as an editor with excellent judgment and scrupulous accuracy, but also by copious additions brought several sections of the treatise up to his own date. To the first volume of the 'History and Antiquities' he prefixed a catalogue of Wood's manuscripts, which is still the best extant.

Gutch had kept a diary from the time of his going up to Oxford in 1765. His personal habits are curiously illustrated by it. He was fond of riding and even hunting. He was an angler, too, and at one time of his life kept bees. Shooting, visiting races, skating, and the like appear among the earlier entries, but his regular clerical work and antiquarian tastes gave him plenty of happy employment in his middle and later years.

Gutch had five sons (Gent. Mag. 1862, ii. 684); the eldest, John Mathew, is noticed separately; Robert, the second, born at Oxford 25 Aug. 1777, was educated at Christ's Hospital; became fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1802 (B.A. 1801, M.A. 1804). In 1809 he was presented to the college living of Seagrave, Leicestershire, which he held till his death on 8 Oct. 1851, He married in 1810 Mary Anne, daughter of John James, rector of Arthuret, Cumberland; one of his daughters married Mr. E.A. Freeman, the historian. Besides several sermons, he published in 1836 (anonymously) a satirical tract on a pretended Roman catholic miracle, entitled 'Special Pleadings in the Court of Reason and Conscience at the Trial of W. O. Woolfrey and others for Conspiracy' (ib. 1851, ii. 549).

[Gent. Mag. 1831, vol. ci. pt. ii. pp. 91, 201; Letters of Radcliffe and James (Oxford Hist. Soc. 1887), p. 190; Nichols's Literary Illustrations, iii. 402 (ed. 1818), v. 552, 555; Wood's Antiquities of the University, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 980; manuscript extracts from Gutch's Diary; information kindly supplied by Miss Jane Gutch and the Rev. Andrew Clark of Lincoln College, Oxford.]

M. G. W.