Platts, John (DNB00)

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PLATTS, JOHN (1775–1837), unitarian divine and compiler, was born at Boston, Lincolnshire in 1775. For seven or eight years he officiated as a Calvinist minister there, but afterwards became a unitarian, and acted as a unitarian minister at Boston from 1805 to 1817. In 1817 he removed to Doncaster. Platts supplemented his small ministerial income by teaching and compiling educational works. He was also an ardent liberal politician, and was a humorous speaker. He died at Doncaster, after a long illness, on 19 June 1837. His widow died in 1851, leaving five daughters.

In 1825 Platts published five volumes of ‘A new Universal Biography,’ containing lives of eminent persons in all ages and countries, arranged in chronological order, with alphabetical index. This work, founded largely on Aikin and Chalmers, extended only to the end of the sixteenth century; the rest remained in manuscript. In 1827 appeared, in 4to, Platts's ‘New Self-interpreting Testament, containing many thousands of various Readings and Parallel Passages collected from the most approved Translators and Biblical Critics.’ In the preface the author claims to have combined the merits of Francis Fox [q. v.] and Clement Cruttwell [q. v.] The commentary is free from sectarian bias. Another edition, in 4 vols. 8vo, appeared in 1830.

Platts also published: 1. ‘Reflections on Materialism, Immaterialism, the Sleep of the Soul … and the Resurrection of the Body; being an Attempt to prove that the Resurrection commences at Death,’ Boston, 1813. 2. ‘Letter to a Young Man, on his renouncing the Christian Religion and becoming a Deist,’ 1820. 3. ‘The Literary and Scientific Class-book,’ &c., 1821, 12mo; a selection was published by L. W. Leonard in 1826. 4. ‘Elements of Ecclesiastical History’ [1821?] 5. ‘The Book of Curiosities; … with an Appendix of entertaining and amusing Experiments and Recreations’ (a few plates), 1822, 8vo; a seventh American edition appeared at Philadelphia in 1856. 6. ‘The Female Mentor, or Ladies' Class-book; being a new Selection of 365 Reading Lessons,’ &c., Derby, 1823, 8vo. 7. ‘A Dictionary of English Synonymes’ (for the use of schools), 1825, 12mo. 8. ‘The Manners and Customs of all Nations’ (engravings), 1827, 8vo.

[Information kindly supplied by the Rev. H. Thomas of Doncaster; Hatfield's Historical Notices of Doncaster; Christian Reformer, August 1837; Platts's works; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ix. 264; Allibone's Dict. Engl. Lit. ii. 1607; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.