Satchwell, Benjamin (DNB00)

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SATCHWELL, BENJAMIN (1732–1809), founder of the Leamington Spa Charity, born in 1732, was a self-taught shoemaker, working at the then obscure village of Leamington Priors, Warwickshire, where he lived all his life. He was a somewhat eccentric but energetic man, who used to settle all the village disputes. On 14 Jan. 1784 he discovered a saline spring—the second found at Leamington—on a piece of land belonging to his friend William Abbotts, who, with Satchwell, was chiefly instrumental in promoting the prosperity of the modern town of Leamington. Baths were opened by Abbotts in connection with the spring in 1786, and invalids began to resort to the place. In 1788 Satchwell established the first regular post office at Leamington. From time to time he described the Spa and its cures in the ‘Coventry Mercury’ and other provincial papers, and in his character of ‘the village rhymer’ kept poetical annals of the Spa, and saluted distinguished visitors with addresses. About 1794, when the builders and speculators came to Leamington, Satchwell took an active part in developing the place, being assisted with money by Mr. Walhouse, a clergyman of independent means. A row of houses built by Satchwell near the post office was called ‘Satchwell Place.’

In 1806 he instituted the Leamington Spa Charity, and became its treasurer and secretary. This charity provided for the accommodation of invalids of scanty means while sojourning at the Spa. No one was assisted, or allowed to stay more than a month, without a medical certificate. Satchwell died in 1809, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, and was buried in the churchyard of Leamington where a tomb was erected by his daughter, Miss Satchwell, postmistress of Leamington, and afterwards the wife of Mr. Hopton, the postmaster. Satchwell's son Thomas was appointed collector to the Spa charity on 8 April 1811.

Samuel Pratt's ‘Brief Account of the Progress and Patronage of the Leamington Spa Charity,’ published at Birmingham in 1812, contains views of Satchwell's cottage and tomb, and also a portrait etched from a sketch by O. Neil, showing Satchwell—a heavy-looking man with a massive head—seated at a table reading ‘Dugdale’ and filling a long clay pipe.

[Pratt's Brief Account, &c.; William Smith's County of Warwick, pp. 128 f.; Moncrieff's New Guide to the Spa of Leamington; Gent. Mag. 1812, ii. 358.]

W. W.