Tattersall, William de Chair (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 55
Tattersall, William de Chair

by Charlotte Fell Smith

TATTERSALL, WILLIAM de CHAIR (1752–1829), editor of psalmodies, born in 1752, was second son of James Tattersall (d. 1784), by his first wife, Dorothy, daughter of William de Chair, rector of Risington, Gloucestershire. James was successively rector of Blatchington, Sussex (1742–6), of Charing, Kent (1746–55), curate of Egerton in the same county (1749–55), and rector of Streatham, Surrey (1755), as well as of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, until his death in 1784.

William was admitted in 1765 to Westminster school, where, as an actor in Terence's play, his performance of Phormio elicited Garrick's praise. He became a king's scholar, was elected to Christ Church, Oxford, in June 1770, graduated B.A. in 1774, M.A. in 1777, and was presented by his college in 1778 to the rectory of Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire. The same year his father presented him to the sinecure rectory of Westbourne, Sussex, where he spent the remainder of his life. He officiated as chaplain to Sir Francis Buller [q. v.], and in 1803 was appointed chaplain to the king.

After altering some of the metrical Psalms by James Merrick [q. v.] for the use of his own congregation, he published, with a valuable bibliographical and historical preface, ‘A Version or Paraphrase of the Psalms by J. Merrick, adapted to the Purposes of Devotion’ (1789, 12mo). This received such encouragement from George Horne [q. v.], bishop of Norwich, Richard Beadon [q. v.], bishop of Gloucester, and others, that Tattersall divided the Psalms into stanzas and republished the work (1797, 4to; 1801, 12mo; 1804, 12mo; 1822, 12mo). He then issued the first portion of an ‘Improved Psalmody’ (London, 1794, oblong 4to; reprinted London, 1802). This contained tunes adapted from Handel and the old masters, as well as many new ones contributed by leading composers and organists of the day.

Tattersall died at Westbourne on 26 March 1829. By his wife Mary (d. 1852), eldest daughter of George Ward of Wandsworth, Surrey, he left three sons and two daughters. The eldest son, James, physician to the Surrey dispensary, died on 8 May 1855.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. both series; Welch's Alumni Westmon. pp. 383, 391–2, 440, 449, 452, 549; Gent. Mag. 1829, ii. 88; Nichols's Lit. Illustr. v. 853, viii. 651; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Manning and Bray's Survey of Surrey, ii. 237, 248, 250, iii. 295; Hasted's Hist. of Kent, iii. 220, 223; Dallaway's Sussex, i. 105; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 117; Reuss's Reg. of Living Authors, ii. 374; Lit. Mem. of Living Authors, ii. 297; Holland's Psalmists of Great Brit. i. 171, ii. 34, 114, 151, 210; Addit. MS. 5697, f. 339.]

C. F. S.