Whittaker, John William (DNB00)

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WHITTAKER, JOHN WILLIAM (1790?–1854), divine, son of William Whittaker of Bradford, Yorkshire, by his wife, Sarah Buck, was born at Manchester about 1790, and educated at Bradford grammar school and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he was admitted a pensioner on 31 March 1810. He was thirteenth wrangler in 1814, when he was admitted to a Beresford fellowship of his college and took his B.A. degree. He proceeded M.A. in 1817, B.D. in 1824, and D.D. in 1830. In 1819 he was a candidate for the professorship of Arabic at Cambridge, and about the same time was appointed examining chaplain to Charles Manners-Sutton [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, who presented him to the important vicarage of Blackburn, Lancashire, in February 1822. He was nominated honorary canon of Manchester in 1852. During his vicariate of Blackburn the parish church was rebuilt and twelve new churches in various parts of the old parish were erected.

His learning was wide, and he kept up to the end his reading in philology, geology, and astronomy. His interest in the last-named subject led him to assist in the formation of the Royal Astronomical Society. One of his unfulfilled projects was a work on the nebular hypothesis and geological time. He died at Blackburn vicarage on 3 Aug. 1854. On 20 June 1825 he married Mary Haughton, eldest daughter of William Feilden (afterwards created a baronet) of Feniscowles, by whom he left nine children.

He wrote: 1. ‘An Historical and Critical Inquiry into the Interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, with Remarks on Mr. Bellamy's New Translation,’ Cambridge, 1819, and Supplement, 1820. It was this work that brought the author under the notice of the archbishop, and marked him out for promotion. It was reviewed in the ‘Quarterly Review,’ xxiii. 291, and by Robert Nares [q. v.] in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1819, ii. 340. 2. ‘Justification by Faith: a Course of Lectures preached before the University of Cambridge,’ 1825. 3. ‘The Catholic Church: five Sermons on the Commemoration of the Reformation,’ 1836. 4. ‘A Series of Letters to the Rev. Nicholas Wiseman on the Contents of his late Publications,’ 2 parts, 1836–1837. 5. ‘Motives to the Study of Biblical Literature,’ 1839. 6. ‘A Treatise on the Church of Christ,’ 1842. 7. ‘Letters to William Eccles of Blackburn on the Voluntary System,’ 2 vols. 1844. He also published several single sermons, including one preached to the chartists at Blackburn church in 1839, of which a great number were circulated, and he contributed a paper on ‘Ancient Etymologies, especially Celtic,’ to the British Archæological Association, 1850, besides articles to periodicals.

[Gent. Mag. 1854, ii. 396; Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Soc. xv. 119; Baines's Lancashire, ed. Croston, iv. 11; Brit. Museum and Dublin Univ. Library Catalogues; information kindly supplied by Mr. R. F. Scott, bursar of St. John's Coll. Cambridge.]

C. W. S.