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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dobson, William (1820-1884)

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DOBSON, WILLIAM (1820–1884), journalist and antiquary, came of a family of agriculturists seated at Tarleton in Lancashire. His father was Lawrence Dobson, a stationer and part proprietor with Isaac Wilcockson of the ‘Preston Chronicle.’ He was born at Preston in 1820, and educated at the grammar school of that town. He afterwards engaged in the various branches of newspaper work. On the retirement of Wilcockson he acquired a partnership interest in the ‘Chronicle,’ and was for some years the editor. His career as a journalist came practically to an end in March 1868, when the proprietorship of the ‘Chronicle’ was transferred to Anthony Hewitson. He continued, however, along with his brother, to carry on the stationery business in Fishergate. In August 1866 he first entered the town council, with the especial object of opening up more fully for the public the advantages of Dr. Shepherd's library. He remained in the town council until November 1872, and subsequently sat from 1874 to November 1883. Dobson, who was a member of the Chetham Society, possessed an extensive knowledge of local history and antiquities. He was the author of:

  1. ‘History of the Parliamentary Representation of Preston during the last Hundred Years,’ 8vo, Preston, 1856 (second edition), 12mo, Preston [printed], London, 1868.
  2. ‘Preston in the Olden Time; or, Illustrations of the Manners and Customs in Preston in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. A Lecture,’ 12mo, Preston, 1857.
  3. ‘An Account of the Celebration of Preston Guild in 1862,’ 12mo, Preston [1862].
  4. ‘Rambles by the Ribble,’ 3 series, 8vo, Preston, 1864–83, 3rd edition, 8vo, Preston, 1877, &c.
  5. ‘The Story of our Town Hall,’ 8vo, Preston, 1879.

His other writings were: ‘A Memoir of John Gornall,’ ‘A Memoir of Richard Palmer, formerly Town Clerk of Preston,’ ‘The Story of Proud Preston,’ ‘A History and Description of the Ancient Houses in the Market Place, Preston,’ ‘A History of Lancashire Signboards,’ and a useful work on ‘The Preston Municipal Elections from 1835 to 1862.’ He also published ‘Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Peter Walkden, Nonconformist Minister, for the years 1725, 1729, and 1730, with Notes,’ 12mo, Preston [printed], London, 1866, an interesting scrap of local biography, and joined John Harland, F.S.A., of Manchester, in writing ‘A History of Preston Guild; the Ordinances of various Guilds Merchant, the Custumal of Preston, the Charters to the Borough, the Incorporated Companies, List of Mayors from 1327,’ &c., 12mo, Preston [1862], followed by two other editions. Dobson died on 8 Aug. 1884, aged 64, at Churton Road, Chester, and was buried on the 11th in Chester cemetery.

[Preston Guardian, 13 Aug. 1884, p. 4, col. 4; Preston Chronicle, 16 Aug. 1884, p. 5, col. 6; Palatine Note-book, iv. 180; Athenæum, 16 Aug. 1884, p. 210; Sutton's List of Lancashire Authors, p. 31; Fishwick's Lancashire Library, pp. 164, 165, 166, 170, 237.]

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