Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wotton, Thomas

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WOTTON, THOMAS (d. 1766), compiler of the ‘Baronetage,’ was the son of Matthew Wotton, who kept a bookshop at the Three Daggers and Queen's Head, near St. Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street. According to John Dunton [q. v.], the elder Wotton was ‘a very courteous, obliging man’ of the highest character, whose trade ‘lay much among the lawyers.’ Thomas Wotton succeeded to his father's business and carried it on for many years, but retired some time before his death. He was warden of the Stationers' Company in 1754 and master in 1757. Among the works published by him were Rushworth's ‘Historical Collections’ and editions of the works of Bacon and Selden. In 1727 he issued in three small (16mo) volumes his ‘English Baronetage. Being a Genealogical and Historical Account of their Families.’ It is dedicated to Holland Egerton of Heaton, Lancashire, son of Sir John, baronet, of Wrine Hall, Staffordshire. William Holman [q. v.] of Halstead, Essex, and Thornhaugh Gurdon [q. v.] of Norfolk had also placed their collections at his disposal; and great assistance had been given byArthur Collins [q. v.], who himself published a baronetage in 1720. The work is divided into five sections, containing respectively an account of the institution of the order by James I, the descents, creations, successions, and public employments of the baronets; correct lists of existing and extinct baronets, exact tables of precedence, and an account of the institution of the order in Nova Scotia and Ireland. An explanatory index of terms in heraldry is appended. In 1741 Wotton published in five octavo volumes a revised and enlarged edition, which is usually erroneously attributed to Collins. In it were incorporated the manuscript notes furnished by Robert Smyth, who had published a volume of corrections and additions. Peter Le Neve [q. v.], who published three folio volumes on the same subject, also rendered valuable assistance to Wotton in preparing this edition. Letters, notes, and pedigrees furnished to Wotton for his ‘Baronetage’ are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 24114–21.

In 1771, after Wotton's death, a further edition of the ‘Baronetage’ was issued in three volumes, under the editorship of Richard Johnson and Edward Kimber [q. v.] The copy in the British Museum has manuscript notes by Francis Hargrave. The arrangement of each edition is chronological. Wotton died at Point Pleasant, Surrey, on 1 April 1766.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 62, iii. 440, 441 nn. 602, v. 48, 49 n.; Gent. Mag. 1766, p. 199; Dunton's Life and Errors, 1818, i. 210; Allibone's Dict. Engl. Lit.; Wotton's Baronetages; art. Collins, Arthur.]

G. Le G. N.