Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Woty, William

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WOTY, WILLIAM (1731?–1791), versifier, was possibly a native of the Isle of Wight, and among his poems is an elegy on his schoolmaster, who lived near Alton in Hampshire. He came to London as a clerk or writer to a solicitor, and soon began speaking in the debating societies and contributing small poems to the newspapers. Some one ‘published clandestinely in 1758, without his consent, in a borrowed name,’ a small piece of his composition called ‘The Spouting-club.’ He himself issued in 1760, under the pseudonym of ‘J. Copywell of Lincoln's Inn,’ a volume entitled ‘The Shrubs of Parnassus,’ consisting of the ‘poetical essays, moral and comic,’ which he had contributed to the newspapers, and after its appearance he subsisted for some years as a Grub-street writer. About 1767 he became companion and adviser in legal matters to Washington, earl Ferrers, who created for his benefit a rent-charge of 150l. per annum on the family estate in Leicestershire. In his intervals of leisure Woty continued throughout his life the production of small poetical pieces. The subjects of many poems in the ‘Shrubs of Parnassus’ testify to his devotion to the pleasures of the table. He died at Loughborough on 15 March 1791, aged about sixty.

Woty's other works included: 1. ‘Campanologia: a Poem in praise of Ringing’ [anon.], 1761. 2. ‘Muses' Advice addressed to the Poets of the Age,’ 1761 (cf. Monthly Review, xxv. pp. 478–9). 3. ‘The Blossoms of Helicon,’ 1763. It contained, with a hymn to good nature by Dr. Dodd, an amusing description by Woty of White Conduit House. These lines, which made their first appearance in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for 1760 (p. 242), are quoted at length in Thornbury's ‘Old and New London’ (ii. 280) and in Wroth's ‘London Pleasure Gardens’ (pp. 132–3). 4. ‘The Poetical Calendar,’ a supplement to Dodsley's collection, 1763; twelve volumes, one for each month in that year. They were edited by Woty and Francis Fawkes [q. v.] 5. ‘Church Langton:’ a poem, n.d. [1768?], in praise of the charitable projects of the Rev. William Hanbury [q. v.] 6. ‘The Female Advocate:’ a poem, 1770, 2nd edit. 1771. 7. ‘Poetical Works,’ 1770, 2 vols.; dedicated to Washington, earl Ferrers. 8. ‘The Stage,’ n.d. [1770?]. 9. ‘Particular Providence:’ a poetical essay, 1774. 10. ‘The Estate Orators: a Town Eclogue’ [anon.], 1774; a satire on the London auctioneers. 11. ‘Poems on several Occasions,’ 1780; this contained reprints of several of his works. 12. ‘Fugitive and Original Poems,’ 1786, contains ‘The Country Gentleman: a Drama.’ 13. ‘Poetical Amusements,’ 1789, dedicated to Robert, earl Ferrers. It contained a Latin version of Gray's elegy; ‘Sunday Schools: a Poetical Dialogue between a Nobleman and his Chaplain;’ and ‘The Ambitious Widow: a Comic Entertainment.’

[Gent. Mag. 1791, i. 285, 379; Baker's Biogr. Dramatica (1812 edit.), i. 760, ii. 24, 135; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. ii. 479, 498; Works of Woty; Nichols's Leicestershire, III. ii. 917, 1142.]

W. P. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.285
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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63 i 19f.e. Woty, William: omit in chancery