Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wynne, John Huddlestone

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WYNNE, JOHN HUDDLESTONE (1743–1788), miscellaneous writer, born in 1743, was the son by his first wife of Edward Wynne, an officer in the customs, of Welsh extraction, who lived at Southampton. His uncle, Richard Wynne (1719–1799), rector of St. Alphage, London Wall (1762–99), and afterwards of Ayott St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, was the author of ‘Essays on Education’ (London, 1761, 4to) and several small manuals of accidence and geography, besides an annotated edition of the New Testament (London, 1764, 2 vols. 8vo).

John was sent to St. Paul's school, and looked forward to a liberal profession, but after his mother's death he was in 1756 apprenticed by his father to a printer. In 1759 he obtained a small appointment in the East India Company's service, but he returned from India in 1761, and recommenced writing for the periodicals of the day, a practice which he had begun while still a printer's apprentice. A bookseller named Wheble entrusted him with the editorship of the ‘Lady's Magazine.’ Goldsmith is said to have recommended him to write a history of Ireland, which duly appeared in 1772. For some months he edited the ‘Gazetteer,’ and he was employed latterly as a compositor on the ‘General Evening Post,’ for which he also stipulated to contribute ‘a short article of poetry every day,’ a contract which he frequently performed under trying circumstances. His son states that he was a fluent speaker at the Coachmakers' Hall and other debating societies in defence of the government of Lord North. The same authority admits that it was ‘impossible for a man of his ardent imagination to avoid on every occasion sacrificing too freely at the shrine of Bacchus.’ On one of these occasions he was run over by a hackney carriage, and was lame for the remaining ten years of his life. Some of the eccentricities which he developed are said to have been due to three promises he made to his mother on her deathbed—that he would ‘shun horses, and never go into a boat or a belfry.’ He died in St. Bartholomew's Hospital on 2 Dec. 1788; he was survived but a few days by his wife whom he married in 1770, and by whom he left three children wholly unprovided for.

Wynne's numerous writings for the booksellers include: 1. ‘A General History of the British Empire in America,’ London, 1770, 2 vols. 8vo. The second volume deals exclusively with the French war (1756–63), together with some account of the West Indies. His own historical judgment seems sound, but as a compilation the work is contemptible (cf. Monthly Rev. 1771, ii. 387, 432). 2. ‘The Prostitute: a Poem,’ 1771, 4to. 3. ‘General History of Ireland from the Earliest Accounts to the Death of King William III,’ 1772, 2 vols. 8vo; also 1773 and 1774. A very florid dedication is addressed to the Duke of Northumberland. The work is of small value (cf. ib. 1773, i. 469). 4. ‘Choice Emblems … written for the Amusement of Lord Newbattle,’ 1772, 12mo (including ‘Great Allowance for the Governesses of Young Ladies' Boarding Schools’). 5. ‘The Four Seasons: a Poem,’ 1773, 4to. Four cantos inspired apparently by a desire to see Thomson in rhyme; but Wynne's own rhymes are very bad. 6. ‘Evelina: a Poem,’ 1773, 4to. Dedicated to Sir Thomas Wynn, bart.; the characters include Caradoc (Evelina's father), Queen Cartismandua, and Vortigern. 7. ‘Fables of Flowers for the Female Sex, with Zephyrus and Flora: a Vision,’ 1773, 12mo. 8. ‘The Child of Chance; or the Adventures of Harry Hazard,’ 1786, 2 vols. 8vo. 9. ‘Tales for Youth in Thirty Poems, by the Author of “Choice Emblems”’ (with woodcuts by Bewick), 1794, 12mo (several editions).

[Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, i. 151 (a candid memoir by Wynne's son); Gent. Mag. 1788, ii. 1129; European Mag. September 1804; Timperley's Cyclopædia, p. 763; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anonymous and Pseudonymous Lit. pp. 373, 2539; Reuss's Register of Living Authors, 1770–90, p. 456; Dibdin's Library Companion, p. 476; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual, p. 3006; Brit. Mus. Cat. In Chambers's Worcestershire Worthies the author is absurdly stated to have been the son of John Wynne [q. v.], bishop of St. Asaph. For Richard Wynne, see Gent. Mag. 1799, ii. 629; Grad. Cantabr.; Hennessy's Novum Repertorium Ecclesiast. pp. lx, 87.]

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