Hutchinson, William (1732-1814) (DNB00)

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HUTCHINSON, WILLIAM (1732–1814), topographer, born in 1732, practised as a solicitor at Barnard Castle, Durham. He devoted his leisure to literary and antiquarian pursuits. In all his undertakings, but more especially in his 'History of Durham,' he received the most friendly assistance from George Allan (1736–1800) [q. v.]. He was elected F.S.A. on 15 Feb. 1781 ([Gough's] Chronological List, 1798, p. 34), and communicated in November 1788 an 'Account of Antiquities in Lancashire' (Archæologia, ix. 211-18). Hutchinson died on 7 April 1814, having survived his wife only two or three days. He left three daughters and a son. A portrait of Hutchinson on the same plate with that of his friend George Allan forms the frontispiece to vol. viii. of Nichols's 'Literary Anecdotes.'

In 1785 Hutchinson published the first volume of his valuable 'History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham,' 4to, Newcastle, founded almost entirely on Allan's manuscript collections; the second volume appeared in 1787, and the third in 1794. His work was carried on while he was prosecuting a lawsuit with the publisher and with the certain prospect of a considerable loss. Being unable to find purchasers for the thousand copies which he printed, he disposed of four hundred for a trifling sum to John Nichols, the publisher, two hundred of which were converted into waste paper, and most of the remainder were consumed by fire in February 1808. Another edition was issued at Durham in 1823 in 3 vols. 4to, revised from the author's corrected copy.

Hutchinson's other topographical works are: 1. 'An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, August 1773' [anon.], 8vo, 1774. 2. 'An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, with a Tour through part of the Northern Counties in 1773 and 1774,' 8vo, London, 1776. 3. 'A View of Northumberland, with an Excursion to the Abbey of Mailross in Scotland,' 2 vols. 4to, Newcastle, 1776-8. 4. 'The History of the County of Cumberland, and some places adjacent' 2 vols. 4to, Carlisle, 1794. He also edited anonymously T. Randal's 'State of the Churches under the Archdeaconry of Northumberland, and in Hexham Peculiar Jurisdiction' 4to (1779?).

In 1788, in a single week, he composed a tragedy called 'Pygmalion, King of Tyre,' and soon afterwards another named 'The Tyrant of Orixa.' Both plays were submitted to Harris, the manager of Covent Garden, but neither was acted or printed. A third play written by him, entitled' The Princess of Zanfara,' after being rejected by Harris, was printed anonymously in 1792, and frequently performed at provincial theatres.

His other writings are:

  1. 'The Hermitage; a British Story,' 1772.
  2. 'The Doubtful Marriage; a Narrative drawn from Characters in Real Life,' 3 vols. 12mo, 1775 (another edit., 1792).
  3. 'The Spirit of Masonry, in Moral and Elucidatory Lectures,' 8vo, London, 1775 (other edits., 1796, 1802, and 1843, with notes by G. Oliver).
  4. 'A Week in a Cottage; a Pastoral Tale,' 1776.
  5. A 'Romance' after the manner of the 'Castle of Otranto.'
  6. 'An Oration at the Dedication of Free Mason's Hall in Sunderland on the 16th July 1778.'

In 1776 he edited a volume of 'Poetical Remains' by his brother Robert, who had died in November 1773. It was printed at George Allan's private press at Darlington, whence also issued many of Hutchinson's 'Addresses' to his subscribers, and some trifling local brochures.

He left in manuscript 'The Pilgrim of the Valley of Hecass; a Tale,' and a volume of Letters addressed to the Minister, 1798, by, Freeholder North of Trent.' He had also prepared a copy of his 'History of Durham,' corrected for a second edition, and a 'Poetical Sketch' of his own life.

[Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. i. 421; Gent. Mag. xxxiv. i. 515-16; Surtees's Durham, vol i., Introduction, p.8; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn), vi. (App.) pp.202, 209, 214.]

G. G.