Kitchiner, William (DNB00)

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KITCHINER, WILLIAM, M.D. (1775?–1827), miscellaneous writer, was probably born at Beaufort Buildings, Strand, London, in 1775. His father, William Kitchiner, came to London from Hertfordshire, and began life as a porter at a coal wharf. By trading as a coal merchant he eventually realised a fortune of about 2,000l. a year. As a justice of the peace for Westminster he occasionally sat at Bow Street court-house. He died at Beaufort Buildings, Strand, London, on 19 July 1794, and was buried in a vault at St. Clement Danes Church. By a first wife he had a daughter, by a second an only son (Gent. Mag. July 1794, p. 678). The son was educated at Eton, and obtained the degree of M.D. from Glasgow. He therefore could not practise in London; but having inherited a handsome competence from his father he was independent of his profession, devoted himself to science, and showed hospitality to a circle of friends distinguished for genius and learning.

Though always an epicure, he was regular and even abstemious in his habits. Convinced that the health depends to a great extent on the proper preparation of the food, he experimented in cookery in his own house, being aided in his work by Henry Osborne, who was cook to Sir Joseph Banks. He soon attained to a considerable culinary skill. His lunches, to which only a few were admitted, were far famed. His dinners were conducted with much ceremony, and no guest was admitted after the hour fixed. On Tuesday evenings he held conversaziones from seven to eleven. Among the most frequent guests at these gatherings were Charles Kemble and Kitchiner's most intimate friend, Dr. John Haslam [q. v.] His gastronomic experience he embodied in a work entitled ‘Apicius Redivivus, or the Cook's Oracle,’ which not only treated of delicacies, but also gave instructions in economical housekeeping. He likewise studied optics, and wrote ‘An Essay on the size best adapted for Achromatic Glasses, with Hints to Opticians and Amateurs of Astronomical Studies on the construction and use of Telescopes’ (Phil. Mag. 1815, xlvi. 122–9). He had a taste for music, played and sang with considerable feeling, and collected with care a library of manuscript and printed music. On 26 Feb. 1827 he dined with his friend John Braham at 69 Baker Street. On returning to his residence, 43 Warren Street, Fitzroy Square, he was attacked with spasms of the heart, and died early on the morning of 27 Feb. He was buried in the church of St. Clement Danes. On 2 Aug. 1799 he married Miss Oram; by her he had no children, and a separation took place. A natural son, who was educated at Cambridge, inherited the bulk of his property.

Kitchiner's writings are: 1. ‘A Companion to the Telescope,’ 1811. 2. ‘Practical Observations on Telescopes, Opera-glasses, and Spectacles,’ 1815; 3rd edit. 1818. 3. ‘Apicius Redivivus, or the Cook's Oracle, being six hundred receipts, the result of actual experiments instituted in the kitchen of a physician, comprising a culinary code for the rational epicure,’ 1817. The 3rd edition is entitled ‘The Cook's Oracle;’ 7th edit. 1827. 4. ‘Peptic Precepts to prevent and relieve Indigestion,’ 1821. 5. ‘Observations on Vocal Music and Singing,’ 1821. 6. ‘The Pleasure of Making a Will,’ 1822. 7. ‘The Art of Invigorating and Prolonging Life by Food, Clothes, Air, Exercise, Wine, Sleep,’ &c., 1822, four editions. 8. ‘Loyal, National, and Sea Songs of England. Selected from original manuscripts and early printed copies in the library of W. Kitchiner,’ 1822. Reprinted in ‘Songs of the late Charles Dibdin,’ 1850, App. pp. 275–314. 9. ‘A brief Memoir of Charles Dibdin, with some Documents supplied by Mrs. Lovat Ashe,’ 1823. 10. ‘The Economy of the Eyes, Precepts for the Improvement and Preservation of the Sight, and what Spectacles are best calculated for the Eyes, and an Account of the Pancratic Magnifier.’ Part ii., ‘Of Telescopes; being the result of thirty years' experience with fifty-one Telescopes in the possession of W. Kitchiner,’ 1824–5. 11. ‘The Housekeeper's Ledger; a Plan of keeping Accounts of the Expenses of Housekeeping. To which is added Tom Thrift's Essay on the Pleasure of Early Rising,’ 1825. 12. ‘The Traveller's Oracle, or Maxims for Locomotion,’ 1827. 13. ‘The Horse and Carriage Keeper's Oracle. By John Jervis. Revised by W. Kitchiner. Being Part 2 of the Traveller's Oracle,’ 1827. 14. ‘The Housekeeper's Oracle, containing a system of Carving, the Art of Managing Servants, and the Economist and Epicure's Calendar,’ 1829. 15. ‘The Shilling Kitchiner,’ 1861.

[Gent. Mag. 1799, pt. ii. Suppl. p. 1190, May 1827, pt. i. pp. 470–2; John Bull Mag. August 1824, pp. 52–5; Jerdan's Men I have Known, pp. 282–7; Hood's Whims and Oddities, 1826, pp. 26–32.]

G. C. B.