Warburton, John (DNB00)

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WARBURTON, JOHN (1682–1759), herald and antiquary, born on 28 Feb. 1681–1682, was son of Benjamin Warburton of Bury, Lancashire, who married Mary, eldest daughter and, at length, heiress of Michael Buxton of Manchester and of Buxton in Derbyshire. His descent from Sir John Warburton (d. 1575), who married Mary, daughter of Sir William Brereton, is set out in Lansdowne MS. 911, f. 297. In early life John was an exciseman and then a supervisor, being stationed in 1718–19 at Bedale in Yorkshire. In 1719 he visited Ralph Thoresby at Leeds, and they journeyed together to York (Thoresby, Diary, ii. 264–266). He was admitted F.R.S. in March 1719, but was ejected on 9 June 1757 for nonpayment of his subscription. His election as F.S.A. took place on 13 Jan. 1719–1720, but he ceased to be a member before January 1754. On 18 June 1720 he was appointed to the office of Somerset herald in the College of Arms.

Warburton possessed great natural abilities, but had received little education. He was ignorant of Latin, and not skilled in composition in his native language. With his colleagues in the heralds' college he was always on bad terms, and many scandalous stories are told of him. He was an indefatigable collector, and he owned many rarities in print and in manuscript. After much drinking and attempting to ‘muddle’ Wanley, he sold in July 1720 to the Earl of Oxford many valuable manuscripts on Wanley's own terms. At a later date most of the rare Elizabethan and Jacobean plays in his possession were, through his own ‘carelessness and the ignorance’ of Betsy Baker, his servant, ‘unluckily burnd or put under pye bottoms.’ A list in his own handwriting of those destroyed, fifty-five in all, and of those preserved, three and a fragment, is in Lansdowne MS. 807. It is printed in the 1803 edition of Shakespeare by Steevens and Reed (ii. 371–2), and in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1815, ii. 217–22, 424). Warburton's copies of several of the works were unique, and the loss was thus irreparable.

Warburton died at his apartments in the College of Arms, Doctors' Commons, London, his usual place of residence, on 11 May 1759, and was buried in the south aisle of St. Benet's Church, Paul's Wharf, London, on 17 May. In spite of his greed for money, he died in poor circumstances. He left behind him an ‘amazing’ collection of books, manuscripts, and prints, which were sold by auction in 1766. Many of his topographical manuscripts are in the Lansdowne collection at the British Museum, numbered 886 to 923. The most valuable of them relate to Yorkshire, and among them are several which formerly belonged to Abraham de la Pryme [q. v.] His journal in 1718 and 1719, from MS. 911 in this collection, is printed in the ‘Yorkshire Archæological Journal’ (xv. 65 et seq.).

Warburton's first wife was Dorothy, daughter of Andrew Huddleston of Hutton John, Cumberland. They were not happy together, and they separated in 1716. He afterwards married a widow with children, and is said to have married her son, when a minor, to one of his daughters. By his second wife he had issue John Warburton, who married, in 1756, Anne Catherine, daughter of the Rev. Edward Mores, and only sister of Edward Rowe Mores [q. v.]; he resided at Dublin many years, and obtained in 1780 the place of pursuivant of the court of exchequer in Ireland. He may have been the J. Warburton, deputy-keeper of the records in Bermingham Tower, who began the ‘History of the City of Dublin,’ which was published in 1818 in two volumes. Samuel Warburton, ‘a retired English officer, 58 years of age,’ shot at Lyons in December 1793, was probably a nephew of the Somerset herald (Alger, Englishmen in French Revolution, p. 207).

Warburton published in 1716 from actual survey a map of Northumberland in four sheets, and during the next few years brought out similar maps of Yorkshire, Middlesex, Essex, and Hertfordshire. He announced that the map of Yorkshire was only for ‘persons of distinction and of public employ, and none to be sold but what are subscribed for’ (Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. iv. 128); and in 1722 he issued in four quarto pages ‘a list of the nobility and gentry’ of the three other counties ‘who had subscribed and ordered their coats-of-arms to be inscribed on a new map of these counties now making by John Warburton.’ On 8 Aug. 1728 he advertised that he kept a register of lands, houses, &c., to be bought, sold, or mortgaged. He brought out in 1749 a ‘Map of Middlesex’ in two sheets of imperial atlas, which came under the censure of John Anstis the younger. Warburton had given on the border of this map five hundred engraved arms, and the earl marshal, supposing many of them to be fictitious, ordered that no copies should be sold until the right to wear them had been proved. Warburton endeavoured to vindicate himself in ‘London and Middlesex illustrated by Names, Residence, Genealogy, and Coat-armour of the Nobility, Merchants, &c.’ (1749). In 1753 he published ‘Vallum Romanum, or the History and Antiquities of the Roman Wall in Cumberland and Northumberland,’ the survey and plan of which were made by him in 1715. William Hutton applauded him as ‘the judicious Warburton, whom I regard for his veracity’ (Roman Wall, ed. 1813, pref. p. xxvii). In this treatise Warburton claimed the credit of having resuscitated (by means of his map of Northumberland in 1716) the Society of Antiquaries. This claim disturbed the minds of many leading antiquaries (Minutes of Soc. vii. 98, 105; cf. art. Wanley, Humphrey).

John Nichols printed in 1779 in two volumes from the collections of Warburton and Ducarel ‘Some Account of the Alien Priories,’ but the compilers' names were not mentioned. This omission was rectified in many copies issued in 1786 with a new title-page. A mezzotint-portrait of Warburton in his herald's coat, by Vandergucht, was engraved by Andrew Miller in 1740.

[Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. ii. 59; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iii. 618, v. 405, 700–1, vi. 140–7, 391, 631, viii. 363, ix. 645; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. xii. 15; Thomson's Royal Soc. App. iv. p. xxxv; Noble's College of Arms, pp. 388–93; Gent. Mag. 1759, p. 242; Grose's Olio, pp. 158–160; Hasted's Kent, ii. 580; Smith's Portraits, ii. 938.]

W. P. C.