Whiston, John (DNB00)

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WHISTON, JOHN (d. 1780), bookseller, was the son of William Whiston [q. v.], and was probably born within five years of his father's marriage in 1699, though he is known to have been a younger son. He set up as a bookseller in Fleet Street, and enjoyed the coveted, though nominal, distinction of being one of the printers of the votes of the House of Commons. He was one of the earliest issuers of regular priced catalogues (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. iii. 668). In 1735 he bought and issued a priced catalogue of Edmund Chishull's library. Shortly after this date he seems to have been in ship with Benjamin White (d. 1794), but White subsequently withdrew and specialised in natural history and other costly illustrated books. In conjunction with White he issued in 1749 ‘Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr. William Whiston.’ His mother died in January 1751, and his father followed her in the year ensuing, whereupon in 1753 John Whiston issued a ‘corrected’ edition of the ‘Memoirs.’ His publishing trademark was ‘Boyle's Head.’ With Osborne, Strahan, and other bookseller-publishers, Whiston took a leading part in promoting the ‘New and General Biographical Dictionary,’ issued in twelve volumes at six shillings each during 1761–2. The British Museum possesses a copy with a large number of marginal notes and addenda written by Whiston. Other biographical memoranda of no great value were supplied by Whiston to John Nichols, and acknowledged by him in his ‘Literary Anecdotes.’ Whiston's shop was known as a meeting-place and house of call for men of letters, and a comic encounter is reported to have taken place there between Warburton and his adversary, Dr. John Jackson. In 1765 Whiston bought the library of Adam Anderson (1692?–1765) [q. v.] He probably retired soon after this, and nothing further is known of him save that he died on 3 May 1780. His elder brother, George Whiston, is stated to have been for a time associated with him in the Fleet Street business (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. viii. 376), and to have died at St. Albans about 1775.

[Nichols's Literary Anecdotes and Lit. Illustrations, index, freq.; Allibone's Dict. of English Literature; Timperley's Cyclopædia, 1842, pp. 772, 782.]

T. S.