Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pinnock, William

PINNOCK, WILLIAM (1782–1843), publisher and educational writer, baptised at Alton, Hampshire, on 3 Feb. 1782, was son of John and Sarah Pinnock, who were in humble circumstances. He began life as a schoolmaster at Alton. He next became a bookseller there, and wrote and issued in 1810–11 ‘The Leisure Hour: a pleasing Pastime consisting of interesting and improving Subjects,’ with explanatory notes, and ‘The Universal Explanatory Spelling Book,’ with a key and exercises. About 1811 he removed his business to Newbury. In 1817 he came to London, and, together with Samuel Maunder [q. v.], bought the business premises of the ‘Literary Gazette,’ at 267 Strand, the partners also taking shares with Jerdan and Colburn in that periodical. Pinnock and Maunder ceased to print the paper after the hundred and forty-sixth number, and then entered upon the publication of a series of educational works. While at Alton, Pinnock had planned a system of ‘Catechisms,’ which Maunder now put into execution. Pinnock was advertised as the author, but did little of the literary work himself. The ‘Catechisms’ formed short manuals of popular instruction, by means of question and answer, on almost every conceivable subject. Eighty-three were issued at 9d. each, and some with a few illustrations. They met with extraordinary success, and were collected in ‘The Juvenile Cyclopædia.’ ‘The Catechism of Music’ was translated into German by C. F. Michaelis in 1825, and ‘The Catechism of Geography’ into French by J. G. Delavoye. The thirteenth edition of ‘The Catechism of Modern History’ was edited by W. Cooke Taylor (1829). Even greater success attended Pinnock's abridgments of Goldsmith's histories of England, Greece, and Rome, the first of which brought 2,000l. within a year. More than a hundred editions of these were sold before 1858. His series of county histories, which appeared collectively as ‘History and Topography of England and Wales’ in 1825, was also very successful, and he prepared new editions of ‘Mangnall's Questions’ and ‘Joyce's Scientific Dialogues.’ Jerdan was of opinion that he might have made from 4,000l. to 5,000l. a year by his publications. Unfortunately, however, he had a mania for speculation, and was obliged to part with most of his copyrights to Messrs. Whittaker and other publishers. He lost a large sum in an attempt to secure a monopoly of veneering wood, and sank further capital in manufacturing pianos out of it when he found it unsaleable. The result was that he was always in financial distress. He died in Broadley Terrace, Blandford Square, London, on 21 Oct. 1843.

Jerdan describes Pinnock as a ‘well-meaning and honest man ruined by an excitable temperament.’ The progress of popular education owed something to his cheap publications. Besides his eighty-three catechisms, grammars, and abridged histories, Pinnock issued: 1. ‘The Universal Explanatory English Reader … consisting of Selections in Prose and Poetry on interesting Subjects,’ 1813, 12mo, Winchester; 5th edit. enlarged, 1821, London. 2. ‘The Young Gentleman's Library of useful and entertaining Knowledge … with engravings by M. U. Sears,’ 1829, 8vo. 3. ‘The Young Lady's Library,’ &c. 1829. 4. ‘A Guide to Knowledge,’ 1833. 5. ‘A pictorial Miscellany for Intellectual Improvement,’ 1843.

A portrait of W. Pinnock, with autograph, was painted by Beard and engraved by Mote. Another was engraved by Findon. Pinnock married a sister of his partner, Samuel Maunder.

His son, William Henry Pinnock (1813–1885), divine and author, was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, graduated LL.B. in 1850 and LL.D. in 1855, being placed in the first class of the law tripos, and in 1859 he was admitted ad eundem at Oxford. He was ordained in 1843, and acted as curate and locum tenens of Somersham and Colne in Huntingdonshire for two successive regius professors of divinity at Cambridge. He was English chaplain at Chantilly from 1870 to 1876, when he became curate in charge of All Saints', Dalston. In 1879 he was presented to the vicarage of Pinner, Hertfordshire, where he died on 30 Nov. 1885.

In his earlier years Pinnock, like his father, compiled elementary textbooks. He revised and improved the twenty-first edition of the ‘Catechism of Astronomy,’ and edited a new edition (1847) of the ‘History of England made easy.’ He also wrote a continuation of Pinnock's abridgment of Goldsmith's ‘History of England,’ 46th edit. 1858. Many gross errors in this were pointed out in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1859, pp. 261, 594–6). He was author of several works upon ecclesiastical laws and usages, and some scriptural manuals by him, which were clearly written, were largely used in schools. His chief works were: 1. ‘The Laws and Usages of the Church and Clergy—the Unbeneficed Clerk,’ 2nd edit. 1854. 2. ‘Rubrics for Communicants, explanatory of the Holy Communion Office … with Prayers,’ 1863, 12mo. 3. ‘The Law of the Rubric; and the Transition Period of the Church of England,’ 1866. 4. ‘The Church Key, Belfry Key, and Organ Key, with legal cases and opinions, parish lay councils, and the autocracy of the clergy,’ 1870. 5. A posthumous work in two volumes, ‘The Bible and Contemporary History: an Epitome of the History of the World from the Creation to the end of the Old Testament,’ was edited by E. M. B. in 1887. Pinnock also edited ‘Clerical Papers on Church and Parishioners,’ 6 vols. 1852–63 (Times, 5 Dec. 1885).

[Jerdan's Men I have known, pp. 336–47; Literary Gazette, 18 Nov. 1843, and Autobiography, passim; Alton parish register; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit. ii. 1600; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Ann. Reg. 1843, App. to Chron. p. 306; Evans's Cat. Engl. Portraits, No. 208, 349.]

G. Le G. N.