Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whatton, William Robert

WHATTON, WILLIAM ROBERT (1790–1835), surgeon and antiquary, son of Henry Whatton, by Elizabeth, daughter of John Watkinson, was born at Loughborough, Leicestershire, on 17 Feb. 1790. He was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons on 16 March 1810, and settled at Manchester about 1816, where he was afterwards surgeon to the Royal Infirmary. In January 1822 he joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and was elected librarian in 1828. To the ‘Memoirs’ of that society he contributed in 1824 ‘Observations on the Armorial Bearings of the Town of Manchester and on the Descent of the Baronial Family of Gresley’ (printed for the author, Manchester, 4to). He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 5 June 1834, and was F.S.A. of London and Edinburgh. To ‘Archæologia’ (xxx. 595) he sent an ‘Account of the Discovery of an Ancient Instrument of Brass at Rochdale,’ and to ‘Archæologia Scotica’ (iv. 1) an interesting paper on certain furniture at Speke Hall, Lancashire. In 1828 he wrote ‘The History of Manchester School,’ and in 1833 ‘A History of Chetham Hospital and Library,’ which together form the third volume of Hibbert-Ware's ‘Foundations in Manchester.’ He projected a work on the worthies of Lancashire; but when Edward Baines [q. v.] announced his ‘History of Lancashire’ he handed over his biographies, in completed form, to be incorporated in that work. In 1829 he published two pamphlets proposing the establishment of a university for Manchester to be engrafted on the Royal Institution of that town. This scheme of a Manchester university was again brought forward by Harry Longueville Jones [q. v.] in 1836, but not finally carried out until the Victoria university was founded in 1880.

His professional papers were confined to a contribution on ‘Spinal and Spino-ganglial Irritation’ to the ‘North of England Medical and Surgical Journal’ (1830), and ‘An Address to the Pupils of the Manchester Infirmary’ (1834).

He died at Manchester on 5 Dec. 1835. By his wife Harriet Sophia, daughter of William Seddon of Eccles, near Manchester, whom he married in 1822, he had a son and a daughter. His son, Arundel Blount Whatton (born on 22 Sept. 1827, died at Middlesex Hospital on 18 May 1862), became a clergyman, and published in 1859 a ‘Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Rev. Jeremiah Horrox’ (2nd edit. 1875; see Horrocks, Jeremiah).

[Gent. Mag. 1825 i. 308, 1836, ii. 661; communications from Mr. Edward Trimmer, secretary to the Royal College of Surgeons, and Mr. R. Harrison, assistant secretary of the Royal Society.]

C. W. S.