Hatcher, Henry (DNB00)

HATCHER, HENRY (1777–1846), antiquary, son of a small farmer of Kemble, near Cirencester, was born there on 14 May 1777. His parents moved to Salisbury about 1790, when he was placed with a schoolmaster named West, and made considerable progress in classics and mathematics. At the age of fourteen he became junior assistant in the school, and during the next three years filled similar situations in other establishments. About the beginning of 1795 he was engaged as amanuensis to the Rev. William Coxe [q. v.], the historian, whom he assisted in the compilation of his historical works. For some time after 1800 Coxe turned aside to investigate the Roman roads and other antiquities of Wiltshire, and this task gave his companion his taste for antiquarian research. They gave great assistance to Sir Richard Colt-Hoare [q. v.] in his edition of ‘Giraldus Cambrensis’ (1806), a publication which induced Hatcher to undertake a translation of the treatise passing under

the name of Richard of Cirencester [q. v.] In 1817 he became postmaster at Salisbury, but continued to help his friend Coxe in his compilations, and in May of that year he married at Durrington, near Amesbury, Anne, daughter of Richard Amor of that parish. Through the dishonesty of a clerk whom he trusted, Hatcher was compelled at Christmas 1822 to resign his place at the post office and to keep a private school at Fisherton Anger, near Salisbury. Two years later he moved to Endless Street, Salisbury, and in his new occupation laboured with success for many years. From August 1836 to 1843 all his spare time was spent in the preparation of his history of Old and New Sarum for Hoare's ‘Wiltshire,’ and his last years were embittered by the personal differences over its publication. His wife died on 28 Feb. 1846. He became ill, seemed to have recovered, but died suddenly at Salisbury early on the morning of 14 Dec. 1846. Hatcher possessed a special aptitude for learning languages. He was versed in Latin and Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. Among the manuscripts which he left behind him were an Anglo-Saxon glossary and grammar, a treatise on the art of fortification, and a dissertation on military and physical geography. For the use of his pupils he drew up and published in 1835 ‘A Supplement to the Grammar, containing Rhetorical and Logical Definitions and Rules.’ Hatcher was much respected, and a monument to his memory, by Osmond, a local sculptor, was placed by public subscription in Salisbury Cathedral.

Hatcher's assistance, especially in the labour of translating Spanish and Portuguese documents, was acknowledged by Coxe in his ‘History of the Bourbon Kings of Spain;’ a similar testimony to his aid was given in the ‘Memoirs of the Duke of Marlborough,’ and when Coxe's posthumous volume on the Pelham administration appeared, the preface expressed his indebtedness to his ‘faithful and able secretary Mr. Hatcher.’ Coxe left him a legacy of 220l. Hatcher supplied the letterpress of ‘An Historical Account of the Episcopal See and Cathedral Church of Sarum or Salisbury,’ published in 1814 under the name of William Dodsworth the chief verger, and in 1834 he wrote for a bookseller ‘An Historical and Descriptive Account of Old and New Sarum.’ He helped Hoare in his ‘Tour in Sicily’ and his ‘Recollections Abroad,’ and John Britton in the third volume of his ‘Beauties of Wiltshire’ (1825), and in that part of his ‘Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities’ (1830) which relates to Salisbury. He was the author of ‘The Description of Britain, translated from Richard of Cirencester, with a Commentary on the Itinerary,’ 1809, and of an ‘Historical Eulogium on Don Hippolito Ruiz Lopez, first botanist and chief of the Expedition to Peru and Chili. Translated from the Spanish,’ which was printed at Salisbury in 1831 at the cost of Thomas Burgess, then bishop of Salisbury. About 1835 Hoare renewed an offer, which is said to have been declined so far back as 1817, that Hatcher should compile the account of Salisbury to form part of ‘The History of Modern Wiltshire,’ and on his acceptance there were placed in his hands the materials which Robert Benson [q. v.], the recorder of Salisbury, had previously collected for the work. At this task Hatcher laboured assiduously until the work had been printed at the expense of Mr. Merrik Hoare, the author and executor of the original planner of the undertaking. Benson, who had read the proof-sheets, proposed that his name should appear on the title-page as its joint author. Hatcher declined the proposition, but Benson's influence with Hoare secured the appearance of the two parts, with the title of ‘The History of Modern Wiltshire by Sir Richard Colt Hoare. Old and New Sarum or Salisbury. By Robert Benson, M.A., and Henry Hatcher, 1843,’ and with a preface by Benson. Hatcher retaliated by printing the title and preface which he had drawn up, and explained his share in the authorship. Benson replied with ‘Facts and Observations touching Mr. Hatcher and the History of Salisbury,’ and to this there appeared in ‘Simpson's Devizes Gazette’ for 14 Dec. 1843 a rejoinder from Hatcher. In the journals issued at Salisbury and Devizes there were frequent communications from Hatcher, and the ‘Journal of the British Archæological Association,’ i. 62, contains a note from him on a tesselated pavement at West Dean, near Salisbury. Britton intended to have included in his autobiography a notice of his friend, but owing to its length it appeared separately in 1847 as ‘Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Character of Henry Hatcher.’

[Britton's Memoir of Hatcher; Gent. Mag. 1844 pt. ii. 324–5, 1846 pt. i. 445, 1847 pt. i. 437–40, pt. ii. 656–7; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vi. 438–9, 449; Britton's Autobiogr. i. 18–19, 454, ii. 9, 34–6, and Appendix, p. 88.]

W. P. C.