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HOUGHTON, JOHN (d. 1705), writer on agriculture and trade, studied for a time at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (Cooper, Memorials of Cambridge, i. 154). He subsequently became an apothecary and dealer in tea, coffee, chocolate, and other luxuries, first ‘against the Ship Tavern in St. Bartholomew Lane, behind the Royal Exchange,’ but by 14 Dec. 1703 at the ‘Golden Fleece at the corner of Little Eastcheap in Gracechurch Street,’ London. He constituted himself a kind of agent for advertisers, and his advertisements appended to his ‘Collections’ are newspaper curiosities. He died in 1705. In the letters of administration, P. C. C., granted on 10 Nov. 1705 to his widow Elizabeth, Houghton is described as late of the parish of St. Leonard, Eastcheap, London. He was elected F.R.S. on 29 Jan. 1680, and served on the society's committee for agriculture.

Houghton edited an entertaining periodical work entitled ‘A Collection of Letters for the Improvement of Husbandry & Trade,’ two vols. 4to, London, 1681–3. The letters treat of miscellaneous subjects, and were written by eminent authorities, Evelyn and Worlidge included. The editor excuses the want of arrangement, preferring a ‘libertine way of handling’ subjects before the ‘severest rules.’ An index accompanies each volume. Houghton first noticed the potato plant as an agricultural vegetable (ed. 1728, ii. 468), and that turnips were eaten by sheep (ib. i. 213, iv. 142–144). His ideas of improving trade are obsolete. In November 1691 he issued, with the approbation of the more distinguished fellows of the Royal Society, ‘A Proposal for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade,’ which ultimately took the shape of another ‘Collection’ published in weekly folio numbers, of which the first appeared on 30 March 1692, and the last (No. 583) on 24 Sept. 1703, forming, according to the editor's design, nineteen volumes. A selection from these miscellanies in four octavo volumes was published by Richard Bradley in 1727–8, with the title ‘A Catalogue of all sorts of Earths, the Art of Draining, of Brewing, of all sorts of Husbandry,’ and Houghton also published in 1693 a sixpenny sheet, containing ‘An Account of the Acres and Houses, with the proportional tax … of each county in England and Wales’ (reprinted in ‘Somers Tracts,’ ed. Scott, x. 596). To the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ he contributed in 1699 ‘A Discourse of Coffee’ (xxi. 311–17), and ‘The Conclusion of the Protestant States of the Empire, of the 23d of Sept. 1699 concerning the Calendar’ (xxii. 459–63).

[Alexander Andrews's Hist. of British Journalism, i. 88; Reliquary, i. 64, ii. 47–8; Encyclop. Brit. (9th ed.), i. 299; Donaldson's Agricultural Biog. p. 36; Local Gleanings, Archæolog. Mag. (1880), i. 275.]

G. G.