Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hull, William Winstanley
HULL, WILLIAM WINSTANLEY (1794–1873), liturgical writer and hymnologist, born at Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1794, was son of John Hull, M.D. [q. v.] After attending Manchester and Macclesfield grammar schools, he was for a time a pupil of John Dawson of Sedbergh [q. v.], the mathematician. He was sent to Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1811; obtained a first class in classics at Michaelmas, 1814 ; spent some months abroad, and was elected a fellow of his college in 1816. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 16 June 1820, and in the same year vacated his fellowship by marriage. But he was always interested in Oxford affairs, and maintained through life his intimacy with his Oxford friends, Whately, Sir John Taylor Coleridge, and Dr. Arnold. Many of Arnold's letters to him appear in Stanley's 'Life.' He gave up his practice at the chancery bar in 1846, and left London for Tickwood, near Wenlock, Shropshire.
Hull was an active member of the evangelical school of churchmen. He especially interested himself in liturgical reform. In 1828 he published `An Inquiry concerning the Means and Expedience of proposing and making any Changes in the Canons, Articles, and Liturgy, or in any of the Laws affecting the interests of the Church of England,' In 1831 appeared his learned pamphlet, entitled `The Disuse of the Athanasian Creed advisable in the present state of the United Church of England and Ireland.' A petition praying for the revision of the liturgy was drawn up by Hull and his brother, the Rev. John Hull, and presented to the House of Lords by Archbishop Whately on 26 May 1840. Perhaps the most interesting of his liturgical researches is the `Inquiry after the original Books of Common Prayer,' in his `Occasional Papers on Church Matters,' 1848. Hull had searched in vain for the manuscript copy of the Book of Common Prayer, originally attached to the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and known to exist as late as 1819. Dean Stanley, following Hull's suggestion, afterwards found the manuscript at Westminster. Hull opposed the tractarian movement, and actively supported Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Hampden [q.v.], defending him in a pamphlet issued in 1836. But his sense of justice made him averse to the proceedings against William George Ward [q.v.] in 1845, and he wrote `The Month of January. Oxford' (which reached a second edition), strongly pressing the rejection of the three measures proposed in convocation on 18 Feb. 1845. A high tory and ultra-protestant, Hull joined Sir Robert Inglis's committee formed in 1829 to oppose the return of Mr. (afterwards Sir Robert) Peel as M.P. for Oxford University. He resisted the admission of Roman catholics or Jews to parliament, in a pamphlet entitled `A Statement of some Reasons for continuing to Protestants the whole Legislature of Great Britain and Ireland,' 1829.
Hull was an early pioneer in the cause of improved hymnology, and published anonymously in 1827 and 1832 two books of original prayers and hymns (besides a collection of 209 hymns from various sources), which were republished with his name on the title-page in 1852, under the title, 'A Collection of Prayers for Household Use, with some Hymns and other Poems.'
During the last years of his life at the Knowle, Hazlewood, Derbyshire, he actively supported Lord Ebury's movement for liturgical reform. He died at the Knowle on 28 Aug. 1873. He was three times married, in 1820, 1850, and 1861, and left a family by each wife.[Manchester School Register, ed. J.F.Smith (Chetham Soc.), iii. 37, 289; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology; family information; personal knowledge.]