Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/352

This page has been validated.
Hutchinson
Hutchinson
346

HUTCHINSON, WILLIAM (1715–1801), mariner and writer on seamanship, a native of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was at a very early age sent on board a small collier, where he was 'cook, cabin-boy, and beer-drawer for the men.' He gradually worked his way up, going through all the most active enterprising employments as a seaman.' His experiences were extremely varied. He speaks of himself as a 'forecastle man ' on board an East Indiaman in 1738-9, and making the voyage to China; as 'mate of a bomb's tender in Hyères Bay, with our fleet under Mathews and Lestock' about 1743; as commanding a ship at Honduras; as cruising in the Mediterranean during the French war, in the employ of Fortunatus Wright [q. v.], and apparently in command of a privateer in 1747. In 1750 he commanded the Lowestoft, an old 20-gun frigate sold out of the navy and bought by Wright, and in her traded to the West Indies and the Mediterranean. At one time (the date is not given) his ship was wrecked, he and his men escaping in a boat. They were without food, and cast lots to determine which one should die for the others. The lot fell on Hutchinson, but at the last moment he was saved by a vessel coming in sight. To the end of his life he kept the anniversary as a day of 'strict devotion.' In 1760 he was appointed a dock-master at Liverpool, and as dock-master or harbour-master he continued for upwards of twenty years, part of the time in conjunction with a younger Fortunatus Wright, a kinsman of his old companion. In 1777 he published a treatise on seamanship and the proper form and dimensions of merchant ships, of which an enlarged edition was published in 1781, with a fuller title. In the fourth edition, published in 1794, this ran: 'Treatise on Naval Architecture, founded upon Philosophical and Rational Principles, towards establishing fixed Rules for the best form and Proportional Dimensions in Length, Breadth, and Depth of Merchant Ships in general; and also the management of them to the greatest advantage by Practical Seamanship, with important Hints and Remarks relating thereto, especially both for Defence and Attack in War at Sea, from long approved experience.' His hints on the conduct of war at sea, specially addressed to a community of privateers, embody the recollections of his service with Fortunatus Wright during the war of the Austrian succession. He also kept a register of tides, barometer, weather, and wind from 1768 to 1793, which is still preserved in the Liverpool Library. He is said to have introduced parabolic reflectors into lighthouses, and to have superintended their fitting in those near the Mersey, using small reflectors of tin or glass, bedded in a sort of wooden bowl. He died at the age of eighty-five, on 11 Feb. 1801, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Thomas, Liverpool.

[His own works, as above; Brooke's Liverpool as it was during the last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, pp. 101-2; information from the Rev. J. H. M. Barrow. See also Laughton's Studies in Naval History, pp. 207, 209, 217, 224.]

J. K. L.


HUTCHINSON, WILLIAM (1732–1814), topographer, born in 1732, practised as a solicitor at Barnard Castle, Durham. He devoted his leisure to literary and antiquarian pursuits. In all his undertakings, but more especially in his 'History of Durham,' he received the most friendly assistance from George Allan (1736–1800) [q. v.]. He was elected F.S.A. on 15 Feb. 1781 ([Gough's] Chronological List, 1798, p. 34), and communicated in November 1788 an 'Account of Antiquities in Lancashire' (Archæologia, ix. 211-18). Hutchinson died on 7 April 1814, having survived his wife only two or three days. He left three daughters and a son. A portrait of Hutchinson on the same plate with that of his friend George Allan forms the frontispiece to vol. viii. of Nichols's 'Literary Anecdotes.'

In 1785 Hutchinson published the first volume of his valuable 'History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham,' 4to, Newcastle, founded almost entirely on Allan's manuscript collections; the second volume appeared in 1787, and the third in 1794. His work was carried on while he was prosecuting a lawsuit with the publisher and with the certain prospect of a considerable loss. Being unable to find purchasers for the thousand copies which he printed, he disposed of four hundred for a trifling sum to John Nichols, the publisher, two hundred of which were converted into waste paper, and most of the remainder were consumed by fire in February 1808. Another edition was issued at Durham in 1823 in 3 vols. 4to, revised from the author's corrected copy.

Hutchinson's other topographical works are: 1. 'An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, August 1773' [anon.], 8vo, 1774. 2. 'An Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, with a Tour through part of the Northern Counties in 1773 and 1774,' 8vo, London, 1776. 3. 'A View of Northumberland, with an Excursion to the Abbey of Mailross in Scotland,' 2 vols. 4to, Newcastle, 1776-8. 4. 'The History of the County of Cumberland, and some places adjacent' 2 vols. 4to, Carlisle, 1794. He also edited anonymously