ground coffee, mustard, vinegar, pepper, wine, beer, and drugs, as adulterated by the local retailers, were publicly exhibited and analysed. The local appointment of public analysts, coupled with the bestowal of powers of summary jurisdiction upon the magistracy, was the leading feature of the machinery by which Postgate proposed to repress such frauds, and his suggestions were substantially embodied in the recommendations of the select committee. Altogether, no fewer than nine bills dealing with adulteration were introduced into the House of Commons by the members for Birmingham under Postgate's influence. Their efforts met with strenuous opposition from retailers. At length, in 1860, a comparatively gentle measure, giving local authorities the option of appointing public analysts, with powers of prosecuting offending tradesmen, became law. It was to remedy the manifest defects of this permissive and largely inoperative measure that Muntz, at Postgate's instance, subsequently introduced the Amendment Act, which eventually became law in 1872. Other suggestions of Postgate's were embodied in the Sale of Food and Drugs Act of 1875. This legislation was followed by similar measures in the British colonies. Postgate obtained no public recognition of any kind for his services. He took an active part in the inauguration in Birmingham of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science in 1857. Two papers by him on adulteration were published in the ‘Transactions’ for 1857 and 1868 respectively. On 7 May 1860 he was appointed professor of medical jurisprudence and toxicology at Queen's College, Birmingham. His death took place on 26 Sept. 1881 at the London Hospital, whither he was taken by his own desire upon his return from Neuenahr, near Bonn, in a dying condition. He was buried in the new cemetery at Birmingham. His epitaph records that, for ‘twenty-five years of his life, without reward, and under heavy discouragement, he laboured to protect the health and to purify the commerce of this people.’ Postgate married, in May 1850, Mary Ann, daughter of Joshua Horwood of Driffield, Yorkshire, by whom he left issue. He published the following pamphlets: 1. ‘Sanitary Aspects of Birmingham,’ 1852. 2. ‘A Few Words on Adulteration,’ 1857. 3. ‘Medical Services and Public Payments,’ 1862.
An excellent portrait by Vivian Crome, a grandson of ‘Old Crome,’ hangs in the council chamber at Scarborough.
[Times, 30 Sept. 1881; The Biograph and Review, May 1880; Langford's Modern Birmingham and its Institutions, ii. 446–66; Scarborough Gazette, 19 Oct. 1882; notes kindly furnished by J. P. Postgate, esq., Trinity College, Cambridge.]
POSTLETHWAITE, THOMAS (1731–1798), master of Trinity College, Cambridge, born in 1731, was son of Richard Postlethwaite of Crooklands, Lancashire. He was educated at St. Bees School, and entered at Trinity College as a subsizar on 19 June 1749, æt. 18. He was elected scholar on 24 April 1752, sizars at that time not being allowed to sit for scholarships until their third year. He proceeded B.A. in 1753, when he was placed third in the mathematical tripos, with the reputation, which he retained through life, of being one of the best mathematicians in the university. The dates of his other degrees are M.A. 1756, B.D. 1768, and D.D. (by royal mandate) 1789. He was elected fellow in 1755, held the usual college lectureships, and from 1763 to 1776 was tutor. He was steward 1764–6, and junior dean 1767–8. In 1782 he became a senior fellow.
He must have been popular in college, for it is recorded that when, on Bishop Hinchliffe's resignation of the mastership in 1789, Pitt consulted Dr. Farmer as to his successor, Farmer replied, ‘If you wish to oblige the society, appoint Postlethwaite.’ As master he is said to have ‘soon discovered that, if he was alert, he and the seniors should be at variance, according to antient usage;’ and to have preferred quiet and the society of Dr. Craven, master of St. John's, to activity in the discharge of his duties (Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. vi. 737). During his tenure of the mastership a public examination for fellowships and an annual examination of undergraduates of the first and second year were established. It is, however, uncertain how far these reforms were due to his initiative. The old and vicious system of private examination for fellowships had been practically abolished by his predecessor; and the examination of undergraduates was established by an order of the master and seniors on 24 Feb. 1790. On the other hand, ‘his conduct in passing over Richard Porson [q. v.] for the lay fellowship, which had been promised to him, and bestowing it on a relative of his own, John Heys, a young man seven years junior to Porson, has left a stigma on his memory’ (Luard in the Trident, i. 12).
He died at Bath on 4 May 1798, and was buried in the abbey church, where there is a monument to his memory (in the north aisle). There is a portrait of him, in oils, in Trinity College Lodge. He published one sermon, on Isaiah vii. 14–16, preached before the university on 24 Dec. 1780, 4to, Cambridge, 1781.