Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paulton, Abraham Walter

PAULTON, ABRAHAM WALTER (1812–1876), politician and journalist, was son of Walter Paulton of Bolton, Lancashire, where he was born in 1812. His family were Roman catholics, and he was sent to Stonyhurst College to be educated for the priesthood. His views underwent a change, and on leaving college at the age of sixteen or seventeen he was apprenticed to a surgeon named Rainforth at Bolton. His thirst for general information was strong, and he began to take a deep interest in the political topics of the day, especially in the corn laws, then beginning to excite attention. He availed himself of opportunities for addressing public meetings, and soon became a good speaker. In July 1838 he was in the Bolton Theatre when the appointed lecturer, on the corn laws, proved himself unequal to the task set before him. Paulton was induced to mount the stage, and succeeded in quieting the turbulent audience by undertaking to lecture on the same subject the following week. The promised lecture was delivered, and proved a brilliant success; and one of the consequences of this incident was the abandonment of the medical profession for politics. He was soon afterwards introduced to Cobden, and engaged himself as a lecturer for the Anti-Corn-Law League. He was called away from this work in April 1839 to edit the ‘Anti-Corn-Law Circular’ (changed to ‘Anti-Bread-Tax Circular’ in April 1841), the earliest organ of the league, and published in Manchester. This was succeeded in September 1843 by the ‘League’ newspaper, which had its headquarters in London, whither Paulton removed in order to undertake the editorship. The operations of the league were brought to a close in 1846 by the repeal of the corn laws, and in 1848 Paulton returned to Manchester, and, in conjunction with Henry Rawson, purchased the ‘Manchester Times,’ a newspaper representing the views of the more advanced section of the liberal party, with which afterwards was amalgamated the ‘Manchester Examiner,’ the style of the paper being thenceforth the ‘Examiner and Times.’ This was conducted by Paulton from 1848 to 1854. In the latter year he married the daughter of James Mellor of Liverpool, and from that time resided in London, or at his country house, Boughton Hall, Surrey. In his retirement he still took the same deep interest in public questions, and remained on terms of close intimacy with Cobden, John Bright, and other old associates. He was a man of great ability, deeply versed in political questions and the philosophy of politics, and in later years was keenly interested in the progress of physical inquiry. He was a conversationalist of the first order. His writings, consisting mainly of newspaper articles, have not been collected.

He died at Boughton Hall, Surrey, on 6 June 1876, leaving a son and a daughter, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery.

[Manchester Examiner and Times, 12 June 1876; Prentice's Anti-Corn-Law League, 1853, i. 64 et seq.; Morley's Life of Cobden, 1881, i. 408, ii. 389, 395, 409, 411, 457, 458, 472; Ashworth's Recollections of Cobden, p. 35; Smith's Life of John Bright, 1881, i. 131, 133; Somerville's Free Trade and the League, 1853, ii. 482.]

C. W. S.