Rivington, John (DNB00)


RIVINGTON, JOHN (1720–1792), publisher, born in 1720, was the fourth son of Charles Rivington the elder (1688–1742) [q. v.], and after the death of his father carried on the business on behalf of himself, his mother, and his brother James, under the supervision of Samuel Richardson and the other executors. About 1760 he was appointed publisher to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. His eldest son Francis (1745–1822) and sixth son Charles (1754–1831) were already admitted into the firm, and Rivington was made manager of some of the standard editions of Shakespeare, Milton, Locke, and other classics, issued by the ‘Conger,’ i.e. a combination of the trade. During Dodsley's illness the ‘Annual Register’ was managed by the Rivingtons, who also started one of their own, edited by Edmund Burke, which lasted until 1812, and was resumed between 1820 and 1823. It then merged in the older publication, which, after having been managed a few years by the Baldwins, returned into the hands of the Rivingtons (S. Rivington, Publishing House of Rivington, 1894, p. 15). The family were much interested in the administration of the Company of Stationers. John served as master in 1775, when his two brothers and four sons were all liverymen (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. iii. 400). He was also a governor of several of the royal hospitals, and a director of the Amicable Life Society and of the Union Fire Office. He did not leave a large fortune, and died on 16 Jan. 1792, in his seventy-third year. In 1743 he married Eliza Miller (1723–1792), a sister of Sir Francis Gosling, banker, and afterwards lord mayor. She bore him fourteen children. His widow died on 21 Oct. 1792, aged 69.

Francis Rivington (1745–1822), the eldest son, and Charles Rivington, the younger (1754–1831), sixth son, together carried on the business. In 1793 they commenced the ‘British Critic,’ which came out monthly at 2s., and soon attained a circulation of 3,500. Archdeacon Nares, who edited the first series down to 1813, and the Rev. William Beloe [q. v.] were interested in the undertaking. The second series (1816–17) was edited by William Rowe Lyall [q. v.] In 1819 a west-end branch of the firm was opened at 3 Waterloo Place. In 1820 a secondhand bookselling business was started at 148 Strand, under the management of John Cochrane. Francis died at his house at Islington on 18 Oct. 1822, having married Margaret Ellill (d. 1828), by whom he had six children (Nichols, Illustrations, viii. 497). Charles, who was for many years a stockkeeper of the Company of Stationers, and became master of the company in 1819, died on 26 May 1831, leaving four sons—George (1801–1858), Francis [q. v.], Charles, and William—and four daughters (Memoir by Alexander Chalmers in Gent. Mag. June 1831; S. Rivington's Publishing House of Rivington, 1894, pp. 57–76, with portrait).

Francis's eldest son John (1779–1841) was admitted a partner in 1810, and in 1827, when the secondhand business in the Strand was abandoned after much loss, his first cousins, George and Francis, sons of Charles, joined the firm. A fourth series of the ‘British Critic’ was commenced in 1836, edited by John Henry Newman, and afterwards by Thomas Mozley. The publication was discontinued in 1843, at the urgent request of Bishop Blomfield, and the ‘English Review,’ which succeeded it, lasted only till 1853. John married Anne Blackburn, and died on 21 Nov. 1841, at the age of sixty-two. His son John (1812–1886) became a partner in 1836.

[Information from Mr. F. H. Rivington; Rivington's Publishing House of Rivington, 1894; Curwen's Hist. of Booksellers, 1873, pp. 296, 312; Gent. Mag. 1792, i. 93; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 54, 95.]

H. R. T.