Walbran, John Richard (DNB00)

WALBRAN, JOHN RICHARD (1817–1869), Yorkshire antiquary, son of John and Elizabeth Walbran, was born at Ripon, Yorkshire, on 24 Dec. 1817, and educated at Whixley in the same county. After leaving school he became assistant to his father, an iron merchant, and afterwards engaged in commerce on his own account as a wine merchant. From his early years he had a marked taste for historical and antiquarian studies, and all the time that he could spare from his avocation was occupied with archæological investigations, especially with respect to the ecclesiastical and feudal history of his native county. His study of the records of Fountains Abbey led him to make a speciality of the history of the whole Cistercian order. A paper by him ‘On the Necessity of clearing out the Conventual Church of Fountains,’ written in 1846, originated the excavations at Fountains Abbey, which were carried out under his personal direction. The first edition of his ‘Guide to Ripon’ was printed in 1844, and was succeeded by nine other editions in his life-time. His chief work, ‘The Memorials of the Abbey of St. Mary of Fountains’ (Surtees Soc. 1864–78, 2 vols.), was left unfinished. Another uncompleted work was his ‘History of Gainford, Durham,’ 1851. He also made some progress with a ‘History of the Wapentake of Claro and the Liberty of Ripon,’ and a ‘History of the Parish of Halifax.’ Although he had great literary ability, he had a singular dislike to the mechanical part of authorship—that connected with printing—and had it not been for the encouragement and technical assistance of his friend William Harrison, printer, of Ripon, few of his writings would have been printed.

Walbran was elected F.S.A. on 12 Jan. 1854, and in 1856 and 1857 filled the office of mayor of Ripon. In April 1868 he was struck with paralysis, and died on 7 April 1869. He was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, Ripon.

He married, in September 1849, Jane, daughter of Richard Nicholson of Ripon, and left two sons, the elder of whom, Francis Marmaduke Walbran of Leeds, is the author of works on angling. Among Walbran's minor printed works are the following:

  1. ‘Genealogical Account of the Lords of Studley Royal,’ 1841; reprinted, with additions, by Canon Raine in vol. ii. of ‘Memo rials of Fountains.’
  2. ‘A Summer's Day at Bolton Abbey,’ 1847.
  3. ‘Visitors' Guide to Redcar,’ 1848.
  4. ‘On the Oath taken by Members of the Parliaments of Scotland from 1641,’ 1854.
  5. ‘Notes on the Manuscripts at Ripley Castle,’ 1864.

His manuscripts were after his death purchased by Edward Akroyd of Halifax, and presented by him to York Cathedral Library.

[Canon J. Raine's preface to Memorials of Fountains, 1878, vol. ii.; Memoir by Edward Peacock, F.S.A., in Walbran's Guide to Ripon, 11th edit. 1875; Ripon Millenary Record, 1892, ii. 175; portraits are given in the last two works.]

C. W. S.