Whalley, Peter (DNB00)

WHALLEY, PETER (1722–1791), author and editor, was the son of Peter Whalley of Rugby, and was born on 2 Sept. 1722. Ecton is said to have been his birthplace (Beauties of England, ‘Northamptonshire,’ p. 177). He was at Merchant Taylors' school from 1731 to 1740, and in June 1740 was elected to a scholarship at St. John's College, Oxford. He graduated B.A. in 1744, and proceeded B.C.L. in 1768. In 1743 he was elected to a fellowship at St. John's College, and held it for some years. For a time he kept a school in Northamptonshire and probably at Courteenhall. He also held the vicarage of St. Sepulchre, Northampton.

In 1760 Whalley succeeded James Townley (1714–1778) [q. v.] in the post of upper grammar master at Christ's Hospital, and retained it until the summer of 1776. Subsequently, it is said, he was master of St. Olave's school, Southwark. He was appointed on 5 Feb. 1766 by the corporation of the city of London to the rectory of the united parishes of St. Margaret Pattens and St. Gabriel, Fenchurch Street, London; and in 1768 he was presented by Christ's Hospital to the vicarage of Horley in Surrey. Both these preferments he retained until his death.

Whalley married, on 16 Jan. 1768, Betsey Jacobs of List Lane (Gent. Mag. 1768, p. 47), and, owing to her extravagance, was in later life involved in pecuniary difficulty. He lived for some months concealed in the house of his friend Francis Godolphin Waldron [q. v.], but his hiding-place was discovered and he fled to Flanders. After a few months' residence there he died at Ostend on 12 June 1791. His widow survived until 16 March 1803. His portrait, drawn by Harding and engraved by Ridley, is in Harding's ‘Shakespeare Illustrated.’

When Benjamin Buckler [q. v.] declined in 1755 the labour of preparing for publication the manuscripts of John Bridges (1666–1724) [q. v.] on the history of Northamptonshire, the task fell to Whalley. The first volume of Bridges's ‘History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire’ was brought out by Whalley in 1762, and the first part of the second volume appeared in 1769. A protracted delay then ensued, and the printer made a fresh appeal for money to the gentlemen of the county. Further assistance was found, and the finished work at last came out in 1791 in two folio volumes.

Whalley edited in 1756 ‘The Works of Ben Jonson in seven volumes,’ and the edition was reissued, as far as regards the dramatic works, in conjunction with those of Beaumont and Fletcher, in 1811. He did little for his author, but the memoir of Jonson was ‘not injudicious in the main, though composed in a style uncouth and antiquated.’ Waldron, in his edition of ‘The Sad Shepherd’ (1783), reproduced his friend's annotations, with ‘supplemental notes’ (pp. 113–140). Whalley went on with preparations for a second edition of Jonson's works, which Waldron commenced publishing in 1792 in numbers. The issue stopped with the second number. Whalley's corrected copy came into Gifford's hands (Jonson, ed. Gifford, 1846 ed., pp. 69–71 of ‘Memoir’). Whalley's original works comprise: 1. ‘An Essay on the Manner of Writing History’ (anon.), 1746. 2. ‘An Enquiry into the Learning of Shakespeare,’ 1748. 3. ‘Vindication of the Evidences and Authenticity of the Gospels from the Objections of the late Lord Bolingbroke,’ 1753. His library was sold in 1792. Before leaving England he collected subscriptions of a guinea each for a work on the royal hospitals of London, but it never appeared.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Robinson's Merchant Taylors' School, ii. 79; Gent. Mag. 1791 i. 588, ii. 773, 1803 i. 293; Trollope's Christ's Hospital, p. 333; Nichols's Illustrations of Lit. iii. 521–34; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 107–8, iii. 643, viii. 348–9.]

W. P. C.