William Hutton was born on September 30th, 1723 in Derby. At the age of five he went to school at Derby under the tutelage of Thomas Meat, but was a poor student. Although too young, he was offered employment at a silk-mill in Derby in 1730 and served seven hard years of apprenticeship, rising at five every morning. After his mother Anne Hutton died giving birth in 1733 to a ninth child, William's father turned to alcohol for comfort and the family suffered much deprivation. In 1737 he started his second apprenticeship as a silk stockinger at Nottingham with his uncle George Hutton, who kept him on as a journeyman from 1945. During this time he decided to run away for a week after an argument with his uncle.
In 1746, the year in which his uncle died, William taught himself to bind books and in 1749 he opened a small bookshop in Southwell, about 14 miles from Nottingham. He walked this 14 miles between Nottingham and Southwell every day. As the business was not a success, one year later he settled in Birmingham and began to write verse for magazines. In 1750 he opened a small bookshop in Birmingham.
In 1755 he married Sarah Cock (his 'dear love') and over the next few years he fathered four children, three sons, two of whom died in early childhood, and a daughter Catherine Hutton (1756-1846), who became a writer.
In 1756 William Hutton opened the first paper warehouse in Birmingham. He then attempted a venture into paper milling and came out with a loss of £1000. However, his paper selling business thrived and by 1766 he was able to start speculating in the purchase of land.
In 1769 he acquired land in Bennett's Hill, near Birmingham and built a country house. He then bought a house in High Street in Birmingham in 1772 and acted as overseer when he had it rebuilt in 1775. In 1782 he published "History of Birmingham" and was also elected as fellow of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland. Hutton was elected as president of the Court of Requests in 1787 and published "Dissertation on Juries."
During the Birmingham riots of 1791 both of Hutton's houses were burnt down seemingly because he was a Dissenter and a Commissioner of the Court of Requests. As a result he wrote "Narrative of the riots". After repairing his Bennett's Hill house he spent the next few years caring for his ailing wife.
In 1795, William, then aged 72, walked ("Providence had favoured me with limbs, it was but gratitude to use them") to Tenbury, a distance of 38 miles, to purchase an estate.
After his wife died in 1796 he travelled a lot with his daughter Catherine and published the results of his observations and research. He ensured that he was never idle and so, using his prodigious memory, "endeavoured to recollect an anecdote, as insignificant and remote as I was able, for every day, rejecting all under ten years old."
In 1798 he completed his personal history and kept further yearly records of his life until he died in 1815 at the ripe old age of 92.
Selected works by the author.
The history of Birmingham (1781)
Journey to London (1784)
Courts of requests 1787)
Battle of Bosworth field (1788)
History of Blackpool (1788)
A dissertation on juries with a description of the Hundred Court (1788)
History of the Hundred Courts (1790)
History of Derby (1791)
The Barbers, a poem (1793)
Edgar and Elfrida, a poem (1793)
The history of the Roman wall (1802)
Remarks upon North Wales (1803)
Tour to Scarborough (1803)
Poems, chiefly tales (1804)
Trip to Coatham (1808)
The life of William Hutton, F.A.S.S. including a particular account of the riots of Birmingham in 1791, and the history of his family, written by himself, and published by his daughter, Catherine Hutton. (1816)
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