William Hutton (Birmingham historian)

William Hutton (Birmingham historian)

William Hutton (30 September 1723-1815) was a poet and the first significant historian of Birmingham, England.

A Unitarian nonconformist born in Derby, he went to school when five years old. Aged seven years he was employed in a silk mill on a seven year apprenticeship. In 1737 he took a second apprenticeship as a stocking maker in Nottingham under his uncle. In 1746, after his uncle had died, he taught himself bookbinding, and three years later opened a shop in Southwell. This was not successful and he moved to Birmingham in 1750 and opened a small bookshop.

He married Sarah Cock in 1755 and they had three sons and a daughter, Catherine Hutton (1756-1846), who became a writer.

In 1756 he opened a paper warehouse – the first in Birmingham – which became profitable. He built a country house on Bennetts Hill in Washwood Heath, and bought a house in High Street. He published "History of Birmingham" in 1782 and was also elected as Fellow of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland (F. A. S. S.). He was elected overseer of the poor, and in 1787, to the Court of Requests, a small claims court for nineteen years, handling over 100,000 claims.

Both his houses were destroyed in the Birmingham Riots in 1791 (the Priestley Riots) leading to his historical account in "Narrative of the riots". He managed to recover £5390 in a claim for damages against the town.

In 1801 he is generally held to be the first person in modern times to walk the entire length of Hadrian's Wall, producing an account of his journey in "The History of the Roman Wall" (Breeze 2006:16).

He completed an autobiography " The life of William Hutton" just before his death in 1815.

He is commemorated by a blue plaque on Waterstone's bookshop on High Street, near the start of New Street, Birmingham.


* [http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/huttonw.htm Literary Heritage West Midlands]
* [http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/sept/30.htm Chambers' Book of Days]
*Breeze, D.J. (2006) "J. Collingwood Bruce's Handbook to the Roman Wall" (Newcastle)

Further reading

* [http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/intros/T000769.htm Literary Heritage West Midlands - link to text of " The life of William Hutton", his autobiography and history of Birmingham]
**gutenberg|no=13926|name=An History of Birmingham (1783) by William Hutton

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