Hutchins, John

, a topographical historian, the son of the rev. Richard Hutchins, was born in the parish of | Bradford Peverel, Sept. 21, 1698. His father was rector of All Saints in Dorchester, and curate of Bradford Peverel. His income was small, and his son’s education was suited to the frugality of the station in which he was born. He appears to have been sent early to the grammar-school at Dorchester, where his master was the rev. Mr. Thornton, rector of West Stafford, whom he afterwards mentioned with gratitude, as behaving to him with the kindest attention, and as a second parent. He was afterwards sent to Oxford, where his residence was not long; for he took his master of arts degree at Cambridge, a proof that he had not kept a statutable residence for that degree in his own university, by applying to another in which none is required; and it is also a proof that he determined in Oxford; for, unless that exercise be performed, a certificate of a bachelor of arts degree is never granted. He was matriculated in Easter term, 1718, from Hart-hair, now Hertford college; but was afterwards removed by a bene discessit to Baliol college; and, as it appears by their books, he was admitted a member of that society in Easter term, April 10, 1719, and was regularly admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts in Lent term, Jan. 18, 1721-2. He was a determining bachelor in the same term; so that his whole residence in the university did not exceed four years; yet the friendships he contracted in both societies of which he was a member, continued with life; of which Mr. Charles Godwyn, fellow of Baliol college, was an instance in one; and his tutor, Mr. Davis, vice-principal of Harthall, in the other; and in what esteem he held both the one and the other, different passages in his “History” evince.

He was soon after admitted into holy orders, and became curate and usher to the rev. George Marsh, rector of Burleston, vicar of Milton Abbas, and master of the free grammar school of Milton Abbas. This engagement at Milton procured him the acquaintance of Jacob Bancks, sq. then the possessor of that estate, by whose interest he obtained in 1729 the rectory of Swyre, and in 1733 the rectory of Melcombe Horsey. About this time he began first to engage in the study of antiquities, and having a competent income, was enabled to pursue it with the less interruption, as an incurable deafness prevented his enjoying the pleasures of society. In 1744 he was presented to the living of Wareham, which was attended with a considerable increase in his clerical duties; yet without ever | relaxing in his attention to these, he continued to accumulate materials for the history of his native county, and eutered into an extensive correspondence with gentlemen most likely to assist his researches. He had many difficulties, however, to encounter. He was himself rather a man of diligence than of extraordinary genius; his collections were many years making, and a great part of them fell into his hands on the death of a prior collector. The book, however, which he did not live to see published, was most liberally conducted through the press, by a very handsome subscription of the gentlemen of the county, and the kind patronage of Dr. Cuming and Mr. Gough, for the benefit of the author’s widow and daughter. Several articles were added, relative to the antiquities and natural history; and such a number of beautiful plates were contributed by the gentlemen of the county, that (only 600 copies having been printed, a number not quite sufficient for the subscribers) the value of the book increased, immediately after publication, to twice the original price, which was only a guinea a volume. The title of it is, “The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset, compiled from the best and most ancient historians, Inquisitiones post mortem, and other valuable Records and Mss. in the public offices, libraries, and private hands; with a Copy of Domesday-book and the Inquisitio Gheldi for the county: interspersed with some remarkable particulars of Natural History, and adorned with a correct map of the county, and views of antiquities, seats of the nobility and gentry,” Lond. 1774, 2 vols, folio.

In the decline of life, when he had a reasonable prospect of seeing his “History” through the press, he was seized with a paralytic stroke, which greatly debilitated him, and hastened his dissolution, which took place June 21, 1773, He was buried in St. Mary’s church at Wareham, in the ancient chapel under the south aile of the church. He married Anne, daughter of the rev. Thomas Stephens, for-: merly rector of Pimperne, by whom he had issue one daughter, who was married to the late John Bellasis, esq. major-general of artillery in the service of the East-India company, who died at Bombay in 1808. The profit arising from his “History,” was the chief provision Mr. Hutchins made for his family. A second edition was brought forwards, of which vol. I. was published in 1796, and vol. II. in 1803, under the auspices of gen. Bellasis, who expended a large | sum to promote the undertaking, and with the assistance of Mr. Gough and Mr. Nichols. The improvements in this edition were so many as to extend the work to four volumes, the third of which was nearly ready for publication at the time when the unfortunate fire in Mr. Nichols’s printing-office and warehouses destroyed that and a vast mass of other valuable literary property. Mr. Nichols has since printed the third and fourth volumes, so essential to the completion of the work, and we may add so indispensable to every public library and private topographical collection. 1

1 Life, by Mr. Bingham, in “Bibl. Topographica Britannica,” No. XXXIV. and Nichols’s Bowyer. See also Gent. Mag:, vol. LXXXI. p. 99.