Warburton, John

, a heraldic writer and antiquary, was the son of Benjamin Warburton, of Bury in Lancashire, | by Mary, his wife, eldest daughter, and at length heiress of Michael Buxton, of Buxton, in Derbyshire. He was born Feb. 28, 1681-2. According to Mr. Grose, he received no education, and was originally an exciseman; Mr. Grose adds that he was ignorant not only of the Latin, but of his native language, and so far from understanding mathematics, he did not even understand guaging, which, “like navigation, as practised by our ordinary seamen, consists only in multiplying and dividing certain numbers, or writing by an instrument, the rationale of both which they are totally ignorant of.” It appears from Mr. Brooke Somerset’s notes, that Toms, who owed his rise to him, told that gentleman that he had great natural abilities, but no education. Grose observes, that “his life was one continued scene of squabbles and disputes with his brethren, by whom he was despised and detested.” Toms remarks, that “though his conduct was faulty, yet he was extremely illused, especially by the younger Anstis, who was of a violent tyrannical disposition,” and there seems reason to suspect that his quarrelsome disposition, rather than his incapacity, has occasioned many of the discreditable reports which have accompanied his name. As a collector of antiquities he appears to have been indefatigable.

The first appearance he made in public was in 1716, when he published his map of Northumberland. In 1719 he was elected a fellow both of the Royal and Antiquary societies, and could not then, we presume, have been thought the ignoramus which he has since been represented. He remained a member of the Society of Antiquaries to the last, but was ejected from the Royal in June 1757, in consequence of not having made his annual payments for a great number of years. In June 1720 he was created Somerset herald, and appears to have been constantly at variance with the superiors of the college. In 1722-3 he published in four closely printed 4to pages, “A List of the Nobility and Gentry of the counties of Middlesex, Essex, and Hertford, who have subscribed, and ordered their coats of arms to be inscribed on a new map of those counties, which is now making by John Warburton, esq.” In August 1728, he gave notice, that “he keeps a register of lands, houses, &c. which are to be bought, sold, or mortgaged, in England, Scotland, or Wales, and if required, directs surveys thereof to be made: also solicits grants of arms, and performs all other matters relating | to the office of a herald. For which purpose daily attendance is given at his chambers in the Heralds’ office, near Doctors Commons, London. He answers letters post-paid, and advertises, if required.” This quackery did not probahly raise him very high in the opinion of his brethren. In 1749, he published a map of Middlesex on two sheets of imperial atlas, with the arms of the nobility and gentry on the borders. But the earl marshal, supposing these to be fictitious, by his warrant commanded him not to take in any subscriptions for arms, nor advertise or dispose of any maps, till the right of such person respectively to such arms were first proved, to the satisfaction of one of the kings of arms. In his book of “London and Middlesex illustrated,” after observing the above injunction of the earl marshal, he subjoins, “which person’s (Anstis) partiality being well known to this author, he thought it best to have another arbitrator joined with him, and therefore made choice of the impartial public, rather than submit his performance wholly to the determination of a person so notoriously remarkable for knowing nothing at all of the matter. 7 ' After censuring the notion, that trade and gentility are incompatible, as a doctrine fitted only for a despotic government, and judiciously remarking the moral impossibility there would soon be of proving descents and arms for want of visitations, he returns to attack the heads of the college, by saying, that such proofs are obstructed by the exorbitant and unjustifiable fees of three heralds, called kings at arms, who receive each 30l. for every new grant. In hisLondon and Middlesex illustrated," he gave the names, residences, genealogy, and coat- armour of the nobility, principal merchants, and other eminent families, emblazoned in their proper colours, with references to authorities.

In 1753, Mr. Warburton published “Vallum Romanum, or the History and Antiquities of the Roman Wall, commonly called the Picts Wall, in Cumberland and Northumberland,” with plates and maps, 4to. These, with some prints, are the whole of his publications, but he had an amazing collection of Mss. books, prints, &c. relating to the history and antiquities of England, which were dispersed by auction after his death. He had also, but unfortunately lost, a large collection of old dramas, of which a catalogue, with remarks, appears in the Gentleman’s Magazine for September 1815. | Mr. Warburton died at his apartments in the college of arms, May 11, 1759, aged seventy -eight, and was buried on the 17th in the south aisle of St. Bennet’s church, Paul’s Wharf. A peculiar circumstance attended his funeral. Having a great abhorrence to the idea of worms crawling upon him when dead, he ordered that his body should be inclosed in two coffins, one of lead, the other of oak: the first he directed should be filled with green broom, hather, or ling. In compliance with his desire, a quantity, brought from Epping forest, was stuffed extremely close round his body. This fermenting, burst the coffin, and retarded the funeral, until part of it was taken out.

Mr. Warburton married twice: one of his wives was a widow with children, for he married her son, when a minor, to one of his daughters. Amelia, another, married Oct. 23, 1750, to captain John Elphinston, afterwards viceadmiral and commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet, who died very greatly respected by the late empress, Catherine IL who created him knight of the order of St. George: he was deservedly honoured and beloved by all who knew him. This gallant officer died in November 1789, at Cronstat, after a short illness. By his last wife, our author had John Warburton, esq. who resided many years in Dublin, and was pursuivant to the court of exchequer in Ireland: he married, in 1756, Ann-Catherine, daughter of the rev. Edward-Rowe Mores, rector of Tunstal in Kent, and sister of Edward-Rowe Mores, esq. M.A. and F.R. and A. S., so well known for his skill in antiquity, and the large collections of choice Mss. and books he left at his death, which were sold by Mr. Paterson in 1779. This Mr. W T arbarton, leaving Dublin, became one of the exons belonging to his majesty’s yeomen of the guard at St. James’s. Mr. Noble says, that going into France since the troubles in that kingdom, he was one of the few English who fell victims to the sanguinary temper of the usurpers, being guillotined for a pretended sedition, by order of the national convention committee at Lyons, in December 1793; but a correspondent in the Gentleman’s Magazine says that the Mr. Warburton, who was guillotined, was the nephew and not the son of the herald. 1

1 Noble’s Coll. of Aims. Nicbols’s Bowyer.