Monday 19 April 2010

William Hutton

The second member of the quartet is William Hutton who, unlike John Lombe, was actually born in Derby. In fact, the street in which he was born (Full Street) runs right by the Silk Mill and at the age of seven, William Hutton was employed in the Silk Mill on a seven year apprenticeship. It was not a happy experience for him; he later wrote of the long hours, low wages and beatings.

William's mother died in childbirth when he was ten and his father had a fondness for drink, so at age 15, William moved to Nottingham for a second apprenticeship under his uncle; this time as a stocking maker.

It was only after the death of his uncle that William began to explore his true interests. He taught himself bookbinding and, eventually, opened a bookshop in Birmingham, followed by a paper warehouse; which proved a very successful business, allowing him time to research and write the first History of Birmingham in 1782.

Others of his writings grew out of his experiences:

 Narrative of the Riots was as a result of his victimisation for his Quaker beliefs during the religious riots of 1791. Both of his houses were burned down, but he later sued the town for damages and was awarded the princely sum of £5,390.

The History of the Roman Wall was written as a result of his having walked the entire length of Hadrian's Wall in 1801...

...and his autobiography The life of William Hutton was completed just before his death in 1815.

Remembered as a historian, author and poet, William Hutton is commemorated by a blue plaque on Waterstones in central Birmingham; the Exeter Bridge bas relief sculpture pictured above; and a plaster statue in a niche above the shop window of what was once Boots the Chemist in St Peter's Street.

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