HUTCHINS, John (1698-1773). The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset. London: John Nichols, 1796-1815.

$ 12,500.00

HUTCHINS, John (1698-1773). The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset. London: John Nichols, 1796-1815.

4 volumes. Folio (19 x 11 4/8 inches). Fine double-page mezzotint portrait in volume III, 8 double-page or folding engraved maps, 10 full-page maps, 9 double-page or folding engraved, etched or aquatint plates of views and plans, 154 full-page plates, with an additional 23 plates of shells on 13 sheets, 59 engraved vignettes in the text, 23 folding letterpress tables, wood-engraved tail-pieces throughout (some occasional spotting, offsetting and browning throughout, one or two leaves towards the end of the first volume with pale waterstains). Fine contemporary binding of russia, each cover decorated with borders of blind tools surrounding a central lozenge of blind roll tools and gilt filets, the spines in six compartments with five raised bands, gilt lettered in two, the others decorated with small blind tools, gilt decorated board edges and inner dentelles, all edges marbled.

Provenance: with near contemporary notes pertaining to Bestwall Manor near Wareham in Dorset, loosely inserted; from the library of the Marquises of Bath at Longleat, their sale, Sotheby's, 11th June, 1979, lot 85; with the bookplate of Hugh T. Fattorini (1934-2005), bibliophile, his sale, Sotheby's 30th April 2015, lot 93.

A MAGNIFICENT LARGE PAPER AND EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED COPY of the second edition, first published in two volumes in 1774. It was while he was rector "at Milton Abbas and at the instigation of his patron, Jacob Bancks, that Hutchins began the research on Dorset history which was to occupy the rest of his life. In 1736 the antiquary Browne Willis, who was a native of Dorset, persuaded him to undertake a complete history of the county. Three years later he circulated a list of six queries together with a general appeal for information; this had been drawn up and printed by Willis. The work proceeded slowly, hampered by parochial duties, illness, and the expense of visiting libraries and record repositories. By 1750 it was already reported that progress was almost at a standstill. In 1761 a subscription was raised by the local gentry enabling Hutchins to pursue his research in Salisbury, London, and Oxford. He was assisted in the collection of material by various local antiquaries and corresponded with other historians, including William Stukeley, William Borlase, Charles Goodwyn, Richard Gough, and Charles Lyttleton. In his last years his research was much hindered by ill health. In the summer of 1771 he suffered a stroke and, although he continued to work on the History, he never fully recovered and died at Wareham on 21 June 1773. He was buried in the church of St Mary, Wareham.

"Hutchins's History was still uncompleted at his death but, owing to the efforts of Gough and William Cuming, a family friend and Dorchester physician, it was finally published in 1774 in two folio volumes entitled The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset...

"The wealth of information contained in the first edition of Hutchins's History, including detailed pedigrees of gentry families, histories of estates, religious houses, parish churches, towns, and villages, together with the numerous illustrations and extracts from documentary sources, ensured that the book was well received, and a second edition was soon planned. This was again edited by Gough and Cuming. It was produced in four volumes, with additional material and many more illustrations. The expenses were met by Hutchins's son-in-law, John Bellasis. The first volume of the second edition was issued in 1796, and the second volume in 1803, but on 8 February 1808 a fire at the printing house of John Nichols destroyed all the unsold copies and all copies of the third volume except for one which remained in Gough's possession. Gough died in 1809, and the third and fourth volumes were finally published by J. B. Nichols in 1813 and 1815 respectively. A third edition was edited by W. Shipp and J. W. Hodson and was published in four volumes, dated 1861, 1863, 1868, and 1870. This edition was reprinted in 1973 with a new introduction by Robert Douch.

"Hutchins's History of Dorset became and has remained an indispensable reference book and the essential starting point for any historical study of Dorset" (J. H. Bettey for DNB). Upcott I, p.180; cf. BAL RIBA 1579 (first edition). Catalogued by Kate Hunter