John Rutter

Birth: 1796


John Rutter (1796–1851) was a topographer, son of Thomas Rutter, a quaker, of Bristol, was born there on 10 April 1796. He was brought up as a quaker. About 1818 he settled as a bookseller and printer at Shaftesbury, Dorset. He obtained an introduction to William Beckford [q. v.], author of 'Vathek,' who invited him to Fonthill Abbey. Rutter published at Shaftesbury, in 1822 'Delineations of Fonthill Abbey and Desmesne, Wiltshire,' which ran to a sixth edition in the same year. In 1823 there appeared a handsomely illustrated large-paper edition. Tom Moore, who visited Shaftesbury on 21 July 1826 (Diary, v. 92), describes Rutter, 'the quaker bookseller,' as thrusting a copy of 'this splendid work' into his carriage as he was driving off, saying it was a mark of his respect for the independent spirit Moore had shown in his life of Sheridan.

Rutter also published: 'History of Wardour Castle,' 1823, 8vo; 'Guide to Clevedon,' 1829; 'Delineations of North-West Somersetshire,' 1829, 4to; 'The Westonian Guide,' 1829, 8vo (republished as 'A New Guide to Weston-super-Mare,' 1840(?), 8vo); and 'Guide to Banwell Bone Caverns,' 1829, 8vo. Rutter's 'Letters in Defence of the Bible Society to L. Neville' appeared at London in 1836. Rutter was a strong reformer in politics, and was fined 5l. for printing a circular note without putting his name to it during the election of 1830. An account of the election was published by Rutter anonymously.

Soon afterwards Rutter gave up his business and studied law. He eventually acquired considerable practice in Shaftesbury and the neighborhood. He withdrew from the Society of Friends in 1836, at the time of Isaac Crewdson's publication of 'The Beacon,' but he attended quaker meetings all his life, and on his death, at Shaftesbury, on 2 April 1851, was buried in the Friends' burial-ground there. By his wife, Anne Burchell (1791–1879), he had six children.


[Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books, ii. 519; Nichols's Lit. Illustr. vi. 242; Allibone's Dictionary of English Literature, ii. 1904; Annual Monitor, 1880, p. 142; Registers at Devonshire House.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900 by Charlotte Fell Smith, Volume 50. pg 30

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