William Bullock

Birth: 1773


William Bullock (c. 1773 - 7 March 1849), was a traveller, naturalist, and antiquarian of some repute at the beginning of the present century. In 1808, while carrying on the business of jeweler and goldsmith in Liverpool, he published a descriptive catalogue of a museum which he had opened in that city, consisting of works of art, armor, objects of natural history, besides many curiosities brought by Captain Cook from the South Seas.

About 1812 Bullock removed to London, and his collection soon attracted more notice, when placed in the newly erected Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly. Enlarged from various sources, from the Lichfield Museum, from that of Sir Ashton Lever, and from the results of Bullock's own travels and researches, it became one of the most popular exhibitions of the metropolis. It existed under the name of the London Museum till 1819, when it was disposed of by auction.

In 1822 he went to Mexico, where he was well received by the authorities, aided in his researches, and received from the Mexican government a gift of the silver mine of Del Bada near Themascaltpec. From this tour Bullock brought home many valuable curiosities, among others casts of the great calendar, commonly known as Montezuma's watch, and of the sacrificial stone, models of the pyramids of San Juan de Teotihuacan, manuscripts and hieroglyphic pictures sent to Montezuma to inform him of the transactions of the Spaniards, and the original map of the ancient city, made by order of the emperor for Cortez, and intended to have been transmitted to the king of Spain.

On his return to England he opened in the Egyptian Hall an exhibition called Modern Mexico, containing, besides the above-mentioned curiosities, models of the scenery, specimens of the industry and art, the minerals and natural history of that country. In 1821 he published 'Six Months' Residence and Travels in Mexico, containing remarks on the present state of New Spain.' At the end of the volume Bullock added a letter from his medical adviser on the preservation of health in tropical climates.

In 1827 he was again in Mexico, returning by way of the States. He immediately gave the English public the benefit of his tour in his 'Sketch of a Journey through the Western States of North America' (1827). In this volume are inserted extracts from various authors on the condition of Cincinnati in 1826, the object being to entice others to join him in his proposed emigration. In his notice to the public the author says he was so pleased with the country and neighborhood of Cincinnati, and convinced of its eligibility for people of limited property, that he had purchased a house and estate there, to which he was about to retire with his wife and family. The book contains a plan of a proposed 'town of retirement,' Hygeia.

Bullock was a fellow of the Linnean, Horticultural, Geological, Wernerian, and other learned societies. Besides the two books mentioned above, he wrote 'A Concise and Easy Method of preserving Subjects of Natural History,' 1817. A paper, which he read before the Linnean Society, 17 Nov. 1812, on 'Four rare Species of British Birds,' is published in the 'Transactions' of that society.

[History of Liverpool, 1810; Walford's on and New London, iv.; Gent. Mag. July 1824, p. 69; Brit. Mus. Cat.]


Alice Macdonell, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07. pg. 256.

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