Sunday, 16 February 2014

Friends at University, Oxford 1798, a Man Midwife, a Dancing Master and a Parson.

Dotted throughout Henry Hervey Baber’s Memorandum of his life are names of long forgotten people. People who must at some time have been important in his life, and in those of their families.

For most of our forebears we can only ever hope to learn the smallest of amounts about them, and we will almost never know anything about their personal friendships, but thanks to some very brief lines I am beginning to fill in gaps in some of these late 18th Century lives.
"March 2 [1798] Mr Clarke Wootten died aged 31 at Ifley."
Searching through the British Libraries online newspaper archive I turned up the following fascinating paragraphs.

"OXFORD, Saturday, Aug. 3. On Monday se'nnight was married, Mr. John Clarke Wootten, of this city, apothecary, Clarke, daughter of the late Christopher Clarke, of Barnestone, Yorkshire."
From Reading Mercury - Monday 5th of August 1793

It appears that Clarke Wootten was an apothecary who had taken over the recently vacated business of Henry Clarson.

"OXFORD, October 27th, 1796.

ALL Persons remaining indebted to the Estate of Mr. HENRY CLARSON, late of the University of Oxford, Apothecary, deceased, are desired to pay their respective Debts to Mr. John Clark Wootten, of the said University, Apothecary, or Mr. Meysey, Attorney at Law, Oxford, who are duly authorised by the Executors to receive the same, before the First Day of January, 1797, after which Time proceedings will be had for the recovery of the laid Debts by Law, without, giving further Notice."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 8th October 1796.

John had matriculated as “Pharmacopola” on 16 August 1790, and was listed as a partner of the chemist Richard Rawlins above in the Universal Business Directory of 1794/5. [1]

I have no idea why Henry recorded the death of John Clarke Wootten, but presumably they had become friends while Henry was studying at New college.

Sadly, the friendship was not to last for long, as John Clarke Wooten died of tuberculosis, as is recorded by the following paragraph.

"Yesterday died at lfley, near this City, aged thirty-one, in a consumptive state, much lamented by his friends and acquaintances for his sincerity, sobriety, and other good qualifications, Mr. John Clark Wootten, Apothecary and Man-Midwife, and in partnership with Mr. R. Rawlins, by whom the business will be continued, with hopes for the continuation of the favours of his own and Mr. Wootten's friends."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 3rd March 1798

As Henry's Memorandum records, this was not the only tragedy that Mrs Clark Wooten faced in 1798, for on the 15 of June her son aged just six months also died.

The mention of the death of Mr Cullen opens out the possibility that my great great great grandfather may have had Scottish country dancing lessons, for it turns out that Mr Cullen was a dancing master.

In an earlier blog, I recounted how he had had his first dance in public in Banbury the previous year.

Presumably he had enjoyed the experience.


C. CULLEN, from LONDON, late Assistant to Mr. Wills, respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry, and Others, of the University and City of Oxford, and Parts adjacent, that he has fixed his Residence here, where he purposes teaching that Art, and in particular the New Stile of SCOTCH DANCING, Now universally practised in London, by the Fashionable World. Mr. Cullen may -be heard of at Mr. LEY's, Cat Street."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 25th May 1793

Cullen's death was also recorded in the Oxford Journal.

"On Saturday evening died at his lodgings in this City, after a long and severe illness, in the 26th year of his age, Mr. Cullen, Dancing Master. He was lineally descended from the celebrated Dr. Cullen of Edinburgh. The attainment of good eminence in his profession was by no meant his chief merit; an education superior to the generality of persons in his line of life, joined to an excellent understanding, produced in him such an uniform propriety of manners and conduct, as to render him respected by all with whom he was in any way connected."
From Oxford Journal - Saturday 21st April 1798

Joshua Dix, was probably a fellow student of Henry's who came from Kent, he was the son of Joshua Dix senior, a Minor Canon at Canterbury, who had been educated at Kings School Canterbury.

Joshua had a brother Edward, who went into the Royal Navy who became a Captain, and where after 47 years of service he died during a visit to Totnes.

Henry's note of February 16th 1798, is also confirmed by the papers.

"Joshua Dix, of All Souls;… were 'admitted Bachelors of Arts."
From Oxford Journal - Saturday 17th February 1798

Joshua Dix went on to a career as a clergyman and school master.

The Archdeacon of the Diocese of Canterbury has given the sequestrations of the vicarages of River and Lydden, to the Rev. Joshua Dix, the Senior Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, vacant by the decease of the Rev. Thomas Freeman.

From the Stamford Mercury - Friday 7th August 1807

Oxford University, June 18.— On Wednesday the first day of Act Term, the Rev. Joshua Dix, M. A. of New-coll. was admitted Bachelor in Divinity.

From the Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 22 June 1808

On Thursday last the 11th inst. died Mrs. Dix, wife of the Rev. Joshua Dix, Vicar of Feversham, Kent.

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 20 January 1827

The Reverend Dix was appointed to run Feversham School in 1808 and continued to do so well after 1818, when in that year he gave evidence on the running of the school to a Parliamentary Session.

His death happened quite suddenly in 1832.
"Aug. 15. [1832] The Rev. Joshua Dix, Vicar of Feversham, Kent. He was of New college, Oxford, M.A. 1800, B.D. 1808; and was presented to Feversham in 1814 by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury. He was taken ill whilst walking with his daughter in the town, and expired immediately after reaching his house."

From The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 102, Part 2; Volume 152

If you happen across these blog and by chance know anything more about these peoples lives, I would love to hear from you. My email is

[1] See

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