John Stoddart

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John Stoddart
Born (1773-02-06)6 February 1773
Salisbury, England
Died 16 February 1856(1856-02-16) (aged 83)
London, England
Education Christ Church, Oxford
Occupation Author, editor and judge
Spouse(s) Isabella Wellwood-Moncrieff (1774-1846)

Sir John Stoddart (6 February 1773 – 16 February 1856) was a writer and lawyer, and editor of The Times.

Biography[edit]

Stoddart, eldest son of John Stoddart, lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was born at Salisbury. His only sister, Sarah, married, on 1 May 1808, William Hazlitt. He was educated at Salisbury grammar school, and matriculated on 25 Oct. 1790 from Christ Church, Oxford, where he was elected a student in 1791, and graduated B.A. in 1794, B.C.L. in 1798, and D.C.L. in 1801. He was admitted a member of the College of Advocates in 1801, and from 1803 to 1807 he was the king's and the admiralty advocate at Malta. During his time in Malta Stoddart was visited for a short time by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who eventually was placed in the post of Public Secretary to the government.

Foray into journalism[edit]

After returning to England, Stoddart practiced in Doctors' Commons. In 1810, he started an association with The Times, and served as a leader-writer for the paper beginning in 1812. In April 1814, Stoddart entered into an agreement with John Walter, the owner of The Times, in which he was named editor of the newspaper. A staunch Tory, Stoddart's intemperate articles soon generated much criticism. After Stoddart refused Walter's entreaties to moderate his tone, Walter empowered Thomas Barnes, then a reporter, to edit Stoddart's leading articles. Ultimately, Stoddart's political excesses grew to the point where Walter was forced to dismiss him at the end of 1816. Barnes was named as his successor.[1]

Two months later, Stoddart started a rival daily to The Times, entitled The New Times, which was soon amalgamated with the Day. For a short time it appeared as the Day and New Times, but dropped the first half of the title in 1818, and survived as the New Times until about 1828. During the period of his editorship he was scurrilously known as "Dr. Slop", and was the subject of several satires, of which A Slap at Slop (1820) ran through four editions.

Judicial career[edit]

His connection with the New Times probably ceased in 1826, when he was appointed chief justice and justice of the vice-admiralty court in Malta, and on 27 July was knighted by George IV at St. James's Palace. Finding that the Maltese complained that former judges were imperfectly acquainted with their language, he made himself master of Italian. He gave entire satisfaction in his office, and the islanders had perfect confidence in his decisions. He published in 1830–2 (3 parts) Trial by Jury: a Speech on the opening of a Commission in Malta for establishing a modified Trial by Jury, translated from the Italian. During an outbreak of cholera in the island he devoted himself to its suppression with great success.

Later years[edit]

Returning to England in 1840, he made progress in an etymological theory, which he believed would supplant that of Horne Tooke, and he embodied it in a work called Glossology, or the Historical Relations of Languages. Of this work he completed the first part only, which was published in 1858 in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana.

He died at 13 Brompton Square, London.

Personal life[edit]

On 1 Aug. 1803 John Stoddart married Isabella, eldest daughter of the Reverend Sir Henry Wellwood-Moncreiff, 8th Baronet (1750-1828) and his wife Susan Robertson Barclay. Lady Isabella was born on 31 March 1774, and died on 2 Feb. 1846. She wrote several novels under the pseudonym "Mrs. Martha Blackford".

At his death in 1856, the Annual Register reported that John Stoddart left "a very numerous family". A Register of the Scholars Admitted Into Merchant Taylors' School (1883) includes four Stoddarts as pupils. Henry Moncrieff Stoddart, born 23 July 1808, is identified as the eldest son of Sir John Stoddart. The register notes that he entered Charterhouse School in 1817 and "died while a monitor at school." William Wellwood Stoddart, b. 9 Nov. 1809, also entered Charterhouse in 1817. He became vicar of Charlbury, Oxfordshire and died at Genoa on 21 Nov. 1856. Thomas Robertson Stoddart, identified as the third son of Sir John Stoddart, "died young." No information about Charles Benson Earle Stoddart is given beyond his birthdate, b. 8 May 1816.

Another son, John Frederick, became a member of the Scottish bar in 1827, a judge in Ceylon in 1836, and died of a jungle fever while on circuit on 29 Aug. 1839 (Gent. Mag. 1840, i. 110).

One daughter, Isabella Maxwell Stoddart, married Captain George Whitmore at Malta, on 22 February 1827. Another, Mary Anne Stoddart, married Francis Baring Atkinson at Malta on 24 December 1831, and died bearing a child at Marseilles, 29 November 1832.

Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage (1865) mentions only one daughter, (Isabella) Whitmore, and three sons, John-Frederick, William, Thomas.

Publications[edit]

Stoddart published in 1801 Remarks on the Local Scenery and Manners of Scotland, London, 2 vols. 8vo. Of his writings on legal subjects, the most important was A Letter to Lord Brougham, one in the minority of the law lords by whom the great Irish marriage case, Queen v. Millis, was decided in 1844, and, as Stoddart endeavored to show, erroneously decided. On this case he also published in 1844 a pamphlet entitled Irish Marriage Question: Observations on the Opinions delivered by Lord Cottenham in the Irish Marriage Case, 1844. His legal acumen was also shown in his article "The Head of the Church" in the Law Review, February 1851, pp. 418–36. He translated from the French of Joseph Despaze The Five Men, or a review of the Proceedings and Principles of the Executive Directory of France, with the lives of the present Members, (1797); and, with Georg Heinrich Noehden, Schiller's Fiesco, (1796), and Don Carlos, (1798). To the quarto edition of the Encyclopædia Metropolitana he contributed "Grammar" (i. 1–193), and the introductory chapter on "The Uses of History as a Study" (ix. 1–80); and to the octavo edition, 1850, an introduction to the Study of Universal History, besides "Glossology" in 1858.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The History of The Times, vol. 1: The Thunderer in the Making, 1785-1841 (London: Printing House Square, 1935), p. 157-161
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Stoddart, John". Dictionary of National Biography 54. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Media offices
Preceded by
John Walter (2nd)
Editor of The Times
1812 - 1816
Succeeded by
Thomas Barnes