William Hulton (23 October 1787 – 30 March 1864) was an English landowner and magistrate who lived at Hulton Park, in the historic county of Lancashire, England. The Hultons owned the estate since the late-12th century.
William Hulton was the son of William Hulton and Jane (née Brooke). He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford. In 1808 he married his cousin Maria Ford with whom he had 13 children, 10 of whom survived to maturity.
In 1811 he was appointed High Sheriff of Lancashire. In this capacity he ordered the arrest of 12 men, Luddites, for arson at Westhoughton Mill in Westhoughton town centre. Four of the offenders were hanged outside Lancaster Castle, including a boy aged 12. Hulton gained a reputation as being tough on crime and political dissent and in 1819 was made chairman of the Lancashire and Cheshire Magistrates, a body set up for dealing with the civil unrest endemic in the area. He was also Constable of Lancaster Castle.
In 1819 he summoned the local Yeomanry to deal with a large crowd in St Peter's Square in Manchester which had gathered to hear the political agitator Henry Hunt. The Yeomanry, on horseback with sabres drawn, forced its way through the crowd to break up the rally and allow Hunt to be arrested. From his vantage point William Hulton perceived the unfolding events as an assault on the yeomanry, and on L'Estrange's arrival at 1:50 pm, at the head of his hussars, he ordered them into the field to disperse the crowd with the words: "Good God, Sir, don't you see they are attacking the Yeomanry; disperse the meeting!" Fifteen people died from sabre and musket wounds or trampling, with 400 to 500 injured and the event became known as the Peterloo Massacre. Hulton was vilified by the local population and was obliged to decline a safe parliamentary seat offered to him in 1820.
Death: He died on the 30th of March 1864 at Leamington Priors, Warwickshire & was buried on the 5th of April 1864 at Deane, Lancashire
As the owner of Hulton Park he derived income from the seven collieries working the coal measures under the park or nearby and in 1824 became chairman of the Bolton and Leigh Railway Company, which planned and built the first public railway in Lancashire. The line ran to the west of his estate from Bolton to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Leigh, enabling him to deliver his coal to market more cheaply. The line was connected to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 giving him and other local businessmen access to the Port of Liverpool.
Until 1831 Hulton paid his workers with tokens or vouchers that could only be redeemed in his company shop, a practice outlawed by the passing of the Truck Act 1831. In 1843 Hulton paid his colliers the poorest wages in Lancashire. He remained opposed to permitting the right to free assembly and was vehemently opposed to miners congregating with the object of forming a union. He established the Hulton Colliery Company in 1858.
William and Maria had at least 8 sons and 4 daughters who survived infancy:
- William Ford Hulton, b. 19 Sep 1811 – d. 18 May 1879
- Amelia Marie Hulton, b. 1815 – d. 5 Feb 1871, who married Henry Montagu Villiers
- Arthur Hyde Hulton, b. 31 Jul 1816
- Sophia Frances Anne Hulton, b. 27 Oct 1817
- Randle Harrington Hulton, b. 23 Dec 1818
- Frederick Bleythin Hulton, b. 26 Jan 1820 – d. 18 Sep 1839
- Mary Gertrude Hulton, b. 21 Jul 1821
- Charles Norleigh Hulton, b. 10 Jan 1823
- Hugh Thurstain Hulton, b. 10 Mar 1824
- Alfred Lacy Hulton, b. 1 Aug 1825
- Emma Louisa Hulton, b. 12 Mar 1827
- Edward Lister Hulton, b. 1828
|High Sheriff of Lancashire
Samuel Chetham Hilton