WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Rev John Whitton

Rev John Whitton

Male 1834 - 1923  (89 years)

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  • Name John Whitton 
    Title Rev 
    Born 5 Jun 1834  Kirrimuir, Angus c 25-6 Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 24 Dec 1923  Orrel, Lancs, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1348  Whitton
    Last Modified 16 Oct 2019 

    Father John Whitton,   b. 19 Feb 1803, Kirrimuir, Angus Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Jun 1869, Hill Street Hospital Park, Dundee, Angus buried New Mains, Strathmartin Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Helen or Ellen McNab Alexander,   b. 1810, Kirrimuir, Angus Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Aug 1903, 69 North Wellington Street, Dundee, Angus Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married Dec 1833  Kirrimuir, Angus Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F855  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah Clarke,   b. 1844, Leicester Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jan 1925, Orrel, Lancs, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 10 Jul 1876  Leicester, Leics Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. William Alexander Whitton,   b. 9 Sep 1877, Leicester Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Apr 1964, Oxford Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years)  [natural]
     2. Helen Grace Whitton,   b. 15 Feb 1879, Littleborough, Summit, Lancs Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jun 1965  (Age 86 years)  [natural]
     3. John Whitton,   b. 11 Nov 1880, Calderbank, Summit, Littleborough, Leicester Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jul 1973, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA b 5-7-1973 Lake Hills Cem Sandy Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 92 years)  [natural]
     4. David Forbes Whitton,   b. 7 Jan 1883, Littleborough, Lancs Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Dec 1885  (Age 2 years)  [natural]
     5. George Clark Whitton,   b. 31 Mar 1885, Billings Higher End Lancs Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Apr 1966, 6 Salisbury Road Wallasey, Cheshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 16 Oct 2019 
    Family ID F859  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • at 1841 census at Feus Balmuckity/ Marytown with Uncle William and Aunt Christina
      at 1851 census at Dundee ref 282/046/00027
      at 1861 census at 4 Bedford Street, Edinburgh a Student Arts a Boarder born Kirrimuir at St George Edinburgh ref 685/01100/01003
      at 1881 census at Todmorden Road, Blatchinworth and Calderbrook, Lancashire an "Independant Minister"

      The newly appointed minister was the Rev. John Whitton who served the chapel for five years from 1877 to 1882. He originated from Scotland and had a family of three, all born whilst in his ministry at Summit. He had been approached and asked if he would accept the living at the salary of £100, composed of £70 from the church and £30 from the union and that he pay his own house rent. Obviously he agreed and took up the post. During Rev. Whitton's term of office, it was agreed in 1881 that the Summit and Littleborough Churches should “co-operate under one Evangelist”. The representatives from the union at the meeting held on January 11 th 1881 were the Revs. Mr. Berry of Bolton, John Younge of Warrington and B. Aitken of Rochdale.
      The Jubilee of the Chapel in 1884 fell between the leaving of Rev. Whitton and the appointment of Rev. Morgan
      at 1891 census at 34 St James Road, Orrell, Far Moor, Lancashire recorded as Ror (Rev?) John Whitton
      at 1901 census at Orrell, Lancaster a Congregational Minister

      A History of Reverend John Whitton
      Taken from an interview that was
      published in the Wigan Observer

      The Rev. John Whitton, the minister of the Holgate Congregational Church, Orrell, celebrated his eightieth birthday yesterday, and in connection with the event it is seasonable to embody some of the interesting facts of his career in a sketch, and to give some of the memories of his life. Mr. Whitton came to Orrell thirty-odd years ago, in April, 1883, as the successor of the Rev. A. Heal, who used to have charge of the chapel at Orrell, as well as that which at one time was located at Silverwell. During his long residence in the Wigan district Mr. Whitton has taken an active part in the life of the people and has helped in the making of various phases of local history. He was one of those who successfully resuscitated the Wigan and District Sunday School Union in the early eighties, and he was one of the promoters of the now defunct Pupil Teacher's Centre which was so beneficial for educational efficiency. It was John Whitton who was the first to suggest the formation of the Wigan Free Church Council, and he took a prominent part with with the Rev. J. Kerr Craig and others in establishing that body. For twenty years too, he has been the honorary secretary of the Wigan and District Auxiliary of the London Missionary Society. John Whitton is a man of marked individuality, a minister who believes in his mission, a leader who may be relied upon in a time of crisis to emphasize the fact that he is a person with a personality. As you chat with him at 80, and he warms with the remembrance of old times, you see the fires of youth leap up in his eyes, and as he gets into the fair way of conversation you sit and listen while he talks.

      A Native of "Thrums"
      He shares his birthplace with J. M. Barrie, the novelist, for it was at Kirriemuir, Scotland, the "Thrums" of the author of the author of "The Little Minister" and "Margaret Ogilvy" that he was born on June 5, 1834, and as a lad Barrie's "house on the brae" was very familiar to him. Many a time he has passed Jess's window and as a boy run up the brae, of which Barrie so lovingly and tenderly writes. You remember Barrie's description of the little garden and the tiny house in "A Window in Thrums." To Mr. Whitton it was a landmark before J.M. Barrie was born, and when Barrie as a small boy was sitting on the brig and running up the brae, John Whitton, having lived his childhood's days amid the scenes described in the book, had already gone out into the world to the battle of life. "The house made famous by Barrie," says Mr. Whitton, "was at the top of the brae, and out of the gable looked the window over the roadway that leads to Forfar, and the person looking out of this window had the command of the road for miles and miles." Mr. Whitton, like Barrie, is related to the Ogilvies of "Thrums". An aunt of his married an Ogilvy, and he has cousins of the same name, but whether they are relatives of "Margaret Ogilvy" he has never inquired.

      Jess at the Window

      Do you recall Barrie's description of Jess at the window, of which Mr. Whitton speaks? "This is Jess's window," writes the author. "For more than twenty years she had not been able to go so far as the door, and only once while I knew her was she ben in the room. With her husband, Hendry, or their only daughter Leeby, to lean upon, and her hand clutching her staff, she took twice a day, when she was strong, the journey between the bed and the window where stood her chair. She did not lie there looking at the sparrows or at Leeby cleaning up the house, and I hardly ever hear her complain. All the sewing was done by her; she often baked on a table pushed close to the window and by leaning forward she could stir the porridge. Leeby was seldom off her feet, but I do not know that she did more than Jess, who liked to tell me, when she had a moment to spare, that she had a terrible lot to be thankful for." To quote from the book again, "Jess's window was a beacon by night to travelers in the dark, and it will be so in the future when there are none to remember Jess." It was at this window that Jess sat for twenty years or more, "looking at the world as though through a telescope."

      He Becomes a Minister

      John Whitton left "Thrums" while he was yet in his teens, and went to Dundee, where he was articled to a solicitor. Later, however, he decided to go to Edinburgh University, where, and at the Theological Hall of the Congregational Churches of Scotland, he studied from 1859 to 1863. Afterwards he went to North Shields to take charge of a mission in connection with the Scotch Church there, and on leaving North Shields in 1866 the congregation worshiping in Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Chapel, which he had been instrumental in forming, presented him with a set of theological books "as a token of their appreciation of his unwearied and successful efforts for their temporal and spiritual welfare." From North Shields Mr. Whitton proceeded to Runcorn, as the assistant pastor of the Congregational Church there, and a year later went to Leicester as town missionary.

      The First Adult Sunday School

      At Leicester Mr. Whitton did some interesting work that helped in the making of history. In 1868, before the Education Act came into force Mr. Whitton organised a series of evening classes to teach young men and young women reading and writing, and this ultimately led to the formation of a society for Free Evening Classes. The classes were held in different parts of Leicester, there being about a thousand adult scholars, and the teachers giving their time voluntarily. The work of Mr. Whitton in Leicester resulted in the establishment of the Sanvey Gate Congregational Church, or which he became pastor, and he then turned his attention to ragged school work and adult Sunday School classes. It is claimed for him, in fact, that held the first Sunday School adult class in England, outside the Quakers, and how he set about it is told in "Fifty Years of Adult School Work in Leicestershire, 1861-1910". In this it is related how the Rev. John Whitton, "a Congregational Minister, who was alive to the needs of working men, and anxious to improve the conditions under which they lived," in 1870 met John Whitmore, who wished to join a class for reading, writing, and Bible study, and together they decided to start an Adult School.

      Married at Leicester

      It was while at Leicester that Mr. and Mrs. Whitton were married, and that, as Mrs. Whitton put it, "was the making of him". When Mr. Whitton left Leicester in 1877 the congregation at the Sanvey Gate Mission Hall presented him with an illuminated address, in which reference was made to his "ten years of unremitting toil" in Leicester, and which stated; "Your name will long live among us, and your going will long be regretted." At Leicester Mr. Whitton's health began to fail him, and he went to take charge of a church at Summit, and after five years spent at Littleborough and Summit he came to Orrell. While Mr. Whitton has been at Orrell the Holgate Day School, now the Council School, has been built, a new Sunday School has been erected on modern lines, and the old church, at a cost of £1,100, has also been rebuilt.

      Famous People He Has Met

      During his interesting career Mr. Whitton has met some famous people. At Edinburgh University he was a student under Professor Blackie, of whom he has some interesting reminiscences. He had also as a teacher Professor Pillans, celebrated in Byron's "English Bards and Scoth Reviewers" in the line, "And paltry Pillans shall traduce his friend."
      Professor Aytoun, the author of "The lays of the Scottish Cavaliers", "Ben Gaultier Ballads", and other well-known works, was another of his teachers. While he was town missionary of Leicester he spent a night in the company of George MacDonald, the novelist, and they talked of literature and philosophy until the "wee sma' hours o' the mornin'". On parting MacDonald said to Mr. Whitton, "Why don't you write a book?" It is interesting to recall that Professor Blackie gave Mr. Whitton the special degree of "P.P.", which being interpreted means "Philosopher and Philologist". The professor did it as a joke, of course, under these circumstances. On day he was taking his students through a lesson in Greek translation, when he broke off sharply and asked; "It is curious that the Greeks had no word for 'translation' - can any of you explain that?" Young Whitton, as he then was, answered that there was only the Greek literature then, and so there was really nothing to translate. Professor Blackie gave him the degree of "P.P." on the spot.

      Holgate Day School

      The late Mr. and Mrs. Ryley built the old Holgate day school, which for some time was carried on as a private school.... During the great coal strike of 1893 a soup kitchen was opened in the Holgate School, and over £150 was received from all parts of England in answer to Mr. Whitton's appeal, some tons of old clothing also being sent to Orrell.

      The Progress at Orrell

      During the thirty odd years that Mr. Whitton has been located in Orrell he has seen a great change come over the place. The population has grown considerably, and building of cottage property has taken something of the old-world look away from Far Moor. "In one generation says Mr. Whitton, "the conditions of the people in the locality has improved immensely both morally and socially. Things that were quite common a generation ago would be nameless now."

      The Work of Sons and Daughter

      It is interesting to note that Mr. and Mrs. Whitton have three sons and one daughter who have gone out into the world to do useful work. Miss H.G. Whitton is the French Mistress in the county secondary school at Elland, Yorkshire; Mr. W.A. Whitton, M.S., is the science master at the Holloway County School, London, and is the author of two science manuals. Mr. George Whitton is a marine engineer with Messrs. Lamport and Holt, shipowners, and although still in his twenties, he has travelled all over the world, and is now sailing between New York and Buenos Aires. The remaining son is an Insurance superintendent at Perth, Western Australia. While still at Orrell with their parents, two of the sons and the daughter brought honor to the family by winning three county scholarships of £60 each in one year. "It all came out at one shot," says the father, taking up a phrase that is common to the mining community among whom he has resided so long.
      All who know the Rev. John Whitton will congratulate him on becoming an octogenarian, and will wish him many more years of active service among the people with whose lives he has identified for so long.

      Family History
      As written by Reverend John Whitton (b. 1834)

      I cannot go farther back than our grandparents on each side. On my father's side, my grandfather was John Whitton. According to what I remember to have heard, he removed from Barry, near Dundee, to Kirriemuir, but the date I have never heard mentioned. My earliest recollection is of his living at some houses now removed called the Cottar Shed. They were in the field on the left hand side of the road from Kirriemuir to Forfar, and two or three hundred yards from the road and right opposite the Fens of Balmuchaty. Afterwards, he lived and died in a house on the road leading to a farm called "Damee", to which I went for milk. I remember the house very well as my Uncle William and my Aunt Christina lived in it after my grandfather's death. I have no recollection of my Grandfather Whitton, but I have a vivid recollection of his funeral. The date of his death would be somewhere about 1838. He was buried in the old Parish Burying ground of Kirriemuir. I remmber being at the funeral and holding the cord at the head of the coffin with my father. There is no stone on the grave, but I indicate the spot on the plan.
      The relations of my grandfather are unknown to me, but my father had cousins who lived in Dundee - two ladies and a gentleman, who were well off, but who inherited their property I do not know. My sister Jean purchased some of their furniture on its being sold on the death of the last line. ... They lived in Lylybank, Dundee, and I visited them, but I do not know whether they had any relations.
      My grandmother's name was Jean Wilkie. She died while the children were young. ... The Wilkies were linen manufacturers; that is, they purchased yarn and had it woven into cloth. I have a very vivid recollection of on George Wilkie who was lame and was a private teacher. He had some knowledge of electricity; [it] must have been some kind of hobby with him. ...
      My father John was the oldest of four, three sons and one daughter. My father was born 12 April, 1803 (baptismal date) at Kirriemuir and died 7 June 1869, and is buried at New Mains Strathmartin in Grave No. 72. I had two uncles- William and George and one aunt - Christina. William and Christina died unmarried. I have a very happy recollection of both. They were very good to me to the utmost of their means. ... William went before my father, but Christina survived.
      George married Hamba Smith and had one son [named] George. Uncle George and his wife were quite superior as to manners according to my recollection of them, and I think they must have lived beyond their means and ruined themselves and my father and uncle as well.
      William was a joiner, but he gave up his trade and joined my father in employing weavers in linen manufacturing. They were not mere middlemen; they brought their own yarn and sold the cloth as they could. George was in the same business but by himself. My father and Uncle William endorsed some bills for him, which, he failing to meet, and my father and Uncle William being able to do so, were made bankrupt. It spoiled both their lives. Uncle George died of Typhus Fever somewhere about 1840 as near as I can conjecture, leaving one son [named] George. The widow married an old soldier with a pension. He was a very respectable man. When he came for annual training he visited us, and I went to see him several times in the Dundee Barracks. George left home without informing his mother. ... Information came, how I knew not, that he obtained employment in an iron works in the north of England but what became of him I have no knowledge.
      We have no relations on my father's side so far as I know. If my cousin George is alive and if he married and had a family, his children would be our only relatives. Our family on my mother's side were Alexander and Helen McNab. ...