WODDERSPOON, John

1806 - 1862

John Wodderspoon, was born at Bath, Somerset in 1806. A journalist engaged on the 'Bath Reporter' then on the 'Birmingham Journal' before coming to Ipswich in 1837, living at 9 Adelphi Place as a reporter on the 'Suffolk Chronicle', a position he held for ten years. The editor of the Chronicle, John King, gave him the job of running a new four–penny monthly the 'Suffolk Literary Chronicle' (Ipswich 1837–8) in which were published articles on historic sites in Suffolk; this monthly periodical ceased after 14 issues but 'Historic Sites' was published in book–form in 1839 with illustrations by Orlando Jewitt (1799-1869), and revised in 1841. After a spell on the 'Morning Post', entailing reporting duties in Parliament, in 1849 Wodderspoon went as sub–editor on the 'Norwich Mercury' a position he held until his death. At Ipswich, Wodderspoon’s antiquarian interests brought him into contact with postmaster, William Stevenson Fitch (1793-1859) and at Norwich he found the postmaster’s brother Robert Fitch equally useful, indeed it may well be that the acquisitiveness of the Fitch brothers affected the historically–minded journalist, for the catalogue of the auction sale of Wodderspoon’s ‘belongings’ contain such items as 'Original Minutes of the Corporation of Ipswich 1767–1781' and 'Book of Accounts, St Peter’s Church, Ipswich'. Wodderspoon married at Solihull, Warwickshire on 27 October 1834, Eleanor Sadler Jabet (1808-1864). Wodderspoon, a fine water colour artist himself, devoted his leisure time to the fine arts and was an active member of the Norwich Archaeological Society and on the walls of his home hung three Gainsborough sketches, paintings by Thomas Churchyard [q.v.], George Frost [q.v.] and Wat Hagreen [q.v.] whose 'Picturesque Antiquities of Ipswich' Wodderspoon furnished the letterpress, he also collected pictures by John Varley and characteristic works by Old Crome, John Sell Cotman, John Thirtle, Joseph Stannard, Robert Ladbroke and George Vincent of Norwich. As assistant editor of the 'Norwich Mercury' he deputed one of his staff to report on a lecture by Professor David Ansted (1818-1880), the famous geologist. The particular reporter, one John Francis Smith, being a Sabbatarian raised objections to Sunday duty, when his superior gave him a ‘piece of his mind.’ Smith retaliated by taking out a summons against his chief alleging ‘offensive language.’ The following day the 19 November 1862, whilst Wodderspoon was giving instructions to his solicitors, a Mr Bugg, of Miller, Son & Bugg, of Norwich he ‘fell down and instantly expired’, he was aged 55. At that time he was living at Victoria Street, Lakenham, Norwich with his wife Eleanor Sadler who died back in Birmingham on 19 July 1864. (Copsey-Suffolk Writers 1800-1900[corrected] Ipswich 2000).