John Towill Rutt

John Towill Rutt (1760-1841) was raised among orthodox Independents in London. He spent a year at John Collett Ryland’s academy in Northampton before studying under the General Baptist (Unitarian) Joshua Toulmin at Taunton. He became a Unitarian and leading member of the Unitarian congregation at Gravel Pit in Hackney. He published important biographies of Gilbert Wakefield and Joseph Priestley, edited the entire works of the latter, and became a close friend of HCR in 1796. A number of his poems appeared throughout the 1790s and early 1800s in Benjamin Flower’s Cambridge Intelligencer and numerous monthly periodicals. When Crabb Robinson first met Rutt, the latter was operating as a ‘drug merchant’ at 239 Rutland Place, Upper Thames Street, London (Lowndes London Directory for 1799). At that time Rutt and his friend, Anthony Robinson, along with Robert Hall and Benjamin Flower and Crabb Robinson's eldest brother, Thomas, were all attendants at the Royston Book Club and all were involved in the reformist politics of the day. Mary Hays moved in a circle of Unitarians that included many friends and distant relations of Crabb Robinson, such as Rutt and Anthony Robinson. Two of her nieces, Mary (1786-1855) and Sarah Dunkin (1793-1875), married two nephews of Rutt, Peter (1782-1817) and George Wedd (1785-1854). Late in her life she was befriended by Nathaniel Rutt, a great-nephew of J. T. Rutt.