Joseph Blanco White

Joseph Blanco White, born José María Blanco y Crespo (11 July 1775 – 20 May 1841), was a Spanish theologian and poet.


Blanco White was born in Seville, Spain. He had Irish ancestry and was the son of the merchant Guillermo Blanco (alias White, an English viceconsul, who had established himself in Seville during the reign of Fernando VI) and María Gertrudis Crespo y Neve.

Blanco White was educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood. In Seville, Spain, he had worked with Melchor de Jovellanos, an adviser to the king who advocated reform.[1] After his ordination in 1800, White's religious doubts led him to leave Spain and go to England in 1810. There he ultimately entered the Anglican Church, having studied theology at Oxford and made the friendship of Thomas Arnold, John Henry Newman and Richard Whately. He became tutor in Whately's family when Whately became the Archbishop of Dublin in 1831. While in this position White embraced Unitarian views. He found asylum amongst the Unitarians of Liverpool, and he died in the city on 20 May 1841.


Blanco White edited El Español, a monthly Spanish magazine in London, from 1810 to 1814, which was strongly for the independence of Spanish America. In its pages, he commented on the course of the insurgency based on information from Spanish America and British sources. In turn, articles for El Español were reprinted in the insurgent press. He advocated that the Spanish Cortes (parliament) recognize juntas in Spanish America that remained loyal to the Spanish monarchy after the Napoleon's invasion of Spain and ouster of the Bourbon monarchy. He also was in favor of free trade, not just the closed Spanish system of comercio libre that allowed free trade ports in Spain with Spanish America and all ports within Spanish America.[2]

He received a civil list pension of £250. His principal writings are Doblado's Letters from Spain (1822) (under the pseudonym of "Don Leucado Doblado", and written in part at Holland House in London[3]), Evidence against Catholicism (1825), Second Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion (2 vols., 1834) and Observations on Heresy and Orthodoxy (1835). They all show literary ability and were extensively read in their day. He also translated Paley's Evidences and the Book of Common Prayer into Spanish.

White is best remembered, however, for his sonnet "Night and Death" ("Mysterious Night! when our first parent knew"), which was dedicated to Samuel Taylor Coleridge on its appearance in the Bijou for 1828 and has since found its way into several anthologies. Three versions are given in the Academy of 12 September 1891.


  1. D.A. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492 - 1867. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991, p. 544.
  2. D.A. Brading, The First America pp. 545-47.
  3. Princess Marie Liechtenstein (1875). "IV, The Third and the Fourth Lord Holland". Holland House (3 ed.). London: Macmillan. p. 91. Retrieved 2012-08-30.

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Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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