Orlando Whistlecraft was born on 11 November 1810 to James Whistlecraft and his wife Susan Brooke (nee English) in Thwaite, Suffolk. He was baptised on 13 January 1811 in Thwaite, Suffolk . He died on the 3rd March 1893 in Thwaite, Suffolk and his headstone is still in the St George’s churchyard today.
When Orlando was seven years old he suffered from rheumatic fever and was left with paralysis right arm and leg. He had to learn to write with his left hand. He also became an accomplished draughtsman and colourist and painted many pictures and was also know to have written poetry. Orlando is also mentioned a a number of Suffolk Directories.
SCHOOLING AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Orlando attended school in Stowmarket with Mr Thomas Bell until 1820.
At age 10 he went to Mendlesham and then onto Robert Burcham Clamp Academy, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich – where he boarded from age 14 (first a pupil and then as assistant pupil teacher at age 17).
While attending the Robert Clamp Academy he became amanuensis to the blind Dr Robert Hamilton who died in 1830. Orlando won the Academy drawing prize in 1826. He wrote for the Ipswich Journal and Chronicle and also became a member of the Ipswich Mechanic’s Institute, attending many scientific lectures at the age of 16. He regularly wrote letters to newspapers on nature and science dating back to when he was a boy.
In 1829 Orlando returned to Thwaite and opened a school. In 1843 he gave up the school to become a shopkeeper and to devote more time to his meteorological studies.
His first book published was The Climate of England in 1840, others included Rural Gleanings in 1851 and his famous weather almanac’s started in 1856.
In an interview given to the East Anglian Daily Times in 1892 Orlando explained how he started writing the alamanac’s:
I used to study the look of the heavens, and the action of the glass, and so on, and those fortnightly forecasts of mine came so near, so often , that people came to me and said, “You must write an almanac at one”. I used to the pay taxes at Eye in those days and the tax receiver, who came down to London, took the matter up, saying that he would guarantee the purchase of so many copies if the thing were started. Then Mr J M Burton of Ipswich – a bookseller and stationer in a large way of business there – came and said to me “why shouldn’t you and I publish and almanac?”.
So it came about that the first Whistlecraft’s almanac was published in 1856 with forecasts for the following year.