Michael James Whitty was born in Duncormick, Co. Wexford in 1795. His father was a farmer and shipowner.
Whitty made his way to Liverpool where, after a number of years working as a journalist, he took a job in the police force. At the time there were 3 different police groups in Liverpool, the Night Watch, the Day Police, and the Dock Police. Whitty was the Superintendent of the Night Watch. While in this position Night Watch, Whitty had proven himself to be a man of great bravery and strength. In 1835 he famously quelled an attack on the Vauxhall Bridewell jail in what became known as the Orange Riots. As a result of his excellent track record, Whitty was appointed the first ever Chief Constable in Liverpool.
Part of his role as Chief Constable required Whitty to establish a Fire Brigade. Until this point the extinguishing of fires was carried out by insurance companies. Under Whitty, the first Liverpool Fire Brigade came into existence. Whitty was responsible for the employment of more than 300 men who worked under his command.
Whitty held this highly esteemed position for 11 years, retiring from the force on the 22nd of January, 1847. As thanks for his many years of service, the people of Liverpool granted him a cash gift, which he used to return to his previous career of journalism. The following year Whitty purchased a newspaper called The Liverpool Journal. In his role as newspaper editor, Whitty campaigned heavily for the abolotion of stamp duty, stating to a parliamentary committee that if stamp duty were done away with, then he would be able to publish daily papers for a single penny, a fraction of the price at the time. In 1855 Whitty's wish was granted as the stamp duty was removed and he was able to begin publishing the UK's first penny newspaper, The Liverpool Daily Post.
Michael James Whitty died on the 10th of June 1873 at the age of 78. He is buried in Anfield cemetery, Liverpool.