“A little account of my happy life when I was in my 21st year,” is how Philippa Clitherow (born in 1760) introduces herself.
This fully-transcribed diary recounts Philippa’s introduction to Mr. Brooksbank while on a September visit to BRIGHTON, “a very gay public sea bathing place”. Her future husband, Benjamin Brooksbank, she describes as “a very lively, agreeable Young Man.”
In the opening paragraph, alongside meeting Mr. Brooksbank, Philippa’s sister Jane “greatly admired by Mr. Baker”, marries “three months after the first meeting”. Philippa links her sister’s marriage to her own sadness: “never having seen Mr. Brooksbank since we returned from Brighton, thought he had quite forgotten me; really was sick at heart.”
And yet… the next 1781 entry tells us that Mr. Brooksbank did not leave young Philippa dangling for long: “His first visit to Boston House was in two days after the wedding.” Poor Philippa! Her father being out, Mr. Brooksbank “was not let in”. But he called again; and even stayed to dinner.
James Clitherow (by Romney, 1784)
Come the first entry under 1782, Philippa tells readers, “On the 27th February, I was married to Dear Mr. Brooksbank. It was a very quiet wedding.”
This delightful family diary was transcribed in October 2006 by Kerry Brooksbank. The file is all text, which left me wishing for some images – of people, places, or at the very least the dear diary which cover FIFTY years, the last entry being in August 1832.
Boston Manor, near London
Philippa Clitherow’s family home …
… a Grade I listed Jacobean manor house
Luckily, there is MUCH online about the family and their homes, especially Boston House.
In between these dates of 1781 and 1832 comes much family history – the birth of children, of course, which brings in some interesting tidbits be it attendance at Cambridge or voyages to India. Mentions are made of places as divergent as Cape Town and Ireland. One son becomes a clergyman.
The years go by quickly, with intermittent entries for really important occurrences – like the Hunt Ball or a family christening. In all the diary covers about 79 typed pages. But it packs a wallop within those pages: Assizes; child-rearing; travel; social calls.
Philippa’s son, Stamp Brooksbank
Her diary, of course, helps to put her family together. The Brentford High Street Project, featuring a website on “The Clitherow Family of Boston Manor“, helps to put siblings, aunts & uncles perfectly into context.
Philippa’s family included:
- Ann (b. 1760) m. William Salkeld
- Jane (b. 1761) m. Peter William Baker
- Mary (b. 1764)
- James (b. 1766) m. Jane Snow
- Martha (b. 1768) m. Lord William Seymour
- Sarah (b. 1769) m. Rev. E. Bullock
The family was well connected. Mary Clitherow’s letters, which tell of King William IV and Queen Adelaide (part 2; part 3), were published in 1902. Mary’s husband was the son of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford. Their sister, Mrs. Baker – whose marriage is mentioned in the diary, was painted by Gainsborough:
Mrs. Baker by Gainsborough
Daughter Philippa Brooksbank married Guiseppi Pecchio – known to Ugo Foscolo, who knew Lord and Lady Compton (AKA: Spencer Compton and Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane).
[Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton, was Emma Austen Leigh’s cousin and Emma is one of my Two Teens in the Time of Austen]
Some useful Clitherow / Brooksbank LINKS:
Note some spelling differences – Clitheroe or Clitherow; Phillipa or Philippa.