Diary of Philippa Brooksbank

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.

Colonel Clitheroe_RomneyJames Clitherow (by Romney, 1784)
Philippa’s “Brother”

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 ManorBoston Manor, near London
Philippa Clitherow’s family home …

State drawing room_Boston Manor
… 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.

Stamp Brooksbank_Geo EngleheartPhilippa’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:

Jane Clitheroe BakerMrs. 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.

 

Journals of Henrietta Liston

liston journals

Thanks go to Janeite Deb, who sent an email with links to Henrietta Liston’s online journals, as well as to this (click photo) informative article. Both are from the National Library of Scotland. I must say I was VERY impressed with the NLS publication Discover magazine. In this issue alone, there are articles on Robert Louis Stevenson manuscripts, Blackwood’s Magazine, and – of course – the cover story of Mrs. Liston.

Born on the island of ANTIGUA in 1752, Henrietta Marchant emigrated to Glasgow, Scotland as a child. She married Robert Liston in 1796. “A few weeks after their wedding, the Listons sailed to America.” Robert Liston had been appointed British Minister to the United States.

Living in what soon became the 14th State in the Union (the state of Vermont), I was impressed with the accessibility of maps showing Henrietta Liston’s movements. And, yes, she touched Vermont, having navigated Lake Champlain.

Some of the BEST of Abigail Adams‘ letters were written during her periods abroad; the Liston journals will be *MUST READS* for those interested in an “outsider’s view” of the country. They also can be used to flesh out such first-person accounts of the new country as told in the letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert (published as “Mistress of Riversdale”).

Liston’s words about George and Martha Washington are juxtaposed with her thoughts on flora and fauna. And, yes, she writes of gallant (as she calls him) Alexander Hamilton.

liston journals2“The Liston Papers – an amazing resource; … a boon to social historians”

Diary of Lady Lucy Cavendish

LOVE that an old book has found new life (and new fans?) as a blog. In this case The Diary of Lady Frederick Cavendish (to give the title of this 1927 issue). Women today might take issue with being known by their husband’s name (for instance, few would use the correct form of Mrs Robert Adams, preferring Mrs Thelma Adams instead – though the latter was distinctly in use for a widow at the time). Thus the title of my post. Giving Lady Lucy her due.

lady-frederick-cavendish

Earliest entries are from 1854; final entries come from 1882. The blog started because of a set of the book’s 2 volumes being found at a used bookstore for $3 in the late 1970s. You can read about the gestation of the blog under the tab “BACKGROUND“.

The extensive Introductions, to each volume as well as each volume of diary is also included.

By way of introduction to you, dear Reader, here is a hint about her lineage:

“Born in one of the finest families of the English aristocracy, she had many connections to several of the grandest families in Great Britain. Her grandmother, Lady Sarah Spencer Lyttelton (“Granny” in the diary), held such a close association with the Royal Family that she was spoken of as the “Governess of England.” Her uncle, William Gladstone, was several times Prime Minister and many of her relatives were members of Parliament”

New: Online Diaries

How I could neglect SO LONG in collecting together all the WEBSITES that reproduce diaries (and coming soon, letters), I just don’t know. You will find them under the tab DIARIES ONLINE.

While I track down more that I have come across over the years, I start with FOUR sites that were true *FINDS* indeed:

  • Gertrude Savile’s diaries, on Twitter
  • Miss Fanny Chapman’s diaries
  • Lady Charlotte Bridgeman’s journals
  • the theatre comments of John Waldie

This group covers Britain (and sometimes beyond) from the early 1720s into and beyond the 1850s. Each diarist has a fascinating tale to tell, and a compelling voice with which they narrate. Some are presented “whole”; some have accompanying links to page images, if you wish to try deciphering them yourself.

lady-charlotte-bridgeman
a page from Charlotte Bridgeman’s journal

Revisiting Rosalie

rosalie riversdaleI recently took this book off the shelf again. Hadn’t remembered talking about it – but I did, in the early days of this blog.

It was a “shelf find” in the library where my office was located at the time. A “gift” to the library by a departing history professor. I was ENTRANCED! and pretty immediately looked online for a copy. That I bought a hardcover (the library copy was softcover), complete with its dust jacket, all in very good condition, should tell you how well-regarded I felt the contents to be.

Rosalie Stier had escaped the French revolutionary forces that had begun to invade her home country – Belgium. She and her family embarked for the United States. They ended up in Maryland. At the time that I got this book, I, too, had been spending time in Maryland (I live in Vermont). Such an experience, to see the very places in which Rosalie lived – including the mansion-house of Riversdale itself. Rosalie’s extraordinary letters exist because she stayed behind when the rest of her family returned to Belgium.

As it happens, Rosalie Calvert makes her appearance at this Fall’s Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), when the AGM convenes in Washington, D.C. But it was listening to the Original Broadway Recording of Hamilton that had me pulling out the book.

Diggs_Jefferson

Rosalie had some harsh thoughts about Thomas Jefferson (she referred to him as “Tommy Jeff”); through marriage the Calverts were related to Martha Washington’s Custis children; and the Calverts were “on the scene,” having settled so close to the new national capital.

What might Rosalie Stier Calvert have written about Eliza and Alexander Hamilton??

Alas, it is his death alone that warrants a comment in the existing correspondence (as translated from the French and published here):

“America has just had a great loss in the person of Alexander Hamilton who was killed in a duel with Colonel Burr, the vice-president. Even General Washington’s death did not produce such a sensation. The City of New York is in an uproar, and if Burr had not fled, they would have made him pay dearly for his vengeance.”

America has just had a great loss… Forceful words, indeed. Pity nothing else in her letters elaborates upon the “whys” behind her thoughts.

HIGHLY recommended for those travelling to the AGM in October 2016, those interested in women’s history, and those interested in a “plantation” view of the new nation of the United States. Excellently edited by Margaret Law Callcott, with a fine essay that introduces the Stiers and supports the letters that follow.

Trusty and Well Beloved

Trusty Harness

Publisher / date: SPCK, 1957
pages: 213
Hardcover
genre: biography (letters)

Although purchased a while ago, I am immensely engrossed in this book and wish I had cracked it open for a much longer on first receiving it. (But: there are many books in that boat…)

This book came to my attention through Jenny Uglow’s In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 [see my Two Teens in the Time of Austen post on that book]. She utilized many period personalities – including Mary Hardy and Betsy Fremantle.

William Harness, however, was a new name to me. The full title of this book supplies a LOT of information about the contents: Trusty and Well Beloved: The Letters Home of William Harness, an Officer of George the Third. The editor, Caroline M. Duncan-Jones has provided excellent (not too much; not too little) information linking the various letters, which begin in the period before the engagement of Captain William Harness to Miss Elizabeth Bigg of Aylesbury (they finally married, after a lengthy engagement, in 1791).

The romance of the couple accounts for the existence of the letters – but it is the fascinating picture that William paints while abroad which I find so captivating. The places he was posted to include a wind-swept island; a pricey Cape Hope; a savage yet tranquil Ceylon. It tears at your heart whenever he writes of soon ending a present tour – and his looking forward to seeing his wife and children. Readers know the end of the story, which the participants never could have done.

The two years spent in Ceylon read with such genuine storytelling ability (few of Elizabeth’s surviving letters are included), and the narrative of how long it took for letters to arrive – and how that came about – is as interesting. It is unimaginable to think of being so long torn from family, all in the hopes of a better future, especially for the children.

William Harness’ letters also make you long to know about what he did NOT write to his wife.

The Harness papers exist! At the Bodleian, you can search for more information on William’s brother, John Harness – a naval surgeon (and probably the medical man who treated Nelson when he lost is eye).

There are a few glimpses and the family in England, but you mainly travel along William. You feel his amazement at the mountain views, his disgust of the cruelties of man, and his longing for his family – and the family life he believes his sacrifice (and ‘Bessy’s’ sacrifice, too) will bring them in the future.

The cover illustration includes a depiction (also inside the book) of an Officer of the 80th Regiment of Foot, one of William Harness’ regiments. His regimental history is briefly outlined on the Napoleon Series website. And, of course, there is Uglow’s new (2015) book.

Currently, there are several copies of Trusty and Well Beloved at exceptionally reasonable prices. Heartily recommended.

Political & Social Letters

Mrs Osborn

Mrs. Osborn, daughter of Viscount Torrington, had her letter collected and edited (by Emily Osborn) in 1891 under the title Political and Social Letters of a Lady of the Eighteenth Century, 1721-1771.

THREE Austen Leigh (Emma Smith) connections grabbed my attention: the Osborns were associated with CHICKSANDS, which Emma visited as a teenager; and Mrs. Osborn mentions the 1767 death of Lady Northampton (née Jane Lawton, mother of the 1st Marquess of Northampton, Emma’s uncle); and there is a Byng (the familial name of the Torringtons) and Bramston marriage in 1730. (The Bramstons of Essex being Smith of Suttons neighbors.) She is, of course, related to the 5th Viscount, who left us his delightful “tour diaries” [published in four volumes, 1934-38] (he was younger son of Mrs. Osborn’s brother).