Captain Gronow Reminisces

One book often cited, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow actually is one of FOUR books by Rees Howell Gronow, published in the 1860s. Although written as memoirs later in life, the amount of informative gossip keeps Gronow at the top of the “bibliography” lists in many Regency histories and biographies.

Capt Gronow

The first book – the most famous of them – is also available *free* as an audio book at Librivox.

Grego’s two volume illustrated edition should prove popular too: volume 1, volume 2

Gronow lived from 1794 to 1865. He attended Eton, served in the Napoleonic Wars, spent time in Debtors’ Prison, was a Member of Parliament who was ousted in a “void” election.

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.

 

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.

FREE Book Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Journeys

JA journeys

Hazel Jones – author of Jane Austen and Marriage – has completed a breezy narrative on travel in the life and works of Jane Austen.

I’m offering a FREE copy of this book, Jane Austen’s Journeys.

  • read about Jane Austen’s Journeys @ the publisher Robert Hale’s official website
  • read about Jane Austen’s Journeys @ GoodReads
  • ASK any questions – and enter below by adding a “comment”. The giveaway will be open through the end of August (31 August 2015, U.S. eastern time). Please: U.S. mailing addresses only

Hardcover
published February 2015
272 pages
8 color plates
list price: $28.95

1 Sept 2015
Out of the pink pillowcase, the recipient of the book is:

Aubrey Leaman

Some new (“old”) diaries

Have been on a bit of a buying spree; came home recent with the following:

courtney of beverleyJohn Courtney’s diary, published as The Diary of a Yorkshire Gentleman, I’ve wanted to read since seeing a little snippet about him in Amanda Vickery’s video At Home with the Georgians.

She also mentions him in her lecture “What did eighteenth-century men want?” (video presentation via Gresham College)

Christopher Roberts (University of Leeds) has given the talk “John Courtney of Beverely: Music & Courtship in the life of an 18th Century Yorkshire Gentleman

There’s a very hard-to-find journal article on Courtney as well: “John Courtney went a-courting” (East Yorkshire Local History Society Bulletin, No. 42, 1990)

The Courtney papers are located at the University of Hull.

Alas, the promised follow-up book by Susan & David Neave evidently never materialized.

*

highland lady dublinFilling in the LAST volume of diaries for Elizabeth Grant, also known as The Highland Lady, is the book dealing with her years in Dublin. The first — which is a true “must read” is Memoirs of a Highland Lady (covering her youth and marriage). An older publication can be found online – and has some lovely photos!

Published, in the Andrew Tod edition from the 1980s, is its companion The Highland Lady in Ireland (the decade 1840-1850, minus the years in Pau). Two books fill in, this one of her years in Dublin; and A Highland Lady in France (covering the years 1843-45).

The blog “I Prefer Reading” include enchanting commentary on the author (and the 2nd book too)!

Her highland home, Rothiemurchus, still exists.

*

emily shoreLastly, an old friend – that I originally got as a library book — this was a gift (along with so much else! thanks, Mervyn), which I almost turned down because I had a digital copy. But who can say no to a BOOK?

Emily Shore actually has a connection to my Smiths & Goslings: she was related to Emma Austen’s great aunt, Susannah Smith of Bersted Lodge.

The most intriguing part of the “afterlife” of this publication is that a couple of Emily Shore’s original journals have come to light! The editor of this edition, Barbara Timm Gates, gives a VIVID account of the ‘discovery’.

Those interested in the book, the journals, and Emily Shore are encouraged to check out the website (subscription) at the University of Virginia. Readers have limited access – so do take a look at the links to the INTRODUCTION and CONTENTS.

Comtesse de Boigne

In looking at the biography — too late into the 19th century to be the same lady — I had to look up the memoirs of a similarly-named lady. Ah, la Comtesse de Boigne was the Regency-era memoirist! Some of her books are available (free) online.

boigneMemoirs:

vol. I: 1781-1814 (US edition)

vol. II: 1815-1819 (US edition)

vol. III: 1820-1830 (US edition)

Recollections of a Great Lady; being More Memoirs

I have most of the series in its original publication, but several years ago there was a respectable reprint edition.

(all “boigne” books at Archive.org)