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.

 

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”

just received: The Poisoner

bates_poisonerWriter Charles Dickens thought Dr. William Palmer “the greatest villain”; Queen Victoria followed the case (as evidenced in her journals). Unlike “Jack the Ripper” or Dr. Crippen, Palmer’s name has faded. Author Stephen Bates plans to rectify that with this new true-crime biography.

Was Palmer unjustly accused of the poisoning-murder of his friend? Was he guilty of as many poisonings as he was suspected of?

I promise NOT to give too much away when the review gets posted.

The Hunt for Boswell

Just ordered a copy of Pride and Negligence: The History of the Boswell Papers (1982), which is the story of the finding and accumulation of the papers, letters, journals of James Boswell!

boswell

The introductory chapter of Peter Martin’s A Life of James Boswell is one of the most thrilling tales about manuscripts — from the letters that were used to enclose shopping purchases to the wrangle for more from the family. And here are 290 pages about the “Hunt for Boswell”. Can’t wait to receive it.