All posts by Mike W

Dancing all night with Aphra Behn: a recently acquired diary of Jeffrey Boys of Betteshanger, 1667

 

The library recently acquired a little Gallen almanac of 1667. This work, itself a rare book (we have traced a handful of Gallen almanacs in the Bodleian, and none for 1667), has become a unique manuscript as it contains a diary of Jeffrey (or Jefferay) Boys of Betteshanger, Kent for the year 1667. The catalogue has just been published online. Although the diary covers only 12 pages (one per month), it is of considerable interest as a record of Restoration London. In the words of the bookseller  Samuel Gedge, who identified the author and the significance of the diary, the diarist “offers a masterclass in Restoration dandyism: gambling, socialising, drinking, dancing and theatregoing”.

Jeffrey Boys (1643-1703) was a young lawyer at Gray’s Inn, one of many sons of John Boys (d. 1678), possessor of the manor of Betteshanger in Kent. John Boys was married three times, and the numerous references to brothers, sisters and cousins in the diary refer to step-relatives and brothers and sisters-in-law as well as full siblings, and all can be traced in pedigrees of the Boys family and John Boys’s will held in the National Archives. Jeffrey’s mother and father make a brief appearance in the diary when ‘Father & Mother Let’ come to London. Jeffrey’s mother was named Letitia.

The most extraordinary aspect of the diary however is Boys’s meetings with the female playwright Aphra Behn, with whom he is clearly acquainted. Aphra goes by the name of ‘Astrea’, and her identity might not have been established but for the fortunate discovery in 1930 of another Jeffrey Boys diary of 1671. Astrea was apparently a name Aphra Behn adopted when she was a spy in Antwerp. Sadly, the whereabouts of the original diary is not presently known, but the discoverer, though not recording where he saw it, wrote it up in Notes and Queries, noting that Boys records that he saw Astrea’s play the Forc’d Marriage, and then that ‘Astraea’s boy brought me her play the Amorous Prince’.

[May] 29 Sisters, Mrs An. Farew[ell], Astrea & divers men set up dauncing at Spr[ing] gard[en] all night

The 1667 diary shows that Jeffrey Boys’s connection with Aphra Behn was more intimate, and went back further than could be discovered from the the 1671 diary. She makes her first of five appearances in Boys’s 1667 diary on 29 May when Boys, his sister, Astrea and ‘divers men set up dauncing at Spr[ing] gard[en] all night’. The date of this first entry is noteworthy because it is known from other sources that Aphra Behn had returned from her spying mission to Antwerp earlier that month (see her entry in the Dictionary of National Biography). It is clear from this entry that Boys already knew Astrea, and as she is treated in the same way as all his other friends and relatives mentioned in the diary, it is likely that they had known one another a long time.

 

The diary has numerous interesting references to life in Restoration London. On 14-15 Jan 1667 Boys records attendance at various plays. He saw the ‘Indian Queen’ (‘it not having been acted in a long time’) and its companion the ‘Indian Emperor’ performed over two days, ‘the whole Court almost except th[ei]r Maj[est]ies being there’. This was Thomas Killigrew’s production, the man who was later to stage Behn’s plays and who was also connected with her spying activies. In February 1667 Boys helped to set up an Anatomy Club, missing its first meeting as he was watching Spanish rope dancers. At a later meeting he saw ‘a dog well anatomized’.

November  ….lost my cloake in Lincolns In field  … bought new sword [he lost his old one]. had new Periwig.

Boys also attended the ‘Humorous Lovers’ by the ‘Duchesse of Newcastle’ exactly, he says ‘as shee writ it’. It is supposed that the Duke of Newcastle actually wrote the play, but Pepys also saw it at the same time, and he too believed it to have been written by the Duchess.

Boys seems to be following Pepys around. He and his companions saw a ‘riding of Skimington’ on 10 June 1667 in Greenwich. This was a form of community retribution meted out on people deemed to be acting anti-socially, and Pepys witnessed the very same incident in Greenwich on the same day:

[from Pepys Diary 10 June 1667] ‘…in the afternoon took boat and down to Greenwich, where I find the stairs full of people, there being a great riding there to-day for a man, the constable of the town, whose wife beat him.’

The diary gives an interesting picture of places of entertainment in post-Fire London. Several taverns are mentioned, the favourite being the Bacchus, where once again we find Boys and others dancing all night with Astrea in December 1667. In October Boys was up all night again, this time at ‘La Frouns’ (or possibly La Trouns – if anyone has information about this institution, please let us know). Among his companions on this occasion were ‘Ld Bellamounts daughters Lady Frances and Persiana’. Frances Bard, daughter of the Earl of Bellomont, was Prince Rupert’s mistress and mother of his natural son Dudley.  According to some accounts, the relationship ended in 1667.

At the end of the volume, Boys has copied out the steps for various country dances – perhaps he and Aphra Behn tried a few of them!

Discovered! A ‘lost’ diary of Sir Edmund Warcup of Northmoor, 1670-1674

Gallen-almanack-1672

Warcup’s Gallen Almanack of 1672

The Rawlinson Almanacs

One of the joys of the Bodleian’s collections is that they are so rich and complex that there are still discoveries to be made, even among collections that have been here for 200 years or more. The sheer scale of the great and ongoing task of making the collections intelligible and available to researchers means that inevitably in attempting to cover broad areas, some individual items are missed.

Almanacs appear to be a case in point. While 17th-century almanacs can be found via SOLO, they are quite often only briefly described. But a number of them are unique items, containing manuscript memoranda, accounts and even diary entries. I have found an interesting late-17th century diary in the course of researching our collections of Gallen almanacs, as we have recently purchased a Gallen almanac of 1667 which contains a very interesting diary indeed – look out for news of this in the near future.

There are a number of almanacs in the Rawlinson collection, that vast and miscelleneous treasure house of books and manuscripts bequeathed by Richard Rawlinson in 1755. Many of these are in a separate sequence, shelmarked Rawl. Alm. Five almanacs bound together, including a 1672 Gallen almanac, have the shelfmark [Octavo] Rawl. 439. However, though SOLO does not record the fact, if these five little almanacs began life as printed books, they are no longer, because their owner kept his diary in them between 1670 and 1674.

 

Sir Edmund Warcup’s diaries unearthed

My attention was first drawn by the bold signature of one R. Warcup on one of the pages. Warcup was a name known to me. Sir Edmund Warcup (or Warcupp) was a lawyer and magistrate who makes it into the pages of the Dictionary of National Biography largely on account of his notoriety as an over-zealous pursuer of papists during the (mostly imaginary) Popish Plot of 1678. Subsequently he realigned himself with the Anglican-Tory interest in the aftermath of the Exclusion Crisis. Some of his papers relating to the interrogation of supposed plotters can be found in the manuscript collections in the Bodleian. His memorandum book on legal business 1652-1666 is in the Rawlinson collection (MS. Rawl. D. 930), and further miscellaneous papers are in MS. Rawl. D. 384. These papers, acquired as a result of Rawlinson’s bequest of 1755, were supplemented by further papers given to the Library by St. John’s College, Oxford, in 1953, comprising largely depositions taken before Warcup about the Popish and Presbyterian plots, 1678-82 (MS. Eng. hist. b. 204).

So my first thought on seeing the signature of R. Warcup was that this almanac might in some way be connected with Sir Edmund. A closer inspection revealed firstly, that the signatures (there are more than one) were in a different hand from the rest of the manuscript notes; secondly, a Robert Warcup is mentioned in the text as ‘brother’; and thirdly, the notes were partly a diary and partly memoranda, and the diary begins in January 1670 (New Style) with an account of rumours circulating at Court about the Queen’s wish to divorce Charles II and retire to Ham House. The diarist seems to have been active in spreading the gossip about, until one of his confidants went straight to the King and the diarist was told never to speak of the matter again!

Warcup-diary-entry-1670

Warcup diary January 1670 [New Style] – gossip about the Queen

 Internal evidence suggested that the diarist might be Sir Edmund Warcup himself, particularly the several references to Northmoor, Oxfordshire, his country seat. The DNB article mentions a diary of 1676-1684, edited and published by K. G. Feiling and F. R. D. Needham in the English Historical Review in 1925. Much to my surprise, this diary turned out to be in the Bodleian. The editors stated in their 1925 article that ‘certain journals of this Edmund Warcup, hitherto, it is believed, imprinted, have lately been discovered in the Bodleian Library’. They are in fact among the Rawlinson Almanac collection and have the shelfmarks Rawl. Alm. 201-203, though I have found no trace of a catalogue of these discoveries either in SOLO or in the Printed Books with MS Additions catalogue. There are two volumes of a diary 1676-1684, and a further volume comprising little more than brief memoranda 1708-11. So although these diaries were discovered in 1925, and the edition by Feiling and Needham has been cited by scholars of Restoration history ever since, the original diaries have remained as nothing more than printed almanacs in our own catalogues. And the annotated almanacs I have discovered take Warcup’s diary back to 1670. Feiling and Needham missed it for one simple reason – it is not in the Rawlinson almanac series. The 1670-1674 diary was for some reason now unfathomable, given the shelfmark [Octavo] Rawl 439. Presumably at some early stage in its life, it became separated from the others.

Warcup-diaries-binding

Three volumes of Warcup’s diary. The two to the right unearthed in 1925, the one on the left in 2016. Acquired 1755.

Feiling and Needham’s edition provided all the remaining evidence needed to be sure it was Sir Edmund’s diary I was looking at. The introduction in the EHR article mentions that Warcup, after a spell out of favour occasioned by his over-free use of Arlington’s name ‘to cover some financial transactions of his own … resumed in 1667 a long career as farmer of the excise for Wiltshire and Dorset, again became a justice, and added a commissionership in wine licences.’ Part of the newly discovered diary is indeed a ‘Journall into the West in anno 1673 about the wyne lycences’; and Arlington is mentioned  very early in the diary when Warcup notes that on 3 January 1670 ‘Lady Arl[ington] presented M. to Q. who kissed her hande’.  Q. is clearly the Queen, and M. is harder to fathom, but might be the Duke of Monmouth (see below).

Any remaining doubts about authorship were dispelled as soon as I compared the diary with the ones discovered in 1925. The binding, handwriting and even historic damp damage were alike in all the volumes. There were even memoranda cross-referenced from the ‘new’ volume to the others.

Warcup-diary-entry-1679

Entry from Warcup’s 1679 diary in Rawl. Alm. 201. Warcup is exasperated at the scepticism shown towards evidence of a Popish Plot offered by the notorious Titus Oates whom Warcup was all too ready to believe.

Warcup’s later diaries have long been established, thanks to Feiling and Needham’s extracts, as a major source for proceedings in the Popish Plot. Although the recently discovered diary covers a perhaps less interesting phase of Warcup’s career, it is nevertheless a valuable document. It contains a mixture of London and Oxfordshire entries. Warcup’s career began in London where he was he was a JP, and he had connections with Shaftesbury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The London sections include much court gossip and records meetings with courtiers. For example, in November 1670 Warcup describes an encounter with the Duke of Monmouth and the Prince or Orange:

“At the Dukes Play house. D.M. led An to her coach. We were at Lincolnes Inn Revels. M. there spoke to us, & at 7 next morne, Prince of Orange, Mon. & Ld Rochester came & danced & caused Pitts & his son fidlers to play before our doore, and threatned to fire Pitts his house.

Sunday night at Court, and well receved by all the Court from high to low. Abt 2 of the clocke came the same company without musicke. Mon. drove the coach; all swore rashly. Mon. prest them to silence, becaus where they were. I feare some outrageouse act.”

As already mentioned, there is a 1673 West Country diary which describes the process of selling rights to trade in wine to various merchants in Bath, Bristol and other West Country towns. Otherwise, much of the diary is taken up with Oxfordshire matters.

 

Warcup and Northmoor

The memorial to Sir Edmund Warcup, who died in 1712, is in the church at Northmoor, Oxfordshire. I made a visit on Boxing Day intending to take a photograph of his monument for this blog post, but unfortunately the parish has not managed to resist the temptation to use Warcup’s rather fine monument as a table, and I found it piled high with kneelers, parish newsletters and other bits and pieces. It seems that Edmund Warcup has not only been neglected by the Bodleian! I carefully moved a large and heavy folding table leaning up against one side to take a picture of the rich stonework.

Northmoor-church-Warcup-monument-detail

Side of Sir Edmund Warcup’s memorial, Northmoor church

The church has other very interesting remains from the late Stuart period, including a west gallery said by Pevsner to have been erected in the 1690s. At one end is a 1701 inscription bearing the name of Richard Lydall, with a wonderful verse carved into it:

Northmoor-church-west-gallery

‘Richard Lydall gave a new bell/ And built this bell loft free/ And then he said before he dyed/ Let ringers pray for me/ 1701’

‘Rude, undecent & violent’ disputes

The charming rural idyll that this may conjure up is destroyed when one discovers the nature of the relationship between Lydall and Warcup. Richard Lydall appears in Warcup’s diary in rather contentious circumstances. There are two  memoranda dated March 1672 [New Style], and signed by E. Warcup, R.W. (his brother Robert) and others. The first states that Richard Lydall before witnesses ‘declared he never saw the circle libell but in Mr Henry Martins hands, & that he (HM) only shewed it to him (RL)’. There follows a rather cryptic statement from Lydall that

“he & Mr Martin were at Westchester the last Whitsuntide when Mrs Martins mounds & the colledges were pulled up”.

The second memorandum provides more enigmatic clues about this incident. Now Lydall admits that the wrtiting of the superscription on this ‘circle libell’ was very like his own, and

“that he beleived there were 40 foote and 20 horse out at Whitsuntide last when the mounds were pulled up, that he was out with a brome in his hand that night, that hee sawe the 2 libells with the prints of gates over them in the hands of Wm Bedford, Wm Bedwell, & at the parsonage”.

Worse still, the libel was shown to many persons, and Mrs Martin’s maid, among others, had read it.

This obscure reference must surely relate to a dispute between various Northmoor farmers and Warcup about enclosure of common land in the parish. A decree in Chancery, 1672 (C78/1264, very fortunately scanned and published on a website hosted by the University of Houston) outlines the whole case, and names the people mentioned in the memoranda in Warcup’s diary. ‘Mrs Martins mounds and the colledges’ must refer to some kind of boundaries that might have been destroyed in protest about the enclosure. The Chancery decree which was drawn up just a few months after the incident, certainly enjoins the parties to erect new mounds and fences:

“all the new mounds & fences to bee made betwixt party & party from Gaunt house & Stanlake Broad to Babliocke hythe as alsoe from master Hewes his plott adjoyning to West Mead & soe downe to Northhurst … shall bee ditched & throwne up…”

The ‘college mounds’ must have belonged to St John’s College, Oxford, landowners in the parish and one of the parties to the decree. It would appear that Warcup was enclosing fields and ran into dispute with his neighbours, and that the libel somehow related to that. The decree is extemely lengthy and lays out the rights and obligations of all parties in the formation and use of the enclosed lands. According to A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One), Warcup acquired Northmoor manor in 1671. His diary for 1671-1672 is almost entirely taken up with aspects of the Northmoor enclosure, with notes of meetings and accounts of expenditure. The memoranda about the ‘circle libell’ appear at the end of this sequence. On 5 March 1672 Warcup had noted in the diary that William Bedford admitted having seen the ’round libell’.

Warcup’s feud with Lydall continued beyond 1672. In MS. Rawlinson D. 384, fols. 44ff  we find a copy of a suit of Richard Lydall and Frances Fairebeard, widow, both of Northmoor, against Edmund Warcup, concerning his exclusive right to seats in the aisle of Northmoor church, heard in the church courts in Oxford. The document runs to nearly fifty pages and includes sworn depositions of many Northmoor parishioners, a number of whom appear in the Chancery decree mentioned above, and in the memoranda about the ‘circle libell’. The case reveals that there was no love lost between Warcup and Lydall.  It seems that Warcup’s right to the pew had been established by an earlier ruling, but Lydall resented the pretensions of this newcomer to the parish. The court document states that

“there was a doore or doores with a locke or lockes & wainscott partition or some other fence erected & sett up to secure the use & right of the said isle to him the said Edm. Warcupp & his family”

Lydall was charged that he, or others appointed by him

“didst on or about the thirteenth day of November last past [1677] (being a day appointed by his most sacred Majesty for a publick fast) breake downe the doore with lock partition or fence of the said isle in a rude undecent & violent manner contrary to the order & decree of thy lawfull Ordinary [the Bishop’s representative in the Church court].”

Furthermore,

“after the said breaches and defects were repaired & mended at the proper costs & charges of Edm. Warcupp .. you the said Rich. Lydall not being content with thy misdemeanours … (but persisting therein & adding thereunto) didst on or about the 17 day of November last past (being a Sunday) againe breake downe the aforesaid fence & doore … & after that thou or some other by thy direction … didst alsoe place two stooles or other seates in the said isle & didst thereupon seate thy selfe & wife or some other on thy part & behalfe, to the great disturbance of the said Edm. Warcupp Esqr his Lady & family …”

 

warcup-v-lydall

MS. Rawl. D. 384, fols. 44ff – Lydall attacks Warcup’s pew

 

Have you seen this manuscript?

I am clearly not the first person to have seen Warcup’s diary in [octavo] Rawl. 439, but the lack of any record of it in either our printed book or our manuscript catalogues suggests that I am probably the first to have recognised it as such. If anyone has found or used the diary before, or is aware of any citation of it in a book or article, I would be interested to hear from you.

Search and Searchability, or Desperately Seeking Susan’s Husband: an anonymous Regency diarist revealed

The diaries in question comprise three small volumes, written on three separate excursions to the South coast in the summers of 1813, 1821 and 1822. They were purchased in late 2012 as anonymous holiday diaries.

John Cox diary 1813-cover

The path to discovery is so convoluted that I thought it would be worth recording the steps by which authorship was established. The story illustrates the power of the Internet, not necessarily in the data it contains (though there is much of great use), but more in its ability to establish links between isolated snippets of information which themselves may lead nowhere, but together provide enough pieces to complete the jigsaw.

Before I outline the steps to discovery, I will make a short digression on the subject of Fawcett Road, Southsea. When my grandmother died in 1989 we found her birth certificate among her papers, and discovered that her mother’s maiden name was Lesar. She was born in South Africa, and I was keen to discover who the Lesars were. I knew absolutely nothing about the family, and that is the way it remained for many years. However, as the internet grew and there was more and more family history activity, I found quite a lot of information about the name Lesar. It is a Sephardic Jewish name; or it is a French Huguenot name. Or a German name. Or Croatian perhaps. You can find all these facts out there, but I was getting no nearer to establishing who my Lesars were. I did however find a passenger list recording the voyage of my South African family to England in 1923. The address they gave as their destination was Fawcett Road, Southsea.

1280px-VOC-schip_'Slot_Ter_Hooge'_op_de_rede_van_Rammakens

Dutch East India Company ship

I searched the Internet for the actual address, and to my astonishment found the exact address on a family history website that linked up many families including my great grandfather’s family from Nottinghamshire.The owner of the website had lost track of my great grandfather and his brother because she was unaware that the reason they disappear from British records is that they had emigrated to South Africa. The Fawcett Road address, however, established that their sister lived in Southsea. From this one piece of information I have reconstructed the family history, established links with a double cousin (the two emigrant brothers married two Lesar sisters in South Africa), and found that the Lesars in the Cape originated with a ship’s boy, Isaac Lesar or Leser, a German in service with the Dutch East India Company, who arrived in Cape Town in 1787.

So what has this got to do with our seaside journals? I mention it because the whole process of discovery illustrates the point about what can be done with the tiniest scrap of information when there are means to link it to data elsewhere. So the first thing needed to identify our author was belief that it would be possible and not a complete waste of time. Fortunately the diaries are quite short, and so I set myself to read through them as quickly as possible to pick up any references to names or places that might give the slightest lead. Let me list the scraps of information in the order I found them.

James_Pollard_-_North_Country_Mails_at_the_Peacock,_Islington_-_Google_Art_Project

Mail coaches at the Peacock, Islington, 1821 [Wikimedia Commons]

 i) The author was certainly from London, where he began his coach journey, and appeared to be from Islington. In the 1822 diary he begins by telling us that he wished himself 1000 times back in Pleasant Row – apparently he always began his holidays in a gloomy mood. Pleasant Row was certainly the name of a street in early 19th-century Islington (now Pleasant Place) as I was able to establish from the digitised version of the Victoria County History for Middlesex.

ii) The author was on holiday with his wife, whom he refers to as Mrs C. This suggested that his own surname began with C.

Cox sketches

Sketch of the Govers near Hastings, 1813

iii) The author knew someone by the name of Mr Basire. In the 1813 volume he tells us that having gone out sketching with his camera lucida, and dined on duck, he wrote to Basire and Mr Barnett. The combination of the unusual name of Basire and the camera lucida gave me grounds for optimism that he might have something to do with the well- known dynasty of engravers, James Basire, and his son James Basire II.

iv) The author received a letter from William Tite to tell him that William’s mother was going to join the author on holiday. William Tite was also sufficiently uncommon a name to try searching, and I immediately found a William Tite born in 1798 who was in the Dictionary of National Biography as a noted architect. This seemed too good to be true. However, I had seen a pencilled note at the end of the 1822 volume which I took to read ‘S Elgar artillery cottage Brighton’. I noticed in the DNB entry for WilliamTite that his mother was one Sarah Elgie, and on returning to the inscription later, realised that it did indeed read ‘Elgie’. But that is jumping a little ahead.

Cox sketch

Sketch of ‘Sumpting’ (Sompting) church, 1822

v) Mrs Tite joined our author and his wife on holiday. The author, Mrs C and Mrs Tite went for a walk, and the ‘two sisters’ fell twice on the slippery grass. So now I had established a relationship with the Tite family, but I still had no surnames as I hadn’t picked up the significance of the name Elgie at this point. The author also refers to ‘Susan’, and from the context it was apparent that Susan was one and the same as Mrs C.

vi) On 17 August our author records that he received a letter from Mr Basire and another from Benj. Cox. The name Cox interested me given that our author was Mr C. So I searched James Basire together with Cox, and found that James Basire II had married a Mary Cox. Now I returned to the previous entry mentioning Basire and Mr Barnett, and searched Cox, Basire and Barnett. This landed me on Exeter Working Papers in Book History: London 1775-1800 which showed me that Basire, Barnett and Cox were all engravers or printers, and that there was a company Cox, son, and Barnett, copper plate printers, 6, Bream’s Buildings, Chancery Lane. I then contacted Julian Pooley, an expert on John Nichols, editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine,  and his family of printers and antiquaries, whose archives are a major source for the study of the book trade. He confirmed that Nichols corresponded with Cox and Barnett, and that the company was employed in producing plates for the Gentleman’s Magazine.

vii) The final piece of the jigsaw was established with the author’s entry for 25 August 1813. Having visited a dripping well and eaten a fine custard pudding, he recorded that ‘I wrote on Tuesday last to Mr Basire to ask the favour of Mary to come with Mr and Mrs Moore should they come here – or if Mr and Mrs B thought proper to let James and Mary come – should like much to shew my dear Mary the delightful scenes rural, Romantic & grand …’.

John Cox diary 1813-Basire

“I wrote on Tuesday last to Mr Basire”

 This ‘dear Mary’ was clearly intimate with the author; furthermore she was dependent on James Basire, and linked with another James. Surely this must be Mary Cox, wife of James Basire II? And this evidence suggested that the author was most probably her brother.

But I still did not know his name. So I tried searching for Susan Cox Islington, and when this proved fruitless, I tried Susannah as I believed I had seen the name so written though I had not noted it. ‘Susannah Cox Islington’ revealed the existence of a will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury records in the National Archives, dated 1831. To view this required a subscription, but fortunately a colleague’s mother had the necessary memberships, and soon I had the information I needed. To my delight I found that Susannah Cox, widow, lived at 4 Pleasant Row. She left her worldly goods to various Basires and Elgies. She even left a copy of Hannah More’s Practical Piety which Mr Cox mentioned in his diary as his companion on a lonely walk one day. But I still did not know her husband’s name though he was now established as Mr Cox, brother-in-law of James Basire II.

The camera lucida in action [Wikimedia Commons]

The camera lucida in action [Wikimedia Commons]

Surely, since I knew now that Mr Cox must have died between 1822 and 1831, it must be possible to find his will too. A search for Cox Islington turned up one or two post-1831 wills. But then I remembered that on one occasion Mr Cox mentions his wife’s birthday, her age and the length of time they had been married, which in 1822 was thirty-one years. So now I tried a new tack, looking for the marriage of Mr Cox and Susannah Elgie in London in 1791. And quite quickly I found it in a digitised copy of The Register Book of Marriages belonging to the Parish of St George Hanover Square. John Cox married Susannah Elgie on 15 February 1791.

With all this information it was now easy to find John Cox’s will in the PCC records. He did not have an Islington address, but instead used his business address – Bream’s Buildings, Chancery Lane, the location of Cox, son and Barnett. His obituary was in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1825, a rather poignant recollection of the man which fitted well with what I had come to know of him in his short diaries kept in just three summers of his life – his religion, his interest in music, and above all his fascination with medieval churches which he sketched with his camera lucida.

Gent Mag Cox obit

 

Marks of Genius and Waterloo 200: The MP for Banbury meets Napoleon in 1814

The current Bodleian exhibition, Marks of Genius, asks us to consider the meaning and context of the concept of genius. In this 200th anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo, it seems appropriate to kill two birds with one blog, and consider a contemporary attitude to Napoleon whom many, even his opponents, regarded as a genius.

Opnamedatum: 22-08-2008Frederick Sylvester North Douglas (1791-1819). Print from an original sketch by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Rome 1815 [Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, ref. RP-P-1972-6]

 

Frederick Sylvester North Douglas (1791-1819), MP for Banbury, classical scholar and admirer of Byron, was on the Grand Tour from 1814 to 1816. This necessary part of the education of a gentleman had been denied to Britons during the almost continuous wars with France from 1793 to 1814. But now, with Napoleon defeated and exiled to the tiny island of Elba, the once invincible Emperor himself had become part of the tour. There are at least three accounts of visits to him on Elba in the manuscript collections of the Bodleian Libraries.

Elba_Bay_-_PortoferraioPortoferraio, Elba

 In November 1814 Frederick Douglas was in the north of Italy, and resolved to arrange a visit to Bonaparte to see for himself what the conqueror of much of Europe was really like. He booked himself a passage with Captain Adye on HMS Partridge, a small warship which plied between Elba and the mainland and patrolled the Elba station. Douglas wrote in his journal [MS. Eng. misc. c. 815] on Monday 14 November:

When we awoke after a very quiet night we found ourselves entering Porto Ferraio one of the safest as well as most beautiful in the Mediterranean.… The town itself tho very steep is prettily situated in an amphitheatre upon the port. … The house in which Napoleon has fixed his residence is in the upper part of the town with a fine view of the sea & of every vessel that goes out or in. It is in itself a very simple & I should suppose a small house with nothing to mark the imperial residence.

The British agent informed Douglas that the best way to meet Napoleon was to stand at the Porta di Terra, and sure enough, after they had waited some time, Napoleon ‘appeared in a barouche drawn by four indifferent grey horses & two green postillions.’ Douglas believed he might be able to spot a genius from his outward appearance:

All was extremely simple if not shabby but he was followed by four or five officers & two Polish lancers upon wretched post hacks who were joined by two miserable looking Mamalukes one a black & the other a French man. He was sitting with his hat on but accompanied by an aide de camp who remained all the time uncovered. When Buonaparte saw us he moved his hat & made a bow which Captain Adye thought formal. Buonaparte is not so fat as I expected. He is short & full in the face with a remarkably healthy look. At the same time we saw him he was sulky but his eye was full & clear & there was look [sic] of great sense & intelligence more than of remarkable genius in his countenance. I might I think pass him in the street without looking round. None of the persons I have heard considered as like him are like him at all, Alfred Harris, Lord Wellesley etc, & none of the prints. But the best is that which has the inscription, Adieu Malmaison, particularly in manner. His complexion is brown, but he looks younger than his age. However growing fat must have altered him extremely.

Alfred Harris would appear to be Revd the hon. [Thomas] Alfred Harris (son of James Harris 1st earl of Malmesbury) who, like Douglas, was an alumnus of Christ Church, Oxford.

 

P1030676Corsica and Elba, from the Carta Amministrativa del Regno D’Italia (1806). The Kingdom of Italy was created by Napoleon in 1805, with himself as its first king.

 

Later, Douglas commented on Napoleon’s villa, and was filled with

surprize admiration & compassion to see the simplicity of his tastes … . His retirement & his amusements are certainly those of a great man & an hero.

There followed an incident with an officious member of Napoleon’s staff who wished to clear the crowds away from Napoleon’s residence and threatened to use the Polish lancers to do it. Douglas’s military companions took offence, and acting as interpreter Douglas was asked to find out the officer’s name which he eventually gave reluctantly and rudely as ‘Roule’. This must be the Major Roule who had a reputation for officiousness and is mentioned in The journal of Sir Neil Campbell, published as Napoleon at Fontainebleau and Elba (London, 1869).

On the next day an opportunity to visit Napoleon was missed, but

we again saw Buonaparte who was going out in his carriage & who bowed to us with much more civility & with a smile which had something very gracious & attractive in it. His countenance continues to give me what is the idea I had formed of his character, more that of great sense than of genius, of calculation than of greatness. I see no marks of want of amiability in his features but much the look & manner of a gentleman.

At last, on Wednesday 16 November Douglas was granted an interview with the great man. He immediately wrote up what he could remember of his conversation in a breathless stream of unpunctuated text, interrupting his usual journal ‘in order to put down Buonaparte’s conversation fresh as it came to my recollection’.

FSND-journal-16-Nov-1814“I am just returned from a conversation of near an hour with Buonaparte”

The interview seems to have been rather one-sided, with Napoleon apparently asking all the questions. Douglas seems to have been a little disappointed at his ignorance of British affairs. I have added punctuation:

I am just returned from a conversation of near an hour with Buonaparte. He first asked me where I came from, where I was going, what place I represented, whether it was a family borough, how the election was conducted, what my father’s name was, whether he was chief of my family, who was, how many Scotch peers there were … . He talked of Milan, asked whether the Milanese were not tired of the Austrians … . Asked who were the principal people in the Ministry & opposition, but seemed to know very little about them. Asked what had become of Lord Sidmouth, whether Grey & Holland were not the head of the Opposition & Burdett. Asked a great deal about our seigniorial rights & did not know they had been all abolished. Wished to know when territorial slavery was abolished & seemed surprized to find it so early. Talked about the Puritans whom he seemed to confound with the Presbyterians. His voice is disagreable & his manner of speaking thick & unintelligible. His manner was however agreable & his look expressed the utmost kindness & civility. He asked the name of our chief families in Scotland & England, wanted to know whether there were not some boroughs in which there was no election – how many nobles, by which he meant landholders, in the house of Commons, how many connexions of the house of peers, talked much about Ireland, & said they had very absurd tenets as Catholics, seemed to wish to change the subject when I had changed it to his wife. Talked much about our way of marrying. Tried to find out [if] we were discontented in Scotland, asked about the dress, knew the 42nd & 94th. … He asked a great deal about Oxford, Cambridge & Edinburgh but seemed perfectly ignorant of everything about either [sic].

Douglas was the son of the Scottish peer and politician, Sylvester Douglas, baron Glenbervie (1743-1823),  which explains the Scottish interest. The 42nd and 94th were Scottish regiments. The former, the famous ‘Black Watch’, had fought throughout the Peninsular War, and faced Napoleon again only seven months after this interview. In February 1815 Napoleon made his escape from Elba and began the ‘Hundred Days’ that culminated at Waterloo on 18 June.

Douglas was only twenty-three years of age in 1814, but Napoleon thought he was much older:

He said I was not forty yet? He said vous buvez beaucoup [do you drink a lot]? I answered, thinking he meant the Scotch, oui mais pas qu’ autre fois. Le taxe sur le vin l’empeche mais ici vous pouvez boire sans taxe [yes, but not as much as in former times. The tax on wine prevents it, but here you can drink without tax]; when I found he meant me.

An interesting perspective on the interview with Napoleon is provided in a letter from Lady Mackintosh to John Whishaw, 22 December 1814, published in The “Pope” of Holland House: Selections from the correspondence of John Whishaw and his friends 1813-1840 (London, 1906).

 

Oxford by the Sea?

A recent visitor to the Library with an interest in Lord Nelson and maritime history gave me an excuse to bring out some naval treasures. The Bodleian may not seem the most obvious place to look for Britain’s sea heritage, but there are a number of key collections nonetheless. The foundation as always is the extraordinary manuscript collection of Richard Rawlinson, which contains amongst much else more than thirty volumes of the papers of Samuel Pepys. Though famous for his diary, his role in life was naval administration. He rose to be Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both Charles II and James II.

Evelyn sketch

John Evelyn’s sketch of the Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, in MS. Rawlinson A. 195A

The above sketch of the infamous Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, drawn by another famous 17th-century diarist John Evelyn, was sent to Pepys in January 1668. It is enclosed with a letter in which Evelyn apologises for taking so long over sending the sketch, his excuse being that he had been afflicted with a ‘griping of the gutts.’ He says that the sketch was a representation of the raid as he saw it from the ‘hill above Gillingham.’ He had taken the layout of the river from ‘an old paper lying by me, and not from any printed mapp.’

A key to the sketch explains the positions of the English ships and notes the burning of four ships in the Medway near Chatham Dockyard. The Royal Charles (10) was the flagship of the fleet, and the Dutch towed it away as a prize. It had been the Naseby, but was renamed when it brought the king back to England at the Restoration in 1660. Pepys himself was on board that day. Her stern remains in the Netherlands to this day, kept in the Rijksmuseum.

Evelyn's key

Key to Evelyn’s sketch of the Raid on the Medway, June 1667

More about the Library’s 17th-century collections, or at least those acquired before 1922, can be found in an old but still useful guidebook, A student’s guide to the manuscripts relating to English history in the seventeenth century in the Bodleian Library (1922) by Godfrey Davis, now available online at the Internet Archive.

The Bodleian continued to acquire naval and maritime papers, mainly through its modern political collections where the navy and shipping have often featured in policy, but also through accessions of family papers where there are sometimes naval connections even when the main subject is a literary or political figure. A search for the words ‘navy’ or ‘naval’ using the online search page for manuscripts returns hits on 92 collections. Among these are the papers of Pepys’s patron the Earl of Sandwich in the Carte collection (see the Carte Calendar); secret service papers of Sir Evan Nepean who was Secretary to the Admiralty from 1795 to 1804, catalogued among single items of historical papers; papers of the naval surgeon John Harness (?1755-1818) who became embroiled in a bitter dispute about lemons; papers of the Mary Somerville, which include correspondence of her father Admiral William George Fairfax (1739-1813); and papers of William Waldegrave Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, First Lord of the Admiralty 1900-1905.

Of course, Bodley was a son of an Exeter merchant, and his marriage to Ann Ball, widow of a Totnes merchant, is supposed to have given him access to her money derived from the pilchard trade. So the Library could be said to be built on England’s seafaring endeavours.

-Mike Webb

Flooding in 17th-century Oxfordshire

In this time of rain and flood it is interesting to see how an Oxfordshire clergyman recorded unusual weather in the 1630s. MS. Top. Oxon. c. 378 is a diary of Thomas Wyatt, rector of Ducklington and vicar of Nuneham Courtenay. His manuscript volume began life as a chronicle of the kings of England, but the extraordinary events of the reign of Charles I caught up with him, and in the 1630s the volume becomes a diary recording contemporary happenings.

Wyatt also records exceptional weather and its effects on farming and prices. These are taken from entries in 1635-7. It would be interesting to know if anyone can explain the rain of wheat, or if this phenomenon is recorded elsewhere.

[p. 275]

‘In Decemb[er] 21 [1635] a pretty snow covered the grow[n]d wthout any drift lay wth hard frost about 7 dayes.  A very ope[n] misty rainy January very warme wth 3 or 4 dayes small frost rest all ope[n] & a great flood.

Jan: 30. 1635 [1636 New Style]. betwixt 7 & 8 of the clock it thundred & lightened fearfully & tempestuously wth high wind wch blew downe the top of Witney Steeple did much hurt to the church ther pulled downe the whole spire. …

[p. 280]

ms-top-oxon-c-378-p280

A most fearefull high south wind began at begin[n]ing of the night 9vemb[er] 4 1636 & did very much hurt in many places, spoiled & threw downe most rick[es] of hay.  A very great flud 9ve[m]b[er] 5, 6 etc [con]tinued till 9vemb[er] 18.

The plague at Londo[n] began to decrease & 2 week[es] their died about fower hundred & od & in thend of 8tob[er] & begi[n]ing of 9vemb[er] it increased againe to eight hundred & above.

Twas a very unkindly unseanable [presumably unseasonable] warme rainy weath[er] fro[m] about 8tob[er] 20 till 9vemb[er] 18 scarce any dry day but not one day & night both dry.

Novemb[er] 11 the night & morning of 12 day a passing great west wind & abondance of wet caused much high water – spoiled grasse wherof their was great stoare in low grownd[es] & spoiled much hay by beating downe the rick[es] in high grownd[es].

A moneth togeth[er] fro[m] 18 of 8tob[er] to 9vemb[er] 17 fro[m] one chang of the moone to anoth[er] [con]tinuall raine & wind & warme unhealthy weath[er] the like not in remembrance & an extraordinary flood but 9vemb[er] 26 it began to be fayre & frost very hard at end of 9vemb[er] & till Decemb[er] 7 & the[n] a snow half foot deep the 8 to the 9, 10, 11 the[n] raine & it thawed & was a very deep fearefull water. …

[p. 281]

The 14 of Decemb[er] after some snow & frost ut supra.  Whe[n] it thawed there was a most fearefull sodaine deepe water.  It did very much hurt in Witney, drowned & carried away hay & corne, did much hurt to a diars howse upo[n] the water.  People cold not go fro[m] church to their howses about the bridg wthout daung[er].  Went up to the middle in many howses, drove[?] downe great trees etc. …

[p.283]

A rumour was spread in April 1637 that in a place in Gloucestershire it rained wheate & afterward[es] some said that their fell an haile & the hailestones lay upo[n] the grownd of the forme of wheate cornes.  Much speech that it rained wheate in very many places. …’

***

While on the subject of flooding, a few people have asked what the document is that forms the background to the Historical Archives and Manuscripts blog. It is from a sketch of the battle of Sedgemoor 1685, MS. Ballard 48, fol 74. Sedgemoor is on the Somerset Levels, much in the news at present. The plan was photographed for the Rediscovering Rycote website.019-ms.ballard.48,fol.74

-Mike Webb

William Stukeley and the ’45

November seems to be the month for major episodes in the religious troubles of the early modern British Isles. The Accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, the attempt to blow up the King and his Parliament in 1605, the landing of William of Orange at Torbay in 1688 and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invasion of England in 1745, all happened in November.

Records of these events are to be found among the collections held in the Western Manuscripts section of the Bodleian Libraries, particularly among the great State Paper collections to be found in the Clarendon, Rawlinson and Carte collections. However, ripples spread out much further than this. If you were wondering what impact Bonnie Prince Charlie’s march to Derby had in 1745, you might not turn first to the papers of an antiquary such as William Stukeley. His papers after all are mainly a record of his study of the ancient and medieval remains of Britain, and he would not seem to be the person to turn to for contemporary comment. I have developed a habit of looking at key historical dates in any manuscript just in case there is an interesting comment to be found. So, finding myself one day with Stukeley’s diary for  1743-1746 (MS. Eng. misc. e. 196) in my hand I thought I would see if he had anything to say about Jacobites, even though the Summary Catalogue entry is brief: ‘Notebook containing Stukeley’s diary, 21 May 1743-10 Sept. 1746.’

stukeley-diary-aug-1745

Looking at the entry for 30 August 1745 I found that Stukeley was visited on that day by his patrons the Duke and Duchess of Montagu, returning from Scarborough. He noted that the ‘Duke says the pretenders son is in the highlands of Scotland, in a highland habit’, before recounting his discussion with the Duke on the elegance of the structure of the honeycomb.

On 30 September Stukeley set out for Lincoln to meet the Duke of Ancaster, and on the next day, in Lincoln Castle ‘a very great assembly of Lords, Baronets, clergy & gentlemen’ met and subscribed to an address to the King and to an association, before making a ‘voluntary subscription of several thousand pounds, for raising troops, to oppose the pretenders son’. He also observed that they had ‘now pulled down the huge stones of the peers of the Roman gate on the south side of the old city’, the arch having been ‘destroy’d by Houghton the jaylor a good many years ago.’

On 9 October Stukeley was at home in Stamford and involved in ‘mending the road in Scogate [Scotgate] toward brig Casterton in a magnificent manner.’ On the 12th he noted ‘the Swiss, dutch & English troops daily passing by to the north’ and had heard news of  ‘68 waggons laden with ammunition’ which had passed Nottingham. On the 13th ‘a coach & 6 with 8 dragoons laden with money passed my door.’ On the 23rd Stukeley ‘went about the parish to take subscriptions for raising a troop for the kings service agt the rebels.’

All this conveys something of the sense of increasing alarm, but the reality of the situation really seems to have struck Stukeley on 1 December, a few days after the Jacobites had crossed the border into England:

‘Lady Malton fled from her seat by Sheffield, came to Stamford, & alarm’d us, with the rebels being near Newark. Spalding, Wisbech, Peterborough, Oundle & all the country round in the utmost fright: hiding & carrying off their goods.

This alarm was renew’d on 5th the rebels being at Derby & setting  a guard on Swarston bridg, for Leicester. Many familys mov’d off their goods, & remov’d towards the fen country, & an universal dejection.

Mr Gale & his family came hither from Scruton, to avoid the Rebels.’

This would have been Samuel Gale (1682–1754) the antiquary, and Stukeley’s friend, whose family seat was Scruton Hall in Yorkshire.

Then on 7 December:

‘Colonel Jo. Creed of Oundle marchd his Squadron of horse (the D. of Montagu’s) to Stamford. He lay at my house. He had been orderd to march to Derby but the rebels were in possession of the Town just as he came there.’

The alarm passed, however, and on 11 December ‘Mr Griffis’ visited Stukeley to discuss holding ‘a course of experimental philosophy at Stamford’, and on the 23rd Stukeley was able to record that he ‘projected a revival of the Brazen nose Society of Stamford.’

On 4 January 1746 Stukeley sealed the lease of his Grantham house to Mr Fish, and then noted the arrival of the commander of Government forces, the soon-to-be notorious Duke of Cumberland, the ‘Butcher’:

‘½ an hour after 11 in the morning, pleasant and sun-shining frost: the Duke of Cumberland came hither [back from Carlisle] … He rode in Mr Midlemores coach from Grantham, thro’ the badness of the Scogate road … & took coach at the Bull. Mr Gale lent him his coach & 4. They put 2 more horses to it. His R. Highness was drest in blew. He has not been in bed, since he set out from Carlisle. Our town complimented his R.H. with a vast throng & loud huzza’s & bells ringing etc.

I got a very fine & large fossil cornu ammonis from the stone quarrys by Queens cross.’

The first doleful effects of the rebellion also touched Stamford when on 1 February 1746 ‘the rebel prisoners of the garrison of Carlisle passd thro’ Stamford in 4 open wagons, guarded by 400 soldiers, & the same day the Dukes mules with his baggage came hither, going to Scotland.’ The Battle of Culloden was fought on 16 April 1746; some of the Jacobite officers captured after the fall of Carlisle in December 1745 were sent to London to be hung, drawn and quartered for High Treason.

I should, of course, have expected to find such echoes of the ’45 in Stukeley’s diary. Stamford lay on the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh (now the A1).

-Mike Webb