Posts Tagged ‘John Hookham Frere’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Lady Ellenor Fenn
12 March 1743 – 1 November 1813

Ellenor Fenn was born in Westhorpe, Suffolk to Sheppard and Susanna Frere. John Frere was her elder brother and John Hookham Frere her nephew. In 1766 she married the antiquarian John Fenn and moved with him to Hill House, Dereham, Norfolk. Although they had no biological children, they adopted and brought up an orphaned heiress, Miss Andrews.

Fenn wrote a series of children’s books for her nephews and nieces, inspired by Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s Lessons for Children (1778-9), and in 1782 she wrote to the children’s publisher John Marshall asking whether he would be willing to publish them. Between 1782 and 1812, he published numerous books by Fenn, often anonymously or under the pseudonyms Mrs. Teachwell or Mrs. Lovechild. Cobwebs to Catch Flies (1783), a reading primer, was perhaps her most popular book; it went through multiple editions in both Britain and America until the 1870s. Her Child’s Grammar went through sixty editions by the 1860s.

Fenn also created toys and games that encouraged mothers to teach their children themselves. Andrea Immel, a specialist in 18th-century childhood, writes that through her games, we can “recognize [Fenn] as an early advocate of child-centered teaching strategies” The games emphasize conversation and the child’s own world; they encourage the mother to answer the child’s questions and to spontaneously teach when the child is interested in learning.

In 1795, Fenn had a falling out with her publisher, John Marshall, and moved her business to Elizabeth Newbery’s firm and publishers in Norwich. Throughout her career, Fenn never received any royalties for her work, only free distribution copies of her works.

When Fenn’s husband was knighted in 1787, Fenn became known as Lady Fenn. He served as High Sheriff of Norfolk from 1791-2. Upon his death on 14 February 1794, Fenn was left “financially secure” and able to devote more of her time to philanthropy. Fenn established a Sunday School in Dereham in 1785 which by 1788 had over 100 pupils. She also started a needlework school and “revived the trade to tow-spinning to give poor women an income.”
Fenn died at Dereham on 1 November 1813, aged 69, and was buried at St Bartholomew’s church, Finningham, Suffolk.

On 29 November 2013, two hundred years after her death, Fenn was finally recognised in Dereham with the unveiling of a ‘Blue Plaque’ outside Hill House, her home for nearly fifty years, beside a renewed plaque for her husband.

Many of Fenn’s works were directed towards young girls and women. She wrote an entire series entitled “Mrs. Teachwell’s Library for Young Ladies.” Many of these works focus on how to teach and outline Fenn’s idea of proper reading materials.

Fenn published several volumes of what we would now call picturebooks that employed woodcuts. Her sense of the visual layout of her books was keen and she carefully dictated to her publishers the margins and font sizes of her books.

This list of works relies almost exclusively on Carol Percy’s bibliography of Fenn’s works.

  • Set of Toys (c.1780) – game
  • School Occurrences (1782-3)
  • Juvenile Correspondence (1783)
  • Cobwebs to Catch Flies (1783)
  • Fables, by Mrs. Teachwell (1783)
  • Fables in Monosyllables by Mrs. Teachwell (1783)
  • Rational Sports (1783)
  • School Dialogues for Boys (1783-4)
  • Female Guardian (1784)
  • Art of Teaching in Sport (1785)
  • The Rational Dame (1786)
  • A Spelling Book (1787)
  • Fairy Spectator (1789)
  • Juvenile Tatler (1789)
  • The Village Matron (1795)
  • The Short History of Insects (1796); as the long title shows, this work was produced in association with the Leverian Museum.
  • The Infant’s Friend (1797)
  • The Mother’s Grammar (1798)
  • The Child’s Grammar (1798)
  • Parsing Lessons for Elder Pupils (1798)
  • Parsing Lessons for Young Children (1798)
  • The Friend to Mothers (1799)
  • Family Miscellany (1805)
  • The Teacher’s Assistant (1809)

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Stevens
2 March 1732 – 7 February 1807

William Stevens was an English hosier and lay writer on religious topics from a High Church perspective, the biographer and editor of the works of William Jones of Nayland.

Born in the parish of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, he was son of a tradesman. His mother was sister of the Rev. Samuel Horne of Otham, Kent. He was educated at Maidstone with his cousin, George Horne, later bishop of Norwich. In August 1746 he was apprenticed to a hosier in Old Broad Street named Hookham, whose partner he afterwards became; Hookham’s daughter married John Frere, and was mother of John Hookham Frere. After Hookham’s death Stevens became the senior partner, but in 1801 he gave up most of his interest in the business, and a few years later retired altogether.

Stevens identified himself with the clergy who acknowledged William Jones of Nayland as their leader. He joined with Jones and others in forming a ‘Society for the Reformation of Principles,’ to counteract the influence of the French Revolution. The society published a collection of tracts for the younger clergy, and originated the British Critic, a quarterly journal.

Stevens acted for many years as treasurer of Queen Anne’s Bounty, supported the work of the church societies, and interested himself in the position of the episcopal church in Scotland. Stevens died at his house in Old Broad Street, and was buried in Otham churchyard. He left the bulk of his property to his cousin, William Horne, the rector of Otham.

Stevens acquired a good knowledge of French, Hebrew, and the classics. His main interest was theology. He maintained a correspondence with Bishop George Horne, and suggested the plan which Horne later used in his Letters on Infidelity, which were dedicated to Stevens. On Horne’s death, Stevens published three volumes of his sermons, and supplied William Jones of Nayland with materials for Jones’ biography of Horne.

In 1772 Stevens wrote A new and faithful Translation of Letters from M. l’Abbé de ——, Hebrew Professor in the University of ——, to the Rev. Benjamin Kennicott. In this anonymous brochure he followed up Horne’s attack on Benjamin Kennicott’s project of a revised Hebrew text of the Old Testament. The next year he published, in opposition to the recent effort to get rid of subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles, An Essay on the Nature and Constitution of the Christian Church, wherein are set forth the form of its government, the extent of its powers, and the limits of our obedience, by a Layman. A new edition of Stevens’s ‘Essay’ appeared in 1799, and it was reissued by the SPCK in vol. iv. of their ‘Religious Tracts’ in 1800, in 1807, and in 1833.

In 1776 Stevens published A Discourse on the English Revolution, extracted from a late eminent writer, and applied to the present time; and in the following year attacked Richard Watson, in Strictures on a Sermon entitled the Principles of the Revolution vindicated. In 1795 Jones dedicated to Stevens his Life of Bishop Horne. In 1800, in a Review of the Review of a new Preface to the Second Edition of Mr. Jones’s Life of Bishop Horne, Stevens defended his cousin from an attack in the British Critic. It was signed “Ain” (Hebrew for “Nobody”), and suggested the title of a collection of Stevens’s pamphlets issued in 1805 as Oudenos erga, Nobody’s Works. A club was also founded in his honour under the name “Nobody’s Friends” about 1800. It met three times a year. Sir Richard Richards was the first president, and it contained well-known clergymen, barristers, and doctors.

Stevens’s final publication was his edition of William Jones’s works published in 1801 in twelve octavo volumes. Prefixed to it was a life of Jones in the style of Izaak Walton (part of which had already appeared in the Anti-Jacobin Review). Daniel Wray described Stevens as “a tory of the old Filmer stamp”.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Henry Richard Vassall-Fox 3rd Baron Holland
21 November 1773 – 22 October 1840


Henry Vassall-Fox

Henry Vassall-Fox 3rd Baron Holland was born at Winterslow House, Wiltshire, the son of Stephen Fox, 2nd Baron Holland and Lady Mary, daughter of John FitzPatrick, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory and Lady Evelyn, daughter of John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower. His paternal grandparents were Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and Lady Caroline Lennox, the eldest of the famous Lennox Sisters and a great-granddaughter (through an illegitimate line) of King Charles II.

He succeeded in the barony in December 1774, aged one, on the early death of his father, while his mother died shortly before his fifth birthday. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he became the friend of George Canning and John Hookham Frere. Lord Holland’s uncle was the great Whig orator Charles James Fox, and he remained steadily loyal to the Whig party.

On a visit to Paris in 1791 Holland became acquainted with Lafayette and Talleyrand. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 5 October 1796. According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica he for a while “almost … constituted the Whig party in the upper house.” He was appointed to negotiate a treaty with American envoys James Monroe and William Pinkney, was admitted to the Privy Council on 27 August 1806, and on the 15th of October entered the Ministry of All the Talents led by Lord Grenville as Lord Privy Seal, retiring with the rest of his colleagues in March 1807.

Holland led the opposition to the Regency bill in 1811, and he attacked the orders in council and other strong measures of the government taken to counteract Napoleon’s Berlin decrees. He denounced the treaty of 1813 with Sweden which bound Britain to consent to the forcible union of Norway, and he resisted the bill of 1816 for confining Napoleon in Saint Helena. He was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1830 and 1834 and 1835 and 1840 in the cabinets of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, and he was still in office when he died in October 1840.

Holland’s protests against the measures of the Tory ministers were collected and published, as the Opinions of Lord Holland (1841), by Dr Moylan of Lincoln’s Inn. Lord Holland’s Foreign Reminiscences (1850) contain much amusing gossip from the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. His Memoirs of the Whig Party (1852) is an important contemporary authority. He also published a small work on Lope de Vega (1806).

After visiting Paris in 1791 Holland again went abroad to travel in France and Italy in 1793. At Florence he met Elizabeth Vassall, at that time Lady Webster, wife of Sir Godfrey Webster, 4th Baronet. She and her husband obtained a divorce, and she married Holland on 6 July 1797, becoming Elizabeth Fox, Baroness Holland. An illegitimate son, Charles Richard Fox, was born to them. He later rose to become a General in the British Army.

They had three more children: the Hon. Stephen Fox (d. 1800), Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland, and Hon. Mary Elizabeth Fox, married to Thomas Powys, 3rd Baron Lilford. In 1800 he was authorized to take the name of Vassall, and after 1807 he signed himself Vassall Holland, though the name was no part of his title. Lord Holland died in October 1840, aged 66, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest and only surviving legitimate son, Henry. Lady Holland died in November 1845.

Vassall ward in the London Borough of Lambeth is named after Henry Richard Vassall-Fox who was responsible for the first building development in the area in the 1820s. Roads in the area such as Lord Holland Lane or Foxley Square commemorate this connection.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Tennant
May 18, 1784 – February 14, 1848

William Tennant Scottish scholar and poet, was born at Anstruther, Fife.

He was lame from childhood. His father sent him to the University of St Andrews, where he remained for two years, and on his return he became clerk to one of his brothers, a corn factor. In his leisure time he mastered Hebrew as well as German and Italian.

His study of Italian verse bore fruit in the mock-heroic poem of Anster Fair (1812), which gave an amusing account of the marriage of “Maggie Lauder,” the heroine of the popular Scottish ballad. It was written in the ottava rima adopted a few years later by “the ingenious brothers Whistlecraft” (John Hookham Frere), and turned to such brilliant account by Byron in Don Juan. The poem, unhackneyed in form, full of fantastic classical allusions applied to the simple story, and brimming over with humour, had an immediate success. It is said to be the first use of this Italian style in Britain.

Tennant’s brother, meanwhile, had failed in business, and the poet became in 1812 schoolmaster of the parish of Dunino, near St Andrews. From this he was promoted (1816) to the school of Lasswade, near Edinburgh; from that (1819) to a mastership in Dollar Academy; from that (1834), by Lord Jeffrey, to the professorship of oriental languages (having mastered Hebrew, Arabic and Persian by this stage) at the University of St Andrews. The Thane of Fife (1822), shows the same humorous imagination as Anster Fair, but the subject was more remote from general interest, and the poem fell flat.

He also wrote a poem in Lowland Scots, Papistry Stormed (1827); two historical dramas, Cardinal Beaton (1823) and John Balliol (1825); and a series of Hebrew Dramas (1845), founded on incidents in Bible history. He died at Devon Grove, on the 14th of February 1848.

Tennant’s plays proved to be disappointing:
“The public now wondered, and well it might, that the rich promise given in “Anster Fair” had been so poorly redeemed. What had become of that ungovernable wit that had burst its bounds, and overflowed in such profusion? A single stanza of Rob the Ranter was worth fifty Baliols and Beatons to boot. Fortunately for Tennant’s character as a poet, his retirement from the stage was calm and graceful.”

A Memoir of Tennant by MF Connolly was published in 1861.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Hookham Frere
21 May 1769 – 7 January 1846


John Hookham Frere

John Hookham Frere was born in London. His father, John Frere, the member of a Suffolk family, had been educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and became Second Wrangler in 1763. His mother, Jane, daughter of John Hookham, a rich London merchant, was cultured and wrote verse in private. His father’s sister Ellenor, who married Sir John Fenn, editor of the Paston Letters, wrote educational works for children under the pseudonyms “Mrs Lovechild” and “Mrs Teachwell”. Young Frere was sent to Eton College in 1785, and there began a friendship with George Canning which greatly affected his life. From Eton, he went to his father’s college at Cambridge, and graduated BA in 1792 and MA in 1795. He entered public service in the foreign office under Lord Grenville, and sat from 1796 to 1802 as Member of Parliament for the borough of West Looe in Cornwall.

From his boyhood he had admired William Pitt the Younger, and along with Canning he entered into the defence of his government, and contributed to the pages of the Anti-Jacobin, edited by Gifford. He contributed, in collaboration with Canning, The Loves of the Triangles, a parody of Erasmus Darwin’s Loves of the Plants, The Needy Knife-Grinder and The Rovers. On Canning’s promotion to the board of trade in 1809 he succeeded him as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In October 1800, he was appointed envoy to Lisbon; and in September 1802 he was transferred to Madrid, where he remained for two years. He was recalled on account of a personal disagreement he had with Spanish Prime Minister Godoy, but the ministry showed its approval of his action with a pension of £700 a year.

Frere was made a member of the Privy Council in 1805. In 1807 he was appointed plenipotentiary at Berlin, but the mission was abandoned, and Frere was sent to Spain in 1808 as plenipotentiary to the Central Junta. The condition of Spain rendered his position difficult. When Napoleon began to advance on Madrid, it became a matter of great importance to decide whether Sir John Moore, who was then in the north of Spain, should occupy the capital or retreat, and if he did retreat whether he should go to Portugal or to Galicia. Frere strongly felt that the bolder was the better course, and he urged his views with an urgent and fearless persistency that on sometimes overstepped the limits of his commission. After the disastrous retreat to A Coruña, the public accused Frere of having endangered the British army; though no direct censure was passed upon his conduct by the government, he was recalled, and Marquess Wellesley was appointed in his place.

This ended Frere’s public life. He afterwards refused to go to St Petersburg as ambassador, and twice declined a peerage. In 1816, he married Elizabeth Jemima, dowager Countess of Erroll. In 1820, on account of her failing health, he went with her to Malta, where he lived for the rest of his life. In retirement, he devoted himself to literature, studied his favourite Greek authors, and taught himself Hebrew and Maltese. He welcomed English guests, was popular with his Maltese neighbours, and befriended Mikiel Anton Vassalli, the first Professor of Maltese at the University of Malta. He died at Villa Frere in Pietà close to Valletta and is buried at Msida Bastion Cemetery.

In 1833–34, as President of the General Council of the University of Malta, he donated eighty-five volumes of medical books to the Public Library collection with the specific intention of being “for the use of the young students of the medical art”.

Frere’s literary reputation now rests upon his verse translations of Aristophanes. The translations of The Acharnians, The Knights, The Birds, and The Frogs were privately printed, and were first brought into general notice by George Cornewall Lewis in the Classical Museum for 1847. They were followed by Theognis Restilutus, the personal history of the poet Theognis of Megara. In 1817, he published a mock-heroic Arthurian poem, Prospectus and Specimen of an intended National Work, by William and Robert Whistlecraft, of Stowmarket in Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers,. William Tennant in Anster Fair used the ottava rima for semi-burlesque poetry five years earlier, but Frere’s experiment is interesting because Byron borrowed it in Don Juan.

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