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Posts Tagged ‘Josiah Wedgwood’

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.

Joseph Wright of Derby
3 September 1734 – 29 August 1797

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Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright of Derby was born in Irongate, Derby. Deciding to become a painter, Wright went to London in 1751 and for two years studied under Thomas Hudson, the master of Joshua Reynolds. After painting portraits for a while at Derby, Wright again worked as an assistant to Hudson for fifteen months. In 1753 he returned to and settled in Derby and varied his work in portraiture by the production of the subjects with strong chiaroscuro under artificial light, with which his name is chiefly associated, and by landscape painting. Wright also spent a productive period in Liverpool, from 1768 to 1771, painting portraits. These included pictures of a number of prominent citizens and their families.

Wright married Ann (also known as Hannah) Swift, the daughter of a leadminer, on 28 July 1773

Wright and his wife had six children, three of whom died in infancy. Wright set off in 1773 with John Downman, a pregnant Ann Wright and Richard Hurleston for Italy. Their ship took shelter for three weeks in Nice before they completed their outward voyage in Livorno in Italy in February 1774. Downman returned to Britain in 1775. Although he spent a great deal of time in Naples, Wright never actually witnessed any eruption of Mount Vesuvius; however, it is possible that he witnessed smaller, less impressive eruptions, which may have inspired many of his subsequent paintings of the volcano. On his return from Italy he established himself at Bath as a portrait-painter, but meeting with little encouragement he returned to Derby in 1777, where he spent the rest of his life. He became increasingly asthmatic and nervous about the house, and for these complaints he was treated by his friend Erasmus Darwin. Ann Wright died on 17 August 1790. On 29 August 1797 Wright died at his new home at No. 28 Queen Street, Derby, where he had spent his final months with his two daughters.

Wright was a frequent contributor to the exhibitions of the Society of Artists, and to those of the Royal Academy, of which he was elected an associate in 1781 and a full member in 1784. He, however, declined the latter honour on account of a slight which he believed that he had received, and severed his official connection with the Academy, though he continued to contribute to the exhibitions from 1783 until 1794.

Wright is seen at his best in his candlelit subjects of which the Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight (1765), his A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (1766), in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768), in the National Gallery are excellent examples. His Old Man and Death (1774) is also a striking and individual production.

Joseph Wright of Derby also painted Dovedale by Moonlight, capturing the rural landscape of a narrow valley called Dovedale, 14 miles northeast of Wright’s home town of Derby, at night with a full moon. It hangs in the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Its companion piece, Dovedale by Sunlight (circa 1784–1785) captures the colors of day. In another Moonlight Landscape, in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Florida, equally dramatic, the moon is obscured by an arched bridge over water, but illuminates the scene, making the water sparkle in contrast to the dusky landscape. Another memorable image from his tour of the Lake District is Rydal Waterfall of 1795.

Cave at evening (above) is painted with the same dramatic chiaroscuro for which Joseph Wright is noted. The painting was executed during 1774, while he was staying in Italy. Notice the similarities to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s holding, Grotto by the Seaside in the Kingdom of Naples with Banditti, Sunset (1778).

Wright had close contact with the pioneering industrialists of the Midlands. Two of his most important patrons were Josiah Wedgwood, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery, and Richard Arkwright, regarded as the creator of the factory system in the cotton industry. One of Wright’s students, William Tate, was uncle to the eccentric gentleman tunneler Joseph Williamson and completed some of Wright’s works after his death. Wright also had connections with Erasmus Darwin and other members of the Lunar Society, which brought together leading industrialists, scientists, and philosophers. Although meetings were held in Birmingham, Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, lived in Derby, and some of the paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, which are themselves notable for their use of brilliant light on shade, are of, or were inspired by Lunar Society gatherings.

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768), shows people gathered round observing an early experiment into the nature of air and its ability to support life.

The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone (1771) depicts the discovery of the element phosphorus by German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669. A flask in which a large quantity of urine has been boiled down is seen bursting into light as the phosphorus, which is abundant in urine, ignites spontaneously in air.

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery shows an early mechanism for demonstrating the movement of the planets around the sun. The Scottish scientist James Ferguson (1710–1776) undertook a series of lectures in Derby in July 1762 based on his book Lectures on Select Subjects in Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Optics &c. (1760). To illustrate his lectures, Ferguson used various machines, models and instruments. Wright possibly attended these talks, especially as tickets were available from John Whitehurst, Wright’s close neighbour, a clockmaker and a scientist. Wright could also have drawn on Whitehurst’s practical knowledge to learn more about the orrery and its operation.

These factual paintings are considered to have metaphorical meaning too, the bursting into light of the phosphorus in front of a praying figure signifying the problematic transition from faith to scientific understanding and enlightenment, and the various expressions on the figures around the bird in the air pump indicating concern over the possible inhumanity of the coming age of science.

These paintings represent a high point in scientific enquiry which began undermining the power of religion in Western societies. Some ten years later, scientists would find themselves persecuted in the backlash to the French Revolution of 1789, itself the culmination of enlightenment thinking. Joseph Priestley, a member of the Lunar Society, left Britain in 1794 after his Birmingham laboratory was smashed and his house burned down by a mob objecting to his outspoken support for the French Revolution. In France, the chemist Antoine Lavoisier was executed by the guillotine at the height of the Terror. The politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, in his famous Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), tied natural philosophers, and specifically Priestley, to the French Revolution; he later wrote in his Letter to a Noble Lord (1796) that radicals who supported science in Britain “considered man in their experiments no more than they do mice in an air pump”.

In light of this comment, Wright’s painting of the bird in the air pump, completed over twenty years earlier, seems particularly prescient.

It was against this background that Charles Darwin, grandson of the Derby man and Lunar Society member, Erasmus Darwin, would add to the conflict between science and religious belief half a century later, with the publication of his book The Origin of Species in 1859.

Wright’s birthplace at 28 Irongate, Derby is commemorated with a representation of an orrery on the pavement nearby.

Joseph Wright was buried in the grounds of St Alkmund’s Church, Derby. The church was controversially demolished in 1968 to make way for a major new section of the inner ring road cutting through the town centre, and now lies beneath the road. Wright’s remains were removed to Nottingham Road Cemetery.

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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.

Emma Crewe
Active 1787 – 1818

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Miss Crusses by Emma Crewe

Emma Crewe was a “gifted amateur artist” who, along with Diana Beauclerk and Elizabeth Templetown, contributed designs in “Romantic style” to Josiah Wedgwood for reproduction in his studio in Rome.

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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.

Elizabeth Lady Templetown
1746/47 – 1823

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Elizabeth Templetown

Elizabeth Upton, Baroness Templetown was an English artist whose designs were used by Josiah Wedgwoodthe potter. She specialised in detailed cut-paper work which adapted well to Wedgwood’s jasperware with white bas relief scenes on coloured backgrounds. He first chose one of her designs in 1783, and his 1787 catalogue referred to her “exquisite taste” and “charming groups”. Several of the designs Wedgwood used have a feminine or domestic theme. She also painted in watercolours and sculpted in clay.

Born Elizabeth Boughton in Herefordshire, she married Clotworthy Upton, 1st Baron Templetown in 1769. Their family home was Castle Upton in Templepatrick, County Antrim, Ireland. In 1776 her husband became Baron Templetown and she was then Lady Templetown.

Lady Templetown stayed in Rome a lot towards the end of her life, dying in 1823. Her brother, Charles, was a Member of Parliament.

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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.

Fanny Imlay
14 May 1794 – 9 October 1816

Fanny Imlay was the daughter of the British feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft and the American entrepreneur Gilbert Imlay. Both had moved to France during the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft to practise the principles laid out in her seminal work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and Imlay to engage in speculative business ventures. The two met and fell in love. At one point during Wollstonecraft and Imlay’s relationship, the couple could meet only at a tollbooth between Paris and Neuilly, and it was there that their daughter was conceived; Fanny was therefore, in Godwin’s words, a “barrier child”. Frances “Fanny” Imlay, Wollstonecraft’s first child, was born in Le Havre on 14 May 1794, or, as the birth certificate stated, on the 25th day of Floreal in the Second Year of the Republic, and named after Fanny Blood, her mother’s closest friend. Although Imlay never married Wollstonecraft, he registered her as his wife at the American consulate to protect her once Britain and France went to war in February 1793. Most people, including Wollstonecraft’s sisters, assumed they were married—and thus, by extension, that Fanny was legitimate—and she was registered as such in France.

Initially, the couple’s life together was idyllic. Wollstonecraft playfully wrote to one friend: “My little Girl begins to suck so manfully that her father reckons saucily on her writing the second part of the R[igh]ts of Woman”. Imlay soon tired of Wollstonecraft and domestic life and left her for long periods of time. Her letters to him are full of needy expostulations, explained by most critics as the expressions of a deeply depressed woman but by some as a result of her circumstances—alone with an infant in the middle of the French Revolution.

Wollstonecraft returned to London in April 1795, seeking Imlay, but he rejected her; the next month she attempted to commit suicide, but he saved her life (it is unclear how). In a last attempt to win him back, she embarked upon a hazardous trip to Scandinavia from June to September 1795, with only her one-year-old daughter and a maid, in order to conduct some business for him. Wollstonecraft’s journey was daunting not only because she was travelling to what some considered a nearly uncivilized region during a time of war, but also because she was travelling without a male escort. When she returned to England and realized that her relationship with Imlay was over, she attempted suicide a second time. She went out on a rainy night, walked around to soak her clothes, and then jumped into the River Thames, where a stranger rescued her.

Using her diaries and letters from her journey to Scandinavia, Wollstonecraft wrote a rumination on her travels and her relationship—Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796)—in which, among other things, she celebrated motherhood. Her maternal connection to her daughter prompted her to reflect on a woman’s place in the world:

You know that as a female I am particularly attached to her—I feel more than a mother’s fondness and anxiety, when I reflect on the dependent and oppressed state of her sex. I dread lest she should be forced to sacrifice her heart to her principles, or principles to her heart. With trembling hand I shall cultivate sensibility, and cherish delicacy of sentiment, lest, whilst I lend fresh blushes to the rose, I sharpen the thorns that will wound the breast I would fain guard—I dread to unfold her mind, lest it should render her unfit for the world she is to inhabit—Hapless woman! what a fate is thine!

Wollstonecraft lavished love and attention on her daughter. She began two books, drawn from her own experience, related to Fanny’s care: a parenting manual entitled “Letters on the Management of Infants” and a reading primer entitled “Lessons”. In one section of “Lessons”, she describes weaning:

When you were hungry, you began to cry, because you could not speak. You were seven months without teeth, always sucking. But after you got one, you began to gnaw a crust of bread. It was not long before another came pop. At ten months you had four pretty white teeth, and you used to bite me. Poor mamma! Still I did not cry, because I am not a child, but you hurt me very much. So I said to papa, it is time the little girl should eat. She is not naughty, yet she hurts me. I have given her a crust of bread, and I must look for some other milk.

In 1797, Wollstonecraft fell in love with and married the philosopher William Godwin (she had become pregnant with his child). Godwin grew to love Fanny during his affair with Wollstonecraft; he brought her back a mug from Josiah Wedgwood’s pottery factory with an “F” on it that delighted both mother and daughter. Wollstonecraft died in September of the same year, from complications giving birth to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who survived. Three-year-old Fanny, who had been scarred from smallpox, was unofficially adopted by her stepfather and given the name of Godwin. Her copy of Wollstonecraft’s only completed children’s book, Original Stories from Real Life (1788), has the initials “F. G.” written in large print in it. According to the dominant interpretation of Godwin’s diary, it was not until Fanny turned twelve that she was informed in an important conversation with Godwin that he was not her natural father.

After Wollstonecraft’s death, Godwin and Joseph Johnson, Wollstonecraft’s publisher and close friend, contacted Fanny’s father, but he was uninterested in raising his child. (Neither Wollstonecraft nor her daughter ever saw Gilbert Imlay after 1796.) Wollstonecraft’s two sisters, Eliza Bishop and Everina Wollstonecraft, Fanny’s only two living female relatives, were anxious to care for her; Godwin, disliking them, turned down their offer. Several times throughout Fanny’s childhood Wollstonecraft’s sisters asked Godwin to allow them to raise their niece and each time he refused. Godwin himself did not seem particularly ready for parenthood and he now had two small children to raise and no steady source of income. However, he was determined to care for them. During these early years of Fanny’s life, Joseph Johnson served as an “unofficial trustee” for her as he had occasionally for her mother. He even willed her £200, but Godwin owed Johnson so much money upon his death in 1809 that Johnson’s heirs demanded Godwin pay the money back as part of his arrears.

Although Godwin was fond of his children, he was, in many ways, ill-equipped to care for them. As Todd explains, he was constantly annoyed by their noise, demanding silence while he worked. However, when he took a trip to Dublin to visit Wollstonecraft’s sisters, he missed the girls immensely and wrote to them frequently.

On 21 December 1801, when Fanny was seven, Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, a neighbour with two children of her own: three-year-old Claire and six-year-old Charles. She had never been married and was looking, like Godwin, for financial stability. Although Clairmont was well-educated and well-travelled, most of Godwin’s friends despised her, finding her vulgar and dishonest. They were astonished that Godwin could replace Mary Wollstonecraft with her. Fanny and her half-sister Mary disliked their stepmother and complained that she preferred her own children to them. On 28 March 1803, baby William was born to the couple.

Although Godwin admired Wollstonecraft’s writings, he did not agree with her that women should receive the same education as men. Therefore, he occasionally read to Fanny and Mary from Sarah Trimmer’s Fabulous Histories (1786) and Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s Lessons for Children (1778–79), but, according to Todd, he did not take great pains with their educations and disregarded the books Wollstonecraft had written for Fanny. William St Clair, in his biography of the Godwins and the Shelleys, argues that Godwin and Wollstonecraft spoke extensively about the education they wanted for their children and that Godwin’s writings in The Enquirer reflect these discussions. He contends that after Wollstonecraft’s death Godwin wrote to a former pupil to whom she had been close, now Lady Mountcashell, asking her advice on how to raise and educate his daughters. In her biography of Mary Shelley, Miranda Seymour agrees with St Clair, arguing that “everything we know about his daughter’s [Mary’s and presumably Fanny’s] early years suggests that she was being taught in a way of which her mother would have approved”, pointing out that she had a governess, a tutor, a French-speaking stepmother, and a father who wrote children’s books whose drafts he read to his own first. It was the new Mrs Godwin who was primarily responsible for the education given to the girls, but she taught her own daughter more, including French. Fanny received no formal education after her stepfather’s marriage. Yet, the adult Imlay is described by C. Kegan Paul, one of Godwin’s earliest biographers, as “well educated, sprightly, clever, a good letter-writer, and an excellent domestic manager”. Fanny excelled in drawing and was taught music. Despite Godwin’s atheism, all of the children were taken to an Anglican church.

The Godwins were constantly in debt, so Godwin returned to writing to support the family. He and his wife started a Juvenile Library for which he wrote children’s books. In 1807, when Fanny was 13, they moved from the Polygon, where Godwin had lived with Wollstonecraft, to 41 Skinner Street, near Clerkenwell, in the city’s bookselling district. This took the family away from the fresh country air and into the dirty, smelly, inner streets of London. Although initially successful, the business gradually failed. The Godwins also continued to borrow more money than they could afford from generous friends such as publisher Joseph Johnson and Godwin devotee Francis Place.

As Fanny Imlay grew up, her father increasingly relied on her to placate tradespeople who demanded bills be paid and to solicit money from men such as Place. According to Todd and Seymour, Imlay believed in Godwin’s theory that great thinkers and artists should be supported by patrons and she believed Godwin to be both a great novelist and a great philosopher. Throughout her life, she wrote letters asking Place and others for money to support Godwin’s “genius” and she helped run the household so that he could work.

Godwin, never one to mince words, wrote about the differences he perceived between his two daughters:

My own daughter [Mary] is considerably superior in capacity to the one her mother had before. Fanny, the eldest, is of a quiet, modest, unshowy disposition, somewhat given to indolence, which is her greatest fault, but sober, observing, peculiarly clear and distinct in the faculty of memory, and disposed to exercise her own thoughts and follow her own judgment. Mary, my daughter, is the reverse of her in many particulars. She is singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire for knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes is almost invincible. My own daughter is, I believe, very pretty; Fanny is by no means handsome, but in general prepossessing.

The intellectual world of the girls was widened by their exposure to the literary and political circles in which Godwin moved. For example, during former American vice-president Aaron Burr’s self-imposed exile from the United States after his acquittal on treason charges, he often spent time with the Godwins. He greatly admired the works of Wollstonecraft and had educated his daughter according to the precepts of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. He was anxious to meet the daughters of the woman he revered and referred to Fanny, Mary, and Claire as “goddesses”. He spent most of his time talking with Imlay about political and educational topics. Burr was impressed by the Lancastrian teaching method and took Fanny to see a model school in 1811.

It was not Burr, but the Romantic poet and writer Percy Bysshe Shelley who had the greatest impact on Imlay and her sisters’ lives. Impressed by Godwin’s Political Justice, Shelley wrote to him and the two started corresponding. In 1812, Shelley asked if Imlay, then 18 and the daughter of one of his heroes, Mary Wollstonecraft, could come live with him, his new wife, and her sister. Having never actually met Shelley and being sceptical of his motivations (Shelley had eloped to marry his wife, Harriet), Godwin refused. When Shelley finally came to visit the Godwins, all three girls were enamoured with him, particularly Imlay. Both Shelley and Imlay were interested in discussing radical politics; for example, Shelley liked to act as if class were irrelevant, but she argued that it was significant in daily affairs.

In 1814, Shelley spent a considerable amount of time at the Godwins’ and he and Imlay may have fallen in love. Later, Claire Clairmont claimed that they had been. Imlay was sent to Wales in May of that year; Todd speculates that Godwin was trying to separate her from Shelley while Seymour hints that Mrs Godwin was trying to improve her despondent mood. Meanwhile, the Godwin household became even more uncomfortable as Godwin sank further into debt and as relations between Mary and her stepmother became increasingly hostile. Mary Godwin consoled herself with Shelley and the two started a passionate love affair. When Shelley declared to Godwin that the two were in love, Godwin exploded in anger. However, he needed the money that Shelley, as an aristocrat, could and was willing to provide. Frustrated with the entire situation, Mary Godwin, Shelley, and Claire Clairmont ran off to Europe together on 28 June 1814. Godwin hurriedly summoned Imlay home from Wales to help him handle the situation. Her stepmother wrote that Imlay’s “emotion was deep when she heard of the sad fate of the two girls; she cannot get over it”. In the middle of this disaster, one of Godwin’s protégés killed himself, and young William Godwin ran away from home and was missing for two days. When news of the girls’ escapade became public, Godwin was pilloried in the press. Life in the Godwin household became increasingly strained.

When Mary Godwin, Claire Clairmont, and Shelley returned from the Continent in September 1814, they took a house together in London, enraging Godwin still further. Imlay felt pulled between the two households: she felt loyal both to her sisters and to her father. Both despised her decision not to choose a side in the family drama. As Seymour explains, Imlay was in a difficult position: the Godwin household felt Shelley was a dangerous influence and the Shelley household ridiculed her fear of violating social conventions. Also, her aunts were considering her for a teaching position at this time, but were reluctant because of Godwin’s shocking Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1798). Seymour writes, the “few timid visits Fanny made to see Mary and [Claire] in London were acts of great courage; she got little thanks for them”. Although instructed by Godwin not to speak to Shelley and her sisters, Imlay warned them of creditors who knew of Shelley’s return (he also was in debt). Her attempts to persuade Clairmont to return to the Godwins’ convinced Shelley that she was of Godwin’s party and he began to distrust her. Imlay was also still responsible for soliciting money from Shelley in order to repay her father’s debts; despite Shelley’s essential elopement with two of his daughters, Godwin agreed to accept £1,200 from Shelley. When Mary Godwin gave birth to a daughter in February 1815, she immediately sent for Imlay, particularly as both she and the infant were ill. Godwin chastised Imlay for disobeying his orders not to see her half-sister and her misery increased. After the death of the child, Imlay paid more frequent visits to the couple.

Soon after, Clairmont became a lover of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, and Mary Godwin and Shelley had a second child on 24 January 1816, who was named William after Godwin. In February, Imlay went to visit the Shelleys, who had settled in Bishopsgate. Godwin’s debts continued to mount, and while he demanded money from Shelley, Godwin still refused to see either him or his daughter. At this time, Charles Clairmont (Imlay’s step-brother), frustrated with the tension in the Godwin household, left for France and refused to help the family any further. At around the same time, Claire Clairmont, Mary Godwin, and Shelley left for the Continent, seeking Byron. Godwin was aghast. He relied on Shelley’s money, and the stain on his family’s reputation only increased when the public learned that the group had left to join the rakish Byron.

Amidst all of this family turmoil, Imlay still found time to ponder larger social issues. The utopian socialist Robert Owen came to visit Godwin in the summer of 1816 and he and Imlay discussed the plight of the working poor in Britain. She agreed with many of Owen’s proposals, but not all of them. She decided, in the end, that his utopian scheme was too “romantic”, because it depended heavily on the goodwill of the rich to sacrifice their wealth. That same summer, George Blood—the brother of Fanny Imlay’s namesake—came to meet her for the first time and told her stories of her mother. After this meeting she wrote to Mary Godwin and Shelley: “I have determined never to live to be a disgrace to such a mother… I have found that if I will endeavour to overcome my faults I shall find being’s [sic] to love and esteem me” .

Before Mary Godwin, Clairmont, and Shelley had left for the Continent, Imlay and Mary had had a major argument and no chance to come to a reconciliation. Imlay attempted in her letters to Mary to smooth over the relationship, but her sense of loneliness and isolation in London are palpable. She wrote to Mary of “the dreadful state of mind I generally labour under & which I in vain endeavour to get rid of”. Many scholars attribute Imlay’s increasing unhappiness to Mrs Godwin’s hostility towards her. Kegan, and others, contend that Imlay was subject to the same “extreme depression to which her mother had been subject, and which marked other members of the Wollstonecraft family”. Wandering amongst the mountains of Switzerland, frustrated with her relationship with Shelley, and engrossed by the writing of Frankenstein, her sister was unsympathetic.

The group returned from the Continent, with a pregnant Clairmont, and settled in Bath (to protect her reputation, they attempted to hide the pregnancy). Imlay saw Percy twice in September 1816; according to Todd’s interpretation of Fanny’s letters, Fanny had earlier tried to solicit an invitation to join the group in Europe and she repeated these appeals when she saw Percy in London. Todd believes that Imlay begged to be allowed to stay with them because life in Godwin’s house was unbearable, with the constant financial worries and Mrs Godwin’s insistent haranguing, and that Percy refused, concerned that anyone learn about Clairmont’s condition, least of all someone he believed might inform Godwin (Shelley was being sued by his wife and was worried about his own reputation). After Percy left, Todd explains that Imlay wrote to Mary “to make clear again her longing to be rescued”.

In early October 1816, Imlay left Godwin’s house in London and committed suicide on 9 October by taking an overdose of laudanum at an inn in Swansea, Wales; she was 22. The details surrounding her death and her motivations are disputed. Most of the letters regarding the incident were destroyed or are missing. In his 1965 article “Fanny Godwin’s Suicide Re-examined”, B. R. Pollin lays out the major theories that had been put forward regarding her suicide and which continue to be used today:

  • Imlay had just learned of her illegitimate birth.
  • Mrs Godwin became more cruel to Imlay after Mary Godwin and Claire Clairmont ran off with Percy Shelley.
  • Imlay had been refused a position at her aunts’ school in Ireland.
  • Imlay was depressive, and her condition was aggravated by the state of the Godwin household.
  • Imlay was in love with Percy Shelley and distraught that Mary and he had fallen in love.

Pollin dismisses the first of these, as have most later biographers, arguing that Imlay had access to her mother’s writings and Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman which openly discuss the circumstances of her birth. Imlay herself even makes this distinction in letters to her half-sister Mary Godwin.

Pollin is also sceptical of the second explanation, pointing to Imlay’s letter to Mary of 3 October 1816 in which she defended her step-mother: “Mrs. Godwin would never do either of you a deliberate injury. Mamma and I are not great friends, but always alive to her virtues, I am anxious to defend her from a charge so foreign to her character.”

Pollin finds no evidence that Imlay had been refused a position at her aunts’ school, only that such a scheme may have been “in contemplation”, as Godwin later wrote, although Seymour grants this explanation some plausibility. St Clair claims that Imlay was on her way to join her maternal aunts in Ireland when she decided to commit suicide. He believes that it was to be a probationary visit, to see if she could be a teacher in their school. Godwin’s modern biographer, Richard Holmes, dismisses this story.

In his survey of the letters of the Godwins and the Shelleys, Pollin comes to the conclusion that Imlay was not depressive. She is frequently described as happy and looking toward the future and describes herself this way. The mentions of melancholia and sadness are specific and related to particular events and illness. Richard Holmes, in his biography of Percy Shelley, argues that “her agonizing and loveless suspension between the Godwin and Shelley households was clearly the root circumstance” of her suicide. Locke argues that “most probably because she could absorb no more of the miseries of Skinner Street, her father’s inability to pay his debts or write his books, her mother’s unending irritability and spitefulness”, all of which she blamed on herself, she committed suicide.

Pollin largely agrees with Todd, speculating that Imlay saw Percy Shelley in Bath and he “somehow failed her”, causing her to commit suicide. Seymour and others speculate that Shelley’s only failure was to live up to his financial promises to Godwin and it was this that helped push Imlay over the edge; she was convinced, like her father, “that the worthy have an absolute right to be supported by those who have the worth to give”. Todd, on the other hand, agrees with Pollin and speculates that Imlay went to see Mary Godwin and Shelley. Todd argues that Imlay had affection for Shelley and felt that his home was her only haven. Relying on scraps of poetry that Shelley may have written after Imlay’s death, Todd concludes that Shelley saw her in Bath and rejected her pleas because he needed to protect Claire’s reputation as well as his own at this time. Todd also notes that Imlay had worn her mother’s stays, which were embroidered with the initials “M.W.”, and the nicest clothes she owned. She had adorned herself with a Swiss gold watch sent to her from Geneva by the Shelleys and a necklace, in order to make a good impression. After Shelley rejected her, Todd concludes, Imlay decided to commit suicide.

On the night of 9 October, Imlay checked into the Mackworth Arms Inn in Swansea and instructed the chambermaid not to disturb her. The same night Mary Godwin, staying in Bath with Shelley, received a letter Imlay had mailed earlier from Bristol. Her father in London also received a letter. The alarming nature of the letters prompted both Godwin and Shelley to set out for Bristol at once (although they travelled separately). By the time they tracked her to Swansea on 11 October, they were too late. Imlay was found dead in her room on 10 October, having taken a fatal dose of laudanum.

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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.

Matthew Boulton
3 September 1728 – 17 August 1809

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Matthew Boulton

Boulton was a descendant of families from around Lichfield, his great-great-great-great grandfather, Rev. Zachary Babington, having been Chancellor of Lichfield. Boulton’s father, also named Matthew and born in 1700, moved to Birmingham from Lichfield to serve an apprenticeship, and in 1723 he married Christiana Piers. The elder Boulton was a toymaker with a small workshop specialising in buckles. Matthew Boulton was born in 1728, their third child and the second of that name, the first Matthew having died at the age of two in 1726.

The elder Boulton’s business prospered after young Matthew’s birth, and the family moved to the Snow Hill area of Birmingham, then a well-to-do neighbourhood of new houses. As the local grammar school was in disrepair Boulton was sent to an academy in Deritend, on the other side of Birmingham. At the age of 15 he left school, and by 17 he had invented a technique for inlaying enamels in buckles that proved so popular that the buckles were exported to France, then reimported to Britain and billed as the latest French developments.

On 3 March 1749 Boulton married Mary Robinson, a distant cousin and the daughter of a successful mercer, and wealthy in her own right. They lived briefly with the bride’s mother in Lichfield, and then moved to Birmingham where the elder Matthew Boulton made his son a partner at the age of 21. Though the son signed business letters “from father and self”, by the mid-1750s he was effectively running the business. The elder Boulton retired in 1757 and died in 1759.

The Boultons had three daughters in the early 1750s, but all died in infancy. Mary Boulton’s health deteriorated, and she died in August 1759. Not long after her death Boulton began to woo her sister Anne. Marriage with a deceased wife’s sister was forbidden by ecclesiastical law, though permitted by common law. Nonetheless, they married on 25 June 1760 at St. Mary’s Church, Rotherhithe. Eric Delieb, who wrote a book on Boulton’s silver, with a biographical sketch, suggests that the marriage celebrant, Rev. James Penfold, an impoverished curate, was probably bribed.

The union was opposed by Anne’s brother Luke, who feared Boulton would control (and possibly dissipate) much of the Robinson family fortune. In 1764 Luke Robinson died, and his estate passed to his sister Anne and thus into Matthew Boulton’s control.

The Boultons had two children, Matthew Robinson Boulton and Anne Boulton. Matthew Robinson in turn had six children with two wives. His eldest son Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, broadly educated and also a man of science, gained some fame posthumously for his invention of the important aeronautical flight control, the aileron. As his father before him, he also had two wives and six children.

After the death of his father in 1759, Boulton took full control of the family toymaking business. He spent much of his time in London and elsewhere, promoting his wares. He arranged for a friend to present a sword to Prince Edward, and the gift so interested the Prince’s older brother, George, Prince of Wales, the future King George III, that he ordered one for himself.

With capital accumulated from his two marriages and his inheritance from his father, Boulton sought a larger site to expand his business. In 1761 he leased 13 acres (5.3 ha) at Soho, then just in Staffordshire, with a residence, Soho House, and a rolling mill. Soho House was at first occupied by Boulton relatives, and then by his first partner, John Fothergill. In 1766 Boulton required Fothergill to vacate Soho House, and lived there himself with his family. Both husband and wife died there, Anne Boulton of an apparent stroke in 1783 and her husband after a long illness in 1809.

The 13 acres (5 ha) at Soho included common land that Boulton enclosed, later decrying what he saw as the “idle beggarly” condition of the people who had used it. By 1765 his Soho Manufactory had been erected. The warehouse, or “principal building”, had a Palladian front and 19 bays for loading and unloading, and had quarters for clerks and managers on the upper storeys. The structure was designed by local architect William Wyatt at a time when industrial buildings were commonly designed by engineers. Other buildings contained workshops. Boulton and Fothergill invested in the most advanced metalworking equipment, and the complex was admired as a modern industrial marvel. Although the cost of the principal building alone had been estimated at £2,000 (about £276,000 today); the final cost was five times that amount. The partnership spent over £20,000 in building and equipping the premises. The partners’ means were not equal to the total costs, which were met only by heavy borrowing and by artful management of creditors.

Among the products Boulton sought to make in his new facility were sterling silver plate for those able to afford it, and Sheffield plate, silver-plated copper, for those less well off. Boulton and his father had long made small silver items, but there is no record of large items in either silver or Sheffield plate being made in Birmingham before Boulton did so. To make items such as candlesticks more cheaply than the London competition, the firm made many items out of thin, die-stamped sections, which were shaped and joined together. One impediment to Boulton’s work was the lack of an assay office in Birmingham. The silver toys long made by the family firm were generally too light to require assaying, but silver plate had to be sent over 70 miles (110 km) to the nearest assay office, at Chester, to be assayed and hallmarked, with the attendant risks of damage and loss. Alternatively they could be sent to London, but this exposed them to the risk of being copied by competitors. Boulton wrote in 1771, “I am very desirous of becoming a great silversmith, yet I am determined not to take up that branch in the large way I intended, unless powers can be obtained to have a marking hall [assay office] at Birmingham.” Boulton petitioned Parliament for the establishment of an assay office in Birmingham. Though the petition was bitterly opposed by London goldsmiths, he was successful in getting Parliament to pass an act establishing assay offices in Birmingham and Sheffield, whose silversmiths had faced similar difficulties in transporting their wares. The silver business proved not to be profitable due to the opportunity cost of keeping a large amount of capital tied up in the inventory of silver. The firm continued to make large quantities of Sheffield plate, but Boulton delegated responsibility for this enterprise to trusted subordinates, involving himself little in it.

As part of Boulton’s efforts to market to the wealthy, he started to sell vases decorated with ormolu, previously a French speciality. Ormolu was milled gold (from the French or moulu) amalgamated with mercury, and applied to the item, which was then heated to drive off the mercury, leaving the gold decoration. In the late 1760s and early 1770s there was a fashion among the wealthy for decorated vases, and he sought to cater to this craze. He initially ordered ceramic vases from his friend and fellow Lunar Society member Josiah Wedgwood, but ceramic proved unable to bear the weight of the decorations and Boulton chose marble and other decorative stone as the material for his vases. Boulton copied vase designs from classical Greek works and borrowed works of art from collectors, merchants, and sculptors.

Fothergill and others searched Europe for designs for these creations. In March 1770 Boulton visited the Royal Family and sold several vases to Queen Charlotte, George III’s wife. He ran annual sales at Christie’s in 1771 and 1772. The Christie’s exhibition succeeded in publicising Boulton and his products, which were highly praised, but the sales were not financially successful with many works left unsold or sold below cost. When the craze for vases ended in the early 1770s, the partnership was left with a large stock on its hands, and disposed of much of it in a single massive sale to Catherine the Great of Russia—the Empress described the vases as superior to French ormolu, and cheaper as well. Boulton continued to solicit orders, though “ormolu” was dropped from the firm’s business description from 1779, and when the Boulton-Fothergill partnership was dissolved by the latter’s 1782 death there were only 14 items of ormolu in the “toy room”.

Among Boulton’s most successful products were mounts for small Wedgwood products such as plaques, cameo brooches and buttons in the distinctive ceramics, notably jasper ware, for which Wedgwood’s firm remains well known. The mounts of these articles, many of which have survived, were made of ormolu or cut steel, which had a jewel-like gleam. Boulton and Wedgwood were friends, alternately co-operating and competing, and Wedgwood wrote of Boulton, “It doubles my courage to have the first Manufacturer in England to encounter with—The match likes me well—I like the Man, I like his spirit.”

In the 1770s Boulton introduced an insurance system for his workers that served as the model for later schemes, allowing his workers compensation in the event of injury or illness. The first of its kind in any large establishment, employees paid one-sixtieth of their wages into the Soho Friendly Society, membership in which was mandatory. The firm’s apprentices were poor or orphaned boys, trainable into skilled workmen; he declined to hire the sons of gentlemen as apprentices, stating that they would be “out of place” among the poorer boys.

Not all of Boulton’s innovations proved successful. Together with painter Francis Eginton,[a] he created a process for the mechanical reproduction of paintings for middle-class homes, but eventually abandoned the procedure. Boulton and James Keir produced an alloy called “Eldorado metal” that they claimed would not corrode in water and could be used for sheathing wooden ships. After sea trials the Admiralty rejected their claims, and the metal was used for fanlights and sash windows at Soho House. Boulton feared that construction of a nearby canal would damage his water supply, but this did not prove to be the case, and in 1779 he wrote, “Our navigation goes on prosperously; the junction with the Wolverhampton Canal is complete, and we already sail to Bristol and to Hull.”

Boulton’s Soho site proved to have insufficient hydropower for his needs, especially in the summer when the millstream’s flow was greatly reduced. He realised that using a steam engine either to pump water back up to the millpond or to drive equipment directly would help to provide the necessary power. He began to correspond with Watt in 1766, and first met him two years later. In 1769 Watt patented an engine with the innovation of a separate condenser, making it far more efficient than earlier engines. Boulton realised not only that this engine could power his manufactory, but also that its production might be a profitable business venture.

After receiving the patent, Watt did little to develop the engine into a marketable invention, turning to other work. In 1772, Watt’s partner, Dr. John Roebuck, ran into financial difficulties, and Boulton, to whom he owed £1,200, accepted his two-thirds share in Watt’s patent as satisfaction of the debt. Boulton’s partner Fothergill refused to have any part in the speculation, and accepted cash for his share. Boulton’s share was worth little without Watt’s efforts to improve his invention. At the time, the principal use of steam engines was to pump water out of mines. The engine commonly in use was the Newcomen steam engine, which consumed large amounts of coal and, as mines became deeper, proved incapable of keeping them clear of water. Watt’s work was well known, and a number of mines that needed engines put off purchasing them in the hope that Watt would soon market his invention.

Boulton boasted about Watt’s talents, leading to an employment offer from the Russian government, which Boulton had to persuade Watt to turn down. In 1774 he was able to convince Watt to move to Birmingham, and they entered into a partnership the following year. By 1775 six of the 14 years of Watt’s original patent had elapsed, but thanks to Boulton’s lobbying Parliament passed an act extending Watt’s patent until 1800. Boulton and Watt began work improving the engine. With the assistance of iron master John Wilkinson (brother-in-law of Lunar Society member Joseph Priestley), they succeeded in making the engine commercially viable.

In 1776 the partnership erected two engines, one for Wilkinson and one at a mine in Tipton in the Black Country. Both engines were successfully installed, leading to favourable publicity for the partnership. Boulton and Watt began to install engines elsewhere. The firm rarely produced the engine itself: it had the purchaser buy parts from a number of suppliers and then assembled the engine on-site under the supervision of a Soho engineer. The company made its profit by comparing the amount of coal used by the machine with that used by an earlier, less efficient Newcomen engine, and required payments of one-third of the savings annually for the next 25 years. This pricing scheme led to disputes, as many mines fuelled the engines using coal of unmarketable quality that cost the mine owners only the expense of extraction. Mine owners were also reluctant to make the annual payments, viewing the engines as theirs once erected, and threatened to petition Parliament to repeal Watt’s patent.

The county of Cornwall was a major market for the firm’s engines. It was mineral-rich and had many mines. However, the special problems for mining there, including local rivalries and high prices for coal, which had to be imported from Wales, forced Watt and later Boulton to spend several months a year in Cornwall overseeing installations and resolving problems with the mineowners. In 1779 the firm hired engineer William Murdoch,[b] who was able to take over the management of most of the on-site installation problems, allowing Watt and Boulton to remain in Birmingham.

The pumping engine for use in mines was a great success. In 1782 the firm sought to modify Watt’s invention so that the engine had a rotary motion, making it suitable for use in mills and factories. On a 1781 visit to Wales Boulton had seen a powerful copper-rolling mill driven by water, and when told it was often inoperable in the summer due to drought suggested that a steam engine would remedy that defect. Boulton wrote to Watt urging the modification of the engine, warning that they were reaching the limits of the pumping engine market: “There is no other Cornwall to be found, and the most likely line for increasing the consumption of our engines is the application of them to mills, which is certainly an extensive field.” Watt spent much of 1782 on the modification project, and though he was concerned that few orders would result, completed it at the end of the year. One order was received in 1782, and several others from mills and breweries soon after. George III toured the Whitbread brewery in London, and was impressed by the engine. As a demonstration, Boulton used two engines to grind wheat at the rate of 150 bushels per hour in his new Albion Mill in London. While the mill was not financially successful, according to historian Jenny Uglow it served as a “publicity stunt par excellence” for the firm’s latest innovation. Before its 1791 destruction by fire, the mill’s fame, according to early historian Samuel Smiles, “spread far and wide”, and orders for rotative engines poured in not only from Britain but from the United States and the West Indies.

Between 1775 and 1800 the firm produced approximately 450 engines. It did not let other manufacturers produce engines with separate condensers, and approximately 1,000 Newcomen engines, less efficient but cheaper and not subject to the restrictions of Watt’s patent, were produced in Britain during that time. Boulton boasted to James Boswell when the diarist toured Soho, “I sell here, sir, what all the world desires to have—POWER.” The development of an efficient steam engine allowed large-scale industry to be developed, and the industrial city, such as Manchester became, to exist.

By 1786, two-thirds of the coins in circulation in Britain were counterfeit, and the Royal Mint responded by shutting itself down, worsening the situation. Few of the silver coins being passed were genuine. Even the copper coins were melted down and replaced with lightweight fakes. The Royal Mint struck no copper coins for 48 years, from 1773 until 1821. The resultant gap was filled with copper tokens that approximated the size of the halfpenny, struck on behalf of merchants. Boulton struck millions of these merchant pieces. On the rare occasions when the Royal Mint did strike coins, they were relatively crude, with quality control nonexistent.

Boulton had turned his attention to coinage in the mid-1780s; they were just another small metal product like those he manufactured. He also had shares in several Cornish copper mines, and had a large personal stock of copper, purchased when the mines were unable to dispose of it elsewhere. However, when orders for counterfeit money were sent to him, he refused them: “I will do anything, short of being a common informer against particular persons, to stop the malpractices of the Birmingham coiners.” In 1788 he established the Soho Mint as part of his industrial plant. The mint included eight steam-driven presses, each striking between 70 and 84 coins per minute. The firm had little immediate success getting a license to strike British coins, but was soon engaged in striking coins for the British East India Company for use in India.

Boulton offered to strike new coins at a cost “not exceeding half the expense which the common copper coin hath always cost at his Majesty’s Mint”.

Boulton spent much time in London lobbying for a contract to strike British coins, but in June 1790 the Pitt Government postponed a decision on recoinage indefinitely. Meanwhile, the Soho Mint struck coins for the East India Company, Sierra Leone and Russia, while producing high-quality planchets, or blank coins, to be struck by national mints elsewhere. The firm sent over 20 million blanks to Philadelphia, to be struck into cents and half-cents by the United States Mint—Mint Director Elias Boudinot found them to be “perfect and beautifully polished”. The high-technology Soho Mint gained increasing and somewhat unwelcome attention: rivals attempted industrial espionage, while lobbying for Boulton’s mint to be shut down.

The national financial crisis reached its nadir in February 1797, when the Bank of England stopped redeeming its bills for gold. In an effort to get more money into circulation, the Government adopted a plan to issue large quantities of copper coins, and Lord Hawkesbury summoned Boulton to London on 3 March 1797, informing him of the Government’s plan. Four days later, Boulton attended a meeting of the Privy Council, and was awarded a contract at the end of the month. According to a proclamation dated 26 July 1797, King George III was “graciously pleased to give directions that measures might be taken for an immediate supply of such copper coinage as might be best adapted to the payment of the laborious poor in the present exigency … which should go and pass for one penny and two pennies”. The proclamation required that the coins weigh one and two ounces respectively, bringing the intrinsic value of the coins close to their face value. Boulton made efforts to frustrate counterfeiters. Designed by Heinrich Küchler, the coins featured a raised rim with incuse or sunken letters and numbers, features difficult for counterfeiters to match. The twopenny coins measured exactly an inch and a half across; 16 pennies lined up would reach two feet. The exact measurements and weights made it easy to detect lightweight counterfeits. Küchler also designed proportionate halfpennies and farthings; these were not authorised by the proclamation, and though pattern pieces were struck, they never officially entered circulation. The halfpenny measured ten to a foot, the farthing 12 to a foot. The coins were nicknamed “cartwheels”, both because of the size of the twopenny coin and in reference to the broad rims of both denominations. The penny was the first of its denomination to be struck in copper.

The cartwheel twopenny coin was not struck again; much of the mintage was melted down in 1800 when the price of copper increased and it had proved too heavy for commerce and was difficult to strike. Much to Boulton’s chagrin, the new coins were being counterfeited in copper-covered lead within a month of issuance. Boulton was awarded additional contracts in 1799 and 1806, each for the lower three copper denominations. Though the cartwheel design was used again for the 1799 penny (struck with the date 1797), all other strikings used lighter planchets to reflect the rise in the price of copper, and featured more conventional designs. Boulton greatly reduced the counterfeiting problem by adding lines to the coin edges, and striking slightly concave planchets. Counterfeiters turned their sights to easier targets, the pre-Soho pieces, which were not withdrawn, due to the expense, until a gradual withdrawal took place between 1814 and 1817.

Boulton was widely involved in civic activities in Birmingham. His friend Dr John Ash had long sought to build a hospital in the town. A great fan of the music of Handel, Boulton conceived of the idea to hold a music festival in Birmingham to raise funds for the hospital. The festival took place in September 1768, the first of a series stretching well into the twentieth century. The hospital opened in 1779. Boulton also helped build the General Dispensary, where outpatient treatment could be obtained. A firm supporter of the Dispensary, he served as treasurer, and wrote, “If the funds of the institution are not sufficient for its support, I will make up the deficiency.” The Dispensary soon outgrew its original quarters, and a new building in Temple Row was opened in 1808, shortly before Boulton’s death.

Boulton helped found the New Street Theatre in 1774, and later wrote that having a theatre encouraged well-to-do visitors to come to Birmingham, and to spend more money than they would have otherwise. Boulton attempted to have the theatre recognised as a patent theatre with a Royal Patent, entitled to present serious drama; he failed in 1779 but succeeded in 1807. He also supported Birmingham’s Oratorio Choral Society, and collaborated with button maker and amateur musical promoter Joseph Moore to put on a series of private concerts in 1799. He maintained a pew at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham, a centre of musical excellence.

Concerned about the level of crime in Birmingham, Boulton complained, “The streets are infested from Noon Day to midnight with prostitutes.” In an era prior to the establishment of the police, Boulton served on a committee to organise volunteers to patrol the streets at night and reduce crime. He supported the local militia, providing money for weapons. In 1794 he was elected High Sheriff of Staffordshire, his county of residence.

Besides seeking to improve local life, Boulton took an interest in world affairs. Initially sympathetic to the cause of the rebellious American colonists, Boulton changed his view once he realised that an independent America might be a threat to British trade, and in 1775 organised a petition urging the government to take a hard line with the Americans—though when the revolution proved successful, he resumed trade with the former colonies. He was more sympathetic to the cause of the French Revolution, believing it justified, though he expressed his horror at the bloody excesses of the Revolutionary government. When war with France broke out, he paid for weapons for a company of volunteers, sworn to resist any French invasion.

When Boulton was widowed in 1783 he was left with the care of his two teenage children. Neither his son Matthew Robinson Boulton nor his daughter Anne enjoyed robust health; the younger Matthew was often ill and was a poor student who was shuttled from school to school until he joined his father’s business in 1790; Anne suffered from a diseased leg that prevented her from enjoying a full life. Despite his lengthy absences on business, Boulton cared deeply for his family.

With the expiry of the patent in 1800 both Boulton and Watt retired from the partnership, each turning over his role to his namesake son. The two sons made changes, quickly ending public tours of the Soho Manufactory in which the elder Boulton had taken pride throughout his time in Soho.

By early 1809 he was seriously ill. He had long suffered from kidney stones, which also lodged in the bladder, causing him great pain. He died at Soho House on 17 August 1809. He was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth, in Birmingham – the church was later extended over the site of his grave. Inside the church, on the north wall of the sanctuary, is a large marble monument to him, commissioned by his son, sculpted by the sculptor John Flaxman. It includes a marble bust of Boulton, set in a circular opening above two putti, one holding an engraving of the Soho Manufactory.

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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.

Lady Diana Spencer
1734–1808

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Diana Spencer

Diana was the daughter of the Honourable Elizabeth Trevor and Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough. Her siblings were George, Charles, and Elizabeth. She was raised at Langley Park, Buckinghamshire, where she was introduced to art at an early age. Joshua Reynolds, an artist, was a family friend.

She married Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke in 1757, and from 1762–1768 was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. She became widely known as ‘Lady Di’ (as did her namesake in the early 1980s).

Bolingbroke was notoriously unfaithful. In February 1768 he petitioned for divorce on grounds of adultery. Within two days of it being granted by Parliament she married Topham Beauclerk of Old Windsor. They had four children:

  • Anne (did not survive infancy)
  • Elisabeth Beauclerk
  • (Anne) Mary Day Beauclerk, twin of Elisabeth. married 1797 Franz Raugraf Jenison von Walworth
  • Charles George Beauclerk.

Their circle of friends included Samuel Johnson, Georgiana Cavendish — who maintained a glittering salon — Edward Gibbon, David Garrick, Charles Fox, James Boswell and Edmund Burke.

Beauclerk illustrated a number of literary productions, including Horace Walpole’s tragedy The Mysterious Mother, the English translation of Gottfried August Bürger’s Leonora (1796) and The Fables of John Dryden (1797). After 1785 she was one of a circle of women, along with Emma Crewe and Elizabeth Templetown, whose designs for Josiah Wedgwood were made into bas-reliefs on jasper ornaments.

Her husband died in 1780 and, due to restricted finances, she began to lead a more retired life. She died in 1808 and was buried in Richmond.

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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.

Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet
27 October 1788 – 27 October 1873

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Sir Henry Holland

Born in Knutsford, Cheshire, Holland was the son of the physician Peter Holland and Mary Willets. Peter’s sister Elizabeth was the mother of the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, and Mary was the niece of the potter Josiah Wedgwood. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University.

Henry had an extensive practice and was Domestic Physician to Caroline, Princess of Wales (briefly in 1814) and Physician Extraordinary to William IV and to Queen Victoria. He was also Physician in Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1852.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1815 and served on the council three times. He was made a Baronet in 1853.
Holland gained fame through his travel writings, having travelled to Iceland and through the Balkans and the Iberian peninsula, while the British were at war with France. He was also a talented society physician, and between his good looks, his charm, and his experiences and conversation, he was much in demand.

Holland died on his 85th birthday, 27 October 1873, at his house in Brook Street, London.

In 1822 he married, Margaret Emma Caldwell (1795–1830, known as Emma), with whom he had two sons and two daughters:

  • Henry Holland, 1st Viscount Knutsford
  • Francis James Holland
  • Emily Mary Holland married Charles Buxton
  • Elinor Anne Holland

Emma died in 1830. He later became son-in-law to the wit Sydney Smith whose daughter, Saba, he married as his second wife, with whom he had two daughters:

  • Caroline Holland
  • Gertrude Holland

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