“His friend Wybault”

January 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm (books, diaries, people) (, , , )

Still somewhat perplexed about The Wybault Connection (see earlier post “The Mystery of Miss Macklin“), I’ve been searching this slightly unusual name. At least I hope it’s a bit unusual! Certainly the two I seem to come across are Patrick Robert Wybault and his brother, often referred to as General Wybault, Joseph William Wybault. The pair even both lived on Landsdowne-crescent in Chichester, later in life.

But the period I’m interested in is the decade from approximately 1818 to 1829. In 1821, P.R. Wybault married A. A. Macklin (Amelia Anne being the bride’s Christian names). So what has recently been unearthed is of GREAT interest IF it is the correct Wybault:

A biography of Alexander Buchanan – who ultimately has ties to Montreal – went as a young man on a tour to England and France. Somehow he came to be in the company of “his friend Wybault”. However, without either the original journal – or a fuller transcription, I will never know IF this travel companion is given a first name, or a fuller description! Here’s what I have:

buchanan book

  • “On Sunday the 26th March, 1820, he [Alexander Buchanan] set out from London in a mail coach, with his friend Wybault, for Dover, where they arrived on Monday at 7 a.m.  At 9.30 a.m. they embarked on board a small sloop of about 30 tons, crowded to excess with about sixty passengers. The passage to Calais was performed in three hours and ten minutes. On landing they visited the Hotel de Depin [sic: Hotel de Dessin], celebrated for the residence of Sterne.” (opening chapter V)
  • “‘I accompanied two French ladies, a Mrs. Strachen and her sister, and Wybault, to the Luxembourg. We took a walk in the gardens and a view of the exterior of the Palace, and afterwards went to the Gallery of Painting’….” (April 1820 entry)
  • “‘This morning Wybault, myself, Mrs. Strachan, her sister, Mrs. Storey, a Portugese lady and Mrs. Drake, set off in an open carriage to visit some of the Royal Palaces.'”

I’m unsure if “Mrs Storey” is the sister of Mrs. Strachan. There is mention that this sister won “a gold medal from Buonoparte” for her artistic accomplishments, so I will see if I can find her – which may lead to “them” which might lead to “him”. For I’d dearly love to know if Buchanan’s friend was the same P.R. Wybault. They do have Versailles in common; for that is where the Macklin/Wybault marriage took place.

The author of the biography, A.W. Patrick Buchanan, K.C., writing about a hundred years ago, DID say, in the opening pages of chapter III, that the comments on this trip were found in “the very valuable Journal which he kept”.

So I wonder: Does this “valuable Journal” still exist?

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Peopling the Georgian House

January 16, 2015 at 11:09 am (estates, history, places) (, , , , , )

georgian houseAlthough centered on teaching history to school children, I highly recommend looking over the materials at Peopling the Georgian House. A useful look inside a Bristol residence, picking apart the rooms in the townhouse, as well as its people. Surprising to me was information about the Pinney family:

  • domestic staff included two ‘slaves’ – Pero Jones (gentleman’s valet); and Fanny Coker (lady’s maid), who becomes manumitted.
  • poet Robert Southey was a visitor.
  • a Pinney connection to Horatio Nelson.
  • the residence used SPEAKING TUBES in order to communicate upstairs to downstairs! Find out why we use the phrase “to bend one’s ear”…
  • and FABULOUS to see the house (illustration left) broken down floor by floor – from attics to 2nd, 1st and ground floor, until down in the cellars, two levels below ground!

After READING about the house, how about a TOUR through it: The Georgian House Museum has a brief online presence – including “Life below Stairs”, and tells who used the “plunge pool” located in the basement. Alas, an actual walk through the property must wait until after April 3rd (closed for winter).

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Downton Abbey HEATS UP

January 5, 2015 at 11:26 am (entertainment, estates) (, , )

Julian Fellowes, stop reading over my shoulder!!

Last night Downton Abbey was ablaze – thanks to a cinder setting Lady Edith’s room on fire.

downton fire1

Emma Austen wrote about a very similar night: in October 1834, on the eve of sister Fanny’s marriage to the Rev. Richard Seymour!

The Smiths had recently moved into Mapledurham House (the wedding was the first “event” after the move); Emma, Edward and the children arrived in the morning hearing the news of the fire. In a letter she wrote, it “thank God did no personal harm – tho’ it has caused great alarm & confusion”.

Unlike Downton, Mapledurham’s cinder smouldered — an ‘insufferable smoke’ woke Mary (Lady Smith), who roused the household. “It was got under by the perseverance of the servants &c in about an hour”.

downton fire2

“The servants were very active & by means of wet blankets extinguished the fire — Engines came from Reading but it was out.”

In the aftermath, Emma’s diary tells us, “The floor of the room & a picture were burnt & the wall & ceiling smoked  the house a good deal injured by fire”.

Only next week will tell viewers if Downtown Abbey survived the conflagration with as little damage.

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