Some Things NEVER Change

November 8, 2016 at 12:03 pm (history, people) (, , )

At election time, it’s hard NOT to think of:

Favored Candidates
Purchased Votes
Pocket & Rotten Boroughs

In “the shadow of the American War of Independence” came so hotly a contested election for the seat of Northampton, it pretty much knocked out the family finances for the Earls of Northampton (ie, the father of Emma’s Uncle Northampton). It has gone down in history as the “Spendthrift Election” (1767/68).


The “contest of the three earls” (Earl Spencer, Earl Halifax, and the Earl of Northampton [pictured]) has been described as: ‘the most violent contest for aristocratic pre-eminence that has taken place for the last century’. Rumors put Lord Northampton’s spending at the level of £100,000 – a prodigious sum. His daughter-in-law (our Lady Northampton, née Maria Smith of Erle Stoke Park) still cringed a half-century later, at the “expense” of “canvassing”.

Not long after the campaign, the Earl of Northampton left England – for Switzerland – never returning. His son (our Lord Northampton) is said to have been on the lookout for a wealthy heiress… to bolster the sagging family funds, and to upkeep the family seat, Castle Ashby.

Some things NEVER seem to change.


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Georgian Gentleman – Journals & Jottings

January 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm (books, diaries, history, london's landscape, people) (, , , , , , , , )

Another “find”, thanks to Sabine: Kleidungum1800 had notice of an interesting blog entitled Georgian Gentleman. Who could resist the call??

And what a found was an English gentleman, retired lawyer Mike Rendell, who had a book come out last year (27 Jan 2011) about his ancestor: The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman: The Life and Times of Richard Hall, 1739-1801 (Book Guild Publishing).

{NB: January 27 — Mozart’s birthday, and, this year, the day my friend Calista and I arrive at Hyde Park for an Emma weekend}

Mike Rendell describes Richard Hall as a “sometimes pious Baptist silk hosier who kept shop at one end or other of the old London Bridge”.

[2017 – some dead links, I’m afraid; will see if samples, silhouettes & facsimiles can be re-linked]

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Useful (published) diaries

May 3, 2009 at 11:41 am (books) (, , , , , , , )

Just a quick word to say that I *finally* broke down and purchased the first volume of both The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Lady (by Agnes Witts) and the diary of her son The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Parson (Francis Edward Witts).

They are really lovely books! Large (especially Francis’ — at just over 700 pages!), with many illustrations. Wish I could afford the entire set (still in the act of being published, by the way) — but my pocket book is exceptionally empty these days, and these were extravagances – though, purchased used, they were more affordable. (Agnes vol 1 sells for £25; Francis vol 1 for £50.)

cotswoldlady1The first thing that struck me was how Agnes is described on the inside dust jacket flap: “Agnes Witts was a remarkable woman with great zest for life. She required constant amusement and bored easily. Her favourite pastimes were cards and stimulating conversation, her social circle was wide and well-connected…

Imagine my surprise, upon beginning to read the actual diary entries (ie, after the introduction on Agnes and her family) to see they were quite COMPARABLE to those written by Mary Smith, Emma Smith/Austen, and Eliza Smith/Chute!! More a surprise, because I never would have dreamed that their diaries would hold anyone’s attention for long, if simply published verbatim.

Then sank in this idea: if Agnes was  in need of “constant amusement” and “bored easily”, what does that say of Eliza Chute — who’s diaries (especially) carry the same type of information, especially as regards card playing and visiting?? But the further into the introductions to both volumes I read (the intro to Francis Witt’s diary runs to 200 pages!), the more I see a subtle creeping in of the EDITOR’s thoughts and feelings about these people in these introductions… Maybe I will change my mind, after taking in more of the actual diaries. We shall see.

cotswoldparson1One thing I do wish is, that Alan Sutton (the editor and publisher) had employed a good proof-reader! I’ve never seen such blatant (and easily caught — so why weren’t they caught before going to press?) mistakes: misspellings, additional punctuation (like two periods at the end of a sentence), and sentences that, with slight differentiations, relate exactly the same information. Then, just this morning, I read TWO paragraphs (one followed the other) that were EXACTLY the same, word for word. The word for this is sloppy.

But the ideas and history contained within the diaries continue to fascinate me – which is a good thing, considering the cost just to get these books sent from England! I hope to read the two rather in tandem: Mrs Witts covers the period 1788-1793 and Francis Witts covers 1795-1805.

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