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Friday, 15 November 2019

Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, after whom the Epsom Derby is named

Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, by George Keating  published by William Austin, after Thomas Gainsborough  mezzotint, published 20 May 1785  © NPG D35034
Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, by George Keating
published by William Austin, after Thomas Gainsborough
mezzotint, published 20 May 1785
© NPG D35034
Profile

Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (12 September 1752 – 21 October 1834) is best remembered for his passion for sport. Two of the British classic horse races still commemorate that passion – the Epsom Derby, named after him, and the Epsom Oaks, named after his hunting lodge, The Oaks, where both races were conceived.

You can read about The Oaks here.

Early years

Edward Smith Stanley was born in Preston, Lancashire, on 12 September 1752, the eldest son of James Stanley, Lord Strange, (1716-71) and Lucy Smith, the co-heir of Hugh Smith of Weald Hall, Essex , and the grandson of Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby (1689-1776). Lord Strange added the name Smith to his own in 1749 by Act of Parliament. 

Edward was educated at Preston Grammar School and then Eton College before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1771, where he was awarded a degree of Master of Arts in 1773. 

Becoming Lord Stanley

Confusingly, on the death of his father on 1 June 1771, Edward assumed the title of Lord Stanley and not Lord Strange. The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1834 explained that he assumed the title of Lord Stanley
… it having been ascertained, after the title of Strange had been first adopted for his father, that that barony was really vested in the Duke of Atholl, the heir-general of James 7th Earl of Derby, and not in the junior male line of Stanley, to which the Earldom had devolved.1
Edward became the 12th Earl of Derby on the death of his grandfather on 22 February 1776.

An illustrious but disastrous marriage

Elizabeth Stanley (née Hamilton), Countess of Derby  by George Romney (1776-8)  DP162156 from Metropolitan Museum of Art
Elizabeth Stanley (née Hamilton), Countess of Derby
by George Romney (1776-8)
DP162156 from Metropolitan Museum of Art
On 23 June 1774 , Edward married Lady Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Hamilton, only daughter of James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton, and sister to the current Duke - Douglas Hamilton, the 8th Duke of Hamilton. 

To celebrate the occasion, a superb outdoor entertainment – known as a fête champêtre - was held at his country residence, The Oaks, on 9 June. An elaborate temporary pavilion designed by Robert Adam was built in the grounds for the celebration. 

You can read more about the fête champêtre in my post on The Oaks. 

Edward and Betty had three children: Edward, 13th Earl of Derby (1775), Charlotte (1776) and Elizabeth Henrietta (1778). 

The marriage was not a happy one and in the late 1770s, Betty embarked upon a scandalous affair with John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset. After the birth of her daughter Elizabeth, who may have been fathered by the Duke, Betty left her husband and children for her lover. The Earl, however, refused to divorce his wife.

Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, with his wife,  Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, and their son Edward  by Angelica Kauffmann (c1776)  Public domain image from Metropolitan Museum of Art
Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, with his wife,
Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, and their son Edward
by Angelica Kauffmann (c1776)
DP169403 from Metropolitan Museum of Art
In time, the philandering Duke’s interest waned, and the disgraced Countess was left socially ostracised for the rest of her life. She died on 14 March 1797.

A happy second marriage

'Derby & Joan or the platonic lovers, a farce' (Elizabeth, Countess of Derby;  Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby) by and published by Robert Dighton  hand-coloured etching, published 6 November 1795  7 7/8 in. x 8 7/8 in. (199 mm x 226 mm) paper size  Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries   and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966 Reference Collection © NPG D9306
'Derby & Joan or the platonic lovers, a farce' (Elizabeth, Countess of Derby;
Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby) by and published by Robert Dighton
hand-coloured etching, published 6 November 1795
7 7/8 in. x 8 7/8 in. (199 mm x 226 mm) paper size
Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries
 and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966 Reference Collection © NPG D9306
After his wife’s desertion, Edward fell in love with the celebrated actress, Elizabeth Farren. Elizabeth was closely guarded by her mother and it is generally believed that their relationship was not intimate until after their marriage on 1 May 1797, less than 2 months after the death of Edward’s first wife. This is supported by the fact that after their marriage, Elizabeth became pregnant almost immediately. Sadly, that child was stillborn, but she went on to have three others: Lucy (1799-1809), James (1800-1817) and Mary (1801-1858).

Elizabeth Farren, later Countess of Derby  by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1790)  from Metropolitan Museum of Art
Elizabeth Farren, later Countess of Derby
by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1790)
from Metropolitan Museum of Art
Politics

Edward was MP for Lancashire from 1774 until he was elevated to the House of Lords in 1776 on inheriting the earldom.

Influenced by his uncle, John Burgoyne, and his close friend Charles James Fox, he switched political allegiance to the Whig opposition in 1778. He had two brief periods of office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1783 and again in 1806-7.

He was made Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire in 1776 – a role which he reportedly did well and held until his death.

Gambling and sport

Edward was an inveterate gambler who was obsessed with sport. He was ‘a devotee of cricket and hunting as well as racing and cockfighting.’2

His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1834) said:
It was, however, in the character of a sportsman that the late Earl made himself most conspicuous; and a passion for horse-racing and cock-fighting was the absorbing one of his life. He possessed the reputation of having the best breed of cocks in England. For some years past, indeed ever since Liverpool has had a race-course, he personally attended the meetings, and took the most lively interest in the matches of his horses and cocks, more especially the latter. General Yates, whose breed of cocks was also celebrated, was his invariable opponent, and they annually decided the question of their respective game by a match of a thousand guineas aside. So strong was the Earl’s addiction of his favourite sport, that cocks have been introduced into his drawing-room, armed and spurred, even during the latter days of his life.3
The Derby and the Oaks

The Oaks from London by D Hughson Volume V (1808)
The Oaks from London by D Hughson Volume V (1808)
Edward bought The Oaks, a hunting lodge in Carshalton, Surrey, from his uncle John Burgoyne and it was here, in 1779, whilst at dinner with the Duke of Richmond and Sir Charles Bunbury that the Oaks Stakes horse race was devised – a new race to be run at Epsom for three-year-old fillies. Edward’s mare Bridget was the first winner.

The following year, he and Sir Charles Bunbury conceived another race for three-year-olds to be run at Epsom. Reportedly, they tossed for the name and Edward won, so it was named for him – the Derby Stakes. Bunbury’s Diomed was the first winner; Edward’s Sir Peter Teazle won in 1787.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on the 12th Earl of Derby stated:
His influence on the development and organisation of English horse-racing, as well as its annual social calendar, was of great and lasting significance.4
Death

In later years, Edward extended his estates in Liverpool, Bootle and Bury, and made improvements to the stables and park at his ancestral home of Knowsley Hall, in Lancashire. He died at Knowsley on 21 October 1834 and was buried at Ormskirk, next to his second wife, who had died previously, on 23 April 1829.

Knowsley Hall, Lancashire (2011) CC 2.0 Jack via Flickr
Knowsley Hall, Lancashire (2011) CC 2.0 Jack via Flickr
Notes
1. Gentleman’s Magazine (1834).
2. Crosby, Alan G, Stanley, Edward Smith, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).
3. Gentleman’s Magazine (1834).
4. Crosby op cit.

Sources used include:
Burgoyne, John, The Maid of the Oaks: A new dramatic entertainment. As it is performed at the Theatre-Royal, in Drury-Lane (1775)
Crosby, Alan G, Stanley, Edward Smith, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn Sept 2004, accessed 29 May 2018)
Debrett, John, The Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1820)
Draper, P, The House of Stanley (1864)
Gentleman’s Magazine (1834)
Hughson, David, London; being an accurate history and description of the British Metropolis and its neighbourhood Volume V (1808)
Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828)

Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Oaks - birthplace of the Epsom Derby

The Oaks from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
The Oaks from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey by GF Prosser (1828)
When I was a girl, I lived on Woodmansterne Road in Carshalton, Surrey (though my husband argues that it is really in London as it is part of the London Borough of Sutton). I often visited nearby Oaks Park with my brothers.

Deep in the depths of the park lie the ruins of The Oaks – the villa of Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby. The Earl had a passion for horse racing, and it was here that two of the British Classic horse races were conceived: the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby.

Lambert’s Oaks

According to Prosser's Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828), The Oaks
… is pleasantly situated on Banstead Downs, in the parish of Woodmanston; the healthiness and convenience of the situation for the enjoyment of field sports, attracted the notice of a society of gentlemen called the Hunter’s Club, to whom the land was leased by Mr Lambert, whence it was long known as ‘Lambert's Oaks’. They built a small house, designed for the festive meetings and general convenience of the society to partake of the diversions of the chase.1
General Burgoyne

The Oaks by John Collet c1762 © British Museum 1875,0814.961  under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
The Oaks by John Collet c1762 © British Museum 1875,0814.961
under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0   
The house was occupied first by Mr Simmons and then by Sir Thomas Gosling before General Burgoyne bought the lease of the club.

Hughson’s London (1808) described The Oaks:
General Burgoyne purchased the lease, and built a dining room forty-two feet by twenty-one, with an arched roof, elegantly finished; twenty-eight small cased pillars of fine workmanship, and a concave mirror at each end. The dining table is of plain deal boards, in conformity to the style of a hunting seat. The red hall entrance is small, but elegant: it contains two landscapes, and a few other pictures. The drawing room, on the first floor, is an octagon, ornamented with a variety of small pictures. It commands a prospect of Norwood, Shooter's Hill, many churches in London and its environs, Hampstead, Highgate, &c.2
Prosser also described The Oaks: 
On the ground floor is a good dining-room, built by general Burgoyne, forty-two feet in length by twenty-one in breadth, including an arched recess at each end; and eighteen feet in height. It is ornamented with twenty-six small cased Corinthian columns, bearing a cornice; various medallions also adorn the walls. Adjoining the west end is a drawing-room thirty-three feet by thirty-eight. The other apartments though not spacious are numerous, and replete with convenience; those on the north front command a distant view of London and its neighbouring eminences. The exterior of the building, from its ancient style of architecture, and being entirely clothed with ivy, presents a pleasing and venerable appearance.3
General Burgoyne extended and improved the estate before selling it to his nephew, Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby. He
… planted the grounds, and created here a pleasant summer retreat, admirably adapted for the pursuit of his favorite amusements, hunting and shooting. He also purchased some adjoining land; and the whole tenement, in its improved state, he sold to the present earl of Derby.4
The Oaks from London by D Hughson Volume V (1808)
The Oaks from London by D Hughson Volume V (1808)
The Earl of Derby

The Earl made his own improvements to the house:
The earl … added, at the west end, a large brick building, with four towers at each corner; and there is a similar erection at the east end, which renders the structure uniform, and gives an elegant Gothic appearance.5
Despite being only a hunting box, the house must have been of a considerable size as, according to Hughson:
His lordship can accommodate his guests with upwards of fifty bed chambers.6
The Earl also extended the grounds:
The pleasure grounds his lordship has much enlarged, by enclosing a part of the common, which has since been planted, and the whole, nearly three miles in circumference, has been arranged with much good taste. A short distance south-east of the house is a remarkable old beech tree, the boughs of which are curiously interwoven and grown into each other.7
The Fête Champêtre of 1774

To celebrate his imminent marriage to Lady Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Hamilton, sister to Douglas Hamilton, 8th Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Derby held a Fête Champêtre at The Oaks on 9 June 1774. For this elaborate alfresco entertainment, a magnificent temporary pavilion, designed by Robert Adam, was built in the grounds.

Inside view of the supper room and part of the ballroom in a  pavilion erected for a Fête Champêtre in the garden of the Earl of Derby  at The Oaks, in Surrey, on June 9th, 1774 - Robert Adam, Architect -in  The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam by R&A Adam (1773)
Inside view of the supper room and part of the ballroom
in a pavilion erected for a Fête Champêtre in the garden of the
Earl of Derby at The Oaks, in Surrey, on June 9th, 1774
Robert Adam, Architect - in The Works in Architecture
 of Robert and James Adam by R&A Adam (1773)
Mrs Delany described the Fête Champêtre in a letter to Mrs Port of Ilam:
I think it a fairy scene that may equal any in Madame Danois; nothing at least in modern days has been exhibited so perfectly magnificent – everybody in good humour, and agreed that it exceeded their expectation. The master of the entertainment (Lord Stanley), was dressed like Reubens, and Lady Betty Hamilton (for whom the feast was made), like Reubens’ wife. The company arriving, and partys of people of all ranks that came to admire, made the scene quite enchanting, which was greatly enlivened with a most beautiful setting sun breaking from a black cloud in its greatest glory.

After half an hour’s sauntering the company were called to the other side, to a more confined spot, where benches were placed in a semicircle, and a fortunate clump of trees in the centre of the small lawn hid a band of musick; a stage was (supposed to be formed) by a part being divided from the other part of the garden, with sticks entwined with natural flowers in wreaths and festoons joining each. A little dialogue between a Sheperd and Sheperdess, with a welcome to the company, was sung and said, and dancing by 16 men and 16 women figuranti’s from the Opera lasted about half an hour; after which this party was employed in swinging, jumping, shooting with bows and arrows, and various country sports.

The gentlemen and ladies danced on the green till it was dark, and then preceded the musick to the other side of the garden, the company following, where a magnificent saloon had been built, illuminated and decorated with the utmost elegance and proportion: here they danced till supper, when curtains were drawn up, which shewed the supper in a most convenient and elegant apartment, which was built quite round the saloon of a sufficient breadth and height to correspond with the saloon; after the supper, (which was exceeding good, and everybody glad of it as the evening had begun so very early, all the company being assembled in the saloon,) an interlude, in which a Druid entered as an inhabitant of the Oaks, welcomed Lady Betty Hamilton, and described the happiness of Lord Stanley in having been so fortunate, and in a prophetic strain foretold the happiness that must follow so happy an union, which, with chorus’s and singing and dancing by the Dryads, Cupid and Hymen attending and dancing also, it concluded with the happiness of the Oak making so considerable a part in the arms of Hamilton; a piece of transparent painting was brought in, with the crest of Hamilton and Stanley, surrounded with all the emblems of Cupid and Hymen, who crowned it with wreaths of flowers. From the great room in the house a large portico was built, which was supported by transparent columns and a transparent architecture on which was written, ‘To Propitious Venus.’ The pediment illuminated, and obelisks between the house and saloon. People in general very elegantly dressed: the very young as peasants; the next as Polonise; the matrons dominos; the men principally dominos and many gardiners, as in the Opera dances.8
Plan of pavilion for Fête Champêtre at The Oaks from  The Works in Architecture of Robert and   James Adam by R&A Adam (1773)
Plan of pavilion for Fête Champêtre at The Oaks from
The Works in Architecture of Robert and
 James Adam by R&A Adam (1773)
General Borgoyne wrote a musical entertainment inspired by the Fête Champêtre called The Maid of the Oaks which was performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Prosser noted that:
The interest of the piece was greatly increased by the excellent performance of Mrs Abingdon; it was afterwards represented in 1782 at Drury Lane Theatre with much success.9
The birth of two horse races

Sadly, all that is left of The Oaks today is the stable block and a few signboards, but the name of the house and its owner are commemorated in a sport that the Earl of Derby was passionate about – horse racing.

Stables at The Oaks © A Knowles (2016)
Stables at The Oaks © A Knowles (2016)
A plaque on one of the walls of the stables that still stand reads:
In 1779, whilst at dinner with the Duke of Richmond and Sir Charles Bunbury, Lord Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, named a new horse race – The Oaks – after the house that once stood here. In 1780 another race – The Derby – was conceived. The Oaks was demolished in 1950 after war damage.10
Plaque on wall of stables, The Oaks © A Knowles (2016)
Plaque on wall of stables, The Oaks © A Knowles (2016)
A timeline on an adjacent signboard suggests that the demolition actually took place later, between 1956 and 1960. My parents can remember the house and said that it was not so much war damage, but the gradual decay of the house through neglect and vandalism which finally led to it being pulled down – how sad!

Notes
1. Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828).
2. Hughson, David, London; being an accurate history and description of the British Metropolis and its neighbourhood Volume V (1808).
3. Prosser op cit.
4. Ibid.
5. Hughson op cit.
6. Ibid.
7. Prosser op cit.
8. Delany, Mrs, The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany (1861).
9. Prosser op cit.
10. Plaque on wall of The Oaks, photographed 2016.

Sources used include:
Adam, Robert and Adam, The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1773)
Burgoyne, John, The Maid of the Oaks: A new dramatic entertainment. As it is performed at the Theatre-Royal, in Drury-Lane (1775)
Crosby, Alan G, Stanley, Edward Smith, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn Sept 2004, accessed 29 May 2018)
Debrett, John, The Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1820)
Delany, Mrs, The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany (1861)
Draper, P, The House of Stanley (1864)
Hughson, David, London; being an accurate history and description of the British Metropolis and its neighbourhood Volume V (1808)
Prosser, George Frederick, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey (1828)

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The Bachelor Duke - William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858)

William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of   Devonshire - on Oak Stairs at Chatsworth  Photo © A Knowles (2014)
William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of
Devonshire - on Oak Stairs at Chatsworth
Photo © A Knowles (2014)
Profile

William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (21 May 1790 - 18 January 1858), was known as the Bachelor Duke, because he never married. He was a patron of the Whigs, but his absorbing passions were more cultural than political with deep interests in horticulture, literature, science and sculpture.

Birth and family

William Spencer Cavendish was born in Paris on 21 May 1790, the long-awaited son and heir of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, and his first wife, Lady Georgiana Spencer. He had two older sisters, Georgiana (1783-1858) and Harriet (1785-1862). His family called him Hart (as I have throughout this post), an abbreviation of his title, the Marquess of Hartington, which he used from birth until he became Duke. Hart was baptised at St George’s Hanover Square on 21 May 1791.

Bust of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire   in Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth  © A Knowles (2014)
Bust of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire
 in Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth
© A Knowles (2014)
Two years without a mother

The relationship between Hart’s parents was very strained. They lived in a strange ménage à trois with Georgiana’s intimate friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster, who was also the Duke’s mistress. Indeed, rumours circulated from time to time that Lady Elizabeth was really Hart’s mother.

Georgiana’s huge gambling debts threatened her marriage, but it was her affair with Charles Grey, later 2nd Earl Grey, which brought things to a head. Georgiana became pregnant with Grey’s child and the Duke sent her abroad in disgrace. She gave birth to her daughter Eliza in February 1792, but she was not allowed to return home until the following autumn.

For two years, Hart and his sisters were left under the care of their governess, Selina Trimmer. When Georgiana returned, the three-and-a-half-year-old Hart did not recognise his mother and screamed when she tried to touch him. It later transpired that he was profoundly deaf – the result of an infection he had contracted whilst she was abroad. Georgiana felt so guilty for being away that she was inclined to spoil her son.  

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and child  after the painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds  from The Two Duchesses (1898)
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and child
after the painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds
from The Two Duchesses (1898)
Education and character

As a boy, Hart was temperamental and isolated, and his mother deplored the fact that he seemed to prefer the company of servants. He was educated at Harrow School before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge. He continued to shy away from physical contact and was inclined to hysterics if his sisters teased him.

Lady Caro

Hart was very attached to his cousin, Lady Caroline Ponsonby, and was distraught when she married William Lamb, the future Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, in 1805. It was, however, the act of allowing his mother to comfort him that established a friendship between them that had been lacking.

Lady Caroline Lamb from Wives of the Prime Ministers (1844-1906)
Lady Caroline Lamb
from Wives of the Prime Ministers (1844-1906)
Lady Elizabeth Foster

After Georgiana’s death in March 1806, Hart and his sisters deeply resented Lady Elizabeth Foster taking their mother’s place and her eventual marriage with their father in October 1809. In later years, however, the new Duchess seemed to regain the influence which she had possessed over Hart as a child.

Lady Elizabeth Foster, later Duchess of Devonshire, in South Sketch Gallery, Chatsworth
Lady Elizabeth Foster, later Duchess of Devonshire,
in South Sketch Gallery, Chatsworth
The 6th Duke

Hart became the 6th Duke of Devonshire on the death of his father on 29 July 1811, at the age of 21. He inherited eight houses, including Chatsworth, Devonshire House, Hardwick Hall and Chiswick, and around 200,000 acres of land. He took his family responsibilities very seriously and continued to pay off his mother’s debts.

The Oak Stairs, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
The Oak Stairs, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
Politics

Hart was a Whig and a reformist, but more through patronage than from an active political career in the House of Lords as he was impeded by his deafness.

He was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to the Russian Empire and visited St Petersburg in 1826 for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas I and was decorated with the orders of St Andrew and St Alexander Nevsky in recognition of the £26,000 of his own money he spent on the occasion.

Hart was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council in April 1827 and was Lord Chamberlain to George IV (1827-8) and William IV (1830-4). He took over from his father as Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1811, a position he held until his death.

Hart was a friend of the Prince Regent, later George IV, and carried the orb at his coronation in 1821.

George IV in his coronation robes from An authentic history of the coronation of His Majesty, King George the Fourth   by Robert Huish (1821)
George IV in his coronation robes
from An authentic history of the coronation
of His Majesty, King George the Fourth

  by Robert Huish (1821)
The Bachelor Duke

After his disappointment over Lady Caro Ponsonby, Hart did not embark upon any serious courtship – at least not one that is mentioned in any of my chief sources. He did, however, appear to have had at least one mistress. He had a secret, ten-year relationship with Eliza Warwick from 1827, but little is known about her. It has been suggested that Hart abandoned Eliza after his conversion to Evangelical Christianity.

Modernisation of Chatsworth

Hart employed the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville to modernise and extend Chatsworth. He built a magnificent oak staircase leading to the new north wing which included a Dining Room, Orangery, private Theatre and Sculpture Gallery. He also turned the Long Gallery into the Library and added ground floor windows to the Painted Gallery.

The Library, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
The Library, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
Redecorating Chiswick

In the 1840s, Hart lavishly redecorated the interiors of Chiswick House, using the firm of Crace & Son. His sister Harriet exclaimed:
Oh! Chiswick! Dearest brother, Chiswick! What shall I say? Chatsworth, be jealous.1
Sadly, the decorations were left to decay and the east and west wings were demolished in the 1950s. You can read a description of the decorations on the Chiswick House website.

Horticulturalist

Hart made Joseph Paxton Head Gardener at Chatsworth and with his help, he redeveloped the gardens. Hart was very fond of travelling and in 1838, Paxton accompanied him on a Grand Tour of Europe. He built the Rockery at Chatsworth to imitate the alpine scenery. He also built the Emperor Fountain, which can rise to the height of 90 metres, and the Grand Conservatory – the forerunner of Paxton’s Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Hart was President of the Royal Horticultural Society (1838-58) and the Cavendish banana is named for him.

The Emperor Fountain, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
The Emperor Fountain, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
Hart the collector

The Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
The Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
Hart was a great collector – of minerals, coins, medals, sculpture and books. He bought several complete libraries, including those of Thomas Dampier, Bishop of Ely, the Duke of Roxburghe, and John Kemble. His papers include correspondence with several authors including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and William Makepeace Thackeray.

He was passionate about marble and formed a great friendship with the sculptor Antonio Canova. The Sculpture Gallery was created to display his collection of contemporary sculpture and is presided over by busts of Canova and Hart.

Bust of Canova in Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth © A Knowles (2014)
Bust of Canova in Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth
© A Knowles (2014)
Hart the historian

Hart was also very interested in the history of his family and of their estates at Chatsworth and Hardwick. In 1844, he privately published the first volume of a book called Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick, written in the first person to his sister, Harriet, Countess Granville.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Derby Museum and Art Gallery in 1836.

Debts

Hart’s expensive habits of building, collecting and travelling came with a cost. He ran up extensive debts and was obliged to sell some of his estates to settle them.

Illness and death

Hart suffered a paralytic seizure in 1854 and died at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire on 18 January 1858. He was buried at Edensor, Derbyshire.

He was succeeded by his first cousin, once removed, another William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Burlington (1808-1891).2

Notes
1. From the Chiswick House website (see link below).
2. The 7th Duke's father, yet another William Cavendish (1783-1812), was Hart's first cousin, and he would have inherited if he had not already died.

Sources used include:
Cavendish, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and others, The Two Duchesses, Family Correspondence, ed by Vere Foster (Blackie & Son, 1898, London)
Foreman, Amanda, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (HarperCollins, 1998, London)
Fowler, Claire, Your guide to Chatsworth (Chatsworth House Trust, 2010)
Huish, Robert, An authentic history of the coronation of His Majesty, King George the Fourth (1821)
Reynolds, KD, Cavendish, William George Spencer, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn Jan 2008, accessed 30 Oct 2014)

Monday, 30 September 2019

Turnpikes and toll houses

Toll house, Blists Hill, Ironbridge © A Knowles (2018)
Toll house, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge © A Knowles (2018)
What was a turnpike road?

A turnpike road was a toll road operated under a trust set up by an Act of Parliament. A Turnpike Act authorised a group of trustees to levy tolls on a stretch of road in order to finance its maintenance and improvement. The toll rates were set by the Act which also empowered the trustees to borrow money secured on future tolls in order to invest in road improvements. Money could be borrowed by bonds and loans secured on the toll income or by mortgaging the tolls.

The term of a turnpike trust was 21 years, but tolls were to cease earlier if the money borrowed had been repaid. Extensions were regularly granted to trusts for ongoing improvement and maintenance.

Why was it called a turnpike?

Turnpike roads got their name from the turnpikes or toll gates which barred the way until the road users had paid the required toll. The turnpikes were placed at strategic points along the road where it was difficult for travellers to evade paying, such as at bridges or where the lie of the land constricted the road. 
 
Tyburn Turnpike (1820) from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Tyburn Turnpike (1820)
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
 Why were turnpike roads needed?

The state of the roads around large conurbations like London were in a bad state of repair due to overuse. The preamble to a Turnpike Act for Surrey passed in 1718 stated that certain roads
...by reason of the many heavy loads and carriages of meal, timber, stone, hops, and other goods, and great number of stage and hackney coaches, passengers and droves of cattle daily passing through the same, are become so very ruinous and almost impassable, for the space of five months in the year, so that it is dangerous to all persons, horses, and other cattle to pass through the said roads.1
Road maintenance was the responsibility of the parishes through which the roads passed, but they did not have the resources to keep the roads in good repair.

Turnpike Acts provided the means for raising money to build and maintain better roads and allow the fast transport of people, mail and goods from place to place.

Toll house at the Weald and Downland  Living Museum © A Knowles (2014)
Toll house at the Weald and Downland
Living Museum © A Knowles (2014)
When was the turnpike system in operation?

The turnpike system was not a unified road network but rather a large number of individual turnpike roads, operated by different trusts, that provided better road conditions across Britain and Scotland. Generally, the trusts coordinated their improvements to provide continuous stretches of good road, but if they were offering alternative routes to the same place, they sometimes competed with each other, trying to attract traffic and therefore tolls to travel their route. 

The first Turnpike Acts were passed in the late 17th century and by the mid-1830s, about 22,000 miles of road in England and Wales – about one fifth of the road network – were managed by turnpike trusts.2 The turnpikes were wound up in the 1870s and the responsibility for road maintenance passed to the Highways Board.

Who collected the tolls?

Trusts could either appoint collectors, who would have to sign an oath to confirm they had handed all the tolls over, or they could let the tolls. 

An advert in The Times for April 1810 stated the date and place when the trustees of the New Cross Turnpike Roads intended to auction the tolls, giving the sum collected in a previous period as guide price to bidders.3

Toll house, Athelhampton House © A Knowles (2015)
Toll house, Athelhampton House © A Knowles (2015)
Toll houses

Toll houses were built next to the turnpikes as someone needed to be collecting the tolls 24 hours a day. These represented a significant investment from the trusts. The standard toll house design adopted in the 1820s was of a small, single-story cottage with a polygonal bay front. 

Some toll houses on major roads were built on a rather grander design, with castellated rooves, designed to impress rich travellers and tempt them to use their route over an alternative.

Turnpikes were generally placed outside the town so that local businesses did not have to pay the toll. However, the remoteness of their locations meant that the toll houses were vulnerable to theft and as a precaution, they tended to be fitted with bars and a safe.

Many toll houses were demolished when the turnpike trusts were abolished particularly if their position restricted the width of the road. Others were sold into private ownership. 

Spaniards gate toll house, Hampstead © R Knowles (2019)
Spaniards Gate toll house, Hampstead © R Knowles (2019)
Plaque on side of Spaniards Gate toll house,  Hampstead © R Knowles (2019)
Plaque on side of Spaniards Gate toll house,
Hampstead © R Knowles (2019)
How much were the tolls?

The toll rates for each turnpike were set according to the Turnpike Act that established it and differed according to the type of user.

The Mail did not have to pay tolls. An outrider blew a horn as the coach approached so that the toll keeper could get the gate open ready without the Mail having to slow down.

Table of tolls from Weald and Downland  Living Museum © A Knowles (2014)
Table of tolls from Weald and Downland
Living Museum © A Knowles (2014)
The Surrey Turnpike Act of 1718 set the rates as follows:
For every horse, mule, or ass, laden or unladen, and for every chaise, cart, dray, or other carriage drawn by one horse, one penny
For every coach, chariot, or calash drawn by two or more horses, sixpence
For every waggon not laden with hay or straw, sixpence
For every waggon laden with hay or straw, threepence
For every cart, dray, or carriage laden with hay, straw, or other goods, twopence
For every drove of oxen or neat cattle, twopence per score
For every drove of calves, hogs, sheep, or lambs one penny per score
A ticket for the toll road lasted all day.
Soldiers, all persons riding post, and all carts and waggons travelling with vagrants, were permitted to pass free of toll.4
The Sussex Turnpike Act of 1749 set the rates as follows:
For every coach, berlin, landau, chariot, chaise, calash, chair, caravan, or hearse, drawn by six horses or mules, the sum of one shilling
If drawn by four horses, &c., ninepence
If drawn by two horses, &c., sixpence
If drawn by one horse, threepence
For every waggon, wain, cart, or carriage drawn by six horses or oxen, one shilling and sixpence
If drawn by four horses or oxen, ninepence
If drawn by two horses or oxen, sixpence
If by one horse, threepence
For every waggon or cart, laden only with hay or straw, threepence
For every horse, mule, or ass, laden or unladen, and not drawing, one penny
For every drove of oxen, tenpence per score
For every drove of calves, sheep, &c., fivepence per score.
The Act specifically prohibited the repair of pavements in the streets of any town.
Those travelling to county elections were exempt.5
Milestones

Most turnpike trusts put up milestones, marking the distance to significant places.

Milestone in Blandford, Dorset © A Knowles (2016)
Milestone in Blandford, Dorset © A Knowles (2016)
Notes
1. Parliamentary papers, House of Commons vol 44 (1852)(Turnpike Roads)
3. The Times online archive, April 1810.
4. Parliamentary papers op cit.
5. Ibid.

Sources used include:
Parliamentary papers, House of Commons vol 44 (1852)(Turnpike Roads)

Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Gordon Riots of 1780

The Gordon Riots  from The Chronicles of Crime or The Newgate   Calendar by C Pelham illustrated by Phiz (1841)
The Gordon Riots
from The Chronicles of Crime or The Newgate 
Calendar by C Pelham illustrated by Phiz (1841)
For a week in June 1780, London experienced some of the worst riots that the city has ever seen. Thousands of anti-Catholic protestors gathered to petition Parliament, but what began as a peaceable religious protest turned into a destructive riot, causing havoc across the city.

The Gordon Riots play a small but important part in A Perfect Match. The hero, Christopher Merry, has never really got over the trauma of what he witnessed during that fateful week. In his pursuit of love, he is forced to confront the truth.
Front cover of A Perfect Match by Rachel Knowles

What caused the Gordon Riots?

The Gordon Riots were an extreme Protestant reaction to the Catholic Relief Act of 1778. The Act relieved some of the discrimination against Catholics including allowing them to join the army. Lord George Gordon, President of the Protestant Society, declared that such a move put British forces in danger should the Catholics turn on their kinsmen and side with Britain’s Catholic enemies instead. He spearheaded a petition for the repeal of the Act.

On Friday 2 June, Lord George, together with some 60,000 protestors, arrived at Parliament to present
… a huge roll of parchment, almost as much as a man could carry, containing the names of those who had signed the petition.1
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots
The rabble gets rowdy

Thus far, the protest was peaceable, but it did not remain so. The protestors started attacking the carriages of those arriving at Parliament, who they held responsible for passing the Act.
The protestors
… obliged almost all the members to put blue cockades in their hats, and call out, ‘No Popery!’ Some they compelled to take oath to vote for the repeal of the act. They took possession of all the avenues from the outer door to the door of the House of Commons, which they twice attempted to force open.2
Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, had the glasses of his carriage broken and the panels beaten in; the Bishop of Litchfield had his gown torn; and the Duke of Northumberland had his watch stolen. Lord Mansfield’s nephew, Lord Stormont, fared even worse:
They stopped Lord Stormont’s carriage, and great numbers of them got upon the wheels, box, &c taking the most impudent liberties with his Lordship, who was as it were in their possession for near half an hour, and would perhaps not have so soon got away had not a Gentleman jumped into his Lordship’s carriage, and by haranguing the mob persuaded them to desist.3
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots
Lord George entered the House and presented his petition for ‘A repeal of the Act passed in the last session in favour of the Roman Catholics’, signed by nearly one hundred and twenty thousand people, demanding that it be considered immediately.

The House voted against the immediate consideration of the petition but scheduled it for the following Tuesday, and with the arrival of troops, the crowd was peaceably dispersed.

The riots

Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots
But that was not the end of it. That night, huge numbers of people reassembled and started on a destructive rampage. They destroyed two Catholic chapels, one belonging to the Sardinian ambassador in Duke Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and the other, to the Bavarian ambassador in Warwick Street, near Golden Square.

Thirteen of the perpetrators were arrested and three of the most notorious were incarcerated in Newgate Prison.

The violence continued as the rioters targeted both prominent Catholics and those responsible for making and upholding the law. One of the first homes to be destroyed was that of Sir George Savile who had been responsible for instigating the hated Catholic Relief Bill. The iron railings of his house became the mob’s chief weapons.

The Bow Street offices and home of Sir John Fielding were likewise attacked, as were the shops of Mr Rainsforth, the king’s tallow chandler, and Mr Maberly for bringing evidence against the rioters.

Lord Mansfield’s house destroyed

Lord Mansfield from a miniature at Kenwood House  © Photo A Knowles
Lord Mansfield from a miniature at Kenwood House
© Photo A Knowles (2019)
Perhaps the worst of the protestors’ anger was directed at Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield. They ransacked his home in Bloomsbury Square.
The furniture, his fine library of books, invaluable manuscripts, containing his lordship's notes on every important law case for near forty years past … were by the hands of these Goths committed to the flames; Lord and Lady Mansfield with difficulty eluded their rage, by making their escape through a back door, some minutes before the savages broke into, and took possession of his house. So great was the vengeance with which they menaced him, that, if report may be credited, they had brought a rope with them to have executed him: and his preservation may be properly termed providential.4
A group of rioters went out to Hampstead to similarly destroy Kenwood House, Lord Mansfield’s country residence. They were not successful. A guard was there before them and the rioters were diverted by being plied with free ale at nearby Spaniards Inn.

Spaniards Inn, Hampstead © A Knowles (2019)
Spaniards Inn, Hampstead © A Knowles (2019)
Prisons and property under attack

Spurred on by alcohol, the rioters continue to cause havoc for several days. They attacked the property of wealthy Catholics, destroying houses, chapels and businesses including Irish merchant James Malo’s house and Mr Langdale’s Holborn distillery.

The mob attacked Newgate Prison and released the prisoners before burning it to the ground. The Clink Prison and the Fleet Prison suffered similar fates whilst other prisons were severely damaged.

Attempts were made on Prime Minster Lord North’s house in Downing Street and the Bank of England, but these were unsuccessful.

Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots
Why did it take so long to stop the riots?

Lord Shelburne was not alone in thinking that Parliament had failed to take preventative measures against the possibility of mob violence. He complained that though
… notice was given to the ministry, that a large body was to assemble in St George's-fields, no measure, no precaution was made use of to stem the torrent of outrage, which might be expected to join those who had too much religion, tho' they themselves had none.5
There seemed to be a remarkable reluctance to call in the militia and give them the authority to forcibly disperse the mob. When troops arrived, there was often no magistrate at the scene of the riot prepared to give them the order to shoot. This arose because of a widely held belief that soldiers had no legal right to open fire on a lawless mob unless specifically instructed to do so.

Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots

The end of the riots

By Wednesday 7 June, the number of troops in the city had swelled:
The guards being found to be insufficient to defend the various parts of the metropolis, all the troops and militia within thirty miles were, the preceding day, sent for. A strong guard was placed at Buckingham-house, now called the Queen's Palace, their majesties town residence. A camp was formed in St. James's-Park, and a detachment of the marching regiments of militia formed another in Hyde-Park.6
According to Walpole, 12-14,000 soldiers were involved in quelling the tumults. These included those normally stationed in the city, such as the Horse Guards and the Foot Guards, as well as the militia from neighbouring counties.

The troops were ordered to fire on those who would not disband peaceably. Estimates vary as to how many people lost their lives in the riots. Hibbert estimated as many as 850; Pelham reckoned about 500. Some were killed by gunfire. Others died in fires or through alcohol abuse.

Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)   which was based on the Gordon Riots
Illustration from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (1841)
which was based on the Gordon Riots
Horace Walpole wrote to his friend, the Reverend Mr Cole, on 15 June:
You may like to know one is alive, dear Sir, after a massacre, and the conflagration of a capital. I was in it, both on the Friday and on the Black Wednesday; the most horrible sight I ever beheld, and which, for six hours together, I expected to end in half the town being reduced to ashes. I can give you little account of the original of this shocking affair; negligence was certainly its nurse, and religion only its god mother.7
In a letter to the Earl of Strafford, Walpole wrote:
Religion has often been the cloak of injustice, outrage, and villany: in our late tumults, it scarce kept on its mask a moment; its persecution was downright robbery; and it was so drunk, that it killed its banditti faster than they could plunder.8
What happened to Lord George Gordon?

Around 450 rioters were arrested, though only a handful were tried and convicted. Lord George Gordon was arrested and taken to the Tower of London where he was tried for treason. In Walpole’s opinion:
The Tower is much too dignified a prison for him — but he had left no other.9
Lord George was found not guilty and released. However, the eccentric lord continued his extremist political activity and was later charged with publishing a pamphlet criticising the administration of justice and for libelling Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France. He was convicted on both charges and imprisoned in the rebuilt Newgate Prison where he died in 1793.

The front of Newgate Prison from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
The front of Newgate Prison
from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
Notes
1. Lady’s Magazine (1780).
2. Ibid.
3. Whitehall Evening Post, June 1780 from British Library Collection.
4. Lady’s Magazine (1780).
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Letter from Horace Walpole to the Reverend Mr Cole dated 15 June 1780 in The Letters of Horace Walpole.
8. Letter from Horace Walpole to the Earl of Stafford dated 12 June 1780 in The Letters of Horace Walpole.
9. Ibid.

Sources used include:
Dickens, Charles, Master Humphrey's Clock - Volume III - Barnaby Rudge (1841)
Gentleman’s Magazine (1780)
Hibbert, Christopher, George III (1998)
Lady’s Magazine (1780)
Pelham, Camden, The Chronicles of Crime or The New Newgate Calendar embellished with fifty-two engravings from original drawings by 'Phiz' (1841)
Walpole, Horace, The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, volume 6 (1840)
Gordon Riots on Wikipedia – a comprehensive and well sourced article that checks out with other sources.