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Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson “And who is Admiral Croft?” was Sir Walter’s cold suspicious inquiry. Mr Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman’s family, and mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause which followed, added –“He is a rear admiral of the white.He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he was stationed there, I believe, several years.” Persuasion Horatio Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England to the Reverend Edmund Nelson and Catherine Nelson. (His mother was a grandniece of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford.) His mother died when Nelson was nine. He learnt to sail on Barton Broad on the Norfolk Broads, and by the time he was twelve, he had enrolled in the Royal Navy. His naval career began on January 1, 1771, when he reported to the warship Raissonable as an ordinary seaman and coxswain. The vessel was commanded by Nelson’s maternal uncle and, shortly after reporting aboard, Nelson was appointed a midshipman and began officer training. In 1777 he was a lieutenant, assigned to the West Indies, during which time he saw action on the British side of the American Revolutionary War. By the time he was 20, in June 1779, he made captain; the frigate Hitchenbroke was his first command. In 1781 he was involved in an action against the Spanish fortress of San Juan in Nicaragua. A success, the efforts involved still damaged Nelson’s health to the extent that he returned to England for (more…)
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Doctor William Oliver

[My Mother] has written to my aunt, and we are all impatient for the answer. I do not know how to give up the idea of our both going to Paragon in May. Your going I consider as indispensably necessary, and I shall not like being left behind; there is no place here or hereabouts that I shall want to be staying at, and though, to be sure, the keep of two will be more than of one, I will endeavour to make the difference less by disordering my stomach with Bath buns; and as to the trouble of accommodating us, whether there are one or two, it is much the same. Jane Austen to Cassandra January 3, 1801 William Oliver (14 August [O.S. 4 August] 1695 – 17 March 1764) was an English physician and philanthropist, and inventor of the Bath Oliver. He was born at Ludgvan, Cornwall, and baptised on 27 August 1695, described as the son of John Oliver. His family, originally seated at Trevarnoe in Sithney, resided afterwards in Ludgvan, and the estate of Treneere in Madron, which belonged to him, was sold in 1768 after his death. When he decided to erect a monument in Sithney churchyard to the memory of his parents, Alexander Pope wrote the epitaph and drew the design of the pillar.He was admitted a pensioner of Pembroke College, Cambridge on 17 September 1714, graduated M.B. in 1720, and M.D. in 1725, and to complete his medical training, entered at Leiden University on 15 November (more…)
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Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by Quinçon “She possessed the pure Grecian contour; her head was exquisitely formed, her forehead fair and shapely, her eyes large and dark, with an expression of tenderness that did not belong to her character; and the delicate loveliness of her mouth and chin, the soft bloom of her complexion, together with her beautifully rounded shoulders and tapering arms, combined to form one of the loveliest of women.” -quote about Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, by an unknown admirer Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was born Baltimore, Maryland,  February 6 1785, the eldest of 13 children .  Known as “Betsy”,  she was the daughter of a Baltimore, Maryland merchant, the first wife of Jérôme Bonaparte, and sister-in-law of Emperor Napoleon I of France. Elizabeth’s father, William Patterson, had been born in Ireland and came to North America prior to the American Revolutionary War. He was a Catholic, and the wealthiest man in Maryland after Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Elizabeth’s brother, Robert, married Carroll’s granddaughter, Marianne Caton (but more on her later…) How they met is a mystery,  but Elizabeth and Jérôme Bonaparte (at the time 18 and 20, respectively) were married on December 24, 1803, at a ceremony presided over by John Carroll, the Archbishop of Baltimore. Betsy quickly became known for her “risqué” taste in fashion, starting with her wedding dress. Elizabeth Patterson's Wedding Dress, described as a dress so small that it “would fit easily into a gentleman’s pocket.” Image (more…)
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Elizabeth Fry: Prison Reformer

“Oh! no, no, (exclaimed Sophia) I cannot go to Newgate; I shall not be able to support the sight of my Augustus in so cruel a confinement — my feelings are sufficiently shocked by the recital of his Distress, but to behold it will overpower my Sensibility.” Jane Austen, Love and Freindship Elizabeth (Betsy) Fry (21 May 1780 – 12 October 1845), née Gurney, was an English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist. She has sometimes been referred to as the “angel of prisons”. Fry was a major driving force behind new legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane, and she was supported in her efforts by the reigning monarch. Since 2001, she has been depicted on the Bank of England £5 note. Elizabeth (Betsy) Gurney was born in Gurney Court, off Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk, England to a Quaker family. Her family home as a child was Earlham Hall, which is now part of the University of East Anglia.Her father, John Gurney, was a partner in Gurney’s bank. Her mother, Catherine, was a part of the Barclay family, who were among the founders of Barclays Bank. Her mother died when Elizabeth was only twelve years old. As one of the oldest girls in the family, Elizabeth was partly responsible for the care and training of the younger children, including her brother Joseph John Gurney, a philanthropist. One of her sisters was Louisa Gurney Hoare (1784–1836), a writer on education. At the age (more…)
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Spencer Perceval: One of Britain’s forgotten Prime-Ministers

spencer percevalSpencer Perceval: One of Britain’s forgotten Prime-Ministers Although Jane Austen does not mention it in her published letters, indeed she rarely mentions politics or current events…she lived through one of the most shocking events in the history of the House of Commons when, in 1812, the Prime Minister was assassinated in the very lobby of the house. Spencer Perceval, though not particularly beloved before his murder, gained estimation after his death as the only Prime Minister ever to be killed in office. No doubt everyone was talking of it at the time. Spencer Perceval, KC (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and First Lord of the Treasury, making him de facto Prime Minister. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. He is the only Solicitor General or Attorney General to have been Prime Minister. The younger son of an Irish earl, Perceval was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, practised as a barrister on the Midland Circuit and became a King’s Counsel, before entering politics at the age of 33 as a Member of Parliament for Northampton. A follower of William Pitt, Perceval always described himself as a “friend of Mr Pitt” rather than a Tory. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery, did not drink as much as most (more…)
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Account of Joseph Paisley: ‘The Celebrated Gretna Green Parson’

Gretna GreenAccount of Joseph Paisley: ‘The Celebrated Gretna Green Parson’ “MY DEAR HARRIET, You will laugh when you know where I am gone, and I cannot help laughing myself at your surprise to-morrow morning, as soon as I am missed. I am going to Gretna Green, and if you cannot guess with who, I shall think you a simpleton, for there is but one man in the world I love, and he is an angel. I should never be happy without him, so think it no harm to be off. You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, if you do not like it, for it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham. What a good joke it will be! Pride and Prejudice This account of the life of Joseph Paisley (with an etched Likeness), styled as ‘The Celebrated Gretna Green Parson’, appeared in the Lady’s Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated solely to their Use and Amusement, May, 1811, as a letter to the editor. To the Editor of the Lady’s Magazine   SIR, I inclose you an Account (from the Carlisle Journal) of the Gretna-Green Parson, who died a few days ago, as also an etching, which is an excellent likeness, and was taken some years ago, by a neighbouring country lad, without the knowledge of the Parson; he not being willing to sit for such a purpose. If you think them worth (more…)
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Princess Caraboo from the Island of Javasu

She turned up in Gloucestershire in 1817, claiming to be Princess Caraboo from the island of Javasu – saying she had been kidnapped by pirates before escaping and making her way to England. The fact that Mary Willcocks’ tale was completely invented arguably makes her story no less remarkable. The young woman who said she was a princess from a faraway island was later proved to be a 26-year-old cobbler’s daughter from Devon, whose exotic foreign dialect had been a fictitious language. The supposed princess arrived in the Gloucestershire village of Almondsbury, near Bristol, on 3 April 1817, wearing a black turban and black dress, with her possessions wrapped up in a small bundle. She appeared exhausted and starving and was speaking a language nobody in the village could understand. The villagers thought she was a foreign beggar and she was taken to the home of Samuel Worrall, the local county magistrate. Mrs. Worrall was fascinated by her exotic appearance, but Mr. Worrall was more suspicious, asking her by signs if she had any papers with her. The girl emptied out her pockets, but all she had were a few halfpennies and a bad sixpence. Although possessing counterfeit money could mean the death sentence, the girl seemed not to understand the seriousness of the offence. The only other thing she had in her possession was a bar of soap pinned inside a piece of linen. Worrall then asked to look at the girl’s hands. They were soft, showing no signs (more…)
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Gentleman John Jackson and Daniel Mendoza: Heavy Hitters of Regency Boxing

John Jackson “Gentleman” John Jackson (28 September 1769 – 7 October 1845) was a celebrated pugilist of the late 18th century. He won the title Champion of England in a fight on 15 April 1795 in which he beat Daniel Mendoza. It was one of the shortest main battles ever fought, lasting in all but ten minutes and a half; and for its time quite the hardest ever fought at all. Mendoza was badly cut up; the new champion was hardly hurt. Seven years after the encounter recorded above a letter appeared in the Daily Oracle and Advertiser which purported to be a challenge from Mendoza to Jackson for a return match. As a fact, the letter was a practical joke; but a part of Jackson’s reply is worth quoting, as it is so characteristic of all we hear of the man. “. . . for some years,” he wrote, “I have entirely withdrawn from a public life, and am more and more convinced of the propriety of my conduct by the happiness which I enjoy in private among many friends of great respectability, with whom it is my pride to be received on terms of familiarity and friendship. . . .” Jackson never fought again, and one of the greatest reputations in the annals of the championship that have come to us is based upon a pugilist who only entered the ring thrice! One other champion was in precisely the same case, and that was John Gulley, whom we (more…)