Alison C Kay

Pandora’s Box: Family Trees on the High Seas

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 13.57.44

HMS Montagu Forcing the Enemy to Move from Bertheaume Bay, 22 August 1800
by Jeffrey Raigersfeld (1771-1844)
(Photo credit: National Maritime Museum)

I’m sure many a Victorian schoolboy day-dreamed himself to the South Seas and onboard the HMS Bounty for the most famous of all mutinies. The Bounty left England just before Christmas 1787 on a ten-month-journey to collect breadfruit saplings for slave food in Jamaica. Following an arduous sail, the crew enjoyed themselves a little too much on the paradise island of Tahiti – many of the men took Tahitian ‘wives’. Three weeks into the second leg of the journey, reluctant to leave their new lives behind and later claiming their captain was tyrannical, the Bounty‘s First Mate, 23-year-old Fletcher Christian, 15-year-old Peter Heywood and others staged the infamous mutiny. Setting Captain Bligh and company adrift in an open boat, Christian and some of the mutineers settled with their wives on Pitcairn island, 1350 miles south east of Tahiti. Although murder and suicide claimed the lives of 8 of the 9 mutineers on Pitcairn, their community eventually thrived. The last mutineer, John Adams, was ultimately pardoned and Pitcairn Island incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855 and with 200 residents Queen Victoria even granted them more territory in the form of Norfolk Island, a former penal colony, 3700 miles to the west. [The illustration below is on Whatman paper, the finest paper at this time and a detail that will become important later in our story.]

 

Norfolk Island

Whatman watermarked paper:
1893 facsimile of ‘Plan and view of the landing place in Cascade Bay Norfolk Island, 1793’ by C. Grimes Depy. Surveyor
(Photo credit: State Library, New South Wales, Australia)

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.47.00Those mutineers that chose to remain in Tahiti, if they were not murdered, were eventually captured. Amazingly Bligh’s navigational skills had successfully guided his overloaded open (!) boat across treacherous waters to Timor and from there he eventually made it to England where he reported them. The admiralty despatched HMS Pandora under Captain Edwards which successfully captured those mutineers still alive on Tahiti but not those hiding on Pitcairn. In a further dramatic turn of events, Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. Many in “Pandora’s Box” drowned because they were still in shackles while the crew tried to save the ship but Peter Heywood and nine other prisoners were released just in time but only to be transported back to England. This etching of the Pandora foundering by Robert Batty (1789-1848) is actually based on a sketch by Heywood. Back in England, the Court Martial in 1792 sentenced three of the captured mutineers to hanging and the other three, including Heywood, were eventually pardoned. Class and patronage played a substantial role in their exoneration. Heywood’s family had secured expensive representation and were very well connected. Ironically, it was family connections that had put both Heywood and Christian on Bligh’s Bounty in the first place. Heywood was very much part of a family project – from a long line of Manx naval men – and had been recommended by Bligh’s father-in-law. Fletcher Christian hailed from the Cumberland gentry and a family devoted to the law but had spurned their old profession for the excitement of the sea.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.28.16

Captain Peter Heywood (1772-1831) by John Simpson (1742-1787)
Photo Credit: National Maritime Museum

 

Heywood was even subsequently re-commissioned by the Royal Navy, under Admiral Lord Hood – the man who had resided over his very court martial. Despite the scandal, Heywood went on to be well thought of in naval circles and continued to be promoted up the ranks. By 1803 he had achieved the rank of Captain. By 1808, now safe from his past and successful again, he writes to fellow Captain and friend Jeffrey Raigersfeld – the painter of the delightful header image for this blog post – of his relief that his sister’s little book is restoring his good name. His sister, Hester (“Nessy”), had petitioned relentlessly for his pardon (and no doubt to protect the family’s reputation also). Some said this relentless task contributed to her early death.

Letter

Extract of letter from Peter Heywood to Jeffry Raigersfeld, 24 Nov. 1808
(Library of New South Wales, Australia)

 

A contemporary of our Leeds cohort member and Bishop of Beverly, Benjamin Crosthwaite (1803-1887), Jeffrey Raigersfeld joins our Victorian Professions Project family tree in generation 3 when his great-great grand-daughter, Augusta, married Benjamin’s son, Robert Crosthwaite (1868-1953). Captain Jeffrey Baron de Raigersfeld (eventually Rear Admiral) was not only a successful navy man but also a hereditary baron, talented painter and published writer. His book Life of a Sea Officer (c.1Ru840) portrays the trials and adventures of life at sea from his time as a boy sailor through to becoming an officer. We learn that after serving as a young lieutenant on HMS Speedy, he then joined Cuthbert Collingwood’s HMS Mediator – a 44-gun frigate – for a series of adventures. Mediator had been sent to enforce the Navigation Acts, which now applied to American ships trading with the British colonies (and they would later be joined by Nelson himself and HMS Boreas in this endeavour). Collingwood is arguably the inspiration behind the character Jack Aubry in Patrick O’Brien’s book Master and Commander – portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film of the same name.

Raigersfeld was well connected. His father had been the Secretary of the London embassy for the Holy Roman Empire. The family appear to be of Slovenian descent and related to the enigmatic Marija Ana Elizabeta Baroness Raigersfeld (1710-1752), portrayed here:

 

Baroness Marija Raigersfeld

Marija Ana Elizabeta Baroness Raigersfeld (late 1750s) by Franc Linder (1736-1802)
Photo credit: National Museum of Slovenia

Marija, daughter of Baron Erberg, was spotted when aged just 14 at the Provincial Theatre in Llubljana by Franc Henrik Raigersfeld. He noted her beauty and ‘angelic face’. They were married a year later. Franc was one of Carniola’s (a historical region of Slovenia) most successful and wealthiest businessmen and also a high state official. He was granted a hereditary barony in 1747. Marija had a staggering twenty-two children but died in her early forties. The artist Franc Linder was commissioned by her husband to create the posthumous miniature shown here from an existing portrait.

Map

On their way to uniting with the Crosthwaite’s family tree, the adventurous and well-travelled Raigersfelds married into the Whatman paper empire (in generation 2 of our project’s tree). The successful Whatmans had themselves married into the Bosanquet bankers (in generation 1 of our project) and all were very well connected and afluent. In 1838 in London, Raigersfeld’s daughter, Harriet Elizabeth (b.1814) – herself eventually Baroness of the Holy Roman Empire – married Eton- and Christ Church (Oxford)- educated, Charles James Whatman (1818-1855). Charles was the grandson of James Whatman the Younger, also a well educated man who attended Cambridge University. Whatman the Younger had married Susannah Bosanquet (1753-1814). His second wife, she was the cousin of Samuel Bosanquet (1744-1806), Director of the Bank of England.

 

Baroness Raigerfeld

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman (1753-1814) by George Romney (1734-1802)

 

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman herself was a purposeful woman and masterfully managed Turkey Court, keeping a detailed notebook of her household management and especially how to ensure the servants performed their duties to an acceptable standard. The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman (1776) reveals the ongoing management issues of being mistress of the Turkey Hill estate, a substantial development. Now a National Trust publication, her book is a fascinating account of the way a large household was run.

 

Turkey Mill

Mr. Whatman’s Turkey Paper Mills by Paul Sandby (1794)

Her husband, James Whatman the Younger (1741-1798), was very prosperous. Inheriting his father’s already successful business of making the finest papers, he innovated from small scale production methods to a more industrial model of manufacturing. The Whatmans were responsible for pioneering ‘wove’ paper – producing paper on a woven mesh material – resulting in a sheet of paper having a much less irregular surface than laid paper immeasurably improving the quality of printed work. Its smooth surface lacked the furrows of traditional laid paper which caused pigment to puddle on the page. Whatman paper was used by JMW Turner, John Robert Cozens, John Sell Cotman and Cornelius Varley. William Blake used it for four of his illuminated books, the public being informed that they were printed on “the most beautiful wove paper that could be procured”. Indeed, many of the masterpieces of Romantic watercolour painting in the early nineteenth century are on paper bearing their watermark. You can read more about their fascinating story on the Turkey Mill website.

Back to Susannah’s son, Charles, who inherited the profitable Whatman paper business. Sadly after marrying Harriet Raigersfeld (b.1814), he died young at just 37 and his son subsequently died even younger at 32. Their daughter faired better in life’s lottery. The lightly named, Augusta Bertha Elizabeth Raigersfeld Whatman (1869-1925) married Sherborne schoolmaster Robert Crosthwaite (by now generation 3 in our Victorian Professions Project family tree) and lived a long life. I’m sure Robert Crosthwaite’s pupils would have all delighted in tales of mutiny on the Bounty and high seas sculduggery, little realising that their teacher’s, wife’s, great-great grandfather sailed those very same seas and knew one of the mutiny’s key protagonists very well. 

 

by Dr. Alison C. Kay 

 

 

References for further reading

 

Mutiny on the Bounty

C. Alexander, The Bounty. The true story of the mutiny on the Bounty (Harper Collins, 2003)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/sep/21/artsandhumanities.books

Captain Peter Heywood 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Heywood

Letter from Peter Heywood to Jeffry Raigersfeld

 

Lord Collingwood

Max Adams on Collingwood and Aubry: http://www.theambulist.co.uk/?page_id=390

 

The Whatman family

James Whatman on ODNB: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/40776

Turkey Mill website: http://www.turkeymill.com/about-us/view/139/history

Whatman watermarks: http://nga.gov.au/whistler/details/whatman.cfm

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman: Two Nerdy Girl’s blog post

JN Balston, The elder James Whatman: England’s greatest papermaker (1702–1759), JN Balston: West Farleigh, Kent

 

 

Advertisements

A Professional Daughter: The voice of Emily Breare

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 11.32.51

Soprano, Emily Breare (1883-1967)
(Image source: http://www.operascotland.org/person/7621/Emily-Breare)

 

Professional projects took many forms for the families in our towns. Celebrated soprano, Miss Emily Breare (1883-1967) represented just such a project. A grand-daughter of our Leeds professional cohort, Emily lived an exciting professional life and fulfilled the ambitions of her own father’s professional project. Trained from an early age by her father, newspaper man William Hammond Breare (1858-1935) , she became well-respected and toured the county, even singing in the Proms at the Queens Hall in September 1907, conducted by Henry Wood.

William H. Breare (born in Massachusetts, US to an English father) had significant vocal talents of his own. Recognising this, when he was fourteen his parents sent him across the Atlantic to Yorkshire to train under F. W. Hirst. His father clearly had his own professional project in mind. In 1917 William recounted that:

“My father was born in Burley-in-Wharfedale, and in his youth was a member of the choir of the Parish Church of Otley. He went to America when he was 18 and settled. He was very musical. Could read anything at sight, play any instrument. Perhaps I inherited a little musical instinct from him. Anyway, I sang in America in public before I was five years old, and continued to do so until after I was 15. I was what is called a boy soprano; travelled long journey to sing anthems in churches and at festivals and other concerts. At one time 365 miles from Boston to New York every Saturday, returning on the Monday.”

Professionally, however, William appears in the Victorian Professions Project‘s database as the husband of Ellen Ackrill* (1851-1932) and rather than a vocal artist he made his career as a literary journalist (1881 Census) and then editor (1891 Census) of his father-in-law’s newspaper, the Harrogate Herald – a paper he would edit for over 50 years. William’s probate of £3353 17s 8d suggests this brought him a comfortable existence and plenty of means to support his daughter in her own professional vocal career. His sons would follow him into the newspaper instead.

 

William Hammond Breare

William Hammond Breare (1858-1935)
(Image source: see Notes)

William also seems to have continued his interest in professional music by means of the pen, authoring Vocalism from an English Standpoint (1904), Elocution. Its First Principals (1905) and Vocal Faults and their Remedies (1907). He also coached his daughter using his extensive music collection, until she was noticed by gifted choir trainer Dr. Henry Coward and her professional career took off. The latter engaged her as his principal soprano for a tour of Canada with the Sheffield Choir in 1908. The 200 strong choir performed at the Montreal Arena to an audience of 4000. The Montreal Gazette declared the event a huge success and choral singing at its best. After a somewhat wobbly start (probably due to nerves), Emily redeemed herself and was specifically praised for her soprano solo of ‘I Know that my Redeemer Liveth and ‘Elizabeth’s Prayer.

Returning triumphant, the celebrated Sir Frederick Bridge recommended her for Callirhoe with the Reading Philharmonic Society shortly afterwards. ‘Flexibility’, ‘power’ and ‘ease’ were all words used to describe Emily’s delivery in the press and the Reading Observer remarked: “Of Miss Breare it is impossible to speak too highly”. Success clearly lead to a life on the road. In 1908 she received high praise for a voice that was “clear as a crystal” in the Tonypandy Harmonic Society Christmas Oratorios (Rhondda, Wales). The next summer Emily was back in Wales again, making her first appearance in the esteemed pier concerts in Llandudno for the first time, alongside Madame Ada Crossley, an Australian singer. Their photos dominated the page in the Llandudno Advertiser, which informed its readers that Emily had the highest credentials, having been one of the Carl Rosa’s Opera Company and that she was also engaged later in the season with the Moody Manners, another touring opera company. Both companies were principal training grounds for British artist before World War One.

 

Emily Breare & Ada Crossley

Emily Breare & Ada Crossley in the Llandudno Advertiser, 17th July, 1909

 

Back on the road again for a more unusual event in December 1910, Emily performed the Messiah with the Western District Choral Society to 100 prisoners at Wormwood Scrubbs Prison. The prisoners were asked not to applaud and to treat the performance as part of their regular chapel service. Apparently more than once their feelings got the better of them and there was some humming and stamping of feet. When Emily performed ‘Come unto Me, the press reported that “many a hand was furtively raised to wipe away a tear…hardened perhaps as they were, [they] could not resist the wonderful power and charm of the singer’s voice”.   The following December we find her in Bournemouth performing the Messiah with British bass singer Robert Radford and the new Bournemouth Municipal Choir (see image), a very grand civic event and quite the opposite of her trip to prison.

 

Bournemouth Municipal Choir

Bournemouth Municipal Choir, December 1911
[Emily is front of stage, viewers left, next to the gentleman with his hands on his knees.]

 

Did Yorkshire remain ‘home’ for Emily despite her professional travels? It is difficult to tell. In the census of 1911 she was boarding in St. Giles and Bloomsbury at the Montague Hotel but this may have been linked to a specific engagement and she seems to have been in demand far and wide. She gives her occupation in that census as ‘Principal Soprano’ and specifically names the Peterhead Choral Society (near Aberdeen). Certainly the next year she is actually in Scotland performing at The Kinnaird Hall, Dundee in the role of Margeurite in the Damnation of Faust, accompanied by the Scottish Orchestra. Wherever she regarded home to be, it is clear that Emily had a long career as a professional singer and was still performing in her forties. There is a record of her performing as a soloist in Birmingham with the Birmingham Choral Union in 1922, conducted by Richard Wasssell, and a few years later in a Yorkshire Evening News concert arranged and directed by Cecil Moon in 1925.

I could not find any evidence of Emily having married or having had children alongside her career but it does seem plausible that she returned to Harrogate to live with her wider family there. Certainly buried there in 1967, having lived to age 86, she shares a commemoration stone in Harlow Hill Cemetery, Harrogate with her brother Robert Ackrill Breare (1878-1955), who had been a newspaper man like their father. There is no mention of her successful career as the soprano with “a voice like crystal”.

Dr. Alison C Kay

Notes

* Ellen’s father, Robert Ackrill (1816-1894), is one of our Leeds cohort for 1851. A former printer, he first became the editor of the Harrogate Herald before later becoming its owner. In the 1870s he also purchased the rival paper, the Harrogate Advertiser. The Breare’s eventually took ownership and a family newspaper dynasty was born, lasting until the 1980s.

 

Further reading & links

Proms 1907: http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/r6np5v/by/date/1907/09/16

W.H. Breare, “To Our Boys on Service”, Harrogate Herald, 27th June 1917: http://www.harrogatepeopleandplaces.info/ww1/breareletters/19170627.htm

Image of W.H. Breare: http://www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/news/rembering-a-patriot-and-great-editor-wh-breare-1-5006875

Montreal Gazette Nov 3, 1908: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1946&dat=19081103&id=frs0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=7YQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1507,150996&hl=en

The Rhondda Leader: http://papuraunewydd.llyfrgell.cymru/view/3830207/3830210

Bournemouth Choral Society: http://bschorus.co.uk/userfiles/files/BookPDFs/History_All_JM150910.pdf

Kinnaird Hall: http://www.operascotland.org/tour/2356/Damnation-de-Faust-1912

Wormwood Scrubbs Concert: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=CHP19110204.2.37

Llandudno Advertiser: http://newspapers.library.wales/view/3656568/3656571/12/emily

Yorkshire Evening News Concert: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/0757660dad4944dd929440120cc49576

Birmingham Choral Union: http://www.birminghamchoralunion.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/media/BCU-Concert-Record-1800-1959.pdf

 

 

Stocks, Shares & Skeletons

The marvellously named William Horatio Nelson Myers (1803-1869) was a well-heeled stock and share broker from our Leeds cohort. His story highlights the role of the educational society in middle-class and professional life in a fascinating way.

Although we know William Horatio Nelson’s parent’s names (John Myers and Ann Acham), we do not yet know their occupations but it would seem that William Horatio Nelson faired well in life, gathering property and wealth. For example, the Leeds Tythe Map Project reveals that in 1857 he owned a 2-acre meadow with buildings that he leased to a Henry Temple. Certainly at his death in 1869, his probate valuation of £30,000 indicates considerable financial success. Although we do not yet know much about his background [please let us know if you do], we do know that he married well, to Mary Elizabeth Beswick (b.1812) the daughter of a local landowner and Justice of the Peace. This marriage would later secure the Myers family an ancestral manor and a little local celebrity status.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.18.33

 

Digging into a mound on his Gristhorpe estate near Scarborough in 1834, Mary’s father William Beswick (b.1781), discovered a substantial log buried deep in the barrow. He called in his friends from the Scarborough Philosophical Society to help remove the ancient oak log. Lifting it out of the barrow, the log split to reveal it was in fact hollowed out and contained the remains of a man.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.20.14

Gristhorpe Man, The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough

The height (almost six feet) of this man, his advanced age (around sixty years old) and hence seemingly good diet, along with the grave goods, have led archeologists to conclude that he is likely a Bronze Age warrior chieftain. It would seem that William Beswick and the Scarborough Philosophical Society thought carefully about how best to look after Gristhorpe man. Interviewed by the BBC in 2009, Dr Nigel Malton of Bradford University’s Archeology Department noted that:

“We were lucky that the people involved in the 1834 dig were members of the Philosophical Society which included local doctors and so forth. He was actually treated very well. They even attempted to conserve him because he was so fragile. They boiled him in a washing tub for eight hours in a solution of animal glue, and it seems to have worked because he’s still here. He’s fantastically complete, right down to his toe bones!”

The 4000-year–old Gristhorpe Man was given to the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough where he still resides, where William Crawford Williamson (1816-1895), then little more than sixteen years of age, quickly wrote up a monograph on the ancient man.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.22.26

William Crawford Williamson (1816-1895)

In recent years Gristhorpe Man has undergone a facial reconstruction which you can view here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.02.10

Facial reconstruction of William Beswick’s Gristhorpe Man.

 

Although he did not have any real skeletons in his closet like his father-in-law, William Horatio Nelson was also a society man and a member of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. He was also on the committee of the ‘Lancashire Cotton Districts Relief Fund, Leeds’ in the 1860s when the American Civil War cause unemployment and poverty in the region when its impact on cotton supplies forced many cotton mills to close.

Turning to generation 2, his son William Beswick Myers (1850-1904) did not follow him into the stockbroking profession, instead training in hydraulic engineering, studying in Berlin and returning to join the firm of respected engineer, John Fraser (1819-1881), whose daughter he later married. (The latter was the son of an architect and was well regarded in his field.) William Beswick was involved in constructing many important branches of the Great Northern Railway among other works but he also inherited the estate and title of Lord of the Manor of Gristhorpe in 1895 when his unmarried uncle, Thomas Keld Beswick died. A man of the community, he became a magistrate for the North Riding of Yorkshire and like his father and grandfather before him was a society man, joining the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society.

William Beswick Myer’s four daughters appear to have been well educated; certainly Marjorie (b.1887) was educated at Roedean. They all seem to have lived independently on private means, although Joan Fraser did eventually marry automobile engineer, Major Kenneth Sporswood Jones, possibly later in life. William Beswick’s only son Bryan Beswick Myers (b.1879) sadly was unable to carry on this family’s professional project and died aged just 18 in 1896.

By Alison C Kay

 

 

References:

 

Victorian Professions Project: http://www.victorianprofessions.ox.ac.uk/

Leeds Tythe Map Project: http://tithemaps.leeds.gov.uk/TwinMaps.aspx?singleplot=WYL333_340*43*WYL333_340&singlesrch=st.6!lwd.Temple

 

Gristhorpe Man:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/07/10/bradford_gristhorpe_man_feature.shtml

http://www.bradford.ac.uk/life-sciences/news-and-events/news/monograph-of-the-gristhorpe-man-is-launched.php

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/york/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8877000/8877132.stm