Coal and Calico: Letters and Papers of the Bennett and Leach Families of Merton and Wandsworth

edited by Judith Goodman

This publication is concerned with two families who, for several decades in the 18th and 19th centuries, were important in the industrial north-east of the historic county of Surrey. They were the Bennetts, coal merchants of Wandsworth, and the Leaches, calico printers of Merton Abbey.

These families, who were at first business contacts and then became friends, were joined permanently when Thomas Bennett married Sarah Jane Leach in 1797. Thomas kept some family letters and a few other papers and passed them on to the only child of the marriage, John Leach Bennett, who added more and, in his turn, passed the collection on to his only son Canon Frederick Bennett.

In 1897-8, in his mid-seventies, Frederick Bennett seems to have decided to leave a genealogical legacy to future generations. Firstly, from his own recollections and research he compiled a memoir of the Bennett family; secondly, he assembled the inherited letters and papers into a bound volume, and added his own commentary; and, finally, he put together, from both published and manuscript material, an account of Merton Abbey.

These three projects are presented here. The Notes and Recollections of the Bennetts … serves to introduce the families. The collection of, mainly, letters which follows is accompanied by two letters written in 1930 by one of Frederick Bennett’s daughters, in which she commends the collection to the care of a younger member of the family. The family still holds the collection. The section on Merton Abbey, while containing much material derived from printed sources, is valuable for Frederick Bennett’s own memories of the place and for the notes from his cousin John Mackrell, who inherited the Merton Abbey estate.

The Bennetts were a very large family; the Leaches much smaller, but there was a shared network of cousins, godparents, in-laws and friends whom we meet in these writings.

The letters are varied – formal, informal, loving, cheerful, sad, facetious, pompous, occasionally technical. There are a few references to the Napoleonic wars – two family members joined the Volunteers, and at the end of his Notes and Recollections Frederick Bennett added a chapter about Lord Nelson, who, when not at sea, was a neighbour. There are glimpses too of the widow of explorer James Cook – she was a cousin and spent much time in Merton. We read of holidays in the Peak District, Hastings, Cromer, North Wales, Cheltenham, Bristol and elsewhere, of travel by stagecoach or chaise, of sightseeing visits to grand houses, and of inns and lodgings. A letter is sent in a loaf of bread, as a parcel, by carrier rather than by the post office, to save money. Banknotes are cut in half and posted in two envelopes, for security. A house is burgled, and the felon arrested by the Horse Patrol and subsequently transported. A promising young man drowns in a freak accident; a treasured only child is given a ‘poney’. His garden-loving mother receives shrubs sent by friends in North Wales and in Germany. Verses are composed; love letters sent; spa waters taken; books recommended. These are the sorts of detail that bring a long-gone era back to life.

The Bennetts and Leaches were confident, clever, energetic. Their friends extended beyond the local circle of skilled tradesmen and businessmen to include teachers, artists, historians – and foreigners. They enjoyed life. Their children were well educated, either as day pupils at ‘excellent’ local boarding or day schools or with private tutors. In the next generations many of the boys entered the professions – a young Bennett cousin was a King’s scholar at Eton, and became a bishop. Frederick Bennett’s reminiscences and the family’s own papers paint a picture of an able and enterprising dynasty. There is little now visible in Wandsworth or Merton to recall the Bennetts and the Leaches, but I hope that readers will enjoy meeting them in these pages.

(extracted from the Editor’s Introduction)

Canon Frederick Bennett aged 75


Letters and Papers of the
Bennett and Leach Families
Merton and Wandsworth

Edited by Judith Goodman



Published by

© Judith Goodman 2008

ISBN 978 1 903899 55 7

Printed by intypelibra
Units 3/4, Elm Grove Industrial Estate, Elm Grove,
Wimbledon, SW19 4HE

Cover Illustrations (for sources see p.8)

Front cover:

Top: Sample pattern from John Leach’s Treatise
Bottom: Sarah Jane Leach, William Leach, Thomas Bennett,
Ann(e) Leach, Harriet (Harriott) Leach, Elizabeth Leach

Back cover:

Top left: John Leach Bennett as a small child
Top right: ‘Surrey Yeomenry making cut one 4th Division’
Centre left: ‘Merton Light Infantry Draw Ramrod’
Centre right: Mrs Sarah Bennett (1744-1821)
Bottom: Sample patterns from John Leach’s Treatise


This publication is concerned with two families who, for several decades in the 18th and 19th centuries,
were important in the industrial north-east of the historic county of Surrey. They were the Bennetts,
coal merchants of Wandsworth, and the Leaches, calico printers of Merton Abbey.

These families, who were at first business contacts and then became friends, were joined permanently
when Thomas Bennett married Sarah Jane Leach in 1797. Thomas kept some family letters and a few
other papers and passed them on to the only child of the marriage, John Leach Bennett, who added
more and, in his turn, passed the collection on to his only son Canon Frederick Bennett.

In 1897-8, in his mid-seventies, Frederick Bennett seems to have decided to leave a genealogical
legacy to future generations. Firstly, from his own recollections and research he compiled a memoir of
the Bennett family; secondly, he assembled the inherited letters and papers into a bound volume, and
added his own commentary; and, finally, he put together, from both published and manuscript material,
an account of Merton Abbey.

These three projects are presented here. The Notes and Recollections of the Bennetts … serves to
introduce the families. The collection of, mainly, letters which follows is accompanied by two letters
written in 1930 by one of Frederick Bennett’s daughters, in which she commends the collection to the
care of a younger member of the family, Reginald Maton. He was the first cousin once removed of
Martin Riley, the present owner of the papers, to whom he gave them in his lifetime. Martin Riley is
himself descended from one of Canon Bennett’s sisters. The section on Merton Abbey, while containing
much material derived from printed sources, is valuable for Frederick Bennett’s own memories of the
place and for the notes from his cousin John Mackrell, who inherited the Merton Abbey estate.

The Bennetts were a very large family; the Leaches much smaller, but there was a shared network of
cousins, godparents, in-laws and friends whom we meet in these writings.

The letters are varied – formal, informal, loving, cheerful, sad, facetious, pompous, occasionally
technical. There are a few references to the Napoleonic wars – two family members joined the Volunteers,
and at the end of his Notes and Recollections Frederick Bennett added a chapter about Lord Nelson,
who, when not at sea, was a neighbour. There are glimpses too of the widow of explorer James Cook

– she was a cousin and spent much time in Merton. We read of holidays in the Peak District, Hastings,
Cromer, North Wales, Cheltenham, Bristol and elsewhere, of travel by stagecoach or chaise, of
sightseeing visits to grand houses, and of inns and lodgings. A letter is sent in a loaf of bread, as a
parcel, by carrier rather than by the post office, to save money. Banknotes are cut in half and posted in
two envelopes, for security. A house is burgled, and the felon arrested by the Horse Patrol and
subsequently transported. A promising young man drowns in a freak accident; a treasured only child is
given a ‘poney’. His garden-loving mother receives shrubs sent by friends in North Wales and in
Germany. Verses are composed; love letters sent; spa waters taken; books recommended. These are
the sorts of detail that bring a long-gone era back to life.
The Bennetts and Leaches were confident, clever, energetic. Their friends extended beyond the local
circle of skilled tradesmen and businessmen to include teachers, artists, historians – and foreigners.
They enjoyed life. Their children were well educated, either as day pupils at ‘excellent’ local boarding
or day schools or with private tutors. In the next generations many of the boys entered the professions

– a young Bennett cousin was a King’s scholar at Eton, and became a bishop. Frederick Bennett’s
reminiscences and the family’s own papers paint a picture of an able and enterprising dynasty. There is
little now visible in Wandsworth or Merton to recall the Bennetts and the Leaches, but I hope that
readers will enjoy meeting them in these pages.



First of all, my unbounded thanks go to Martin Riley, the inheritor of the Bennett papers, who
approached Merton Historical Society in the hope that we might prepare them for publication. It has
been a rewarding task, and we shall always be in his debt.

I am grateful for help from Merton Local Studies Centre, the National Art Library, Surrey History
Centre, Wandsworth Local History Service, Wandsworth Museum, Neil Robson of Wandsworth
Historical Society, the reference libraries of Exmouth and Hastings, the Wiltshire and Swindon
Record Office, the Bedfordshire and Luton Record Office, the Somerset Heritage Service, the estate
office of Woburn Abbey, the Eton College Archivist Mrs P Hatfield, the Librarian and Keeper of the
Muniments at Salisbury Cathedral, Dr Andrew Hignell of the Association of Cricket Statisticians
and Historians, Clare Batley at the Royal Society of Arts, and Melvyn Rees of the UK Intellectual
Property Office (formerly the Patent Office).

My classical friend Richard Halsey tracked down and translated the Latin that defeated me, and my
Francophone friend Amina O’Regan polished my translations from French. My thanks to both of

Colleagues in Merton Historical Society – David Haunton, Peter Hopkins, Cyril Maidment, Eric
Montague, John Pile and Tony Scott – have been endlessly helpful, encouraging and patient,
especially Peter Hopkins, who has spent many days coaxing an unwieldy document into book form.
I am also indebted to Peter for sharing his unrivalled knowledge of the 18th-century records of
Merton and Morden. He saved me from several errors.

Finally, and most importantly, I am grateful to Martin Riley’s great-great-uncle Canon Frederick
Bennett (1822-1903), who in the late 1890s assembled these papers. I hope he would have been
pleased to see them in a form that makes them accessible to all.


letter (52)


APPENDIX 1: A Letter from John Leach Bennett to Frederick Bennett in 1862 170
APPENDIX 2: An Obituary for Frederick Bennett 171
APPENDIX 3: An Obituary for John Mackrell 172



Frontispiece: Canon Frederick Bennett aged 75 (Courtesy Martin Riley)

Section dividers: Sample patterns from John Leach’s Treatise (Photos: David Saxby; reproduced
courtesy V&A Images) (Three are reproduced in colour on the cover.)

Textile patterns and extracts from letters also appear on a number of pages.

Frederick Bennett’s bookplate (Courtesy Martin Riley) 10
Annotated extract from the Wandsworth Tithe Map 1838 (Courtesy Wandsworth Local History
Service and All Saints’ church, Wandsworth) 16
Annotated extract from the 1865 1:2500 OS map (Courtesy Merton Library & Heritage Service) 20
‘A View at Merton Abbey’ (Courtesy Merton Library & Heritage Service) 22
‘Merton Abbey’ in 1884, from E Walford Greater London (1884) 22
The Bennett House at Wimbledon, from the Tithe Map (1850) and OS maps of 1865, 1894 and 1933
(Courtesy Cyril Maidment) 27
Plan from the 1801 lease granted by Thomas Bennett to Lord Nelson, from Home Counties
Magazine III (1901) p.209 36
Handwritten prospectus for ‘Mr Chapman’s Academy, Wandsworth’ (Courtesy Martin Riley) 51
‘Surrey Yeomenry making cut one 4th Division’ (Courtesy Martin Riley) (See also back cover) 54
The King and Queen’s Baths, Bath, from A B Granville Spas of England (1841) f.p.374 65
John Leach Bennett as a small child (Courtesy Martin Riley) (See also back cover) 67
Extract from a tourist map of North Wales, from W Bingley North Wales (2nd ed. 1814) 70
Buxton in the 19th century, from Midland Health Resorts (Midland Railway 1884) 73
‘Merton Light Infantry Draw Ramrod’ (Courtesy Martin Riley) (See also back cover) 74
A page of ‘characters’ (Courtesy Martin Riley) 81
A page from Pieschell’s first letter in French to John Leach Bennett (Courtesy Martin Riley) 90
‘PLAN of a Printing Manufactory …’ (Courtesy Martin Riley) 96
Extract from the 1865 (rev. 1871) 1:2500 OS map (Courtesy Merton Library & Heritage Service) 97
‘Hastings from the London Road’, from J Rouse Beauties and Antiquities of the County of Sussex
(2nd ed. 1827), plate I 102
‘Hastings, the Lovers Seat’, from J Rouse op. cit., plate XV 104
The Hermitage, Great Bookham, today (Photo: Tim Goodman 2007) 106
The Hermitage, Great Bookham, in 1820 (Courtesy Mr S E D Fortescue) 106
The Old Bath, Matlock, from W Adam The Gem of the Peak (5th ed. 1851, repr 1973 Moorland) p.47 110
The Sarah: watercolour sketch (Courtesy Martin Riley) 118
The Bennett grave at St Mary’s church, Wimbledon (Photo: J Goodman 2007) 134
James Chapman when Bishop of Colombo, from Memorials of Bishop Chapman (1892) 137
John Leach Bennett in his later years (Courtesy Martin Riley) 159
Mr Hoole’s acrostic addressed to Sarah Jane Bennett (Courtesy Martin Riley) 164
Mrs Sarah Bennett (1744-1821) (Courtesy Martin Riley ) (See also back cover) 167
1866 copy of 1805 map of Merton Abbey estate (copyright Surrey History Service – 3875/1) 178-9
Edmund Littler at the Merton Abbey works in 1890 (Courtesy Merton Library & Heritage Service) 181
Abbey Gate House c.1900 182
‘Lord Nelson’s Villa at Merton’ (1806) 186
Pastel portraits c.1797 of Sarah Jane Leach, Thomas Bennett, Elizabeth Leach, Ann(e) Leach,
William Leach and Harriot Leach (Courtesy Martin Riley) (See also front cover) 188
A Leach family tree 189
A Bennett family tree 190-1
A Cook, Cragg and Smith family tree 192-3
Two views at Merton Abbey (Photos: J Goodman 2007) 194



in the County of Surrey


Frederick Bennett’s bookplate


in the County of Surrey
Canon and Prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral,
late Vicar of Shrewton with Maddington, Wilts,
and Rural Dean of Wylye.


This book measures 32cm x 25cm, and is covered with dark blue watered fabric, with
marbled paper inside the covers. It bears a green pasted-in label inside the front cover from Smythe
& Co, 19 Garlick Hill, London EC. There is no title on the cover. The leaves are laid paper, with no
watermark, and unruled. They are stitched with pink thread.

The title page is typed, with red ink underlining. The pages of the text are typed carbon copies.
Another, apparently identical, version exists, but it is not known where the original is, if indeed it
survives. There are seven chapters on pages numbered 1-40, and another ‘seventh’ chapter with
pages numbered 1-7. There is a blank leaf at the beginning and end of the volume.

It is not known whether Canon Bennett was the typist, as well as the author, but the typography,
punctuation and spelling of the narrative have been respected in this transcription.




Thomas Bennett son of William and Mary Bennett
was born November 1, o.s.1 1742″
is my great grandfather’s record of his birth in his Family Bible, and
it is completed by the following extracts from the Registers of St.
Saviours, Southwark.
“1729, December 21 William Bennet
and Mary Wilson” ( were married )
“1742, November 21 Thomas son of
William Bennet a Lighterman
and Mary” ( was Baptised )
He was apparently an only child. The spelling of Bennet with one
final T is peculiar to these two entries The name is evidently very
rare in the parish. The Register books are very large and numerous and
splendidly preserved. There are an immense number of entries but
scarcely a Bennett among them. From 1637 to 1742 only five marriages and
four baptisms, including the above, were found, and the other entries
were of Bennetts, who have apparently no relation to William Bennet the
Lighterman. The name is equally, or more, rare in Aubrey’s History of
Surrey. There are only two in hundreds of monumental inscriptions he has
preserved. (1) St. George’s, Southwark, in a window: “Mr Lionell
Bennett, a good Benefactor to this Church”. (2) Chertsey Church, on a
marble gravestone; “Here Lyeth the Body of John Bennet —— of London, who
deceased the 7th day of September, 1624.” Lysons ‘Environs of London’,
Vol. 1, Page 471, mentions the Manor of Rotherhithe about the year 1792
as appearing to have been alienated to “John Bennet Esq.,” and Page 476,
“Ambrose Bennet Esq. left £9. 0. 0. to the Charity School of the same
parish”, and under Newington Butts, page 393, “The churchyard contains
amongst others the Tomb of Benjamin son of Timothy Bennet, M.D. who died
in 1773.”
Our Traditional Coat of Arms, Gules, a Bezant or between three Demy
Lions Rampant Argent and Crest a Lion Rampant proper holding in his paws
a Bezant or, are those of Bennet of London, and support the accuracy of
the one final T in William’s surname.2
There still exists in the parish of Christ Church, Blackfriars, a
Bennet Street, leading from the Church to the foot of Blackfriar’s
Bridge. It is shown on a map of the parish of 1740 and not improbably
derives its name from William Bennet the Lighterman who was certainly a
man of property, and carried on his business at a wharf in or near
Bankside, – so my grandmother told me, – I suppose he owned and managed a
fleet of lighters or barges into which coals and other goods were
discharged from the ships in the port of London, and were carried to the
places to which they were consigned “above Bridge”.3 London and
Westminster Bridges were the only bridges then built.4
Thomas Bennet obtained the freedom of the City of London by serving
his time as an apprentice to his father. He wrote a good hand and showed
by the spelling of the few M.S.S. that have come down to us that he had
been as well educated as most merchants then were. His work with his
father would naturally make him acquainted with his father’s customers
one of whom would be Mr Noble of Wandsworth who carried on a large
business as a Coal Merchant at a wharf in Wandsworth , his freehold
property. He had an only child. The Family Bible gives this account of
her; —


“Sarah Noble, daughter of Josa & Mary Noble

was born October 14 o.s.1 1744.”
We cannot err much in concluding that Mr William Bennet and Mr Joshua
Noble were brought together by business relations, and their mutual
respect for each other united them and their families in close
friendship. Their only children were playfellows, and when Thomas and
Sarah had left school, – they were both of them very good looking, according
to the custom of young people they fell desperately in love
with each other, and when Thomas was nineteen and Sarah seventeen years
old they were not only engaged, but were anxious to be married without
delay. And curiously their parents did not object. Probably they felt
that they were growing old; each father had laid by a fair provision at
least for his child, and their respective businesses and trade
connections might be united with great advantage. Accordingly the
wedding was duly arranged. Perhaps the youthful wedding would have made
too much stir at Wandsworth to be quite pleasant, and so it took place at
St. Saviour’s, the bridegroom’s parish, a not uncommon thing at that
time, and it was of course by License.

The marriage is thus recorded in the registers, and it is worth
transcribing at full length from the Marriage Register Book of St.
Saviour’s, Southwark, in the County of Surrey.

“Page 129 in the year 1762

“No. 513. Thomas Bennett of this Parish, Batchelor, a minor, by and
with the consent of William Bennett the naturall and lawfull father of
the said Thomas Bennet a minor and Sarah Noble of the Parish of
Wandsworth in the said County, Spinster, a minor, by and with the consent
of Joshua Noble, the naturall and lawful father of the said Sarah Noble a
minor, were married in this Church by License, this twenty-fifth day of
May in the year One thousand seven hundred and sixty-two

“By me, T. Jones, Chaplain

This marriage was
solemnized between u)
s )
Thomas Bennett
Sarah Noble
” In the presence of William Bennett
John Yates.

The bride and bridegroom henceforth wrote their surname Bennett.
The Parish clerk who filled up the body of the form in the printed
Register is careful to spell Thomas’s name in both ways, though the
‘lawfull’ and ‘naturall’ show that he inclines to tt, and perhaps Father
William may have been prevailed upon to sanction the change by his
signature. It was however a mistake, but by no means an uncommon one.
When I was learning to write my own name, I was told to be careful to put
two ns and two ts, for ‘B ê n e t ‘was French for a Fool.’5 I wonder
whether the learned Clerk of St. Saviour’s impressed this strongly on the
young couple, and enjoined them to hand it down to their posterity.

The absence of Mrs Mary Bennet’s signature suggests a doubt as to
whether she was then living, for William and Mary Bennet having married
in 1729 were probably between 55 and 60 years of age.

I have not been able to trace the history of William Bennet further,
but the Rector of Christ Church, Blackfriars, has kindly promised to
search the Registers and Parish Books for me.


Probably very soon after the marriage Thomas and Sarah Bennett took
up their abode at Wandsworth with Mr and Mrs Noble. He had been
apprenticed to his father as a Lighterman, had served his time with him,
and was a Freeman of the City of London. He must have known his father’s
business well, and was familiar with its details. He was specially
fitted for a share in Mr Noble’s business so far as the management of the
fleet of barges and the water carriage of the coal was concerned. But
the inland work, the visiting of factories for orders, attendance at
Croydon and other markets where the customers were to be found, and the
London Coal Market, the Exchange work as it would now be termed, was
strange to him, and he had to learn the special uses and values of the
different qualities of coal. All this would take time and had to be
thoroughly mastered before he was properly qualified to become Mr Noble’s
partner. But his position from the first in the Noble family seems to
have been that of a thoroughly beloved and trusted son, as became the
husband of the only daughter. No hint has come to light of any but the
most perfect domestic love and happiness existing between the members of
the old family at the Wharf.

The first ten years of the married life of the young couple must
have been an anxious time from the deaths of their children. They had
only three children living out of eleven born to them. Mary the eldest
child, Sarah the third, Noble William Joshua the eldest son; all the rest
were dead, and from 1762 to 72 six twins born ( of whom only three were
baptized ) had died. Mrs Bennett’s health must then have become
stronger, for though an annual olive branch was placed round their table
only one child died, Dec.1, 1777,6 and one was still born in 1780. In
July 1785 the last child and youngest son was born, and five sons and
five daughters all strong and healthy and like their parents good looking
filled their father’s quiver to his great happiness and their mother’s
pride.7 He used to boast when the number of his children was remarked
that he “had been the father of twice one and twenty children” ( 1 x 2 +

20 ) a joke which has not been forgotten by his descendants. Their
children were thoroughly well brought up, and neither son nor daughter
did anything to bring discredit on the family or to grieve their parents.
Mrs Noble died 1 December 1774, aged 53.
Mr Noble 29 September 1782, aged 66.

1. Old style. The date as it was recorded before adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752.
2. Several pages in his notebooks, and a number of preserved letters, testify to Canon Bennett’s efforts to identify this
coat of arms. The motto is De bon vouloir servir le roi (‘To serve the king with good will’). This and the arms as
described are those of the Bennets, earls of Tankerville, with the difference that on the Tankerville crest the lion’s
head is out of a mural coronet, whereas, on the crest that Canon Bennett used, the lion’s head is out of a wreath.
Bennett believed that ‘his’ version represented the arms of the Bennets of London, but this is not confirmed by
reference books, which place either a mural coronet or a scaling ladder on the crest of the Bennets of London. In a
notebook Bennett wrote: ‘The arms crest & motto … are those on the Bookplate of my great uncle Joshua Bennett of
Wandsworth in his qto Prayer Book – Nov. 1824.’
3. Bennett’s Hill, which is probably the road Canon Bennett had in mind, is named after the Guild church of St Benet
(Benedict) which stood nearby.
4. Westminster Bridge was opened in 1750. In William Bennet’s day the only road crossing was London Bridge.
5. Bênet in French is indeed an adjective, ‘stupid’, or a noun, ‘simpleton’.
6. An infant, James Edward, died in 1776. See Bennett family tree.
7. In fact 11 children lived to grow up, five girls and six boys. They were, in age order, Mary, Sarah, Noble, Harriot,
Elizabeth, Thomas, Joshua, William, John, Amelia and James. Noble and James both died as young adults. See the
family tree.





Wandsworth at the close of the last century was a very thriving and
populous place. Lysons ( 1792 )1 mentions “twelve mills and factories of
considerable importance, including one calico printing manufactory which
employed 250 hands there.2 The inhabitants having been accurately
enumerated by Mr Spencer Master of the Charity School in the month of
August 1792 were found to amount to 4,554. In this number are included
367 children at the various boarding schools, and 46 poor children
belonging to the parish of St. Mary le Strand and lodged in their
workhouses. In that of Wandsworth are at present 91 poor. Mr Spencer
has remarked in his list of the inhabitants that the number of lodgers
amounted to 843; that of servants to 460. There are about twenty
families of the people called Quakers in this place and two schools for
children of that persuasion. They have a Meeting House here, also
attended by a numerous congregation, “rebuilt in the year 1787, adjoining
which is a small burial ground.” There were some good houses in the
village High Street, and on the East and West sides and on the outskirts
of the Common were many large houses occupied by eminent London merchants
and other persons of quality. The road from London to Portsmouth by
Kingston and Guildford passes through the village which from its
population, tradesmen shops, inns, etc., and the various manufactures
established in the neighbourhood has still all the air and bustle of a
market town.”

Another circumstance added very much to the importance of Wandsworth
before the days of Railways. It stands on the Thames at the mouth of the
river Wandle ( whence its name )3 and was the port for the whole of that
rich valley. In its short course of ten miles from Croydon to
Wandsworth, the Wandle was said to turn more mills than any river in
England.4 There were many flour mills of course for the supply of
London, paper mills, for which the extreme purity of the water was very
favourable, oil mills, fellmongers, parchment makers, saw mills, snuff
mills, large copper mills at Garret5 and Merton for making brewers’ and
dyers’ coppers, and ships sheathing, and above all very many calico
printing manufactories, for the trade now centred in Manchester by steam
power, was, till within the last seventy years,6 carried on by water
power on the Wandle in Surrey, and the Cray and Dart in Kent. Besides
the manufacturing population there was a very large body of tradesmen and
servants depending on the resident gentry whose houses were more numerous
on the higher parts of the valley and in the large villages than the
mills on the river, – Wimbledon, Merton, Tooting, Mitcham, Carshalton and
Beddington, and the town of Croydon, one of the largest and most
important market towns in Surrey. Indeed so great was the trade that an
Iron Railway, for trucks drawn by horses, was made by Act of Parliament
in 1800 from Wandsworth to Croydon for the conveyance of the manufactures
to the Thames, and carrying coal back from the river to the factories and
villages and Croydon. It was by another Act in 1805 extended to

All the coal supply of London and the South Eastern Counties was sea
borne from Newcastle and the Northern coal fields, and for the important
district I have described, it came to Wandsworth. The Railway system has
brought the Midland Collieries within easier reach now. But a hundred
and thirty years ago when Thomas Bennett took up the business of the
Wharf at Wandsworth it was a very important and profitable and extensive


Annotated extract from the Wandsworth Tithe Map 1838


Plot Occupier Owner
53 Joshua Bennett Joshua Bennett Wharf, Warehouses, House and Garden
54 (and ?54a) Joshua Bennett Joshua Bennett Wharf and Garden
55 William Bennett Joshua Bennett Garden
56 William Bennett Joshua Bennett House and Garden
57 Joshua Bennett Joshua Bennett Garden


one. “The Black Diamond Merchant” was a person of much consequence to

the comfort and well being of rich and poor.
The Wharf in those days must have been very much the same as I remember
it in my boyhood. It was on both sides of a rather broad creek on the
left bank of the estuary of the Wandle, and separated from the Thames by
osier beds over which the L. & S. W. R. loop-line now runs a little to
the West of the present Railway Station. The creek ended with a dock
capable of holding two or three barges abreast and the Wharf was on both
sides of it, and also on the South side of a small branch creek towards
the West,8 now I think filled up by the Railway embankment. The premises
were of considerable extent. A good George the First house was on the
right of the entrance gates facing the streets which led East and West to
the High Street. There was a small flower garden in front, and I think a
kitchen garden behind. This must have been the Noble’s9 house. On the
left of the gates, well inside the yard, was the counting house, further
in were Waggon houses and ranges of Stables on the right; on the left,
along the creek for some distance were large open Bays for storing the
coal as discharged from the lighters. On the left bank of the Dock were
some bays for coal and other buildings, and an excellent fruit and
vegetable garden. On the West of this, in a lane leading to the osier
beds, there was another house of smaller size in which my uncle William
Bennett lived. This too had a good garden. There were I think some
cottages close to it for work people, carters and others. The Creek and
Dock were generally well filled with the Lighters or Thames Barges,
large, flat bottomed vessels with a decked poop, bays for coal, and a
decked stern in which there was a small cabin, that I have always thought
looked very cosy. There were some great oars or ‘sweeps’ by which the
barges were propelled for steerage way, as they drifted with the tide,
and great poles for punting. The same barges are built now, but a steam
launch is employed to tow a string of them. Captain Marryat gives a good
description of a Thames barge and life on it in the opening chapters of
Jacob Faithful. If any reader of these pages should be travelling on the

L. & S. W. R., down line through Wandsworth, and would like to see what
remains of the old Wharf, let him look on the left side of the line after
the train has left the station and crossed the Wandle, and he will see
it. I am afraid this long account of the old house and its surroundings
will be tedious reading, but it will help to explain a good deal of the
subsequent history. At the time of Mr Noble’s death, [margin note: 1782] Mr
Bennett was in his 40th year, and Mrs Bennett in her 38th, and they had
eight children living. They were very happy in their married life, and
thoroughly respected by their friends and neighbours. He was a good
tempered, honest and genial man of business, a good friend and neighbour,
and she was ‘as became an heiress’, an hospitable and generous lady
beloved by everyone, with a good deal of natural dignity and of sound
judgment. From remarks of hers which I have heard my grandmother repeat,
she was a good judge of character and had a thorough dislike of
affectation and especially of pomposity. In this she was before her
times. They were possessed of fair means, the business was very
prosperous, and they lived with much comfort in the simple and old
fashioned style of the last century. They had no difficulty as to the
education of their children, for the various ‘boarding schools’10 in
Wandsworth gave them advantages not easily found in those days. I
suppose that day scholars of good family were accepted at most schools.
Mary the eldest daughter was then 19, and had left school. Sarah was 17,
and Noble the eldest boy 15 years old. I know nothing of the leading
girls’ schools at Wandsworth, but certainly both Mary and Sarah were well
educated and attractive young ladies, and not improbably their mother
began to think their marriage was within measurable distance. Mary


married 8th January 1785 Mr James Chapman who was a successful private
schoolmaster at Wandsworth, and Sarah I suspect shortly afterwards
married a son of the Rev. Robert Holt Butcher, L.L.B., Vicar of
Wandsworth. Mrs Chapman was the only daughter married at Wandsworth
Church. The witnesses who signed the Register were Thomas and Sarah
Bennett. My grandfather Thomas Bennett and his younger brothers were
educated by Mr Chapman, whose “Academy” for 35 years or more was the best
in the neighbourhood. Whether Noble was one of his pupils I cannot tell,
but he probably was. Mr Chapman was a member of a family who lived and
had property at Dartford in Kent. My recollection is strong of having
heard from my grandmother that he was an assistant master of the school
at Wandsworth of which he afterwards became the proprietor. He was a
thoroughly conscientious, painstaking and careful teacher, and he wrote a
beautifully clear and accurate hand which my grandfather exactly copied.
Indeed I can hardly tell their letters apart. Noble was a high-spirited
and popular boy. He was as the eldest son probably rather over-indulged
at home, and as he had a liking for practical jokes of which the Quakers
in their old Meeting House11 were very often the victims, Mr Bennett very
wisely sent him to sea in the Merchant Service, very much to the boy’s

Mr Bennett and his sons were certainly amphibious. He had lived
close to the Thames all his life and his boys took to the water as
naturally as ducks. When the tide suited Mr Bennett would go to London
by water. He would even ‘skiff’ himself up and back. It is remembered
that on one hot day on his return home after he had shot old Westminster
Bridge he thought it would be pleasanter in the water than in the skiff;
accordingly he undressed and swam all the way from Westminster to
Wandsworth, keeping near to the boat and occasionally giving it a shove
and pushing it before him. The distance is five miles in the clear and
open river, for neither Vauxhall nor Battersea Bridges were then built.
His favourite amusement was sailing. In after years he kept a ‘sloop’ as
it was then called that was the delight of both himself and his boys, for
they were all brought up not only to row, but to sail a boat well. The
sloop was broad in its beam, fully decked, or at least half decked with a
long spar mast, mainsail, foresail, jib and garf [sic] top-sail. It was
his great delight to victual the vessel for a week’s cruise, and with
some of his family to sail down the Thames to Gravesend or the Nore and
back. There was sleeping accommodation for the men of the party on
board, the ladies were landed for the night, but it was necessary to keep
a guard on board, for in the last century the lower Thames was infested
by river thieves. A brace of pistols belonging to my Grandfather and now
in my possession were part of the armament, and are said to have been
used by him when the vessel was attacked.

[margin note: 1791] A great shadow must have been cast upon the happy
life of the Bennett family at the Wharf by the sad death of Noble the
eldest son on 2nd December 1781.12 He was drowned at sea. He was then
twenty-three years of age. My grandmother always spoke of him with great
affection, though she could personally have known little or nothing of
him. To his father his loss must have been terrible. They were of very
similar dispositions, and the place he left vacant was never filled. The
other boys were all good sons and dutiful, working hard in their states
of life, but no-one was quite like the lost Noble, whose escapades were
really very amusing, and were excused by his high spirits and good
nature. He was once in a serious scrape in France for some contravention
of the Customs Law in regard to the sale of a cargo of grain at Paris,
and was put into a “Bastille”. I have no knowledge of the circumstances,
but simply repeat what I have been told. He must have been speedily


My account of the family at this time would be incomplete if I did
not mention that they were like their parents, good-looking. The ladies
as I remember them were handsome and stately dames of fresh and clear
complexions, good eyes and rather aquiline noses. Mrs Ackland,13 my
grandmother told me, was a person of remarkable beauty in her youth; in
fact she unconsciously attracted so much attention that my grandmother
did not like walking with her in London, for “No one could see her,
without turning round to have a second look at her.” “I can quite
believe in Aunt Ackland’s great beauty,” a niece writes to me, “for her
daughter Bessie (Miss Ackland) was pretty too, with lovely eyes, and she
was almost the sweetest and most fascinating woman I ever knew.”

The men were all a good deal alike, well made and muscular, of
middle height, with clear ruddy complexions, brown eyes and dark hair. A
portrait of my grandfather in pastel, taken about the time of his
marriage (1797) represents him as a singularly handsome man. They were,
as the name implies, thorough Normans, with a very slight mixture of the
Saxon blood which is certainly more evident in our family, and is derived
from my grandmother whose portrait is more remarkable for intelligence
than for beauty of feature or complexion. Maria is very like my
grandfather, and is the only one of my children who is a thorough

1. D Lysons The Environs of London: being an historical account of the Towns, Villages, and Hamlets within twelve
miles of that Capital London (1792)
2. In A Morning’s Walk from London to Kew (1820) Sir Richard Phillips described Wandsworth as a ‘populous,
industrious and opulent village’ of 5644 inhabitants and 2020 houses. There were ‘620 families engaged in trade or
manufactures’ and its main street, half a mile long, was ‘of compact and well built houses’. Industry, which consisted
of ‘dyers, calico-printers, oil-mills, iron-founderies, vinegar-works, breweries and distilleries’ was ‘greatly aided by
the pure stream of the Wandle, and by the Surry iron rail-way’. This work, first published in 1817, was based on
articles written in 1813-16.
The Surrey Iron Railway opened in 1802 and ran from Wandsworth up the Wandle valley to Croydon, from where a
later railway was built which terminated at Merstham. It carried goods, not passengers, from the Thames to
businesses inland, and brought back mainly quarried stone. The Bennetts could have used it to transport coal to their
Wandle valley customers: several Wandsworth businesses had short branches to the line. Frederick Bennett mentions
the SIR in the next paragraph, but there is no indication here or among the letters that the Wandsworth Bennetts or
the Leaches/Bennetts at Merton used it.
3. In fact the name ‘Wandle’ is a back formation derived from the name of Wandsworth (Wendelswurthe), and does not
seem to have been used before the 16th century. The river’s earlier name was hlida burnan in various forms.
J E B Gover, A Mawer and F M Stenton The Place-Names of Surrey Cambridge (1934) pp.7, 36

4. Canon Bennett may be overstating his case. The familiar but often misquoted passage from J Malcolm’s
Compendium of Modern Industry (1805) says of the Wandle ‘… for its length and size, perhaps no river in the world
does at this time furnish so many valuable and various manufactories…’
5. More usually Garratt. A hamlet on the east bank of the Wandle, between Wandsworth and Tooting.
6. Bennett was writing in 1898.
7. D A Bayliss Retracing the First Public Railway Living History Publications, East Grinstead (2nd ed. 1985) gives an
account of the railway.
8. This description is borne out by the Wandsworth Tithe Map of 1838. Plots 53, 54 and 55 lie on both sides of a broad
inlet, with 54 and 54a lying on the south side of the narrower watercourse.
9. Joshua Noble (d. 1782) was the father of Sarah Noble, wife of Thomas Bennett senior. See the Bennett family tree.
10. Bennett is quoting from the passage from Lysons which begins this chapter.
11. Were the Bennetts Quakers? Why else would young Noble have been ‘in’ the meeting house? In Wandsworth Notes
& Queries part IX (1899) p.180 is a note that on 2 February 1788 a Thomas Bennett was fined £6 5s 6d for nonpayment
of tithes as a Quaker.
12. 1791, as given in the margin note, was the year of young Noble’s death.
13. Born Elizabeth Bennett.





Annotated extract from the 1865 1:2500 OS map





Thomas Bennett, Junior, my grandfather, was sixteen years old on
26th February 1791, the age when boys who were not destined for the
learned professions usually left school. He had been a very satisfactory
pupil to Mr Chapman; he wrote an excellent hand, he was a very good
accountant for a school boy, he knew something of French and Latin, he
was fond of English reading and standard English books, which he loved
and took care of. His school books that remain still are well preserved
and clean. It must have tried Mr Chapman’s intense justice and fairness
to his pupils not to show a little preference to his young brother-in-law
who was in school as blameless a boy, as he was in his after life a
blameless man.

New Year’s Day 1791 probably installed him at a desk in his father’s
Counting House, to complete his apprenticeship to his father, and to gain
the coveted Freedom of the City of London. His articles would date from
the time when he became fourteen years old. He was afterwards a member
of the Glovers Company. It must have been Mr Bennett’s intention to
bring him up to his own business as Noble had entered the merchant
service, and his death made Thomas the eldest surviving son. Joshua and
William would be pupils of Mr Chapman. My grandfather, like all his
brothers, was brought up by the river, was a good waterman and sailor,
and he possessed a skill in horsemanship which they did not. Joshua came
next to him, and throughout life was a good driver, but he was never a
good rider like his elder brother. He must from his first entrance into
the Counting House have been very useful to his father, and have done
much to comfort him for the loss of his beloved first-born son.

Merton Abbey was then a place with which Mr Bennett would have had
very large business transactions. The monastic buildings had
disappeared, but the external walls which surround the premises,
including a space of about 60 acres, were and still are nearly entire,
being built of flints. The property in the last century was divided into
severalties two thirds of which belonged to Richard Fizard1 Mansfield
Esq, and the other third to Charles Smith Esq., my mother’s uncle. Mr
Smith occupied a large red brick house (I suspect that this must have
taken the place of the ancient Guest House)2 adjoining the London and
Epsom road to the North of the Abbey, and with its gardens, grounds and
meadows took up a considerable portion of the enclosure right and left of
the Wandle. Of this he had a very long lease, and also I believe of the
rest of the Abbey property. The description given by Lysons 1792, of the
remaining parts of the Abbey is as follows; (Lysons Environs of London,
Vol. 1, Page 145.)

“In the year 1724 a manufactory for printing calicoes was
established upon the site of Merton Abbey, which still exists upon the
same spot, being at present in the occupation of Messrs Newton, Hodgson &
Leach, who carry on a very extensive trade, and have brought the art to a
great degree of perfection. Another manufactory of the same nature was
established within the walls of the Abbey in the year 1752 which is now
carried on by Mr Halfhide, and at the North East corner of the premises
is a copper mill in the occupation of Mr Thoytts, which has been long
established there. Upon a moderate computation there are a thousand
persons employed within the walls in the different manufactories; a
pleasing contrast to the monastic indolence which reigned there in former


‘A View at Merton Abbey’: watercolour from the early 19th century

The house in the background was the one occupied by the Leach family (to the left i.e. to the west)
and the Newton family (to the right). The wheelhouse was rebuilt late in the 19th century and today
forms part of the Merton Abbey Mills market. The other buildings have all gone.

‘Merton Abbey’
The eastern half
of the original
house is shown
here from the
south-west. In
John Leach’s
day this was the
home of the
Newton family.
The right-hand
gable in this
view appears to
be the one
second from the
right in the
earlier view


The quantity of coal required for these establishments was very
large, and Thomas Bennett Junior had occasion for constant visits. Mr
Leach was the managing partner of the great calico printing works in the
centre of the Abbey grounds. He was descended from a Quaker family of
Westerham in Kent. His grandfather remained in England when his brothers
emigrated to Pennsylvania at the foundation of the province by Penn in
1682. He was engaged to a young lady of Merton named Bishop.3 John
Leach their son, born 1708, became connected with the Merton Abbey calico
printing works in 1724. His son John Leach, born 1742, was brought up to
the same business and on the Arbuthnot family4 giving it up, he became
the head of the firm, Leach, Newton, Greaves & Hodgson, according to a
contemporary document, by whom it was carried on.

Mr Leach and Mr Newton lived in two houses under one roof on the
left bank of the Wandle, probably part of the monastic buildings adapted
to domestic uses.5

Mr Leach was a man of considerable ability and ingenuity, and was
universally respected, as was Mrs Leach, an excellent woman.6 Their
eldest son John Leach born 1769 was a well-grown and handsome young man.
His letters are written in a hand so like Mr Chapman’s that he was
probably one of his pupils. The other children were;

Sarah Jane born 15th Feb. 1775.
Elizabeth Susannah ” 6th Nov. 1785
Anne ” 6th Aug. 1787
William ” 6th July 1788
Harriott ” 2nd Dec. 1789.

The four youngest therefore were mere children at the time of Thomas
Bennett’s introduction to the family. Sarah Jane, “Miss Leach”, had been
brought up at Miss Westfold’s school at Mitcham, a very good one. She
was clever and well informed, endowed with sound common sense and a very
pleasant voice, and though not beautiful was so bright and amusing that
she must have been a very attractive person. Her great friend was Ann
Lukin, the only daughter of Mr Lionell Lukin an eminent Coach Builder in
Long Acre, and the inventor of the life-boat for which he had taken out a
patent in 1785.7

John Leach had made her acquaintance. He commended his sister with
the remark that “he hoped they would be life long friends,” when he
introduced the young ladies to each other; this they were, and their
children and grandchildren afterwards. She was my godmother. I have
thought that there was something rather more than mere friendship between
her and John Leach, and that she would have preferred her own brother who
was a fine gentleman, as a husband for her friend to “The little black
diamond merchant”,8 whose attentions to Miss Leach she told me “she soon
divined.” Mr Leach’s house in those days was a very pleasant one from
the number of clever people who came there. Mr Hodgson was I believe a
friend of the Lukins. Mr Newton, the other partner, was a good and
pleasant man. He was a strong Whig in politics; Mr Leach a strong Tory,
and in those early days of the French Revolution party feeling ran very
high, but it never interfered with the good feeling and friendship
between them. They agreed to differ, and politics were never mentioned
between them.

Three letters from John Leach to my grandfather (1) dated 25th
February 1794, with good wishes on his birthday, (2) 19th March 1794, (3)
12th April 1794, show that considerable intimacy existed between them,
and that the River had special attractions for him, and nautical matters
in general. On the 25th June he went to spend the afternoon at
Wandsworth for a sail on the Thames with my grandfather and some others.
The boat was not the family sloop, but a much lighter craft. My


grandfather after a time landed in order to tell the family that they
would very shortly come in for tea, then a substantial evening meal.
While he was away by some carelessness the boat was capsized and John
Leach was drowned! A terrible calamity to both families, especially to
Mr Leach, for John was not only his elder son and the pride and comfort
of his old age, but of great use to him in his business. His younger son
William was a boy only seven years old. The bereaved mother and sisters
were overwhelmed with grief. Throughout her life my grandmother could
never trust herself to speak of it. Miss Lukin came at once to the Abbey
to comfort her friend. All I know of the sad accident has been derived
from what she and my father have told me, especially that it would never
have happened had my grandfather been on board. John Leach was buried at
Merton where his tomb remains to the South of the chancel with the

“John Leach, died June 29th, 1794.”9
This great sorrow must have deepened the regard which my grandfather
had felt for some time to Mr and Mrs Leach and their family and their
respect for him. In the course of 1796 when he was of age, and in a
position to marry he was engaged to be married to Miss Leach. Anne Lukin
had married Mr John Rocke of Closworth, Somersetshire, and in the Autumn
of that year my grandmother went to stay with her friend whose husband
was a solicitor in practice at Wells. The following letter from Mr Leach

to Miss Leach at Mrs J. H. Rocke’s, Wells, Somerset, deserves to be
placed on record.
“Dear Girl,

“I should have wrote to you before now but have nothing new to tell
you and Mr Bennett has undertaken the business for me, and to say the
truth he has been a very good young man having been as oft at the Abbey
as if you were at home, which has been a very pleasant thing. And as he
is as anxious for your return as we can possibly be, I shall leave Mrs
Rocke’s request to his management. Your mother desires her love to you
as do all your friends, and that you may be happy here and for ever is
the ardent prayer of your

affectionate Father

Jno. Leach
” 30th Nov. ‘96.10

The French Revolution was then raging. The execution of King Louis XVI
on the 21st January 1793, and the formal declaration of war against
England and Holland by France in Feb. 1793 had thoroughly roused the
national and patriotic feeling, and associations were commenced for
assisting the regular army by raising local volunteers regiments. In
1794 Mr Pitt laid before the House of Commons on the 5th March his
proposals for strengthening the Land Defences by the formation of
Yeomanry Cavalry. The movement was well supported in Wandsworth and the
Surrey Light Horse was raised by the Surrey Association, together with a
regiment of infantry. My grandfather was an early member of the
Wandsworth troops, afterwards merged into the Surrey Yeomanry. His sword
and two uniform jackets of dark blue cloth with red collars and cuffs,
steel chain epaulet straps and silver braid facings are in my possession.
The helmet was of the round crested pattern then used by Cavalry and
Infantry. White buckskin breeches and black boots completed the uniform.
The arms were the heavy sword and pistols in the holster. A cloak bag
was strapped behind the saddle. My grandfather remained in the regiment
till the fear of French invasion was dispelled by the victory of
Trafalgar, 21st Oct. 1805. The colours were presented to the Wandsworth


Regiment of Infantry on St. George’s Day, (23rd April) 1795. A service
was held in the Parish Church and a sermon was preached by the Rev. R. H.
Butcher, the Vicar and Chaplain of the corps, in which he stated it was
one of the first corps of volunteers that had been then raised. The
sermon was published. Joshua and William Bennett were I believe
afterwards volunteers in the Infantry Regiment.

Thomas Bennett and Sarah Jane Leach were married in Merton Church on
the 18th March 1797 by license. The Rev. Charles Bond Perpetual Curate
of Merton officiated, and John Leach, Harriott Ann Bennett and John
Hudson, Clerk, signed the Register Book as witnesses.

It was a marriage of thorough mutual love and respect hallowed
indeed by a great sorrow but cheered by the hearty approval of both
families and bright prospects for the future. To Mr Leach it was a great
comfort; it gave him one who would take the place of his elder son, and
whom he regarded and addressed in his letters as “his dear son”. The
young couple began their married life in a house at Wandsworth near the
Wharf.11 Thomas continued his work with his father, but he rendered Mr
Leach some valuable help in his business which was beginning to outgrow
the powers of the firm.

On the 5th February 1798 the happiness of the young people was
increased by the birth of a son (my father) who was baptized with the
Christian name of “John Leach” on the 4th March by Mr Allwood the curate
at Wandsworth, the sponsors being Jno Leach, Thomas Bennett Senior and
Mrs Jane Leach. In a letter to my grandmother from Wells, 9th Feb. 1798,
Mrs Rocke writes, “I wish I could see your father and his grandson: I
suppose he is extremely proud of his title of grandfather as much so as
Bennett is of that of father.”12 He was the only child, and thenceforward
he occupied a very important place in the family letters that have been

About this time the firm of Leach, Newton, Greaves and Hodgson
determined to dissolve partnership [1792]. In addition to the manufactory
within the Abbey walls, they owned in the Parish of Wimbledon a freehold
estate of A.78. R.1. P.0. according to a contemporary map, lying between
Dunsford Lane (now Haydon’s Lane) and the river Wandle, and extending
from the London and Epsom Road and Mr Thoyt’s13 and Mr Lucas’s premises
to the field road on the north from Cowdery Farm14 to the Wandle, and
including on the right bank of the Wandle “Biggery Mead” and to the
north, the “Shoulder of Mutton Field”. This must have been bought when
Sir Richard Hotham’s estate and house, Merton Place, were sold. It
comprized, at the junction of Dunsford Lane and the Epsom Road,15 Sir
Richard Hotham’s stables, garden and farmyard. Messrs Greaves and
Hodgson retired from the business altogether, and Mr Leach and Mr Newton
remained in their old homes in the Abbey, but divided the works between
them, and became separate tenants of Mr Charles Smith.

Mr Leach’s health was then weak, and it was quite necessary that he
should have a young and able partner. Mr Bennett kindly and wisely
resolved that his eldest son, Thomas, whom Mr Leach already regarded as
his “dear son”, should join him, and that his place at the Wharf should
be taken by his sons Joshua and William who had already been associated
with him in the work of the business. John Thomas, then sixteen years
old, had probably been apprenticed to Mr Ayres, a silversmith in
Fenchurch Street, who afterwards took him into partnership. James
Edmund, the youngest son, had determined to go to sea, and was already a
midshipman on board one of the East India Company’s ships.

The partnership with Mr Leach was an excellent provision for my
grandfather, and a happy arrangement for both families, and resulted in
much comfort to the parents, and permanent prosperity to the children.


Accordingly when the estate in the parish of Wimbledon, belonging to the
Firm of Leach, Newton, Greaves and Hodgson, was sold, my grandfather
bought the plot of rather more than an acre containing Sir Richard
Hotham’s stables, farmyard and buildings, and the walled in kitchen
garden, as a site for a house for himself, for which it was well laid out
and pleasantly situated. And there he built his house on a plan
admitting of future enlargements, and provided a comfortable and happy
home for the Bennetts of Merton till my father’s death in 1873. It is
now called Hotham House.16

In 1802 the new house was finished and my grandfather left Church
Row, Wandsworth,17 and with his wife and only child, now four years old,
settled at “Merton in Wimbledon”, as it is now strictly described, that
part of Merton Village being in the parish of Wimbledon. Their nearest
neighbour was Lord Nelson at “Merton Place”, which he had bought in 1801.
Mr Thoyt’s house, “Abbey Lodge” and Mr Smith’s “Abbey House”, within the
grey walls of the Abbey, were to the East, and Mr Leach’s and Mr Newton’s
houses, and the Factory, were within five minutes walk.

1. ‘Fezard’ is believed to be the correct form.
2. This house in its later years was known as Abbey Gate House. It stood on the south side of the High Street, Merton,
and was demolished in 1906 and replaced by the building which later became the Wimbledon Palais de Danse. The
site is now (2007) occupied by flats and commercial premises.
3. According to John Leach senior’s note to letter (1) his great grandmother was a Rebecca Bishop. Here Frederick
Bennett states that John Leach’s grandmother was a Miss Bishop, and we can assume that she was the daughter of
(Mrs) Rebecca Bishop.
The earliest known reference to a Leach at Merton Abbey is in the Land Tax records for 1784. Before that the name
Robert Maxwell appears.
P McGow, unpublished Mills of the Wandle, copy at Wandle Industrial Museum and on the WIM website http://

4. A John Arbuthnot(t) had been the proprietor of a calico printing works at Ravensbury, Mitcham, but was not hitherto
known to have had interests in Merton. However, Arbuthnot’s father-in-law John Cecil(l) was at Merton Abbey
E N Montague Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 Merton Historical Society and
Merton Library Service (1992) pp.41-2

5. This house stood on the west bank of the Wandle a little way upstream from the High Street.
6. She was Jane Hudson (1748-1833). It is probable that she was a daughter of John Hudson, who was ‘foreman to Mr
Arbuthnot at Mitcham’ c.1768, according to the Morden Settlement Examination Book (at Surrey History Centre,
transcribed by W J Rudd). A John Hudson was buried at Merton on 16 August 1803 aged 79, and an Elizabeth
Hudson was buried at Merton on 30 December 1812 aged 86, and they may have been Jane (Hudson) Leach’s
parents, who were certainly alive in 1801. See notes to letter (1) and see letter (15).
7. See notes to letters (5) and (6).
8. Thomas Bennett. Coal is the ‘black diamond’, as on page 17.
9. It is not now possible to locate John Leach’s grave.
10. Letter (7).
11. See notes to letter (7).
12. Letter (9).
13. Mr Thoyt(t) lived at Abbey Lodge on the Wimbledon side of the High Street. See below in this chapter. He was
proprietor of the copper mills which were on the Wandle, fronting the High Street on the Merton side.
14. Cowdrey (the accepted spelling) Farm was leased at this time to Benjamin Paterson, described as a ‘large scientific farmer’.
R Milward Historic Wimbledon, Adlestrop and Wimbledon (1989) p.93
15. The eastern angle between the present Haydons Road and Merton High Street.
16. The house stood about half way between the present Gilbert Road and the High Street. After John Leach Bennett’s death
in 1873 Hotham House was briefly occupied by a family called Beddall, a patent company manager, and his family. It
then became a nurseryman’s premises, until it disappears from the directories after 1896. (See plans at top of facing
17. Church Row is the row of tall 18th-century houses in Wandsworth Plain, which face west. In one of these the young
Bennetts spent the first four years of married life.





The year of the Peace of Amiens (25th March 1802) was a year of
“unbounded joy” and “unlimited hopes conceived in Europe.” [margin note: Alison
Hist. C. XXXVII. V.5.p.3.]1 Ten years of ceaseless effusion of blood had tamed the
fiercest spirits and hushed the strongest passions; the finances of all
the parties in the strife had become grievously embarassed, and the
people of every country, yielding to the joyful illusion, fondly imagined
that the years of discord had terminated, and a long season of peace and
prosperity was to obliterate the traces of human suffering.”

To Mr and Mrs Bennett it must have had a further joy, for the 25th
May 1802 completed forty years of married happiness and thankfulness.
Their mutual love was undimmed by any cross or doubt; they had good
health; their circumstances were prosperous; their elder children were
well provided for in homes of their own, and the younger, who remained
with them in the old home at the Wharf, were all that they could desire.
And then they had their grandchildren, – “Little John Bennett”, and
Thomas and James, Sarah and the baby Elizabeth Chapman, and the Butcher
and Ackland babies, – all delightful, and a joy to the parents and
grandparents.2 We can hardly imagine a happier or more genial party than
a family gathering at the Wharf would be in those days of peace.

In the early part of the year, James Edmund, the youngest son, then a
bright lad of sixteen, was at home. He was in the H. E. C.’s [?H.E.I.C. –
Honourable East India Company] Naval Service, and he had already made at least
one voyage to India, and had brought home sundry presents to his father and
mother, brothers and sisters, of which one, – a carved tortoiseshell snuffbox,
– is in my possession; and he was at home only for a short time.

The following letter,3 – the only record I have of James Edmund
Bennett to my grandfather, – will be read with interest at this point of
the Family History.


Monday, ye 15th Feb. 1802.
“My dear Brother,

“At my arrival at Portsmouth, Feb. 12th, 1802, – having sailed from
Gravesend Tuesday ye 9th, which is reckoned a very short passage, and now
I sit down with pleasure to inform you how comfortable I think myself on
Board, with the other officers. There is one thing taken place in our
ship, which will, I make no doubt, make us very uncomfortable for a time,
which is by order of the Company, for all the officers to knock down all
their cabins, immediately, owing entirely to their taking a few inches
more than the Company’s measurement; so therefore, untill we leave
England we shall be quite exposed to Mess in, and the officers to be in
their cabins; we shall make but a short stay here, for our Dispatches
came on Board Sunday ye 14th. Now we are only waiting for a ship or two
which came in Saturday, if the wind continues as it is (N.E.) we shall
take our Departure from the White Cliffs of your native Land on Tuesday
16th. Happy, oh Happy is the people whose inclinations are not lead
astray like mine. Your wishes are limited to your own country to be
comfortable with your wife and child and all the Family. May Health and
Prosperity ever be your companions. Mine to the exploring distant ones,
and to the uncertainty of the powering waves. Often Dear Brother, do I
walk the Deck in ye Midnight Watch, Reflecting what Happiness I have left
behind me likewise Happy Friends. Often still often does the busy Memory
recall my thoughts to the peaceful inhabitants of the country you all
inhabit. You, like many others, have all the Day to yourself, and Rest
in quietness all the Night. We like Brethren on Board have not even an
Hour to say our own. Happier much might I have been were I to have staid
at Home, and served my Apprenticeship with my Father as you and my
Brother Joshua have done before me, but I was built for the sea and it
cannot now be helped. There will be a time Dear Brother when I shall
perhaps Repent ever stepping on blue water, but ‘t will all be too late,
(I do not at present). Words you have told me I have often thought off
more so than you think for. Do not Despair, is the Sailor’s Motto, and
as my Time is short I must beg to conclude. Please to give my Duty to my
Father and Mother, Love to Brothers, Sisters, Uncles, Aunts, Nephews,
accepting the same yourself, and Remember me kindly to all enquirers.
Please to give my Love to little John, wishing by the blessing of God
this may find you, Father, Mother, and all the Family quite well, as

“I Remain, Believe me, my Dear Brother,

“Ever yours affectionately, till Death

“I have all my trade on Board safe, and will not forget you Homeward
Bound if I have any Luck.
“P. S. Have the goodness to write to me at St. Helena. I shall write to
you every opportunity.”

A warm-hearted and sailor-like letter which reveals plainly the good
and affectionate feeling that united the Brothers, and indeed the whole
family. A note against his name in Mr Bennett’s list of his children
denotes that he died young, and my Father has added “died in India”. I
conclude that he never returned from the voyable [sic] of 1802.

The work of the Wharf went on very much as before. My grandfather
was always ready to help if his counsel or assistance in any way were
required, but Joshua was a good man of business and worked with energy to
improve the connexions of the firm in which he would be hereafter the
leading partner. William devoted himself to “Hard work” in the yard, and
was always up and about when the men came to work.

The Chapman family were perhaps more at Merton than any of the other
married sisters. Mr Chapman very much depended on my grandfather’s


judgment, and they were associated in family trusts. James Chapman and
his younger sisters were my Father’s special friends and playfellows.

25th May 1812. Mr and Mrs Bennett kept their Golden Wedding, and
they might rejoice in seeing their children’s children being virtuously
and Christianly brought up. John Leach Bennett was then a bright and
intelligent boy of fourteen years of age, brought up indeed at home by
his father and mother with the help of good masters, and of very high
character. Thomas Chapman would be preparing for the University with
much credit, and James, then twelve years old, a colleger at Eton had
made his mark, as the late venerable Bishop of Chichester wrote in 1892;
“There are few who can remember James Chapman in his school-days, but I
do remember him, – a pattern to all his school-fellows, holding his own
conscientious and religious ways” (Memorials of Bishop Chapman, 1892,
Preface) Very few golden weddings could have been much happier than this.

One more Golden Wedding in the Bennett family has taken place in
this century. On the 30th Sept. 1895, my dear wife and I completed our
Fifty years of married life with much thankfulness. We two have had ten
children, one son and nine daughters, two of whom married grandsons of Mr
and Mrs Chapman, of whom James Frederick and Edith Ellen Hutton are at
rest, and the others are living and well, and we have, what our great
grand-parents had not, a great-grandson, – Anthony de Saye Hutton, six
years old, the son of Charles Frederick, (son of Anthony and Maria Louisa
Hutton,) and his wife Mabel de Saye Hutton (née Jacomb.)

It was a happy day to us and to our children of whom our son Charles
Frederick, – Anthony Hutton, four married and three unmarried daughters
and two grand-children were with us.

Of the last three years of Mr Bennett’s life no record is preserved;
they were we may believe peaceful and happy. He died November 26th 1815
and was buried in Wandsworth Churchyard.

Mrs Bennett continued to reside in the old home at the Wharf with
William, – now junior partner in the Firm. He was devotedly attached to
his mother of whom he stood in some awe, and she knew his peculiarities
and respected his honesty and industry. While her reign lasted the
dignity and hospitality of the house were safe. The married children had
their own households, but the old home was always open to them and their
children, and they knew that the grandmother and the bachelor uncle were
always glad to receive them. And so the last years of her life were
spent, without any great bodily pain or infirmity, until 30th June 1821,
when she “fell asleep”, and her body was laid to rest beside her husband
in Wandsworth Churchyard.

The inscription on the Tomb is,
” Thomas Bennett, died November 26th, 1815,
” aged 73.
” Sarah Bennett, died June 30th, 1821.
” aged 77.
” Noble William Joshua Bennett, died December 2nd, 1791,
” aged 23.

After their mother’s death Joshua and his wife and children moved
into the old Family House at the entrance of the Wharf Yard, where they
maintained the traditional and simple hospitality of the house till their
death. And William took up his abode at the small house west of the
Creek which was now his own where he too lived a genial and happy life.
And there, in good old age, he ended his days.

1. Sir Archibald Alison’s History of Europe 1789-1815 was published originally between 1833 and 1842.
2. See the Bennett family tree.
3. Letter (16)





Mr Chapman retired from his very successful school about this time
and went with Mrs Chapman and his daughters to live in a good house at
the foot of Reigate Hill. He was I think succeeded in the school at
Wandsworth by his eldest son Thomas, who had married Rebecca, daughter of
Dr. Miller of Croydon, (an eminent musician whose descendants are still
living there) He was for some time curate of the Parish Church of
Wandsworth. I remember seeing them both at Merton. He died 2nd December
1828, and his wife in June 1829. Sarah, his eldest sister, married about
this time James Marmaduke Rossiter. Their only son, – Robert Grafton
Rossiter, – was my contemporary and very dear friend as undergraduates in
Oxford, and of my own age. James Chapman Junior, in the year 1821,
immediately after taking his degree (he was then a Fellow of King’s
College, Cambridge) was appointed an assistant master at Eton, and his
future success in life might be regarded with hopeful confidence. It was
abundantly fulfilled in his work at Eton, as Rector of Dunton Waylett,
Essex, as the first Bishop of Colombo, and in his old age in the peaceful
retirement of the Rectory of Wootton Courtney, Somerset. Mr Chapman
might well feel that he could resign the honoured position he had held
for so many years in Wandsworth, and rest in thankful peace. His second
daughter, Elizabeth (my father’s favourite Chapman cousin, “because she
was the prettiest perhaps,” as I once heard him say) was engaged to be
married to William Hutton, a partner in a prosperous firm of West African
merchants. These changes must have very much affected the family at the
Wharf in making them realise that their work lay with a new generation
and new order of things, for which during their previous lives they had
been well prepared.

My father married Maria Cragg, the daughter of Mr John Cragg, a
brother-in-law and partner of Mr Charles Smith of Merton Abbey, 18th
October, 1820. He was then in partnership with his father as “Bennett &
Son”. I was born the 22nd March 1822. My grandfather1 retired from
business, and built a house for himself in a lovely situation at the foot
of Box Hill, to which he and my grandmother removed in 1825 or 1826. He
died 20th August 1827, aged 52. He left a blank in the whole family
which could never be filled.

John Thomas Bennett was then in partnership with Mr Ayres, and with
his wife and children, was living in Fenchurch Street. He was a member
of the Goldsmiths’ Company, taking part in their work in assaying plate,
and was afterwards, if not at that time, a member of the Court of the
Company, and was a careful, accurate and scholarly man of good business
habits. A niece thus describes him in his last years; “I loved him
immensely. He taught me the moves of chessmen. He was very little, with
brown eyes and good looking.” He died in October 1845.

Mr and Mrs Butcher and their family I think were then living, (and
afterwards also) at Wandsworth. They had one son and two daughters when
I once saw them.

Mr and Mrs Ackland had a family of three sons and two daughters who
were well educated, but I never saw him or the sons, nor do I know where
they lived. Mrs Ackland as long as I can remember kept her brother
William’s house, and her daughters were constantly with her, especially
Anne the younger. Elizabeth, the elder, was a most accomplished and
agreeable woman, who, after successful work as a governess in good


families, took Miss Jardine’s school, Tryon House in Sloane Street. She
was much beloved and respected by her friends and pupils, and prosperous

Mr and Mrs Hancock were people of good means who lived at Greenwich
where I once saw them. Their only child Thomas was in the Hon. Corps of
Gentlemen Pensioners. He married the daughter of a clergyman at
Greenwich who had a good school there, and sister of the Rev. Thomas
Dallin, Incumbent of Shooter’s Hill Chapel. He was a College friend of
my Uncle John Marshall, Rector of Ovingdean, and was very kind to me when
I was about four years old and staying there with my mother on our first
visit to her sister (Jane Cragg) after her marriage in 1826. Thomas was
their only child.

Mr and Mrs Spinks and their family were living in the Tower of
London where he held an appointment. Their family consisted of two sons
and three daughters, one of whom died young. William the eldest son I
remember as a special friend of mine in my earliest years. He was
articled to my grandfather and father. On my father’s retirement he went
out to Cape Coast Castle, probably through Mr Hutton’s interest, as
Captain of the Guard. There he married a native princess. He died soon
afterwards, leaving a daughter now Mrs Chester Jones of New Beckenham,
who has a grown up family of two sons and one daughter. Thomas, the
younger son, was brought up at Merchant Taylors School, and St. John’s
College, Oxford, where he held an exhibition. We were contemporaries.
He took a good degree, 2nd class in Classics in 1842. He employed
himself in tutorial work till November 1849, when, having already taken
his D.C.L., he was admitted a Fellow of the College of Advocates, and
after “the year of silence”, November 2nd, 1850, he began to practise in
the Ecclesiastical Court with success. The alteration of the Law which
created the new courts of Probate and Divorce in 1858 was favourable to
him, for he got into an excellent practice, and he married Miss Louisa
Barrymore, with whom my father was much charmed when they called at
Merton. They have one son and two daughters; the younger is married and
has one child. In 1880 as he found work beginning to tell on his health
he accepted the Office of Registrar of the Court of Probate at York.
This he held till 1886, when he retired. They are now living at
“Claverhouse”, Upper Sydenham. Amelia, the eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs
Spinks, married Mr A. Keppel Baylis, a cousin, and is living and well.
Harriet, the youngest daughter and child is still Miss Spinks. We had
the pleasure of seeing the whole party at Clifton last year.

My grandfather by his will left an annuity of £25 to each of his
sisters, Mrs Butcher, Mrs Ackland and Mrs Spinks, an evidence that Mrs
Chapman and Mrs Hancock were well provided for, and did not require such

1. His paternal grandfather, Thomas Bennett.
2. He also left annuities to the same amount to his wife’s sisters Elizabeth Susannah Leach and Harriott Leach. Ann(e)
Leach, the delicate one, had probably predeceased him. He left his wife Sarah Jane £1000, all his household goods
and an annuity of £450. £1000 in trust went to his grandson Frederick. Everything else was left to his son John Leach
Thomas Bennett’s will PROB 11 1731 fo.567 transcribed by the late John Wallace.





Joshua Bennett was the active and managing partner of the Firm, and
William the resident and emphatically the working partner. Every
Saturday on his way to Croydon Market Joshua used to call at the old home
in Merton1 which he passed on his way, and he not only saw my Father and
Mother, but the children also who had a very great regard for him. He
was one of those men whom children instinctively cling to. He was very
deaf, and we had a difficulty in making him hear, but we always got close
to him, and the little ones of the party would soon be enthroned on his
knee. He had a great regard for my grandmother, and could without any
difficulty keep up a conversation with her as her voice was clear and
distinct. I should mention by the way, that after my grandfather’s death
in 1827, my grandmother always lived with us at Merton. Mrs Joshua
Bennett (née Sarah Ansell) was a very kind and motherly person, quiet and
reserved in manner and devoted to her family. I do not remember her ever
coming with my uncle to Merton though there was always a spare seat in
his gig. Their family consisted of an only son, Solomon, and several
daughters. I remember going with my Father and Mother to spend an
afternoon at the Wharf to see a Sailing Match, and when the family were
assembled at tea I was extremely impressed by the prettiness of my
cousins, though I was then only about eight years old. Solomon was then
grown up and helping his father in the business. He was tall and
strongly built, and not like the Bennetts, but his mother’s family. A
Sophia Ansell was a great friend of my grandmother’s and her sisters, and
a family of Ansells were living at Merton in my boyhood.2 These were
relations probably of Mrs Joshua Bennett. Solomon may have left home
before his marriage and embarked in some other work, for when the
Railways brought coal to London, the trade of the Wharf rapidly
decreased, especially as the calico printing on the Wandle was given up,
the work being carried on by steam instead of water power in the North,
especially at Manchester. In fact manufactories removed to the
coalfields which became their natural home of calico making and printing.

Mrs Joshua Bennett died some time before her husband. Joshua
Bennett died on the 26th December 1844. The business was wound up, and
the wharf was sold to a Mr Dormay, a worthy member of an old Wandsworth

Solomon Bennett married Selina, the daughter of a Mr Greaves of
Epsom. They are both dead. They had an only child, Joshua William
Bennett who married Susan Passmore, and who have an only son, William
Martin Bennett, and a daughter, Gertrude Bennett, – all living.

With regard to the other members of my great uncle’s family. The
daughter of whom I saw the most at our uncle William’s house after her
marriage was Fanny Bennett, who married Mr Martin Blackmore, a leather
seller in Cheapside, and a Common Council man. She was a very pleasing
person, and the old man depended on her more than on anyone else after
Mrs Ackland’s death. They had two sons and four daughters. Herbert
Blackmore is the only son now living. He is unmarried.

Edith Blackmore married Mr Hugh Blundell McCalmont by whom she had a
son and two daughters. The son is now a very prominent person, Mr Harry
McCalmont, M.P. for Newmarket, and reputed to be the richest commoner in
England. His enormous fortune of £6,000,000 or more, was the bequest to
him of an uncle during his father’s lifetime. In the last list of


subscribers to the repair of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral I see his
name as a contributor of £100, and I am told that he is “a fine fellow.
He made a handsome settlement on his two sisters and also a settlement on
his mother when by marrying again she forfeited a considerable portion of
the fortune left her by his father Hugh McCalmont.”

Mary Blackmore married Mr A. Hook (a brother of Mr James Hook, R. A.)
deceased. I have had some correspondence with her. She is generally
living on the Continent with her sister.

Isabel Blackmore, who married Henry Hook, deceased, leaving four sons and
two daughters.
Sarah Blackmore, married a Mr Spence; they had a daughter, now dead.

Bessie Bennett, a younger sister, married Captain Frederick
Blackmore, a brother of Mr Martin Blackmore. Their sons, William and
Charles are both dead.

Charlotte Bennett, in 1841, married Mr A. G. Baylis, Solicitor to
the City of London’s Commissioners of Sewers. They had two sons, Edgar
Baylis, who succeeded his father as Solicitor to the Commissioners of
Sewers, and Mr A. Keppel Baylis, who married Amelia the eldest daughter
of Mr and Mrs Spinks. We had the pleasure of making their acquaintance
at Clifton in August 1895. They had also two daughters, Eva Baylis, who
married Captain Gibbs, deceased, and Ada Baylis, who married Mr Charles
Hawkins, deceased, leaving a son and a daughter.

Sarah, one of the elder daughters, married a Mr Horne, whom I never
saw. She was very frequently at the Uncle William Bennett’s house, and
when I remember meeting her, she was I believe a widow.

Mary, (?) the eldest daughter died not long after the visit I made
to the Wharf, described above, and my recollection is that she was the
“Belle” of the party. Her illness was a very short one, and her almost
sudden death was a great blow to the family.

I am afraid that my record of this important branch of the Bennetts
of Wandsworth is very imperfect, but I have no documents like the great
grandfather’s Family Bible entries, and a list of his children in his own
writing found in my Father’s papers to refer to. I am much indebted to
Mr and Mrs Keppel Baylis, Mrs Mary Hook, and Dr. Spinks, Q. C. for kindly
helping me with their recollections.

One recollection of my own should not be omitted. My great
grandfather, as new barges were built, named them after his wife and
daughters, and sons, I think, his son Joshua continued the same system,
and I have a recollection of seeing a “Solomon” in the fleet.

1. Hotham House was in fact just within Wimbledon, but the Bennetts seem always to have spoken of ‘Merton’ as the
place where both home and business were. The print works were of course on the Merton side of the boundary.
2. Ancell or Ansell was the name of a family connected with calico printing and also paper and snuff milling at more
than one site in the Wandle valley. Pigot’s Directory for 1826-7 lists Joseph Ancell and George & Charles Ansell as
the proprietors of two separate businesses at Merton Abbey, as well as listing ‘Thomas Bennett & Son’.





The glory of the Bennetts of Wandsworth and of the Wharf to my mind
ended in “BUCKLES,” not useful iron buckles for horses and dogs and
machinery, made at Wandsworth, not smart little silver and gilt buckles,
which are of no use and are only put on thin shoes for ornament, but real
large honest substantial Silver Buckles of 80 or 100 years ago, with the
stout leather strap through them of a good strong old-world pair of shoes
with broad toes and all well polished, on the shapely feet of my Uncle
William Bennett. He had no sympathy with the constant changes of fashion
in male and female clothing and shoes, and so he wore clothes of the cut of
ninety years ago and his dear old shoe buckles, and all Wandsworth and his
friends who loved and respected him at last called him “Buckles”, and if
they would only follow his good example and never put on a coat or a pair
of shoes till paid for it would be well.

He was a short, thick-set and well-built man of great muscular power
which was never spared. Hard work and bodily exercise were his delight.
Like his father he was a good muscular Christian, and his simple creed was;
“Honour all men; Love the Brotherhood; Fear God; Honour the King” He was
always ready to lend a helping hand where needed, very regular at Church,
and with a wonderful hoard of old guineas, one of which came out when there
was a collection in Church for any object of charity of which he approved.
One thing he never could be and that was a good scholar. Not even all Mr
Chapman’s teaching could do more than to make him write a very good hand
and to keep simple accounts in an old-fashioned way. His spelling was
eccentric but methodical and his punctuation and arrangement of capital
letters peculiar. None of his letters are in the family archives which
have come down to me, but I remember how they began when addressed to my
Father; “Nevue john”. In spite of all his work he managed to find plenty
of time for amusement in the afternoon when his work “was done”, and that
was before dinner at 1 o’clock except when he had a dinner party at 3
o’clock. He was most scrupulously neat and tidy in his ways. On Sundays
or any state occasions he appeared in broad cloth, a black coat and
waistcoat, and drab trousers. His “working clothes” were knee breeches,
vest and jacket of brown corduroy; these were exchanged for his ordinary
dress at home of very fine light drab corduroy breeches, gaiters and coat,
or in Summer a nankeen jacket, but at all times, whether he had “cleaned
himself” or not, the silver buckles were always used. There was a good
deal of Spartan self-discipline in him and in his love of cleanliness and
plenty of cold water. He always performed his ablutions at the pump in the
scullery which had to be given up to him pro.tem. as his dressing room. He
very often walked over to Merton to tea, when my grandmother would to the
last delight to banter him in the most amusing way, and he thoroughly
enjoyed it. I never heard of his ever having had a love affair, but she
would enquire after a certain “Wedding Nightcap” of many coloured silks
that her sisters had knitted for him some 30 or 40 years ago, and she was
told; “I have it quite safe as you may say my dear”, and he implied that he
might “want it some day”. One more conversation; My grandmother, who wore
dress quite as old-fashioned as “Buckles” did, said; “Well William, and how
did you like the Miss ——es?” whom they both had seen lately, and who were
dressed in the decolletée mode of the ‘Thirtys’. “Very well indeed,” he
said, “but I should have liked them much more if they hadn’t been quite so
naked”. I was a very small boy then, but I have a very distinct
recollection of the beautiful pink shoulders.+


We children were delighted at his coming, for he was always very
kind, and would allow his capacious button-holes to be filled with any
amount of flowers. His visits were generally in the Summer when the
evenings were light for his walk home. In his own house he was extremely
hospitable. His great pleasure was to get his “boys” to sup with him and
spend the evening in old bachelor fashion. When I remember him he had
three generations of “Boys” who were always on very familiar terms. (1)
Men of his own age, sometimes school-fellows with him under Mr Chapman,
and who could tell old school stories with him. (2) Their sons, and (3)
their grandsons. They were all on the most familiar and affectionate
terms with him.

+ The following extract from a letter of the wife of one of the third generation of Boys shows that
their good friend was willing to assist in their matrimonial affairs – “I met Tom at dinner at his
home before I was engaged. Tom arranged it after meeting me at the Ormes. The old man told him
“I should make a good wife I had such neat ancles.”
The result of his hard work was a good deal of rheumatism which
deprived him of his power of work and walking in his old age, and some
time before his brother’s Joshua’s death he retired from the active work
of the Wharf, and though he went there daily, he was no longer the active
manager he had been. His great delight then was to get some of his
“Boys”, the younger more especially, Langtons, Dornays,1 or Watneys,2 to
go with him by the steamer to Gravesend, dine there, and come back by the
same boat in the evening. In his later years he had to give up the steam
boat expeditions in consequence of his difficulty in getting on board,
and he then adopted omnibus travelling. He went by a Wandsworth Bus into
London, and then exchanged into another going some distance out of
London, and he went to their furthest point where perhaps he dined and
then came back by the same route in the evening, or returned home with a
good appetite for supper. These were solitary expeditions. The
youngsters always called him “Buckles”, and he addressed the three
generations by their Christian names.

Mrs Mary Hook, a daughter of Mrs Martin Blackmore, gives me a
delightful reminiscence of his kindness to girls as well as “boys”. “We
children used very often to go to tea and muffins with Uncle William,
then backgammon, and before we left we made him always sing, “Woodman,
Spare that Tree.’3 Dear old Uncle”.

My Father and I frequently walked over to Wandsworth to see the good
uncle, for he depended very much on my father in his later years for the
arrangement of his private affairs. Occasionally, when one of his nieces
was staying with him, or Mrs Blackmore would take the head of his table,
there would be an invitation to dinner, and three or four of us were
expected to go. The dinners were excellent, but the arrangements very
primitive. He always regarded silver forks as an extravagance and
effeminacy, and stuck resolutely to two pronged steel forks for meat, even
for ducks and green peas, – and three pronged for puddings and pies.
He had very good plate, and some lovely old china of which he was very
proud. His wine, – port and sherry, – was very good, and the beer
excellent. After dinner there was a little stroll in the garden, and
then tea about 6 o’clock, after which we drove home. These gatherings
were always very pleasant, especially in bringing together members of the
family who seldom had the opportunity of meeting.

In his old age, the dear old man was not only much crippled by his
rheumatism, but very deaf, though not so much so perhaps as his brother
Joshua. He was always kind and liberal to those of his relatives who
needed help, and he was a good friend to the poor in Wandsworth. Not
many years before he died he offered my Father his house and garden as a


gift, if he would allow him 12 shillings (?) a week as long as he lived.
My Father gratefully accepted the offer, and “Very well, Boy, they are
yours”, closed the transaction.

Gradually he became more helpless from old age and rheumatism. I
never heard that he had any other malady, and, at last, 8th May, 1866 he
entered into rest in his 87th year, loved, honoured and regretted by all
who knew him. He was buried in the Wandsworth Cemetery.

Very few men have lived a more blameless life than he. His power of
mind was not great, but his heart was large and true. He never did an
unkind action, and never spoke a bad word. R. I. P.

1. This should be ‘Dormay’. The Dormays took over the Bennetts’ business as coal merchants c.1845. The Wandsworth
directories for the period list Joshua and William Bennett jointly as dealing in coal, and also corn, up to 1832. Joshua
Bennett appears alone, as a coal merchant, in directories for 1838 and (the address is given as Frogmore) 1845. By
1848 the Bennetts have disappeared , and the name John Dormay appears instead. There is now a Dormay Street
near to what was the Bennetts’ site.
2. The Watney family, farmers and later brewers, had extensive interests in the Wandle valley.
3. G P Morris (1802-1867): Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now.
There is a blank leaf at this point, followed by another Chapter VII, with the page numbering beginning
again at 1.

Plan from the lease of the
‘several barns stables
granary coach-house cow-
house hen-house sheds and
other erections situate in the
parish of Wimbledon’,
granted by Thomas Bennett
to Nelson in 1801.




Sir Richard Hotham, Knight, and sometime Member of Parliament for
Southwark, was the owner of Merton Place,1 and a person of whose love of
building and laying out the grounds, distinct memories existed amongst
elderly people at Merton in my boyhood. The site of the house is marked
on the ordnance maps. A print of the house is extant which gives the
impression that it must have been built in the last quarter of the last
century.2 Sir R. Hotham was probably its architect. He made his own
bricks from brick earth found on the spot. The garden wall of our old
house is made of these, and so were the stables at the corner of Haydon’s
Lane and the Epsom Road. They were not very good, and were of unusual
size, for which Sir R. Hotham was indicted and fined, according to the
village tradition.3

The grounds of the house were bounded by the Turnpike Road on the
North and West; by “the High Path” on the South, and Abbey Road on the
West;4 a tunnel under the road connected them with the other grounds
comprising the meadows South of the “Quick Footpath”,5 and bounded on the
East by Haydon’s Lane and on the West by the Merton Road to Wimbledon.6
On the West side of this road the land on which Merton Grove (Judge Park’s
house) stood, also belonged to the estate of Sir R. Hotham.7 South of the
Quick a line of elms, poplars, sycamores and horse chestnuts surrounded
the meadow. Next to the roads and outside of them, or rather between them
and their hedges, and the roads, was a “Shrubbery”, fenced by park palings
and a dry ditch. All this and a large clump of trees at the corner of
Haydon’s Lane was open when I first remember it. The palings had
disappeared, and there was only the inner hedge next to the meadows
remaining. The tunnel entrance archway was open, and very awful to look
into. It was filled up many years ago, but some remains were found not
long since and attributed to the Abbey. A subterranean passage of mystery
which abbeys are always said to have, and which lead generally to very
improbable places. One was said to exist from the Abbey to Cannon Hill,
but people forgot that it must always be full of water.

The house of Merton Place stood on a mound of slight elevation and
was surrounded by a moat from which the earth that formed it was dug.
This probably was an ancient work, and the original building may have been
a moated grange, possibly a Norman fortress commanding the bridge over the
Wandle, the first river out of London crossed by the ancient Stone Street,
the great S. W. road.

In 1790 Sir Richard Hotham built a villa for himself at Bognor, and a
row of lodging houses for visitors, which he furnished at a considerable
cost. He showed his affection for Merton by reproducing on his property
there some features of his Surrey house, the long rows of trees especially
poplars, and a walk like “The Quicks”, a gravel walk between two straight
quickset hedges. The name of Bognor was changed into “Hothampton”,8 and
it became a seaside resort under his auspices. After his death the
village resumed its ancient name of Bognor, but the terrace of Sir R.
Hotham’s building is still called Hothampton. All these building
speculations had crippled Sir Richard’s estate, and at his death his
property at Merton and Bognor was divided and sold to various persons. In
order that his name may not be lost from Upper Merton, I have called our
old home “Hotham House.”

In 1801 “Merton Place” was selected by Sir William and Lady Hamilton9
for Lord Nelson, who was unable to make any enquiries for a suitable house
for himself by being in command of the Fleet detailed to watch the


Bologne10 Flotilla and to prevent the invasion of England. He wrote to Lady
Hamilton; “Medusa, Downs., August 30th,11 1801. I approve of the house at
Merton, and as the Board of Admiralty object to my coming to London to
manage my own affairs, I must beg and intreat of you to work hard for me.
Messrs Booth and Hazlewood12 will manage all the law business.” In 1802 Sir
William and Lady Hamilton resided constantly with Lord Nelson at Merton.
Sir William Hamilton’s London house was 23 Piccadilly, where he died 6th
April 1803, Lady Hamilton sitting by his bedside, and Lord Nelson, who had
the highest regard for him, holding his hand. Lord Nelson bought Merton
Place and grounds, and the fields and plantations West of Haydon’s Lane,
belonging to Sir R. Hotham in the parish of Wimbledon. The rest of his13
estate in Wimbledon belonged already to Messrs Leach, Newton & Co, and the
stables, farm-yard and garden to my grandfather who was building his house.
The entrance to Merton Place was where the “Nelson’s Arms” now stands. The
stables and cottage belonging to my grandfather immediately opposite to it,
were rented of him by Lord Nelson.14 In May 1803, Lord Nelson resumed his
command in the Mediterranean prior to which by will “he devised his capital
messuage at Merton with its garden, pleasure-grounds, shrubbery, canal,
mote, etc. to the extent of about Seventy acres in the several parishes of
Merton, Wimbledon and Mitcham to Lady Hamilton, who was then a widow,”15 and
who took up her abode at Merton Place after her husband’s death.16 Lord
Nelson had made his plans for the alteration of Merton Place, but had not
completed them. By a letter to Lady Hamilton,17 quoted by Murray [margin note:
Hand-book Surrey p.99.], he advised her not to lay out more than is necessary at
Merton, and he described exactly what he intended and wished to be done.
The following letter to my grandfather is rather later.

Milford, Aug. 3. 1803.

As I am closing my purchase of Mr Axe’s estate and of course do not
intend to build my stables where I first intended I should be glad to hire
your stables at least till next May. I shall return in about a fortnight,
and your acquiescence will much oblige

Your obt. servant

Nelson & Bronté18

R. Bennett Esqe.19
[margin note: Alison Hist. Europe vol.5 p.350]
Lord Nelson returned once more to Merton after his landing at
Portsmouth 17th August 1805,20 and on Friday night, Sept. 13 at half past
ten “he drove from dear old Merton to join his ship, the Victory, at
Portsmouth. With difficulty he tore himself on the Beach at Portsmouth on
the following morning from the crowd who knelt and blessed him as he
passed, and the last sounds which reached his ears from this loved land
which he was never again to see were the enthusiastic cheers of his
countrymen, who never ceased to strain their aching eyes on his vessel
till it vanished out of sight.”
We all know the sequel. How on 21 October 1805, at Trafalgar the
combined fleets of France and Spain were destroyed and the great victory
was gained for which we still thank God as we feel the blessing of its
consequences. But Nelson’s death was a loss and grief beyond expression,
and to Merton especially. It was his beloved home, and his kindness and
genial manners had won all hearts. When the news reached them my
Grandfather immediately went to Merton Place to enquire. At the Lodge he
met Lady Hamilton and another lady driving out. They lifted up their
hands and exclaimed, “Oh, Mr Bennett, Mr Bennett”, and this intense grief
told him that the glorious news was only too true.
My Father remembered Lord Nelson perfectly well. Amongst his papers I
found the following memorandas in a handwriting unknown to me:


“Sir William Hamilton Died 1803”
1804. We heard of Miss Horatia Nelson Thompson. She was spoken of as the
adopted daughter of Lord Nelson. She was baptized at St. Mary-le-bone,
and was then more than two years old. She was living at Merton when Lord
Nelson left to fight his last battle. It was said she was four years old.

The baptism of the child was deferred until 1803, and in the Register
of the Parish of Mary-le-bone there is the following entry; —Baptisms

May 13. Horatia Nelson Thompson,

B. 29 October 1800.
(Memoirs of Lord Nelson, by T. J. Pettigrew, F.R.S. F.S.A. Vol. 2. Page

“The clergyman every Sunday heard the children their catechism and
hymns as we never had a sermon in the afternoon. Miss H. Nelson said hers
with my brother and sister and the other children of the village, and she
was a very clever child.”

The Rev. Charles Bond was then Perpetual Curate of Merton. He was an
excellent man and much beloved by his parishioners especially by Mr and
Mrs Leach and their family. In 1814 he became Vicar of Margaretting in
Essex, and resigned the Incumbency of Merton.21

In a portfolio of old letters which came into my possession after my
Grandmother’s death I found the following note carefully preserved;

“Lady Hamilton presents her Comps. to Mr and Mrs Bennett and requests
the favour of their company to hear a little music to-morrow eveng.

Merton, 28 Oct. 1808”
(From the entry in the Register at Marylebone it is evident that this must
have been a party in honour of Horatia’s birthday. The note is undoubtedly
an autograph of Lady Hamilton’s. c.p. facsimiles of her letters in
Pettigrew’s Memoirs of Lord Nelson)

On showing it to my Father he said that he had never seen it before,
but he remembered hearing of the invitation which my grandmother would not
accept herself as she did not approve of Lady Hamilton, but her sisters
who were also invited were very anxious to go, and my grandfather went
with them. It is very curious that she should have kept the note with old
family M.S.S.22

“Lady Hamilton continued to reside at Merton Place with Nelson’s
daughter Horatia until about 1808, after which she was compelled by her
necessities to dispose of the estate. Since that time the house has been
pulled down and many small buildings have been raised upon its site and
upon the adjacent grounds. It is still called Nelson’s Fields.” [margin
note: Brayley’s History of Surrey]

The cause of such an historical site having fallen into such
miserable and disgraceful neglect is a very singular one. After Lord
Nelson’s death the validity of his bequest of Merton Place to Lady
Hamilton was questioned by some of his family. (Most probably Lord
William Nelson his brother)23 but the contention was dropped. This may be
verified from the notes of Lady Hamilton in the National Biography. My
Father, who is my authority for the following history, told me that there
was a flaw in the title. “It was a safe holding, but not a good selling
title. When the estate was put up to auction, my Mother’s uncle, Rear
Admiral Isaac Smith, determined to buy it. It was a very desirable
property for him to possess. His brother Mr Charles Smith’s property in
Merton Abbey bounded it on the East, his freehold land on the South, and
the London and Epsom Road on the North and West. It would complete the
family property, and the fact that it had been Lord Nelson’s house made it
very attractive to the old sailor. Accordingly he instructed his solicitor


to buy it. A clerk was sent to the auction with instructions to buy, but
the solicitor said, ‘You had better not begin to bid till the biddings
reach a certain sum’, which they never could, and the clerk never made a
bid, so the property was bought in. The admiral was extremely annoyed and
vexed at this fiasco, and distrusting his own powers of business, he gave
the purchase, without a limit as to price, into his brother’s hands. Mr
Charles Smith was cautious, and there was much negociation between him and
Lady Hamilton’s solicitors. At last they came down to Merton with an offer
which the admiral would have very gladly accepted. It was their ultimatum,
but Mr Charles Smith thought he might get it for rather less, so he
entertained them very hospitably but did not give them the definite answer
they required. They regarded further negociations as hopeless. To
overcome the flaw in the title the estate was divided and sold in small
lots.24 The house was pulled down; the grounds were laid waste for building
small houses, and became an eyesore and a nuisance not only to the Abbey
Estate, but to the whole of Upper Merton. “Nelson’s Fields” are now
apparently so unlikely to have ever been the site of Merton Place, that in
spite of Brayley’s History of Surrey, and John Murray’s Hand Book for
Surrey, which give its history correctly, the good old red brick “Merton
Abbey House”25 is regarded by some people as “Nelson’s House”, and two old
iron ships cannons on the lawn, which were once on one of the H.E. India
Company’s ships commanded by Captain Barber, a sometime tenant,26 are said
to have been on board Lord Nelson’s ship, “The Victory.”

1. Later purchased by Lord Nelson.
2. The house was built c.1750 by Henry Pratt, whose son sold it to Hotham in 1764. Hotham improved it considerably,
with alterations and additions.
See P Hopkins A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place Merton Historical Society (1998)

3. This story has not been confirmed. 4. East. 5. Now Quicks Road.
6. Hotham’s estate also included much land between Haydons Lane and the Wandle. See P Hopkins op. cit.
7. Hotham built this Gothick house, which he retained when he sold Merton Place. The site of Merton Grove is now
occupied by Cecil and Balfour Roads. ‘Judge Park’ was Sir James Alan Park (1763-1838), a Justice of the Court of
Common Pleas. Merton Grove was his country residence.
8. ‘Hothamton’ seems to have been the preferred spelling.
See G Young A History of Bognor Regis Phillimore, Chichester (1983) pp.11-19
9. It was Emma Hamilton alone who did the house-hunting.
10. Boulogne.
11. The date generally quoted for this letter is 20 August.
12. Mr Haslewood spelled his name with an ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’.
13. That is, Hotham’s.
14. A plan attached to the lease of the stables etc was published in Home Counties Magazine III (1901) p.209.
15. This passage is a rough summary of part of the text of Nelson’s will.
16. In fact Lady Hamilton divided her time between Merton and her house in Clarges Street, Mayfair.
17. The letter was written on board Victory on 14 March 1804, off Toulon.
18. This letter does not appear in any printed or manuscript collection of Nelsoniana that I have consulted. It may be that the
original was in the possession of Frederick Bennett when he was writing this narrative, but its present location is unknown.
19. Presumably this should be ‘T. Bennett’.
20. He reached Merton Place at 6am on Tuesday 20 August.
21. A mistake. Charles Frederick Bond left Merton in 1800. It was the Rev. Thomas Lancaster who was the minister at Merton
throughout Nelson’s time there. Lancaster lived in Wimbledon at the house now known as Eagle House, where he ran a
respected school for the sons of gentlemen. Later he built the Merton vicarage, subsequently much enlarged. Lancaster’s
youngest son, Henry, served in the Victory at Trafalgar as a volunteer 1st class, aged 14. He remained in the Navy until 1815.
22. The letter appears now to have been lost.
23. After Lord Nelson’s death a grateful country created his brother William an earl. The correct usage here would be
Earl or Lord Nelson, or Lord (William) Nelson.
24. In 1823.

25. Abbey Gate House. Pulled down in 1906, to be replaced by a roller-skating rink, which later became Wimbledon Palais
de Danse. The site is now housing and commercial premises.
26. Captain James Barber appears at Abbey Gate House in directories between at least 1855 and 1866. In the 1861 census
he is described as ‘merchant’. The cannon can be seen in the picture on p.182 and are now in Nelson Gardens.





This is a foolscap-size volume (33.5cm x 21.5cm), bound in cream parchment. The front board has simple
rectilinear indented decoration. The title, as above, appears on the spine, in gilt lettering on red morocco.
Fly-leaves and inside covers are marbled. Pasted onto the inside of the front cover is a bookplate reading
‘Frederick Bennett MA, Canon of Salisbury, vicar of Shrewton cum Maddington, Wilts’. It was in 1898
that Canon Bennett assembled this collection which came to him from his father John Leach Bennett.
The leaves are ruled. The contents consist mainly of pasted-in or stitched-in letters, other documents and a
few pictures. There are a few loose enclosures. Canon Bennett numbered each double spread, and wrote
a heading for each document, with, for many of them, some additional comments. He also arranged a few
pages at the beginning as an alphabetical index.
There are some errors in Canon Bennett’s dates, and a few in his spelling, including two personal names.
And while he deliberately placed one series of letters together, with the later ones earlier than where they
belonged, elsewhere the order is sometimes, apparently inadvertently, wrong. However, with the exception
of Canon Bennett’s own index, I have not attempted to ‘correct’ the sequence, the text of the documents
or Bennett’s notes, and have indeed tried to reproduce the whole collection as accurately as I could.
Most of the letters were sent by post and bear postmarks. Some have presumably been sent as enclosures.
Of those that had been sealed, wax had been used for some, wafers for others. On many the seal, with
part of the paper, had been cut or torn off.
In most cases the quality of the paper is very good and has lasted with little discolouration. Ink has faded to
a variable extent. A few comments and one (draft) letter are in pencil.

There are also, enclosed loose in the volume, two letters written by Gertrude Bennett, who was one of
Canon Bennett’s daughters. These both date from 1930 and are part of the history of this collection. They
should perhaps appear as an Appendix, though as I found them in the front of the book I show them here


The original documents are reproduced in
Canon Bennett’s commentary is reproduced in
Canon Bennett’s ‘page’ numbers, which are in fact double pages into which he pasted the

enclosures, are shown in bold italics within brackets e.g.
(52). He used these numbers for cross-reference
purposes, and I have done the same.
My own notes are in ‘ordinary’ type.

The writers’ original spelling and (as far as possible) punctuation – both, in some cases, erratic –
have been preserved throughout.


Cliff Cottage, Herschel Road,
Birchington, Kent.
26th February. [1930]
Dear Reg,1

I have been some time in replying to your letter of the 15th Feb, but I have been very busy,
and part of the time busy nursing the friend who lives with me who has been laid up with ‘flu. She
is up and about again today, so I have time for letters.

Now what I write to you must be regarded as confidential, please, for I am afraid of making

You may perhaps know that Ethel, Maud2 & I are my parents only unmarried daughters,
and that for many years we all earned enough to keep ourselves, and Ethel and Maud were able
to help the parents financially. I could not do more than keep myself, but Ethel and Maud both
did much more. Ethel lived at home and was very good in nursing my father, and Maud I know
paid the rent of their house & much besides. Ethel not only gave companionship and help in
nursing, but used to contribute a weekly sum for her share of housekeeping.

Naturally my father felt that he owed much to those who had helped him in his old age, and
when he died he left to his spinster daughters all furniture and plate and an annuity so that the
three could afford to keep a nice home. This annuity (I can’t remember exactly the sum) in
addition to the £1000 each which he left to all of the family.

Father told me that he wanted us to keep a nice home together like his Old Aunts at
Bookham had. He had very happy memories of these old ladies and wanted Ethel, Maud & me
to live together as they did and be equally happy. But Ethel, Maud & I are not suited to live
together happily, so when the time came for settling what we would do, I decided to continue to
live with my friend Gertrude Smith (we had lived together over 30 years) and merely to have
such furniture as I wanted to supplement such as I already had, none of the silver. Ethel & Maud
give me a little share of the annuity, and I have all I want. We are excellent friends, and I am
always glad that we are not living together like the old aunts of Bookham who, so old Henry
Adams told me, were by no means happy and used to quarrel like cats!

That is told you to make you understand my Father’s point of view. I think he did rightly
towards Ethel & Maud, for he really owed them much of the comfort of his old age. Without their
help he would have been very poor.

But unfortunately his married daughters don’t see things as he did, and there has always
been a great deal of jealousy of Ethel & Maud, and a feeling that family plate, old china, and
other family treasures ought to have been divided amongst all the family. I hear all this, for no
one is jealous of me and I don’t live near the rest of the family. My idea is that we spinsters
ought to consider ourselves custodians of family treasures, and ought to leave them eventually to
younger members of the family and not give them away. For this reason I, some time ago, wrote
to Ethel and Maud saying that tho’ I should very much like to give
you certain things of which
they sent me a list, I thought they had better only be lent, on the understanding that eventually
they were to be given to one of my father’s actual descendants. I cannot now remember which
the things were, but among them I believe was a book of Capt. Cook’s voyages, which had not
been required by the Admiralty, and also a book written by my Father of his recollections, etc. of
the Bennett family. When the parchment book of letters etc was sent to me from Exmouth3 I was
surprised at its contents for I expected a book, largely typewritten, of family history &
recollections of people my Father had known. This book was written by my Father in his old age
at my suggestion. One day I said to him I thought he ought to make such a record or else when
he was gone we should not know anything of the family, for none of us could recollect any more
remote ancestor than our grandfather,4 of whom most of us have but hazy memories.


I believe the book that Ethel & Maud suggested sending to you was this very book. I think
it would interest you, and if you want to know anything about the Bennett family or about
anything of Captain Cook’s5 which they have at Exmouth, I suggest you should enquire of Ethel
& Maud what they have, and get them to lend them to you. Don’t mention me in the matter for I
have already suggested they should lend you the things they wanted to give, but they turned
down the suggestion. I think you will understand that it is wiser for you to act, if you care to do
so, without it being known I have written to you, and I feel sure you will agree with me that if, as
I believe, this book of my father’s is the one that my sisters suggested should be given to you,
that it ought to be kept for one of his own descendants.

I am sorry to hear via Exmouth that your Father’s6 health has been causing anxiety lately. I
hope he is getting better. What a wonderful old man he is!
Some day I hope to renew my acquaintance with you.
Your affecate Cousin
Gertrude E. Bennett

1. ‘Reg’ was Commander Reginald Foster Pitt Maton RN, OBE (1885-1965).
2. Ethel and (Katherine) Maud were two of Frederick Bennett’s daughters. The writer of the letter was another. Bennett
had nine daughters and one son. See the Bennett family tree.
3. Canon Bennett’s last place of residence was at The Beacon, Exmouth. It seems that his daughters Maud and Ethel
still lived there in the town, probably at 1, Excliffe, from where Maud wrote the later dated 1940 that is held at the
V&A in John Leach’s Treatise. See the notes to (1).
4. John Leach Bennett.
5. The explorer Captain James Cook married Elizabeth Batts, who was a cousin of the Smiths. See the Cook, Cragg and
Smith family tree.
6. Reginald’s father was Leonard James Maton, and his mother Mary Carslake of Sidmouth. Leonard James Maton was
a nephew of Canon Frederick Bennett, and a grandson of John Leach Bennett. He was a partner of John Mackrell in
Mackrell, Maton, Godlee and Quincey of Cannon Street, solicitors. John Mackrell himself was a cousin of the
Bennetts. See the family trees.
Cliff Cottage, Birchington
Herschel Rd. Kent
27 May 1930
Dear Reg,

I am today sending you a registered parcel containing the M.S book about the Bennett
family, etc which my father compiled in his old age. It was my suggestion that he should write his
recollections of the family for, so I told him, if he did not do so we should have no record and our
own memories (not very distinct even in my case) did not go further back than a hazy recollection
of his father, whom I last saw when I was quite a little girl.

Ethel & Maud consulted me before offering this book to you and I am glad for you to have
it, but I think it is possible that at some future date one of my father’s direct descendants may
wish to know about his or her Bennett forbears, so please keep the book intact and when we
(Ethel, Maud & I) are gone let it be known that you have it. I don’t know whether you know your
Sketchley cousins, but your sisters do, so you could easily get in touch with them, and the
Sketchleys would know the Rattrays, the only other people who might possibly be interested in
the book.

I last saw you at Wimbledon1 when you were quite a small boy, but I still feel that I am your
affectionate cousin
Gertrude E. Bennett

1. According to local directories, Leonard James Maton and his family lived at Grosvenor Lodge, 2 Grosvenor Hill,
Wimbledon. The last entry for them at this address is in the volume for 1905.



The volume begins with the following index by Canon Bennett. The numerals at each entry refer to his
numbered (double) pages onto which he attached the enclosures. In a few places in this index Bennett had
omitted a page number or inserted a wrong one. Three times he wrote the wrong date (by 100 years) To

make his index easier to use I have silently corrected these omissions and errors.

Austin B. Mr. to T. B. from Ravensbourn1 enclosing a copy of Minutia. 7 Aug. 1820 (66)
Bishop. Rebecca to Parish officers of Merton. c.1700. (1)
Bennett. Thomas Junior to Miss Sarah Jane Leach 1796. (5),(6)
Bennett Thos. Jun. to his wife S.J.B. 1803 (22),(23)
-1804. (25)
” S.J.B. at Hastings 18 June 1812 -(44)
Bennett Thomas to J.L.B. with S.J.B. & her sisters at Hastings June 1812 (43)
” ” from Cromer 5. Sept. 1816 -(56)
” ” at Cromer [Oxford] 19 Sept. 1816. (57)
[at Cromer 25 September (58)]
” ” from [at] Sandgate 20. Oct. 1821 -(71)
Bennett, John Leach 20. Oct. 1820 – to his mother S.J.B. (67)
” ” Draft of a Letter to Mr. Hoffman & his reply Feb. 1823 (75)
[in pencil] J L Bennett sketch of when a child (14)

M.S.S. “The Rose” J.L.B. 13 June 1806, (32)
Bennett Maria. (née Cragg/my mother) to J.L.B. from Sandgate 28 Oct. 1821 (72)
Bond the Rev. Charles, sometime P.C.2 of Merton [illegible] of Margareting Co. Essex on the death of
Mr Leach to T.B 25 June 1818 (60)
John Leach Bennett. Diary, June 6 – July 18- 1812 -(49)
” ” Sept. 5 – 20. 1816 -(55)
” a memorandum 13.Oct 1822 -(73)
” Verses (original ?) – a prayer for me? 1822 -(74)
Bennett Mrs. S.J. to J.L.B. at Hastings after his marriage. 23 Oct. 1820 -(68)
” ” from Bonchurch. I of Wight. 28 June 1821. (70)
Bennett James Edmund to T.B. 1802 -(16)

Cragg, Miss Maria, on her engagement to be married to J.L.B. 22 May 1820} (64)
” from Cheltenham with Mrs Cook }
” Do. Do. (65)
Cragg. (Smith) Isaac – Oct. 1820 to J.L.B. at Hastings after his marriage to his Sister Maria.
(my mother) (69)
Cragg, Smith Isaac, to J.L.B. on the presentation of a Gold snuff box from his Brothers in law –
22 Sept 1831 (92)
Chapman James. (Junior) afterwards First Bishop of Colombo
” to J.L.B. from Eton, 12. March 1819 -(80)
” Do. Do 29 March 1819. (81)
” Do. Do 7 May 1819. (82)
” Do King’s Coll. Cambridge 30 May 1820 (83)
” Do. Do. 21 March 1822 (84)
” Do. from Reigate on the Death of my grandfather T.B. 17 August 1827 (85)
” Do. from Reigate on the Death of his Father 2 Dec. 1831 (86)
” Do. from Reigate 23 Dec. 1831 on the Death of Isaac Cragg Smith (95)
Chapman Mr James (of Reigate formerly of Wandsworth (the Husband of Mary Bennet (117)
” to J.L.B. in re trust for Mrs Acland3 under T.Bs will and
” copy of J.L.B’s reply (89)


Grasshoff, Herr J.L. to T.B. 17. October 1803 -(24)

Hoffman Mr. Reply to my Father’s letter on Mr. Peischells4 death 14. Feb.1823 – (75)

Jew Mr James of Gloucester, the husband of Ursula (née) Smith my mother’s youngest sister on the
death of I.Cragg Smith 7[?] Decr 1831 (94)
Jameson, Edwd. in re Joseph Woodhead Transported for Life
(& Mary Woodhead) to Botany Bay for Burglary at Merton. 1826 (96)
16 April 1832 – with J.L.B’s draft }
of his Reply April 1832 }

Le Grip, Monsieur, an Emigré, his French Master to J.L.B. 15 June 1813 (52)
Leach The Misses. Verses to J.L.B. on his 10th Birthday (35)
1.Elizabeth 2.Anne 3.Harriet 4.Miss Robson (Maria) 5.M…… by Mr Hoole,
then at Merton Abbey cf (102),(109),(111)
” Miss (Elizabeth) to S.J.B. from Shirehampton 31. Aug 1831 -(90)
Leach John, Junior, to. Thomas Bennett Junior 1794. (2),(3),(4)
Leach, Mr John (of Merton Abbey) to Miss Sarah Jane Leach 1896 (7)
” to Thomas Bennett, 1801, (10),(11),(12),(13)
to Mrs.Thos.Bennett, (14) (S.J.B.)
” to T.B. (15)
T.B. 1802 (17),(18),(19),(20)
1803, (21)
to J.L.B. at Hastings 1. July 1812 (with P.S. on my grandfather’s memorable ride home on his own
horse, my father said beating the mail which left Hastings about the same time.) (47)
Do. 15 July 1812. (48)
to J. L. B. from Dorking – (the first impressions of Bookham (50)
Leach William, to J.L.B. 20 Aug. 1792. (61)

Marshall Rev. John W.H. of Ovingdean Sussex to J.L.B. on the death } (78)
” ” of his Father T.B. 23 Aug. 182 }
” to J.L.B. Advowson of S. Heighton 20. Nov. 1830 -(91)
” to J.L.B. on the death of I.Cragg Smith 8 Dec. 1831. (93)

Peischell,4 Mr Augustus Frederick to – T.B. 1798. (8). 1801. (9b)
” to T.B. on S.J.B’s Birthday 1805 (30),(31) – 17. Feb. 1808 – on a Business tour on
30 Oct. 1815 from Altenberg, Germany after Waterloo (54)
His first letter to
Bennett aged 7. 1805 (26) & (27) with Characters
” to J.L.B. on his 7th Birthday 5 Feby .1805 (28)
with the Box of Tools I still possess (29)
” ” 15 Feb. 1806 (32)
I Jany 1807, on beginning a correspondence with J.L.B. (33)
13 Feb. 1807. (34)
19 March. (36)
” ” 13. August 1808. The first letter in French (38)
26 Nov (in French) (39)
” ” 15 Feby 1809 (in French) (40)
” 13 Jan. 1812 (in French) (41) 25 March 1812. (42) 22 June (45)
” 1 July 1812 (46). 18 July 1814. to J.L.B. at Bookham (51)
” 24 Decr. 1816 – (59) – 20 Sept. 1818 from Alten Plate (63)


” to Mrs.Thomas Bennett. offering £500 to be settled on her by a Trust Deed as T.B. may
approve in testimony of his respect -(53)

Rocke Mrs to Mrs S Bennett 1798 – (9a)
” to J.L.B. of Merton on his Father T.B’s death 29 Aug. 1827. (76)
” to S.J.B. on the death of her husband T.B. 13 Sept 1827 – (77)

Robson, Miss Maria. Verses 4 & 5 to J.L.B. on his 10th Birthday (35)

” Letter to S.J.B. on the death of Mr Leach 21. Aug 1818 (62)
Roberts Rev.- Richard – of Chelsea to J.L.B. announcing his retirement from his school 3 Whitehead’s
Grove in which I was his pupil and arrangement for Mr Richard Watts succeeding him –(97)

Woodhead Widow Mary conjointly with Edwd. Jameson. Request for J.L.B’s help in obtaining a
mitigation of her sons sentence of Transportation for Life for a Burglary on our house at Merton
1826 – Dated Westminster 16 April 1832 – and J.L.B’s reply April 1832 -(96)

1. Ravensbury
2. Perpetual curate
3. Bennett’s spelling. Elsewhere ‘Ackland’.
4. Bennett’s spelling of this name is almost always incorrect. It is correctly ‘Pieschell’.
The index is followed by a blank double page.

The earliest letter –
letter (1)


Familiar Letters
other Documents
The Bennetts of Merton

in the County of Surrey

and their Relations and Friends


with notes by Frederick Bennett MA
Canon and Prebendary of Salisbury

The Familiar Letters and other Documents arranged in this volume were carefully preserved by my
Father & Grandmother, – since they have been in my possession I have kept them in the two
portfolios in which I received them and have at last arranged them in chronological order – so as to
form a connected record of our family history – On the verso and blank pages I have entered notes
and recollections, which will illustrate them. There are also some other documents especially a very
carefully written Diary of the last years of my Grandfather’s life1 which I hope to make good use of
hereafter – It is written on the M.S. pages of a Pocket Book with many contractions, and
abbreviations of the names of places & persons that I fear would not now be understood by many
people beside myself – To me the great charm of this Diary is my grandfather’s record of the early
years of my Father & Mother’s married Life at Merton where they lived with him & my
grandmother in the house he had built in 1802.2 I remember this very clearly – He seems to have
identified himself as completely with my Mother’s Family Mr.Cragg & his son & daughters, and the
old Under Admiral & Mr. Charles Smith, & Mrs. Cook as he did with Mr. & Mrs. Leach & their family,
and he was highly esteemed by them.3

1. It is not known if Thomas Bennett’s diary survives.
2. Hotham House, Haydons Road, Wimbledon
3. See the family trees.
[2 blank pages follow.]



These are to let you know that I am willing to take ye Little Maid with what you please to order
for her and I will give her thirty Shillings a Year for keep your
Humble Servant
Rebecca Bishop
Wrote about 90 years since by my Fathers Grandmother to the Parish Officers of Merton

Jno Leach
Merton Abbey
19th March 1791

This letter, we can assume from John Leach’s note, was written about 1700. Rebecca Bishop’s signature is in a
less practised hand than the main text of the letter, which may have been written for her. A family named Bishop
of Morden are known to have held some land in Merton by the Wandle, in what is now known as Morden Hall
Park, and the name appears in the Morden parish records in the 17th century. It is not known however that there
was a householder called Bishop in Merton, though it would normally be a householder who would be obliged to
take on a maid from the parish.
The Leaches were a Morden family. The Morden Poor Rate1 and Land Tax2 records show that a John
Leach (1708-1781) rented from the Garth family (lords of the manor) a house in London Road, Morden
from at least 1756 until his death. Another Garth property was rented by a John Hudson until 1771 when it
was divided between that first John Leach’s son, the John Leach senior of these papers, and his brother-in-
law Isaac Hudson. Isaac Hudson lived there until his death in 1783, and his widow Mary (Leach) left in
1786.3 John Leach (1742-1818), who was married to John Hudson’ daughter Jane, stayed on until 1779.
He then moved to Merton Abbey, where he first appears in Land Tax records in 1784. His brother Bishop
Leach was later at various properties in the Merton Abbey area.4
Another brother, James Leach, rented a house in Morden between 1775 and 1780, but moved to Merton,
where he was listed at a house near the White Hart, owned by the Rutlish Charity. In a neighbouring house
were his sister-in-law’s parents, John and Elizabeth Hudson, who had been at Morden.5 John Hudson was
a calico printer and is recorded as ‘foreman to Mr Arbuthnot at Mitcham’.6 His youngest son later kept a
shop at these premises. A Henry Hudson, also a calico printer, lived nearby from 1798.

1. Surrey History Centre 2065/4/1-2
2. Surrey History Centre QS 6/7
3. Surrey History Centre K85/8/2 – a Garth rent book
4. Merton Local Studies Centre – Merton Settlement Examinations Book 1816-1836 (unpublished transcript by R Dawe
of East Surrey Family History Society)
5. Merton Manorial Court Rolls in possession of the John Innes Centre: microfilmed copies at Surrey History Centre
(Z97) and Merton Historical Society, who each hold an unpublished transcript by John Wallace
6. Surrey History Centre 2065/4/62: unpublished transcript by W J Rudd of Merton Historical Society

25 Feby 1794. John Leach to Thomas Bennett

[Address] Mr T. Bennett junr

Dear Sir

How would I praise their Beauty! how wou’d I exalt their Virtues & Chastity! how many
Sacrifices would I offer at their shrine, or Incense on their Altar, did I think it would secure me a
favourable reception with the Ladies, and that they would make a return adequate to the
sincerity of my devotions, but alas! I am no favourite, no acknowledged Votary I, no compassion
have they for me, they laugh and deride my puerile efforts to obtain their favour, and when most
I need their indulgence, I most excite their contempt and frowns, pity, and pardon me for thus
you a partner in my Woes & Sorrows ——–- pause a little ——— now! I’ll tell you it is


the nine fusty Old Maids of Helicon that are so devillish coy, that with all my wooing, will not
give me a single couplet to celebrate my Friend’s Birth Day, rot the Jades!!, but why do I abuse
them,when (truth will out) the fault lays in my own dull pate; since then I was not born, nor
makemyself a
Poet, permit me in honest and unadorn’d
Prose to offer you my
congratulations on the return of your natal Day, and with unfeign’d sincerity to wish you many
happy repetitions of them, through fine Weather & fair Winds, that you may steer clear of the
Rocks of Misfortune and the Shoals of Disappointment, stem the tide of Vice, and pursue your
Voyage of Life, with Honour to yourself and satisfaction to your Friends, ’till it shall please the
great Commander to bring you to a safe Anchorage in the Harbour of Happiness


thine J.Leach junr

PS Make me respectfull to all my Friends at what-de-call-em Palace ———- my Sister and
myself got safe home Sunday Night.

Merton, Tuesday 25 Feby 94

John Leach1 was the eldest son of Mr. John Leach of Merton Abbey, Co. Surrey, & Jane (née
Hudson) his wife, was born 10 October 1769, and was drowned by the capsising of a sailing boat,
off Wandsworth on 29. June 1794 – He is buried in Merton churchyard.

Thomas Bennett was the eldest surviving son of Mr. Thomas Bennett, and Sarah (née Noble) his
wife, & was born Feb. 26 1775, at the Wharf, Wandsworth – my grandfather.

The sister mentioned in the Postscript was
Leach born 15.Feb.1775 – my grandmother.
She was devotedly attached to her brother John whom she could never trust herself to speak of, and
all I know about him is gathered from what Mrs Rocke,2 & my Father have told me.

These three letters, and a good drawing of a sprig of Holly are the only relics of John Leach’s MSS
and drawings Amongst my grandmother’s curios I found a small packet containing a long Lock of
Grey hair and “J.L.” in pencil on the paper it was folded in. Evidently Mr. Leach’s; another with a
gold enamelled Breast Pin containing a long lock of Brown hair marked J.L. in pencil, which
must have been her brother John Leach’s; and a third of shorter brown hair fastened by a small gold
pin with amethyst head marked also by her T.B. ” my grandfather’s.
Am I wrong in thinking that they were relics of their respective “Pigtails” which the French
Revolution put an end to – ?

On. 26. Feb. 1794, Thomas Bennett was 19 years of age – He was then in his Father’s Counting
house at the Wharf and must have been brought into contact with John Leach in business. There is
so much likeness between the writing of John Leach and others who were pupils of Mr. James
Chapman who had married my grandfather’s eldest sister
Mary (8 Jan 1785) (His “Academy” at
Wandsworth was one of the best schools in the neighbourhood.) that I think he must have been
educated by him.3

The only person I have known, besides my grandmother, and who knew John Leach well was
Mrs. Rocke. Her only brother Lionel Lukin and he were friends, probably schoolfellows. She has
described him to me as a tall, good looking, & well set up man. He introduced his sister then “Miss
Lukin” to my grandmother and begged them to “regard the introduction as the beginning of a true
Friendship for life which it proved to be & it has continued to their grandchildren – I always thought
that her regard for John Leach was something more I don’t think she would have quite liked the
very enthusiastic and sentimental tone of his letter for my grandfather’s sisters were all good
looking4 and Elizabeth afterwards Mrs Acland5 was then twenty years of age and very beautiful so
my grandmother told me. I remember her as a stately & handsome old lady not unlike my daughter
Maria but taller.



1. John Leach junior, son of the John Leach who wrote the note to (1). He was 24, and Thomas Bennett was about to be 19.
2. Mrs Anne Rocke (née Lukin), the great friend of Canon Bennett’s grandmother Sarah Jane Leach, was also his
3. Among Canon Bennett’s miscellaneous notes and correspondence that he used when editing these papers is the
beautifully handwritten prospectus for Mr Chapman’s school reproduced below.
The Academy occupied a large building at the western corner of Wandsworth High Street and Garratt Lane.
D Gerhold Wandsworth Past (1998) Historical Publications Ltd, London pp.25, 99

4. Canon Bennett has misunderstood young John Leach’s references to the ‘nine fusty old maids of Helicon’. This was
surely not a reference to Thomas Bennett’s sisters, but rather the nine Muses, who, despite his libations and
sacrifices, had failed to inspire him to express himself in verse. John is employing some facetious flourishes in this
letter to his close friend.
5. The name was probably correctly spelled ‘Ackland’.
Handwritten prospectus for Mr Chapman’s school
(A pencilled note at the foot reads ‘Written – not engraved FB’)



19. March 1794. John Leach to Thomas Bennett
Dear Sir

as I shall ever be happy to communicate anything that I think will fill up a vacant hour
agreeably, I have taken the liberty to send you the enclosed Pamphlet, which if it affords you as much
entertainment as it has me I am satisfied you will not reproach me with impertinent intrusion.
Independant of the clearness & perspicacity which you exercise on most occasions you will in this
particular one have a singular advantage over any other of my Friends, as they cannot, like you,
follow the Author through the dreadful conflict of Elements without being much embarrassed by the
repetition of Technicals; which to persons less attach’d to the buoyant Element than you or I, may
perchance appear rather to frequent; be that as it may, I should judge very hardly of any one who had
not sensibility enough to sympathise in the tale of sorrow here related, particularly when it is known
that it is not the idle phantasy of the Brain, but a collection of facts heighten’d and adorn’d by the
Poet’s Pen. ——

To Hearts wavering between the extremes of affection and disgust, fortitude & pusilanimity, a
serious perusal might perhaps induce such to draw a conclusion much in favour of the security of
Terra Firma, but to such Minds as * * 1 I trust it will operate as a stimula, that while * * feel for the
distresses of the woeworn Seaman * * * emulate their intrepidity and perseverance ———

Excuse my prolixity, I had got on my Hobby Horse, and it is not often that I can immediately
dismount him ——
Yours most sincerely

Jno Leach Junr
Merton Abby
Wedy. Eve 19 Mar 94

The Pamphlet referred to in this letter I believe was “Falkner’s Shipwreck”, which I have bound with
other poems in one 12mo vol. It was one of my grandfather’s Books.2

1. The asterisks may represent personal names, but John Leach is being facetious.
2. The poem Canon Bennett refers to as ‘Falkner’s Shipwreck’ was in fact The Shipwreck by William Falconer (1732-69), first
published in 1762, with revised editions in 1764 and 1769. Falconer was himself a seaman, and the poem is based on an
event in his career at sea. In its day it was much admired, but has not stood the test of time. Falconer was drowned at sea. It
is painfully ironic that young John Leach dwells on the subject of danger on the waters.

12 April 1794. John Leach to Thomas Bennett

Merton 12 April 1794
Worthy Sir

If I had not seen you this Morning, when I thought I traced penitence in your
countenance, which disarmed me, I should have sent you a very scolding note I had prepared, instead
of which take the following, —— Be assured I would not harbour a mean thought of you to possess
the round World, much less would I wound your feelings by an
obstinate resistance to your wishes, if
there was the smallest colour of justice or propriety in your requisition, to permit you to bear any part
of the expence in a transaction you had no hand in projecting, but which originate in my caprice,
appears to me to be an act of the highest injustice, and would give me the greatest pain; if you feel
yourself under the smallest obligation to me, which by Heaven! you are not, I trust our friendship will
be sufficiently permanent to give you a Thousand opportunities to discharge it in a much more proper
and agreable way; — do not! pray do not! let me hear from you again on the subject, as you value the
esteem of one who will be ever happy and proud to subscribe himself

Your invariable Friend

J. Leach junr


On 29. June 1794. John Leach went over to Wandsworth for an afternoons sailing with my
grandfather and other young men. They were out in Mr. Bennett’s “Sloop in which he delighted to
make cruises to the Lower Thames with Mr Bennett & some of his family. One of these delightful
expeditions is described shortly in T.B.’s letter of 6 Sept. 1803 p26.1 The Bennett Boys like their
Father were “amphibious” and good watermen. On that day they were in a light boat, but the day
was fair, & there was no reason to apprehend any danger. My grandfather landed & went to the
House at the Wharf2 to tell his Mother & Sisters that they would be soon in for tea, he then returned
to the River and found the Boat capsised, and John Leach drowned!! This account was given me by
my Father, who added that it would never have happened had my grandfather been on board as he
was a thoroughly careful and good sailor.

To Mr Leach & his wife & children especially my
grandmother it was a terrible shock, & I
doubt whether Mr Leach ever thoroughly recovered from it. Miss Lukin came to her friend my
grandmother’s assistance and her letter of 29. Augt 1827 p.773 is a touching memorial of it.

John Leach was buried in Merton Churchyard and his Tombstone surrounded by Iron railings
still remains on the South of the Chancel in the Churchyard.4 The Inscription is “John Leach, son of
John and Jane Leach, died
1794; aged 25 years”.

It is a singular coincidence that on 2 Dec. 1791 Noble William Joshua, the eldest son of Mr.
Bennett of Wandsworth aged 23, a young man of great promise and energy who had entered the
Merchant Service as it gave a freer scope for his energies than work on land was drowned at sea, a
life long sorrow to all the family

1. Not (26) but (22).

2. The ‘House at the Wharf’ was the Bennetts’ place of residence and business at Wandsworth. It was located on a
creek off the western arm of the river Wandle. See the extract from the Wandsworth Tithe Map. Today the site is
occupied by a Wandsworth Borough depot off the road now called Frogmore.
3. Not (77) but (76).

4. John Leach’s grave is today impossible to locate. There is no grave to the south of the chancel enclosed by iron
railings, and it may be that when the present vestry was built the grave was disturbed, and the remains re-interred,
though there is no record of such removal.
John Leach junior’s signature
from letter(2)

Interleaved is a hand-coloured print:
Surrey Yeomenry1 making cut one 4th Division

A. Monies pinx et Sculp
Published as the Act directs
Written in pencil on the reverse:

My Grandfather Thomas Bennett of Wandsworth was an early member of this corps F.B.

1 County yeomanry were not properly organised until c.1794. In 1797 the Surrey Yeomanry-Cavalry were inspected by
George III on Wimbledon Common. By about 1800 there were 11 Surrey units. Their uniform was light blue with
scarlet cuffs, collar and shoulder wings, black bearskin crested cavalry helmet with scarlet plumes, white breeches
and black top-boots. Buttons and lace were silver. Thomas Bennett belonged to the Wandsworth Cavalry, which
consisted of two troops.
E D Harrison-Ainsworth The History and War Records of the Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary’s Regiment) 17971929
privately printed, London (1928) pp.19-29


‘Surrey Yeomenry making cut one 4th Division’


8 August 1796 Thomas Bennett to Sarah Jane Leach

[Address: Miss Leach, Merton Abby
(wafer seal)]

My dear Girl

I am sorry I shall not be able to accomplish, what I proposed for this Evening, a
pleasant ride to Epsom with you, but that is not the whole
concern, my
Business, I fear will
prevent me from enjoying (what I prefer to every thing) Your Company
this evening, a
s it will
confine me late, but do not think Business shall engross the Whole of my Thoughts, No; my
Love, You have for a long time, had a principal Share: & ever shall, while I may subscribe myself

Your’s wholly
8 Augst 1796} T Bennett

Excuse haste & if I have wrote too much I know your Goodness will pardon me

From Mrs Rocke’s information as to events at Merton Abbey, I inferred that she would have liked her
Friend Sarah Jane Leach to have married her only Brother Lionel Lukin. They were of about the same
age, their Fathers were friends, and Lionel was decidedly “a fine gentleman”. But she found that it
was not to be arranged by her. Lionel Lukin and my grandmother were not of congenial tastes in after
life, and I doubt whether they ever were— Thomas Bennett was constantly coming to the abbey on
business for his Father at the Wharf at Wandsworth was a coal merchant, who had a very large and
profitable business, in supplying coal to the factories and mills on the Wandle. Miss Lukin might
caution her friend against “the good looks of the little black diamond merchant”1 who was so often at
the Abbey & much liked by Mr. Leach, and possibly she might contrast him with her grand brother
Lionel; but it was no use. They were suited to each other, & the great sorrow of poor John Leach’s
death had brought them into very close intimacy, and so not long after they had attained the age of
Twenty one they were engaged to be married. The letter on the other side was probably one of the
earliest that passed between them. My grandmother had a very mean opinion of her own penmanship,
and she wrote very few letters; but she carefully preserved those she received.

Miss Lukin had married Mr. John Rocke Solicitor of Wells. He was a member of the Family of the
Rockes of Yeovil and Closworth, Somerset, and is thus described in Somerset & Dorset Notes &
Queries vol III2 p.165
“The last male heir of the Family was John Helyar Rocke, who practised as a solicitor both in London
and at Wells and died in 1852 at a very advanced age. His mother, who had been left a widow at an
early age encumbered the property to such an extent that her son had to part with it. Mr Rocke (my
maternal grandfather) was buried at Closworth (with which parish his family had been connected for
more than three centuries), and so far as I know, no one of that name is to be found now in that

Charles J. Robinson, Horsham Vicarage.”

I am afraid he inherited his mothers disposition. in matters of business. He had several removals and
was constantly in difficulties – we had many visits from him at Merton and one from Mrs Rocke who
was my Godmother. My first visit to the Rocke Family was in 1842. They were then living in Walcot
Parade.3 It was a very pleasant renewal of an old family friendship which has never been interrupted.
The Family party consisted of Mr. & Mrs. Rocke, two daughters Elizabeth (afterwards Mrs. Ripley) and
Joanna, and a grandaughter Mary Frances Brown the only child of the eldest daughter Mary who
married Brown & was then a widow. Mr. Rocke was a short, & round man with a ruddy
complexion – & beautiful white hair, worn with a pigtail of long white locks confined in a gold ring.
They afterwards moved to Park Street Bath4 where Mr. & Mrs. Rocke died – The entry of her burial at
Closworth 1857. “Anne Rocke Bath aged 88.”

1. ‘Black diamond’ is coal. 2. 1892-93
3. Now the stretch of London Road, Bath, near Cleveland Bridge 4. On the hillside above Royal Crescent



20.Nov 1796. Thomas Bennett to Sarah Jane Leach

[Address] To Miss Leach
At Mr Rocke’s, Wells
Somerset [wafer seal]

Wandsworth 20 Nov 1796
My dear Girl

It is with Pleasure I write to acknowledge the receipt of your Letters which gave such infinite
satisfaction to me and your worthy Parents, to hear you got down safe, and well, & also to find
Mrs.Rocke is in a fair way (remember Sarah, I write confidently to you if it is amiss, keep it to
yourself) we were anxious, to hear from you as Wednesday, proved a very dull, unpleasant day, &
Thursday much worse with us, the Wind was very Cold, & it Snowd. I was very vexd (when I left
you) with
Lukin for not going as his Sister wished, to see if there were places to be had, also for
inducing you, & his Sister to go out, which depriv’d me of your company, for an hour or two, & left
me uncertain when you set off. I had almost come back when I was on Horseback to enquire, but I
thought you wou’d laugh at me; On Tuesday eveng I went to the Abby & found your Father
delighted ’twas such a fine day & evening. I told him I was afraid you were still in Town, owing to
Mr. Forbes’s neglect to take Places1 for you. from the direction I gave he got
Bartlet2 to call on
Wedy. at Mr. Forbes’s, & then we found you set off that Morning.
I fancy myself at this Time almost conversing with you, if it is too long for your patience your
goodness must will excuse me when you consider
Fellow) he is amused. I will assure you at
this distance nothing can contribute, so much Pleasure to me as frequently hearing from you, if it is
no more than to say. I was well when this left me, but if your Leisure will permit you to say how, &
where you pass your Time it will be Pleasant.

This day I have spent comfortably with
your Parents in the Morng had a good Lesson from
Mr Bond,3 & in the afternoon walk’d with your Father, if any thing should transpire worth your
knowing, I will not fail to acquaint you with it, as I write so soon your mother will write the latter end
of this Week, but requests particularly you will write frequent to them, or
me. I am commissioned
by them to present their respects to Mr. & Mrs. R with best wishes, & Love to their dear daughter,
pray make me, respectfull to Mr. & Mrs. R. & believe
½ past 11 Sundy Night

I am yours wholly
I am now going to bed, & my last
Prayer before I sleep shall} T Bennett
be for God, to bless you, & continue to make you happy }

The occasion of this letter was, evidently a visit from Miss Leach to her friend Mrs. Rocke (née Lukin)
at Wells Somerset on the occasion of the Birth of her first child – The Day Mail left at & the
journey to Wells by Bath 123. miles occupied about 15. hours at least. She had gone to stay for the
Monday night with the Lukins4 in Long Acre in order to be near the starting place of the coach on
Tuesday morning and Lionel Lukin junior5 was to secure places for the Ladies – I infer that his Sister
means Mrs. Rocke who had written her directions [the last three words replace several words crossed out,
including ‘… to travel together’]. But he told some one else who neglected to do it, and Miss Leach did
not leave till Wednesday morning. Thomas Bennett was very angry about this – Evidently he & L.
Lukin did not love each other very much

Mr. Lukin was a coach-maker, who carried on his business and lived in Long Acre. He was well
to do, and socially in a good position. Mrs. Rocke told me that she had the honour of having taken tea
with Doctor Johnson. But few men have been such Benefactors to the Human race as Mr. Lukin, for he
was “Lionel Lukin, the coach maker of Long Acre who invented the Life Boat.* “He was a native of
Dunmow in Essex, and was well known to the Prince of Wales who became afterwards George IV. He
turned his attention to the designing of a Lifeboat about 1784 being greatly encouraged by his princely


patron who not only took a lively interest in the idea, but offered to pay the costs involved in
practically treating the vessel Lukin had designed.
Lukin’s Lifeboat was a Norwegian cobble6 which he
had purchased and fitted so as to render it practically unsinkable. This was accomplished by means of
a projecting gunwale of cork, tapering from the centre to the head and stern, a hollow watertight
compartment from gunwale to Floor, watertight [illegible] at the stem and stern, and a false iron keel to
increase steadiness and give a grip of the water,
Lukin’s boats were tested & found to be “strictly
unimergible”. Patents for the design were taken out in 1785 – four years before the date of
Greathead’s invention – and the plans and specification are still extant In spite of the utility and
proved value of the vessel, and in spite too of the influence of the prince of Wales, the authorities
declined to take up the new boat.
Lukin appealed, to the Lords of the Admiralty, the Trinity House
corporation, and many admirals of the Navy but in vain – A certain Dr
Shairp, of Bamborough,
obtained one of
Lukin’s vessels, and it proved instrumental in saving a number of lives in the first year
of its use – This however was the only one of
Lukin’s vessels so employed – and the unfortunate
coachbuilder afterwards retired to Hythe where he died in 1834. The principle of his invention was that
followed by all who subsequently improved on his idea…. As the author of an invention which has
proved of such incalculable benefit to his fellow men
Lukin has more than merited the tribute it
is now desired to pay to his memory.”

The ceremony of unveiling the memorial a stained glass window in Hythe Church took place
on 3.Oct.1892. “The Mayor & corporation & local Life-boat men & Coastguard men attended the

Mrs . Rocke paid a visit to My Grandmother at Merton when she visited her Father who had
married again & was then in 1832 living in easy circumstances at Hythe Lionel
Lukin Junr was always busy with inventions, of which I know nothing. He died 25 Jany
1840 aged 64 & was buried at Closworth.

* Morning Post 31. Jany 1891. Extracts &c. vol.XII. p86
1. To book seats
2. This may be the Thomas Bartlett with whom,c.1800, John Leach would set up his firm John Leach and Company,
together with his son-in-law Thomas Bennett and William Keatch. See also Frederick Bennett’s notes to (9b) and see
P McGow Mills of the Wandle (2005) unpublished notes: copy at Wandle Industrial Museum and on the WIM website

3. Charles Frederick Bond was the Merton parson. Thomas Bennett had been to church with the Leaches. 20 November
1796 was a Sunday.
4. Lionel Lukin senior (1742-1834) has an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography and the Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography. He became a member of the Coachmakers’ Company in 1767 and Master in 1793. Strictly his
‘unimmergible’ (as he called it) boat was just that, and he seems to have thought of it as equipment for survival rather
than for rescue. However, it is almost certain that he was the first to make such a vessel, preceding both Greathead
and Wouldham (Wouldhave, according to Lamb). It was patented in 1785. He also invented a raft for under-ice
rescue, a reclining bed and a rain-gauge.
R Lewis History of the Life-Boat Macmillan, London (1874) pp.3-7
J C Lamb The Life-Boat and its Work RNLI and Clowes Ltd, London (1911) pp.2-11

5. Lionel Lukin junior is said to have been born in 1779, which would have made him only 17 at the time of the above
letter. If Canon Bennett is right about his age at death he should have been born in 1776. He patented several
inventions, married Isabella Tatlock of Wandsworth (did they perhaps meet through the Bennetts?) and made his
home in Battersea. He died in 1839, rather than 1840, according to his father’s DNB entry and Tudor-Craig.
A T Tudor-Craig Melusine and the Lukin Family Century House, London (1932) p.22

6. Sometimes ‘coble’.



30. November 1796 Mr. Leach to Sarah Jane Leach
[Address] Paid 1d
Miss Leach
At Mr J.H.Rocke’s

Wells [wafer seal]

Dear Girl,

I should have wrote to you before now but have nothing new to tell you and Mr. Bennett has
undertaken the business for me and to say truth he has been a verry good young man having
been as oft at the Abbey as if you were at home which has been a verry pleasant thing and as he
is as anxious for your return as we can possibly be I shall leave Mr. Rocke’s request to his
management. Your Mother desires her love to you as does all your friends, and that you may be
happy here and for ever is the ardent prayer of your

affectionate Father

Jno Leach
30th Novr ’96

It is hardly possible to conceive any higher testimony to the happy feeling of mutual respect, and
confidence that existed between my grandfather & Mr. & Mrs. Leach, than is afforded by this letter.
Compare the letters of the Rev. Charles Bond – p.60 and Miss Maria Robson p.62

On the 18th. of March 1897.1 In the Parish Church of Merton. Co. Surrey “Register p.12. No 45”
Thomas Bennett of the parish of Wandsworth and Sarah Jane Leach of “this” parish were
married by License
By the Rev. Charles Bond (Vicar)2

This marriage was solemnized between us
{Thoms Bennett junr
{Sarah Jane Leach

In the presence of {Jno Leach
{Harriott Ann Bennett3 John Hudson

Immediately after their marriage the Happy couple took up their residence in a house in Church
Row,4 which was standing in my memory in a street between the Church and the Wharf. Thomas
Bennett retained his position in his Fathers office & business.

1. 1797

2. The Rev. Charles Frederick Bond was perpetual curate of Merton 1789-1800, and also patron of the living from 1797 to
3. Harriot(t) Ann Bennett was a sister of Thomas Bennett. See the Bennett family tree.
4. Church Row is the handsome row of 18th-century houses which faces Wandsworth’s parish church from the east. A
very pleasant home for a young newly-married couple.



29 Jany. 1798 Mr. Augustus Frederick Peischell to Mr. Thos Bennett

[Address] Mr Thoms Bennett

Dr B: I return you many acknowledgments for your kind Letter and
the Sentiments of which it bears witness.
It is more than I had ground to hope even from the Kindness of Mrs. B. that she should notice the
trifling Copy, and I cannot but feel proud of the honor it is destined to share. I shall always
experience great Satisfaction if I can conciliate the good opinion of a respectable woman, whose
Goodness of Character commands every regard, and has, I confess it, induced me much to
change the Notion I had from other Examples been led to harbour of the Sex, when placed in
similar Situations. You as the possessor of so much Worth can soon determine the Impression it
must make on a friendly beholder and the Wish it must raise to find a Woman her equal for his
Partner ———1
You will with this receive the Novel; but pray do not read it on a gloomy day or when your Nerves
are already bent from Mirth & Cheerfulness, it wants no foreign Aid to move & affect. I am
indebted to you for your Wishes respecting my health, I am thank God getting better and could I
but afford a few days of rest and quiet I should soon entirely be brought about
Adieu: I must for this Time break off. Yours truly &c

Tuesday Afternoon

29 Jany [pencilled: 1798]

[in pencil, on reverse] Thomas Bennett & Sarah Jane Leach were married 18.March 1797

Augustus Frederich Peischell2 was a native of Magdeburg in Prussia. He was a merchant in the
North German & Russian Trade. He lived probably at his office in Size Lane3 at this time and his
Trade was chiefly in Drugs.4 This leads me to believe that he was one of those who were attracted to
Merton Abbey by Mr. Leach’s ability, and simple Hospitality. From the first he became an intimate
friend of Mr. Thos. Bennett Junr. my grandfather, as these letters prove —

The Book to which this letter refers is a M.S. copy of Rogers’ Pleasures of Memory5 made by
Mr. Peischell himself, which I regard as one of my very precious possessions. It is written on quarto
gilt edged letter paper, and is simply half bound – It was evidently a New Years Gift to my
Grandmother, of whom through life he entertained a very high opinion, as indeed did her sisters and
all the Family. A small proof of it may be that my Sponsors6 were my Grandfather (Thomas
Bennett), Mr Peischell & Mrs. Rocke.

1. Mr Pieschell evidently had great admiration and affection for Sarah Jane Bennett. See in particular(53).
2. Canon Bennett almost invariably misspells Mr Pieschell’s name.
3. Correctly, ‘Sise Lane’, as Mr Pieschell has spelt it. Today the remains of Sise Lane form a tiny alley off Queen Victoria
Street, quite close to Mansion House. There are now no frontages within it: Mr Pieschell’s premises are probably
long gone.The Universal British Directory (1791) lists Pieschall [sic] & Brogden Merchants 11, Sise-Lane, Budge
Row. Information from John Pile.
4. ‘Drugs’ was a term employed much as ‘chemicals’ is today. It included dyestuffs, and this may have been the original
connection between Pieschell and John Leach.
5. Samuel Rogers (1763-1855), a banker, art collector and successful poet, was admired greatly in his day. The Pleasures
of Memory (1792), his most popular poem, went into four editions in its first year. In it the narrator revisits the village
scenes of his early years. Rogers’s reputation has not lasted. See also (80).
6. Godparents.



Feb 7, 1798 Mrs. Rocke to Mrs. Thos. Bennett

[address] Mrs Bennett junr
Church Row

[pencil: Mrs Rocke 9. Feb 1798]

My dear Friend

I most sincerely congratulate you and all your family on your safety and I hope the
young stranger will live to be a blessing to you, I assure you I had been anxiously expecting a
letter for some days before the welcome news arrived, I wish I could see your Father and his
grandson. I suppose he is extremely proud of his new title of Grandfather as much so as Bennett
of that of Father, my dear Rocke and I have been both very ill with violent colds as have every
Body in this country1 thank God he is quite recover’d but I remain very far from well, I am so
weak that it is with difficulty I can hold my pen but I thought you would be pleased to hear from
me or I should have deffer’d writing till I had been better. I hope Mr Blaxland acquited himself to
your intire satisfaction pray is he almost married I never hear any Wandsworth news now,
present our united love to your Father, Mother, and husband, and tell the latter that I am much
obliged to him for his letter and hope he will favor me with another before you are capable of
informing me yourself how you are, farewell my dr Sarah and believe I remain as ever

your Sincere and Affectionate

Friend Anne Rocke
Feby. 9.1798

The occasion of this letter was the Birth of my Father. John Leach Bennett at Wandsworth on 5.
February 1798. He was “christened “John Leach” at Wandsworth 4 ‘day March 1798. Sponsors Jno
Leach Thos Bennett Senr & Mrs Jane Leach2 by Rev. P. Allwood, Wandsworth Surry” . (Family Bible)

1. ‘Country’ here simply means ‘neighbourhood’ or ‘district’.
2. John Leach Bennett’s godparents were three of his grandparents.

4. February 1801. Mr Peischell to Mr Thomas Bennett on the third Birthday of his son “John”.
This is the first recorded expression of the great love entertained by Mr. Peischell for my Father
during the rest of his life
My good Friend

On an occasion so grateful to your and Mrs. Bennett’s feelings, I may be
allowed to hope your Acceptance of the heart flowing wishes, with which I am always impressed
for your sweet Boy, and which the Commemoration of his birth day particularly calls forth I can
but ill express them otherwise than by assuring you I desire for him all what a fond Father’s and
Mother’s Heart includes in its Prayers. ——— Give the Darling a kiss from me; may the
Happiness and Joy his parents have hitherto derived from him increase with his Years and may
you all be long blessed in each other! It will oblige me if you will make these Sentiments
acceptable to your good Lady believing me invariably and truly Yours

Augts. Pieschell
The 4th February 1801.


In consequence of the death of Mr. C. Greaves1 23. Sept 1799. The firm of Leach, Newton, Greaves
& Hodgson2 calico printers of Merton Abbey dissolved partnership. The estate which the Firm had
bought of the Exrs of Sir Richard Hotham3 in 1792, comprising his Stables, & Coach House Farm
yard & Buildings & kitchen garden at the corner of Haydons Lane4 & the London & Epsom Road5
with Meadow & Arable Land & Bleaching Ground in Biggery Mead6 as described in the map I have
as situate in the Parishes of Wimbledon & Mitcham Co. Surrey A.78 R.1 P.07 was sold. Mr. Hodgson
retired from business – Mr. Leach & Mr. Newton remained in their houses part of the Abbey
Buildings,8 and the works of the factory (which contained a double set of Factories, each with its
own water power & machinery) were divided between them – Mr. Leach taking the eastern & Mr
Newton the western half, and each having a separate lease from Mr. Charles Smith,9 in whom the
Freehold of the Abbey estate was vested with Mr. Mansfield,10 and who then resided in the Abbey
House,11 and I think managed the whole property, as his great nephew Mr. Mackrell12 does now.

Mr. Leach was over 57 years of age & he had never thoroughly recovered from the shock of
his Eldest Son John’s death. William his only surviving son was but Eleven years of age and he
required the help of a young very efficient partner. This he found in his son in Law – Thomas Bennett
then 24 years of age – for whom the partnership with Mr. Leach was an admirable provision, and
whose place in the Wharf at Wandsworth with Mr. Bennett would be taken by his Brothers Joshua, &

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Bennett still retained their house in Wandsworth but were, I suppose
constantly at the Abbey when business was pressing, and it was inconvenient for him to be only13
three miles away from the Factory, in consequence Mr. Leach’s weak health.

1. Charles Greaves had the occupation of Merton Place, a little to the west of the printworks. After his death in September
1799 the house was put on the market by his widow and sold, with completion in October 1801, to Lord Nelson.
P Hopkins A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place Merton Historical Society (1998) pp.5-6

2. James Newton, who had previously printed in Wallington, had joined John Leach in partnership c.1787. William Hodgson,
like Greaves, was of Cheapside. Eric Montague suggests that both men handled the marketing side of the business.
E N Montague Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 Merton Historical Society (1992) p.79

3. Sir Richard Hotham (1722-99) had sold Merton Place and most of the associated land in 1792 to the calico printers, but they
had defaulted on part of the payment. Hence his executors became involved. Hotham, a selfmade man, had served briefly
as an MP for Southwark, and is best known for establishing Bognor as a resort.
P Hopkinsop. cit.; G Young A History of Bognor Regis Phillimore, Chichester (1983)

4. Now Haydons Road.
5. Now Merton High Street.
6. Biggery or Biggory Mead was a piece of land on the Mitcham side of the River Wandle, north of the London to Epsom
Road, here High Street, Colliers Wood. Wandle Meadow Nature Park is on the site.
P Hopkins op. cit. p.11
7. 78 acres 1 rood 0 perches.

8. John Leach and James Newton shared occupancy of the house known then as ‘Merton Abbey’ or ‘the Abbey’, but in
more recent times as Abbey House. It stood just to the south of the present Merantun Way, across the River Wandle from
what is now called Merton Abbey Mills. It was demolished in 1914.
9. Charles Smith (1755-1827) was a wholesale watchmaker of Bunhill Row, between Old Street and Chiswell Street, just
north of the City.
10. Richard Fezard Mansfield of Bath
Lease of 15 Jan 1816 Surrey History Centre 3057/1/1
11. Known more recently as Abbey Gatehouse. It fronted Merton High Street on the south side and stood a little way to the
west of the Wandle. It was demolished in 1906.
12. John Mackrell (1824-1909) of High Trees, Clapham, solicitor.
13. Probably Canon Bennett meant ‘over’.



March 7. 1801. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Brighton

Dear Son
We are safely arrived at our old quarters i.e. No. 8 Middle Street, we hear Wm. is well and out
walking. You know I left you with much reluctance of course I was rather flat when I got to Dorking, but
after a good supper a pipe and one of Mr. Hodgson’s1 draughts I went to Bed in full hopes of a good
nights rest, but two oclock in the morning disapointed me, we set of at 7 OClock and a most charming
day it has been tho’ I cou’d not rally ’till noon since which time I have been in spirits and begin to be in
hopes of a longer knap than the last nights was, and in that case shall enjoy the sea air in the morning. I
hope soon to have a line from you my dear fellow as you now seem dearer to me than ever not alone as
the protector of my good Girl and dear Boy but of my whole family * ————— pray give our loves to
all our family, and give my respects to Bartlett & Keatch, and all friends, not forgeting our good friend
Pieschell if you shou’d see him tomorrow, you will I hope succeed in the morng with your experiments3
and inform me with the result of them, and that you may succeed in all your honest endeavour is the
most ardent prayer of your affectionate
Jno. Leach

P.S. I am a sad blundering Letter writer. I shou’d have said that Mum4 and Eliza** give their Love &c to
you all but you must excuse haste as Wm. say’s
March 7th eve 5 oclock

We are going to saunter on the Cliffs

* Mr. & Mrs. T. Bennett were evidently left in charge of the whole household & establishment at Merton Abbey
* * Eliza – the eldest unmarried daughter
1. Possibly William Hodgson, his late partner, perhaps now retired at Dorking.
2. Thomas Bartlett and William Keatch were Leach’s partners. See (6) Note 2.
3. Thomas Bennett was presumably trying out some new processes.
4. Not as modern a usage as one might think, though the Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference dates from 1823.
John Leach is referring to his wife.

10. March 1801. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Brighton
Dear & much valued Son

Your dutifull and affectionate Letter is beyond expression gratefull to my heart which ’till it
ceases to beat will not cease to pray for the happiness of you and the rest of my dear family. I
wish I cou’d make you happy by saying I am quite stout which is not the case yet, for tho’ I eat
and drink hearty I don’t sleep well, but I do not perspire as I did nor do I wake in such extreme
anxiety and horror as I did, which gives me hopes I am mending and that I shall meet you on
Satturday eve’ much better in health and spirits than I left you, Your dear mother and sister do
all in thier power to make me happy by rideing and walking with me in the day, and reading to me
in the evening &c, on Sunday we rode on the beach* to Rottingdeane thro’ Ovingdeane and
round the Raceground, yesterday we went to Lewes, and this afternoon are going out but it is not
yet fix’d where ———

I think you have succeeded extremely well with the Pink1 and I pray we may in future have
better success with all our Work, if you favour me with another Letter say how Keatch2 is in
health and spirits, and if poor Bartlett is not pester’d to death by the Drapers as we are most
assuredly behind this season3 but I hope for better luck another time, I am not in tune sufficient


to write to my Doctor so must leave it to you to report in the best way you can. You will also
excuse me to Bartlett and Keatch for not writing to them as I consider writing to you will answer
every purpose, we did not expect our old Uncle so soon but we trust you did all you cou’d to
make him happy as you do by every one, for which I pray God to reward you

William is hearty and with your mother & sister joins me in love and duty to you our dear
Girls and Boy and all our family and friends ———

from your ever affectionate
Father Jno Leach
Brighton March 10th 1801

P.S. we mean to set off on Friday after dinner and sleep at Horsham
* “We rode on the Beach.” My recollections of the Beach between Brighton and Rottingdean are that
even at low water it would be impossible to do this in a carriage certainly, and only with difficulty on
horse back. There was then a track for wheels or parish Road along the cliff by Rottingdean to
Newhaven from Brighton, which was when I used to know the county a Turnpike Road. The Cliff was
constantly falling, and the Road had been moved at least 100 yards inland from the old track parts of
which remained. I think we must understand this cliff track to be meant here. The rest of the way I
knew well. My early recollections of Ovingdean & Rottingdean are very pleasant.
1. A reference probably to Thomas Bennett’s ‘experiments’ mentioned in (10).
2. See (6) Note 2 and (10) Note 2.
3. Bartlett may have done the marketing of the textiles.
? 1 May 1801. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett

from Wells, Co. Somerset
1.May is evidently an error. Cf. P.15 – which implies that it should be 1. June

[address] [torn] Bennett

Merton Abbey

Wells May 1st 1801
Dear Son

Your letter of the 30th ult. is arrived safe, the contents of which are highly agreeable to me,
I do not quite understand your acct. of the Madder1 prices, you say “the Omberows or Crops2
wou’d cost in London about 70/ per cwt” now as Ombros.2 & Crops differ so much in quallity the
price must differ allso, but be that as it may I shou’d like to make a trial, and as you know best
how we shall be circumstanced respecting money you must let that be your guide
and respecting the quallity perhaps you shou’d have some of both sorts, but use your own
pleasure, it is a sort of leap in the dark and turn out as it will you know I shall be sattisfied.

We were to have set of for Bristol last Thursday but Mr Rocke was but poorley and we defer’d it,
which was lucky as it raind all day, and has done so every day since more or less, this morning is
fine and we propose going tomorrow to Bristol if the day proves fine, we think of setting off for
home the begining of next week and return by way of Salisbury, therefore you must not expect us
’till the latter end of next week, but I hope I shall hear from you the latter end of this week and in
answer will inform you more decidedly ———
I begin to be quite Children sick, but as I may never venture so far from them again I am
perswade’d to make the stay the longer, and to see all I can before my return, your dear Mother
seems to wish it allso, and you know the old trott3 has some influence over me, and indeed I
should be ungratefull if she had not as she had a plaguey bad job of it for some time with her old
Dolldrum,4 which
God she may never experience again ———


Pray accept our best affections
together, and do not let the darling
Boy forget his doating old Grandfather, give our duty to our seniours, & next to our family pray
make us every thing to Pieschell for his kind attentions towards us, say civill things to all our
other acquaintance, and believe me ever my dear Son yours, most truly

The Mail is not off ’till tomorrow which will [paper torn] for some delay

At this time the agreement with Mr. Price for the purchase of Sir R.Hotham’s Garden, Farm yard
Stables & Coach House & other buildings by my grandfather must have been arranged.5
The conveyance was made on 6.October 1801

1. The root of the madder plant, Rubia tinctorium, produces a red dye.
2. ‘Omberows’, or ‘ombros’ (other spellings included ‘omberoes’ and ‘umbroes’), and ‘crops’ were the two best of the four
usual grades of madder, with ‘crops’ the superior. Lesser grades were ‘gemeens’ and ‘mulls’. Much of the madder used in
this country was imported from Holland, and these terms seem to be derived from the Dutch.
R Chenincer Madder Red – A History of Luxury and Trade (2000) Curzon, London p.129
W Partridge A Practical Treatise on Dying … (1823) New York, reprinted (1973) Pasold Research Fund, Wiltshire p.108

3. A term of endearment, perhaps from Dame Trot and her cat in Mother Goose.
4. Leach is referring to his recent ill-health and depression.
5. This was part of a site on the east side of Haydons Road where it meets the High Street. Thomas Bennett would build
his house there in 1802, meanwhile renting the stableyard and outbuildings out to Lord Nelson (see p.36).
John Leach seems to have been well known as a calico-printer, specialising in the use of the dyestuff madder. In
1792 he wrote aTreatise on the Art of Calico Printing which is now in the National Art Library at the V&A
[press mark: 86.VV.5]. This manuscript gives details for obtaining a wide range of colours, mainly from madder,
but also using sumach, weld, indigo and orpiment. Pasted into the little book are many swatches of dyed and
printed fabrics, the later being prepared by both (wooden) block-printing and copper-plate printing. Enclosed
loose in the book, there is a letter written in 1940 by Katherine Maud Bennett, one of Canon Bennett’s
daughters, to an unidentified relative in which she writes ‘…[I]f of interest I feel I ought to send [this book]
where it would be appreciated’.
In 1802 John Leach took out a patent for a new method of dyeing with madder. This is held at the United
Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (formerly the Patent Office), where its registration number is GB2605/
1802. It granted to John Leach, his executors, administrators, and assigns ‘the licence, full power, sole privilege
and authority, for the sole use, benefit, and advantage of an invention of “A METHOD FOR THE USE OF
priviledge to continue for the term of fourteen years …’. The process describes boiling the madder root for 30
minutes instead of steeping it in cold water in the traditional way. The saving must indeed have been considerable
if it more than covered the cost of fuel for boiling the dye.
The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce holds two letters from Leach.
Though he was only briefly one of their Fellows he seems to have been consulted by Samuel More, then the
Secretary of the Society, on technical points relating to calico printing. In a letter from 1793 he reports on having
‘made tryal’ of what was probably a mordant, called Grant’s Extract, from Jamaica, and concluded that it would
never ‘be of any service to callicoe Printers as the same kind of Colour, which it produced, can be procured by
almost any astringent Vegetable found at home’.
The second letter is very brief: ‘J. Leach’s respectfull compts to Mr. More informs him that neither Kelp or
Barilla [two types of seaweed] are made use of by Calicoe Printers.’

Royal Society of Arts: PR.MC/105/10/148; PR.GE/110/29/88
1. See (8) Note 4.



15. May 1801. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Wells – Co Somerset
Wells, friday morn’
May 15. 1801
Dear Son

We arrived here safe and well yesterday afternoon after a very pleasant journey, as we
were fortunate enough to meet with a Lady in the Coach that had been every where, knew every
boddy, and every thing, and at the same time a most agreeable person in her maners &
conversation, we were at Bath by 5 oClock on Wednesday afternoon and after taking a Cup of
Tea she show’d us every part of that beautyfull Town except the public Pump Rooms and Sydney
Gardens, which we saw yesterday morning before we set off for Wells, so you see we were in
lucks way, and providence was so kind as to sprinkle the road with gentle showers1 all the way
before us after we got to Hounslow, in short we have had nothing to regret but the absence of our
dear, dear Children, — we found Mr. & Mrs. Rocke and their three Daughters, all in perfect
health who are showing us every mark of attention and send their love and best respects to you
all ——

I do not know how I shall make Pieschell amends for his attentions to us he come to take
leave of us before we left London, and as soon as we got to Wells there was the Times for us, tell
him he must not expect to be rewarded ———
nonsense I know he does not desire it, so only
give my best respects to him ———

You will allso remember me to Mr Bartlett and all enquiring friends, as to you and the rest
of my good Children I believe I need not make any professions, indeed nothing I can say will
equal my tenderness towards you all, so God bless you all for ever, is the most ernest prayers of
your ever affectionate father & mother

J & J Leach

1. ‘Gentle showers’ would have settled the dust.
The King and Queen’s Baths, Bath



21. May 1801. Mr. Leach to Mrs. Thomas Bennett
from Wells Co. Somerset
[address] Mrs. Bennett
Merton Abbey
Wells 21st May 1801
Dear Daughter

I received my good Sons Letter with much pleasure as he say’s you are “all well and going on
very well” I hope you will continue so to do as I cannot at present say when I shall return having
engaged to spend two or three day’s at Bristol, and Mr. Robson of Castlecarey1 hearing I was here
has come over on purpose to invite us to pay him a visit for a few day’s. I wish you to tell Mr.
Bennett he must send me some more money, say a £10 Bank Note at twice,
safety.2 I begin to
feel the absence of my dear family set a little easyer on me
little and my strength
encreases daily so that I hope I shall return stout and strong ——

Mr and Mrs Rocke both lament you and my dear Brat did not accompany us
I, they both desire their best respects and love to you and yours and I believe Mrs. Rocke with one
of her Girls will accompany us to London and of course you will see them, Mrs. Pitcher and all here
who know you have enquired verry kindly after you and wish to be remembered to you and Mr.
Bennett. Mrs. Rocke particularly requests her respects to Grandmother3 and verry much laments
her not seeing her when last at Merton Abby ——

I receive daily favours from Pieschell for which you will thank him for me I hope soon to have
a Letter from him. I have wrote to him and Mr. Hodgson4 as Mr. Bennett hinted in his letter he
wish’d me to do. I hope this will find you all in health as it leaves us, we yesterday went up on
Dulcot Hill5 (a most delightfull spot it is) but by mistake we came down too steep a part and my
poor old Lady and I were obliged to take off our shoes for safety, we made a strange huffing and
puffing but however we got down safe at last ——

pray make us polite to all our friends who ask after us, and if I knew where to begin I would
do as Mssr. my son does but as my paper is short I shall conclude with wishing and praying God to
bless you all here and hereafter ——

I am my dear Girl

Your ever affectionate


Jno. Leach

John Leach’s

love to his dear

and only G.S. J.L.B.6

[a small oval coloured drawing of a young boy holding a riding switch has been pasted in – caption: vide

P.S. The dear and only G.S. J.L.B.
probably about this time]
1. Perhaps a relative of Rev. Thomas Robson, rector of Morden 1744-1778.
2. It was customary when sending money by post to cut the note in half and send the two halves separately, for safety.
3. John Leach’s mother Susanna who died in 1802.
4. William Hodgson, a linen draper, had previously been in a partnership with James Newton, John Leach and Charles
Greaves. See Frederick Bennett’s notes to (9).
5. Dulcote Hill is a little way out of Wells, beside the road to Shepton Mallet, and rises steeply from that road.
6. ‘John Leach’s love to his dear and only grandson John Leach Bennett’


John Leach Bennett as a small child



27. May 1801 Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Wells Co. Somerset
[address] Mr. Thos. Bennet
Merton Abbey

My dear Son

I have received your very kind Letter (with ½ £10 enclosed)1 for which I thank you, your
affectionate concern for my health gives me great comfort and I hope I shall soon return to my
much loved children as stout as I have been for some years past ———

’tis pleasant to know you are going on well and I think you are perfectly right to endeavor to
keep your B Printers2 on as some of them are well worth your attention, and 9d for light 2 Cols is
much better than heavy autumn work,3 never mind the Counting-House as you have plenty of long
day’s before you. I am glad however that your Callender4 & Stable are finished, and respecting a
Blue-Mill5 use your own pleasure only let it be as simple as possible so as to but answer the
purpose intended I shou’d think if you and Josh. Snelling and perhaps T. Keatch allso cou’d get a
sight of Mr. Fenning’s Mill6 it woud be a good plan as I understand his is on an improved
construction, by the bye how does Keatch Junr. behave I have been sorry I made use of bad names
to him but realy charging me and my family with being his ruin was too bad after what I have done
for them but no matter I have nothing to charge myself with and you know my dear dear Good
Fellow this is not the first instance of my being served so by my Partners ———

It is with real pleasure and sattisfaction we read of the health of all our dear family and with
sincere gratitude we return God thanks for it, and that he will continue to bless you and
our most ernest prayers.

Mr. & Mrs. Rocke, Mrs. Pitcher and severall of their neighbours do all in their power to make
us happy and comfortable, and will not let me talk of returning, but I begin to be impatient to see
you all, which I believe need not be repeated to you, we have been to Castle-Carey and a delightfull
journey we had, and where we were highly gratified by a family you would be in love with and of
whom we have a long story to relate to you when we return ———

I have since I wrote to my dear Girl red a very kind Letter from our good friend Pieschell as
allso the Papers daily for which you will make my acknowledgements to him, present my best
respects to Mr. Bartlett and his family and make us polite to all enquiring friends, give our duty to
our Father and Mothers and (tho’ last yet nearest our hearts) our loves to all our Children and our
dear and darling Grand.Son ———
Adieu, your ever affectionate

Father and mother
Wells 27 May 1801 J & J Leach

PS we shall set off to Bristol tomorrow

excuse haste the Mail is setting off

1. See previous letter.
2. Probably ‘block printers’.
3. Perhaps this remark means that the dyeing of fabrics for summer use or wear was cheaper than for winter use, as less
dye was needed, the colours being lighter and the fabrics thinner.
4. ‘Calender’ – a machine in which cloth, paper, etc. is pressed by rollers to glaze or smooth it. OED
5. Perhaps a reference to indigo-dyeing – a technically more difficult process than some.
6. William Fenning had been in partnership with James Halfhide at the printworks just south of the High Street, but at
this time (1801) he was the proprietor of the Ravensbury printworks, Mitcham, about a mile upstream from the Leach
and Bennett works. He died in 1812.
E N Montague Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 Merton Historical Society
(1992) pp.43-45, 62, 75
P McGow Mills of the Wandle (2005) unpublished notes: copy at Wandle Industrial Museum and on the WIM website



15. February 1802 – James Edmund Bennett1 to his Brother
Mr. Thomas Bennett
[address] Mr Thos Bennett, junr
near the Abbey, Merton,

Monday ye 15th Feby 1802
My Dear Brother,

At my arrival at Portsmouth, Feby. 12th 1802. Having sailed from
Gravesend, Tuesday ye 9th, which is Reckoned a very speedy passage, and now I set down with
pleasure to inform you, how comfortable I think myself on Board, with the other Officers. there is
one thing taken place in our Ship, which will I make no doubt, make us very uncomfortable for a
time (which is) by order of ye Company, for all the Officers to knock down all their Cabins:
immediately, owing entirely to their taking a few Inches more than the Company’s measurement;
so therefore untill we leave England, we shall be quite exposed (to mess in), & ye Offrs to be in
their Cabins; we shall make but a short stay here for our Dispatches, came on Board Sunday ye
14th now we are only waiting for a Ship, or two, which came in Saturday, if the Wind continues as
it is (NE.) we shall take our Departure from the White Cliffs of your Native Land, on Tuesday ye
16th. Happy, Oh Happy are the people whose inclinations are not lead astray like mine: Your
wishes are limited to your own Country: to be Comfortable with your Wife, Child, & all ye Family,
may Health, & Prosperity, ever be your Companions. Mine to the exploring Distant ones; & to
the uncertainty of the powering Waves. Often, dear Brother, do I walk the Deck, in ye Midnight
Watch, Reflecting what Happiness I have left behind me, likewise, Happy Friends. Often, still
Often does the busy Memory Recall my thoughts, to the peaceful inhabitants of ye Country you
all inhabit. You like many others, have all the Day to yourself, & Rest in quietness all the Night.
We like Bretheren, on Board have not even an Hour to say our own. Happier much might I have
been, were I to have staid at Home, & served my Apprenticeship with my Father, as you, & my
Brother Joshua have done before me, but I was built for the Sea, & it cannot now be help’d there
will be a time Dr Brother, when I shall perhaps Repent ever steping on blue Water, but t’will all
be too late. (I do not at present) Words you have told me, I have often thought off; more so than
you think for, (Do not Despair; is the Sailors Motto) As my Time is short I must beg to conclude,
please to give my Duty to my Father; Mother, Love to Brothers, Sisters, Uncles, Aunts,
Nephews &c, accepting the same yourself, & Remember me, kindly to all enquirers. Please to
give my Love to little John, wishing by the blessing of God, this may find you, Father, Mother, &
all the Family, quite well, as

I Remain, Believe me, My Dear Brother,

Ever your’s affectionately,
I have all my Trade, on Board till Death
safe, I will not forget you J Bennett
Homeward Bound, if I have any

PS Have the Goodness to write to me, at St Helena3

I will write to you every opportunity

1. Thomas Bennett’s youngest brother James was born in 1785 and had just joined the merchant service, aged 16 or 17.
He died at an unknown date in India. This letter is reproduced earlier, in Chapter IV of Notes and Recollections.
2. This perhaps suggests that he had taken samples with him, intending to look for business for his brother.
3. This implies he is sailing in a slow convoy, which could easily be overtaken on the passage to St Helena (fresh water
stop in mid-Atlantic) by a fast (Royal Navy, or Company) packet boat carrying dispatches and private mail from



May 22. 1802 Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Llan. St Fraed. Conway. N Wales

[address] Mr. Thos. Bennett
Merton Abby

Sunday morn. May 22d
Llan St. Fraid, Conway1
North Wales
Dear Son
We set off on Friday morn’ from Birmingham and persued our road thro’ Wolverhampton
to Shrewsbury and thro’ Wales by Oswestry, Llangollen & Llanrwst and then over the
Mountains to Llan St. Fraid, Conway, the last stage was in places rather frightfull and your poor
Mother was a little terrified some times, but thank God we got safe here last night and are very
happy this morning, at least as happy as we can be when absent from all we hold dear, our whole
journey has been most delightfull the weather being most remarkable pleasant and the change of
scene such as is impossible to describe, and I fear it has jumbled my ideas so together I shall
never be able to give you any account of the variety of sensations they have excited, but when
we return we will turn the map thro’ and try. There is a person waiting to take this to the post
office about two or three miles hence so I must conclude by desiring you to make us every thing
to our dear Children and all our friends ———
Yours ever most affectionately
Jno Leach
excuse haste Welch paper, pen and ink2

Extract from a map of North Wales c.1814


PS there has not been any rain here the weather this morn’ hot and remarkable clear which with
the Snow glittering on the tops of the Mountains on one hand and the Irish Chanell on the other
forms a most picturesk prospect
You never saw such a pen nor such Ink2

1. Llansanffraid Glan Conwy is a little way up the River Conwy, and on the opposite bank, from Conwy town.
2. In contrast to most of the letters in the collection those from North Wales are on thin rough paper, and written with
scratchy n
ibs and thin ink.

29. May 1802 Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett,
from Llan St. Fraed, near Conway N. Wales
[address] Mr. Ths. Bennett
Merton Abbey

My dear Son 29th. May 1802

I have been waiting with some degree of anxiety for a Letter from you Mr. Robt. Lewis
having receivd one yesterday, I now conclude it was my own fault not having told you in my last
that we were at John Lewis’s the end of our journey, where we now are and shall continue I fear
longer than we at first intended as we have twenty visits to pay, we paid one yesterday to the
parson of this Parish and such hospitallity I never witnessed before, indeed one does not utter a
wish in a Welch-Man’s presence, to mention one instance, I was taking notice of a very fine
Holly Tree in the Parsons Grounds saying I shou’d be glad of it at home, and I find this morning
men are sent for to cut down that and several more, which will be sent to Liverpool and ship’d for
London, and I dare not talk of recompense, and in another instance which will be new to you,
soon after we came they were saying that fine Trout were to be caught on the tops of the
Mountains on my only asking if they were good eating our Landlord said we should soon know,
and two poor fellows were out all the two succeeding nights (no other time will do the water is so
pure) on the snow top Mountains before they cou’d take what they call a dish, they then brought
between 20 & 30 beautifull small Trout the sweetest fish I ever tasted, since which we have not
been a day without. We have had extreem warm weather since we have been here (in the valley)
it is now extreemly pleasant having last evening for the first time had a little rain, but the
Mountains promise more this morning being half way down hid in the Clouds one minute and the
next the sun shining on their tops. I wish you were all here to see but wishing is all in vain or I
should not be long without you, tell my dear little Boy the Welch Poney’s are so wild and the
Mountains so high I fear we shall not be able to catch them and that he must come with me
another time and run after them him self, give our duty to our parents our loves to all our dear
Children our best respects to Mr. Peischell and Mr. Bartlet also to your family when you see
them and make our remembrance to all our Neighbours & acquaintance, and equall to all accept
our Love

and affection yourself

J. & J. Leach
PS pray send me a line by return of Post
and direct it for me at Mr. Jno. Lewis’s
Llan St. Fraid
near Conway
North Wales



7. June 1802. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Llan St. Fraed – near Conway. North Wales
[address] Mr. Ths. Bennett
Merton Abbey
7th June 1802

My Dear Son

I with much pleasure read the contents of your Letter, which I did not receive till
Satturday eve’ owing to a ramble we took amongst the Mountains of Caernarvonshire. I need
not tell you which part of your Letter gave us most satisfaction, as you well know what is nearest
our hearts, and
indeed it seems a long while to me since I took leave of you all, I am
pleased to find your saving of Madder1 answers so well, and never fear but we will make the
steam pipes answer before we give them up,2 We have been hearty and well ever since we left
home and shall have a hundred things to tell you if one subject does not put the other out of our
heads I shou’d tell you that on Thursday morn’ before 5 oClock we set off in a Boat for Conway
and from thence over the Mountains, in a post Chaise to Caernarvon3 where we stopd all night
and the next day to Bethgelart4 a small Vilage at the foot of Snowdon but we dare not attempt to
go up it being 5½ miles up, and the height from the level of the sea is 1,189 Yards (¾ miles 1320
yds, 1 mile is 1760) and 2 foot, we were out of luck rather as the Clouds hid two thirds of it, but
we were made ample amends by twenty other sights amongst which I cannot help mentioning one
which is a River that runs between two mountains for near a mile dashing furiously all the way
over Stones as large as Mill-Stones indeed some of them as large as your Town-Waggon, and
great part of the way the Mountains approach so close as to leave only room for the River and a
narrow Road from 50 to 100 foot above the water cut out of the Rocks which are very like
Cheddar-Cliff, only the Stone is of a dark colour and here and there coverd with Heath allmost of
a black hue and as it raind all the time we were there and the tops of the Mountains in the
Clouds it alltogether inspired a sort of awfull grandeur I never before witnessd, we mean to set
off for home on Monday next by way of Chester, Liverpool & Manchester, and if you can by
return of Post enclose a Letter to me from Mr. White to his brother or ask Pontifex or Ancell5
how we shou’d proceed to get a sight of the Printing there I should be glad ——

Pray my dear fellow say everything for us to our ever dear Children and our darling Boy, allso to
all our friends and acquaintance

from your ever affectionate
Mr. Jno. Lewis Father and Mother
Llan St. Fraid J & J. Leach
near Conway

North Wales excuse bad tools

1. See(12).

2. Perhaps more ‘experiments’. See (10) and (11).
3. About 37 km (23 miles).
4. About 21km (13 miles).
5. White has not been identified. The name Pontifex has not been located in the area at this date, though in 1846 the
brothers Edmund and William Pontifex acquired the coppermills in Merton High Street. Ancell (or Ansell) was the
name of a family who long had interests in the Wandle valley. This Mr Ancell was probably Joseph Ancell who had a
printing works to the west of the Wandle at Merton Abbey. It is interesting that Wandle printers seem to have been
in touch with Lancashire firms.
E N Montague Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 Merton Historical Society
(1992) pp.84-85


[pasted in: a coloured print entitled


Merton Light Infantry Draw Ramrod’

Publish.. as the Act … … Monies Pinx …]

In pencil on reverse:My Great-Uncle William Leach1 was a lieutenant of this corps

20th June 1802. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Buxton

[address] Mr Thos. Bennett
Merton Abbey
Buxton 20th. June 1802
My Dear Son

We arrived here last night and tho’ I have no doubt but that you heard of us by our good
friend Pieschell yet haveing forgot to thank you
him for your last Letter (which was of
infinite use to us at Manchester)2 I am tempted to trouble you with this, not only as an appology
for my neglect but allso to tell you we are all well and that the weather is still so fine and Buxton
so delightfull that we are tempted to tarry ’till tomorrow at least amongst the fine folks here,3
therefore you must not expect us untill the end of the week at soonest. I need not tell you that
my whole family is as one to me us, you will therefore be so good as to give our Loves to them
all, with respects &c to Mr. Bartlett and all our friends &c.

I am ever my good young Man

yours most affectionately

J Leach
PS If you have an opportunity send word to Mr. Lewis’s sons that he desires his love &c to them,
and that they must not expect him till they see him

1. William Leach was the
brother of Sarah Jane (Leach)
Bennett. He later moved
away to Luton. I have not
found any information about
the Merton Light Infantry. It
may have had a very
ephemeral existence.

2. See(19).

3. The spa town of Buxton, in
Derbyshire, though never a
serious rival to Bath,
Harrogate or Cheltenham,
had recently been improved
with a Palladian Crescent,
incorporating a large
Assembly Room, as well as
fashionable shops and paved
spaces for strolling. This was
a project by the 5th Duke of
Devonshire, whose
Chatsworth estate was
nearby, and who owned most
of Buxton.
Buxton in the 19th century


‘Merton Light Infantry Draw Ramrod’



16 July 1803. Mr. Leach to Mr. Thomas Bennett
from Conham1 near Bristol

[address] Mr. Thos. Bennett
Merton Abbey
Conham 16th. July 1803
My dear fellow

We are still here and undetermined where to go to yet, Mr Rocke wishes to go with us but
is at present so much engaged we cannot fix on a place, the Dean of Wells’s Steward is dead and
he has been over there all this week endeavouring to get the place and tho’ he has every claim
on the Dean I fear he is ungratefull enough to slight him ——

It gives us all pleasure to find you are all well, but the Boiler is a little drawback on my
peace of mind indeed I begin to think we have been mistaken and as it impeeds your opperations
you shou’d return to the old plan as soon as you can. If I thought my presence wou’d be of any
use I wou’d return imediately but as you have got it to draw I dispair of making it do to our
minds, perhaps if the Tube had been made larger still it wou’d have been better for I think the
latent heat which is absorbd by the fire-Stones in the old plan of setting must assist when it
comes to a boil, and I see no reason why the Tube might not be made so as to contain either Cast
Iron or Bricks so as to produce that effect, but this remains to be proved, and as I said above I
begin to have my fears, but never mind we are not the first who have been deluded by too much
confidence in thier own whims it will only be a caution in the future ——2

We are all happy to hear of Pieschell and I shoud rejoyce to see his hand writing but it must
be when we are again fixd for a little while which I shall not fail to give you notice of, my Pen and
Ink is but middling and I but a so so hand at writing you will therefor say every thing for me as I
am sure you know my heart

I am as ever

yours most truly
PS all here are well
and desire Love &c Jno. Leach

1. Conham is a little to the east of central Bristol, on the Avon. Mr and Mrs Leach were staying with the Rockes (and
see next letter).
2. It seems that Bennett’s ‘experiments’ had continued, and he, in consultation with his father-in-law (note the phrase
‘we have been mistaken’), had been trying to improve the stage of the printing process in which the textiles were
boiled to fix the dyes. John Leach is impressively philosophical about the failure.
John Leach’s signature to letter (7)



6. Sept 1803. Mr. Thomas Bennett to Mrs. T.B. staying
with Mr. & Mrs. Rocke at Conham1
(from Merton)

[address] Mrs. Bennett at

Mr. J.H.Rocke’s

Conham House

Wedy Bristol – Somerset
My dear Wife

this Morng it gave me a great deal of Comfort to receive Yours which left you &
my dear little Boy &c all well – your account also of your Journey to Bath is also pleasant
particularly that you met so agreeable a Companion at Newbury ——
the gross inattention of Mr Rocke2 to you my dearest Girl hurt me very much indeed & perhaps
in my warmth said a little more than I intended, urg’d on by your dear Father who was much vexd
also – if anything was said that caused a moments uneasiness I am very sorry for that – had I
taken one night’s consideration on it I should not have written as I did – as you are there Safe &
well I do not feel inclined to forego the pleasure promised myself of spending a few days at
Conham with you – as it is I shall say but little about it, give him a hint I expected he had more
Gallantry about him than to disappoint Ladies & beware of trusting any thing of consequence to
– or his promises in future —

I am now looking forward eagerly for the middle of next Week when I hope to feast my longing
eyes on you & my only dear darling Child at present it seems likely I shall set off on Wednesy
next (if the Weather continues fine on Horseback) consequently you will expect me on the
Thursday Eveng or Friday Morng – as my Horse bears the Journey.3

I spend my time chiefly at the Abby – on Saty afternoon last I saild from London at 4
oclock with my Father & Mother & set the dear old Lady ashore at Gravesend at ½past 8 My
Father & self set sail again about 10 & saild till about 12 by Moonlight I was then glad to turn in
& slept very sound till 6 in the Morng when I went on board of my Bror. James’s4 ship which laid
opposite to us ——we
afterwards got to Town time enough for me to dine with my sister Ackland who was up for the
2d time only —— but is now mending ——5

I have not seen Pieschell yet since your absence but in every Note he begs his respects –
on Sunday he went into Hertfordshire —— You must continue to kiss my dear little Boy for me
& for his Grandfather who misses him so much every time we go to the House

Your Mother Father all join me in Love to You & my dear Harriet6 with every Civility to
your Hosts
God bless you my Dearest is the earnest wish

& prayer of your T B
don’t fail to write as early as you can it being the greatest Comfort I can receive ——— is there
anything stand in need of ? you will of course inform me

Merton Abby Wedy 6 Sept. 1803

1. It seems that after her parents returned to Merton, Sarah Jane Bennett, with her small son, now five years old, and
(see below) one of her sisters, visited Conham in her turn, to stay with her old friend Anne Rocke.
2. This is explained in the next letter, which should have been placed before this one.
3. Among those (the great majority) who neither had a private carriage nor could afford to travel post, women, children
and older people used the stage-coach (or the cheaper carrier’s cart), but men often travelled on horseback.
4. This was the brother James who wrote letter (16).
5. Thomas Bennett’s sister Elizabeth, married to Headley Ackland, was possibly recovering from childbirth.
6. Harriet, or Harriot(t), was Sarah Jane’s youngest sister, aged about 14 at this time.


Sept 1803.1 Mr. Thomas Bennett to Mrs. T.B.

with J.L.B. at Conham
from Merton

[address] Mrs. Bennett at

Mr. Rocke’s

Conham House

near Bristol
Sept. 1st
Single Sheet

My dear Sarah

yours receiv d this morng afforded us all a great deal of pleasure to find you reachd
Bath without much fatigue particularly to find my
dear dear Boy held it out so very manfully –
the other part I am very much hurt at, that of Mr Rocke’s disappointing to meet you, after having
expressly stated as he did that he would make a point of being there to give you a meeting – I
unavoidable Business did not prevent him apprising you of it, by sending some other Person
to see you were comfortably accommodated as soon as you reached that appointed Spot or I fear
it will not be a pleasure to me to see a Person so faithfully promised & disappoint me in what I
hold dearer than Life itself – your Comfort I could not believe it possible, if I had you should not
have gone, & indeed I wish you had taken places as you said, to return the next day —— I know
how uncomfortable it is for Ladies in strange places to get Beds &c & feel particularly for you
my dearest Girl who has not at all been used to it —— unless this is cleared up to my mind I
doubt reaching any further than Bath when you return – at present it seems to me a very great
breach of Friendship &
Confidence ———

in your next I shall be obliged by some little account of your Journey whether you had
any more inside the Coach than I left,
my all how you were treated on the Road &c &c indeed
any thing you chuse if ’tis only ‘We are all well rather than omit any opportunity of sendg. to
Mail as it is the only Comfort I can receive from you at so very great a distance —
We are all well your Dear Father, Mother, Sisters & Bror. unite their Affectionate Love to you,
Harriet, & dear little Boy with respects to Mrs. Rocke

* pay my dear little Boy some Kisses for me the due to you must remain unsettled, &
accumulate with Interest
God bless you both, believe me truly
thine for ever
Merton Abby ) T B
Thursday morn) 1st September

* no very harsh task
1. This letter should clearly have been placed before the previous one.
Thomas Bennett’s signature on letter (5)



17 October 1803. Herr J.L. Grasshoff1 to Mr. Thomas Bennett

[address] Mr Benet

Dear Sir!

How do you do at the present dangerous time2 in Old England how is Mrs. Benet and little John
your pretty Boy? – How is Mr. and Mrs. Leetch and your whole Family? – I hope they are all sound,
hearty and well, for this I wish with all my heart.

I beg must humbly your pardon Sir, for taking the Liberty to write a english Letter to you, I, you
know, who was three months ago hardly able to speak your Language like a Baby, ventures now to
write english Letters! What will be the Consequence of it? – Nothing else I am sure, as you will not be
able to understand this Language, which is all together neither english not german. But still I cannot
help it, being forced by my duty to write, I am obliged to observe it, and beside knowing very well how
kind you are, hope you will excuse this first attempt and indulge the faults of this little Letter.

I have just now some Misfortune alike with little John your pretty Son, as he is wanting very
often, something nice to eat, so I had a Mind to tell you some thing nice on your present situation in
old England. I thing the prettiest and must jusful thing of the world, I could tell and wish you in my
broken english Letter, would be, that you may be, in this present War, as Lucky as to drown all
Frenchmen in the Channel, who are willing to come to the shore of old England. Having done this in
very pretty a manner, you will have but the trouble to light up again, and I the sorrow being so far of,
not to be amongst the Spectators, who will be reading evrywhere Peace and Plenty. As the Frenchmen
go on so abominably I hate them like John the Leather, for they are not satisfied with robbing the best
parts of Germany of Holland of the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, but they are now willing to
come over to old England too, to pick up your guineas; I hate the Rascals still more than little John
the Leather.3

We are in Germany really some what anxious about you, for you have not only to do with
France, but you have to fight with Holland with the Netherlands, with Italy and Switzerland too, and
Portugal and Spain are forced to pay the Monny, but being your Navy invincible, every body, who has
seen England himself like me, will only wish your Army Nelsons4 and Smiths,5 and you will have but
little trouble with the Frenchmen, who should ventures to come over to England. It is necessary
however Dear Sir that little John finishes for a little while his play with your Sword, being in need of
yourself, and I am extremely sorry of not having the pleasure to assiste you, for I would fight on your
Side like a English man, and sooner louse my life than to suffer, that old England should be conquered
by the French men!.

I arrived in the Company of Mr. Pieschell very luckily in Germany, got afterwards safe home
and found my Family very well, which presents with me their Compliments to you and your Family.I

Dear Sir
your sincere Friend
Frohse 17th. of Octobr J. L. Grasshoff

Answered Thursday 24 Novr.

1. Apparently a friend or business associate of Herr Pieschell.
2. With the ending of the Treaty of Amiens in May 1803 Britain and France were again at war.
3. Herr Grasshoff appears to mean that he hates the French as much as little John (Leach Bennett), then five years old,
hates being beaten with the leather strap.
4. Nelson at this time was on board the Victory and blockading Toulon. But his great victories at the Nile and
Copenhagen had been achieved, and his fame was international.
5. Sir (William) Sidney Smith (1764-1840), another naval man. He was an erratic character, if sometimes brilliant in battle, his most
famous exploit being the defence of Acre in 1799. He became a rear admiral in 1805. Nelson thought him a mountebank.



20. October 1804 – Mr. Thomas Bennett to Mrs. T.B.
[address] Mrs. Bennett
at Mr. Hall’s No.2 Rivers Street1
Sat. 20 Octor – Somerset
Bond Court Walbrook2
Saty 4 oclock

My dearest Love

I received your kind Letter & Mr Rocke’s this noon & in consequence of his, have
just been to Messrs Clarke & Co their young man informs me he thinks Mr. Clarke can keep the
Accts. as they are for 8 or
10 days longer, without putting your Father to the Expense of a Power
of Attorney & I guess at least hope his return will not many days exceed that. I am happy that
poor dear Woman is as well as can be expected3 —— we are all well & desire Duty, Love, &
Respects as due my precious little Bedfellow is well, Good, & full as saucy as ever – your Credit
is very good I shall therefore trust you the full amount, but fear I shall be a little usurious &
expect more than Common Interest ——— I have just seen our good Friend A.P.4 who intends
bringing his Foreign Friend5 to dine with us to morrow at the Abby —— AP. presents his

Mrs Ackland is safe in Bed with another little Butcher6 Boy – & as well as can be expected

– so Joshua7 informed me this day – every good Wish attend you my dearest dearest Girl
from your
T B in haste
I am almost afraid you will not be to return to Merton
able to read this scrawl

1. A little up the hill from The Circus and the Royal Crescent.
2. On the east side of Walbrook. Perhaps the address of the City office of Leach & Bennett, or of that of Clarke & Co.
3. Do the references to Mr Rocke and ‘that poor dear Woman’ indicate some crisis in the Rocke household?
4. Augustus Pieschell.
5. Perhaps Mr Grasshoff of letter (24).
6. Reference not clear – it was another sister, Sarah, whose married name was Butcher.
7. Elizabeth and Headley Ackland had three sons and two daughters. Joshua Bennett was the next brother after

3. January 1805. Mr. Pieschell. to. John Leach Bennett
with Twelfth Night characters
[address] MASter JohN BENNETT

I shall have much pleasure, my dear John, if the enclosed Cards afford you a little
amusement after you have given your Father the Satisfaction of doing your Sums well and
writing as well as you can and with all the requisite Attention; I take it for certain that you
continue to make your Mother quite happy with your Conduct at home and therefore deem it
needless to recommend your most earnest Endeavours to that Purpose without which you will
never be so happy and comfortable as it is my most sincere Wish you should always be.

I am affectionately

3 Jany: 1805 Your true Friend

A. Pieschell


Mr. Peischell’s First letter to my Father then aged 6 yrs 11. months
The characters are a valuable illustration of English men and women’s dress and manners


Pasted in are 17 small coloured prints of ‘characters’, together with a wrapper. The characters, with their

printed rhymes, are:
Major Monkey face
Sir Frederick Fiery Face.
Fanny Fade-away.
Leonora Longshanks
Corporal Clumsy
Margery Madcap
Sir Bibo Bellybut.
Rachael Roundabout
Sir Gregory Gudgeon.
Tabitha Transparent
Miss Priscilla Prudence.
Lady Limbertongue.
Tabitha Tiffany.
Countess Crummy.
Aunt Alabaster

This edifice of flesh & bone is

In his own eyes a smart Adonis
Like Buonaparte, this royal elf,
Made his own crown, & crown’d himself.

Her Majesty well knows good breeding,

The pigs are all of her own feeding.
Flush from the tavern, this good Knight,
Like glow-worm needs no watchman’s light.

She has had followers, – no scoffing,

And may again, – When in her coffin.
Present her with a wedding ring,
She’ll tie you to her apron string.

Each man for something thanks his fate,

And this for – dignity of gait.
If not quite weary of your life,
Take not this whirligig to wife.

To eat & drink his dear delight,

All day – And soundly sleep all night.
Who wants a wife for wear and tear
Has here a solid piece of ware.

Bait with whatever thing you wish,

Youre sure to catch this simple fish.
Like Mother Eve this Modest dame,
Naked, would feel no sense of shame.

I’ve heard so much of men’s dissembling,

They always set my nerves a-trembling.
He who has courage once to wed,
This lass may rest in peace when dead.

Miss Tabitha, sweet little lass,

Ogles at all the men that pass.
This dame, enough for two or more,
Has no objection to a score.

A Spinster of three score behold,
As marble fair – as marble cold.

[cartoon] STRACHAN and COLLINGWOOD, identified by their hats, give a toast over a punchbowl
labelled NELSON, while another character holds a cake (VICTORY) and cries ‘The Reward of Valour!’


[rhyme] Were every cake a mat’s of gold,
And every plumb a diamond bright,
Surely each British sailor bold,
Should have a Slice, upon Twelfth night.

Pubd. Decr. 13th[?18th] 18051 13 Warwick Square, Newgate Street: London

On reverse of wrapper:

Dear John

I wish you a merry day on Monday & will thank you to give my best wishes to your good
grand father for many happy returns to him & his family of his birthday – I love you dearly and I
am yours

Augt. Pieschell

1. There is a puzzle here, as the publication date on the wrapper is nearly a year later than the date of Pieschell’s letter to
John Leach Bennett. The date is moreover reinforced by the clear implication of the cartoon that Nelson is dead, an
event that took place on 21 October 1805. The most likely explanation is that Herr Pieschell wrote ‘1805’ in error for
‘1806’, it being still early in the year.



5. Feby. 1805. Mr. Pieschell to John L. Bennett on his 7th Birthday
[address] Master John Bennett

My dear John

I am happy in uniting my sincere Wishes with those of all your Friends on the
return of this your birthday, and to assure you that I from my heart desire that every Prosperity
and every Blessing may attend your future days, and that you may long have the Happiness of
encreasing with your Years the Joy your Parents and your Friends experience from you. ——
You can most easily do this, my dear John, by always conducting yourself so as you are informed
it is right you should, by shewing every Obedience and respect to your dear Parents that your
love to them dictates, and by minding with the greatest Attention the Instructions you receive
from them, and which will lead you on as you advance in Age to perfect your Understanding and
to encrease your knowledge. – Acting so, you will under Gods Protection become a good and
honorable man and fulfill the best of Wishes of

Your very affectionate Friend
London Augt. Pieschell1
the 5th. February 1805.

1. Mr Pieschell has written this letter for his juvenile correspondent in very clear semi-printing.

24. Dec. 1805 Mr Pieschell to John L. Bennett
My dear John

You will receive herewith the Key of a small Box of Tools I have sent you,
which, if your Father & Mother are pleased to allow you the use of them, I wish may afford you
some Assistance & Amusement in your Turning ——— From what you know already about it, I
need not caution you, against any imprudent Management of all edged Instruments & I am sure
you will handle them with such Attention & Care as neither to hurt yourself nor any Body else
with them. You may be assured that while you continue to be a good young Man & to give your
Parents Satisfaction by your Endeavors in encreasing your learning, I shall continue to feel
happy in the Opportunity of affording you the small Encouragements in my Power to make your
hours of recreation the Inducement for further laudable Application, being one of your most
sincere & affectionate well Wishers ——

Augt. Pieschell
ye. 24th. december 1805

I hope to catch a Sight of you to Morrow before you set out for your Xmas Gambols & to accept
of your Grand Father’s Invitation, in the mean Time you will be so good to give my Respects to
all good friends.

The Box of Tools was given to me when I was ten years old1 as nearly as I can recollect. It was
carefully repaired by Nightingale the Carpenter2 at Merton and some new tools were supplied. It has
been very useful to me all my life and I still possess & value it

Fred. Bennett
16. Feb. 1898

1. He was ten years old in 1832.
2. ‘Nightingale the Carpenter at Merton’ has not been traced. The wording perhaps suggests that he was the carpenter
at the printworks.



15. Feb. 1805 Mr. Pieschell to Mr. Thomas Bennett
on my grandmother’s Birthday
[address] Mr. Thos Bennett
Dear Bennett
On this day which with so great an Interest calls to your Mind
an Occurrence that has been and will continue a Source of so much Comfort & Happiness to you,
I trust my sincere Congratulations to your good Lady, & to yourself will meet with a kind
Acceptance. You will the more readily believe every good wish from me on the Occasion to come
from the Heart, when I also hope by their being fulfilled to enjoy further, for a long Time the
Friendship I have hitherto experienced in your & Mrs. Bennetts Acquaintance.
I also beg to wish Mrs Leach and Family every Joy, and am always with mutual
Regard truly Yours
Siselane Augt. Pieschell
ye. 15 Feby 1805
I have received your Note of yesterday and thank you for it


16 Feby 18051 Mr. Pieschell to Mr Thomas Bennett

My dear Bennett

I should have written yesterday but for some Hurry in the Morning and having
confined myself to my Room last Night on account of fresh bad Cold —— The Die is at last cast
and my future fate settled upon the plan I mentioned to you on Sunday, Fortune seems at last to
throw a bright smile upon the Prospects that offer themselves now, and if she has ceased to be
inconstant and fickle towards me I have every Reason to hope in a few Years for the
accomplishment of any reasonable wish. The Time of entering on my Journey is not yet finally
decided on, it may be in some Weeks or some Months hence. I am less elated on this occasion than
I have before been whenever any good occurrences have presented themselves to me, and as
disappointment has most ensued when I have been most sanguine, perhaps the Reverse may now
take place! At any Rate I am thoroughly satisfied that I have now to deal with Men of Honor and of
a Liberal Character whose Proposals to me have exceeded any Expectation I could have
consistently formed. I am moreover convinced that I possess in you a friend who participates
heartily in my fate and therefore I have not hesitated in communicating every thing to you, urgent
Reasons on both Sides prevent its being made publicly known for some Months and nobody knows
anything about it from me yourself excepted.

I expect from you the same degree of Candour and hope you will acquaint me in case I should
be thought intruding on Mr Leach’s Goodness for some accomodation2 which I shall not well be able
to do without but which I would rather get from some other quarter then be troublesome to that
wellmeaning friend. I continue apprehensive from the heavy Expences you have lately been put too
on account of your new House3 that your Goodness has led you toward me into more Advances
than can be convenient; without hesitation declare it, if it is so, and no sacrifice shall be an object to
remove any Inconveniency on my account.
Pray give my best Respects to Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. & Mr. Leach and a Kiss to John.
Adieu Yours always

16 Febry


11 o’Clk. I am just going out for some Hours and have left this Letter to be put into the post, last
Night I did not receive any Note from you Last Night

This letter is of great interest inasmuch as it gives a very complete & full description of Mr.
Peischell’s regard for Mr. Leach & my grandfather and and the strong friendship that existed
between them. I think it must relate to his entering into partnership with a Firm of good standing in
the Russian & German trade of Drysalters goods.4 He became early in the century and probably
from the engagement here mentioned a prosperous man and possessed of ample means.

1. This letter must have been an enclosure, as there is no writing or postmark on the outside. There is no internal reason
to date it to 1805. The reference to the ‘new House’ suggests that it is more likely to date from 1802 or 1803. Indeed 16
February was not a Tuesday in 1805, but it was a Tuesday in1802.
2. Temporary financial help.
3. Thomas and Sarah Jane Bennett’s house near the junction of Haydons Road and the High Street.
4. Unfortunately the Salters’ Company has no record of Augustus Pieschell.

15. Feby 1806 Mr. Pieschell to John L. Bennett
on his Mother’s Birthday
My dear John

Having disappointed you in a Letter on your last birth day when I wished
you personally every thing that could be desirable for you, I can have no Inducement more
suitable to make you Amends for your disappointment than the one which this day offers; and I
am sure nothing can afford you greater Satisfaction than my writing every sincere wish on your
good Mother’s & grand Mother’s birth day with your own, their Prosperity being so intimately
connected with your Comfort, and as your enjoying health and long Life with them must mutually
encrease the happiness of all —— But besides your good wishes my dear John you will believe
that a Continuance of your good Conduct, and of your Endeavor to go on improving in learning
and useful accomplishments, with a Strict Attention to follow the directions your Parents give you
for your Benefit & for your becoming a good young Man, are Actions best calculated to convince
your father, your Mother & your Friends that you are really desirous they should enjoy much
Satisfaction; and from your natural good disposition I trust you will do so & thereby accomplish
one of the best wishes I can conclude with to your Parents and yourself. I beg all will accept
these sentiments as coming from

Your affectionate & sincere friend
London ye. 15 feby 1806 Augt. Pieschell

The Rose

The Rose had been wash’d, just wash’d in a shower;

Which Mary to Anna convey’d,

The plentiful moisture incumber’d the Flower,

And weigh’d down its beautiful Head.

The Cup was all fill’d, and the Leaves were all wet,

And it seem’d to a fanciful view,

To weep for the Buds it had left with regret,

On the flourishing Bush where it grew.

I hastily seiz’d it, unfit as it was,

For a Nosegay, so dripping, and drown’d,

And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas!

I snapped it, it fell to the Ground.


And such I exclaim’d is the pitiless part

Some act by the delicate Mind,

Regardless of wringing and breaking a Heart

Already to sorrow resign’d.

This elegant Rose, had I shaken it less,

Might have bloom’d with its Owner awhile,

And the Tear that is wip’d with a little address,

May be follow’d perhaps by a Smile.

John Leach Bennett. June 13th 18061

1. The writing out of this poem, which is unlikely to have been his own composition, was probably an exercise in
penmanship by the eight-year-old boy, which, apart from the missed letter in ‘Already’, he has performed beautifully.

Jany. 1807. Mr Pieschell to John L. Bennett
(Beginning a Correspondence)

[address] Mstr. John L Bennett
ppd. Merton
1/1. 2 o’clock Surry

My dear John

As you wished me to begin a Correspondence with you, I can have no
better Opportunity for so doing, than the one my desire offers, to have the pleasure of knowing
that your Mother, your father, yourself, your Aunts &c. reached home well & comfortably this
Morning, quite recovered now from the effects of fatigue & neither having caught any Cold. I
shall be much obliged to you if at your Leisure your Pen will satisfy my Enquiries. — But I have
also another Inducement in writing to you, which is to repeat my best wishes to you & your
friends for every Species of Happiness & Prosperity in this New Year & during a long Series of
succeeding ones. I add specially towards you my sanguine Hope that your continued
Improvements in all the branches of your Learning & your good Conduct will further always
prove a source of true delight to your Parents & a cause for much Satisfaction to all who know
you, among whom I assure you I shall not be inferior to any, in the warmth of my feelings.

I am convinced I can employ no Voice more agreeable & efficient than your own in again
offering my Sentiments to your father & mother, if you will therefore be so good to tell them
every thing Kindness can suggest & request for me the Continuance of your valued friendship as
fervently as you can, I shall owe you many Thanks — Believe me always your true &
affectionate friend

Augt. Pieschell
Ye 1 Jany 1807

“John was not quite nine years old. He must have been well taught to be able to begin a
correspondence with such a man as Mr. Peischell”

Mr Pieschell’s signature on letter (28)



13 Feby 1807 Mr. Pieschell to John L Bennett

[address] Mtr John L. Bennett
P favor of Mr. Bartlett

My dear John

It seems a great while to me since I heard from you, particularly as I had the
daily Expectation that you would have gratified me with a line or two to say that your father
Mother yourself & all friends are well. I wish this sincerely to be the Case —— The parcel
which this accompanies contains some blue Cloth I had manufactured, it will make you a Jacket
& Trowsers & I believe give you the opportunity of asking your Father to accept of a Coat from
it & I shall be obliged by your doing so & wearing it for my Sake.
There are not any such News yet as I could wish to communicate to you & such as you would be
glad to hear. Pray remember me to all friends at Merton & believe me

truly your friend & wellwisher
Siselane Augt. Pieschell
friday Morn 13 feby


February 5 1808. To John on his Tenth Birthday

My Son get Wisdom, and with
All thy getting get Understanding.
John Leach Bennett

Sl Hoole scribbled it1

[pencil] MS. Of Mr. Samuel Hoole

Five small pieces of paper pasted in, all in the same handwriting

I cant think of anything
But as so many sing
Why should not I?
One line brings on another


Every one helps the other

Dr. John, today you’re 10 yrs old

So let me try.

And tho the weather’s very coldDear John your Birth Day

I, like an aunt affectionateMakes my pen go to play

Send thus my Wishes to your Gate

Makes me quite glad.

I wish you every Good alive

I wish you —— aye that I do

To keep yr Health & make you thriveAll good may had to you

Do be as quick as you canAs to my own had.

We’ll call you then a nice Young Man
All this is just to say And you call me Yr dear Aunt
That on a Gala Day Feb 5 1808 Anne3
None should forbear
to say
Health to Dear John

Feb 5 1808. E2



Dr John
Accept my good wishes
For we like the Fishes

Do swim in life’s stream
May your River keep clear
As I love you my Dear ——&
make you my theme.

But I cant spare much time
And besides, as to Rhyme
It don’t suit me to Day.
May John live for ever
Come I think this is clever
Girls I’ve finished my Verses
Feb 5th 1808 Harriet4

Last night Dr. John I playd so late
And laugh’d so much – its very true
That tho’ I slept till almost eight
And fain would write to you –
Yet not a muse will favor me
To write what I require ——
“May You for ever Happy be”
And I your Friend Maria”5

In the dress of a Birth-Day I come to your House
With a Heart like a Giant – tho small as a mouse
My dress is the wishes that flow round my pen
To make you the best and the happiest of men
For Goodness & Happiness grow in one Bower
The first is the Root and the last is the Flower
The Stalk & the leaves are the subjects of Time
On which the good heart will to Happiness climb
I am wishing you Well as I told you before
May you ever be Happy! What can I say more
Feb 5th 1808. M……6

[pencil] M.S. of Miss Robson7

1. Samuel Hoole, a family friend, who worked at the ‘Record
Office’, according to Frederick Bennett. See (43). Until an
Act of 1838 public records were held at a number of
different buildings. Bennett does not say where Hoole’s
employment was.
2. ?Elizabeth Leach, John’s aunt.
3. ?Anne Leach, John’s aunt.
4. ?Harriet Leach, John’s aunt.
5. ?Maria Robson.
6. ?Maria Robson.
7. Miss Maria Robson was the daughter of Thomas Robson,
rector of Morden 1744-1778, and a close family friend of
the Leaches and Bennetts.

19 March [pencil]1808 Mr. Pieschell to John L Bennett

[address] Mstr John Leach Bennett
Dear John
I am always much pleased at receiving Letters from you, but your last gave me the
greater Satisfaction from its containing the account of your good Mother recovering her health
rapidly, I hope for the pleasure of seeing her soon quite well & meeting with you & all friends
well. Pray remember to all my best wishes
The last fine & milder days I conclude put your desires on the tiptoe to enjoy a ride on your
Poney; you know that your Father will be glad to comply with what affords you Amusement if it is
proper & you have given him no cause to deny you, I expect therefore to see you mounted e’re
long as bold as ever.
I am
Your affectionate friend
Siselane Augt. Pieschell
ye 19th. March



17 Feby. 1808 Mr. Pieschell to Mr Thomas Bennett

[address] Mr. Thomas Bennett

Merton Abbey
London Surry
Rodborough,1 Saturday
27 Feby 1808

My dear Bennett

It was not until last Night that the Civilities & Kindness of my friends at Clifton2
suffered me to reach Wootton under Edge3 & to unseal your welcome Letter which had been
Waiting for me some days. I received much Satisfaction from learning that all your circle were
well & among the many pleasing occurrences that have met me on my Journey your
remembrance & that of your friends I assure you stands not the least conspicuous in my
Estimation. ——— Since Saturday last I have been at Clifton & until Thursday partaking of
continued Amusements & Attentions so that I was not suffered whatever my thoughts often were
to put them to paper, but I should certainly have written to you last Night had I seen any chance
of my Letter having then reached you before this can come to your Hands ——
Notwithstanding the weather has been very cold again since, I have been chiefly on the Move &
almost always very pleasantly so, as all the Country I have gone thro’ abounds with Scenes &
Objects that cannot fail to delight the beholder & particularly attract my Observation attracted
as I am to any thing in the Country that is at all bordering on the beautiful. My Ride this day
from Wootton here4 has particularly charmed me, the day having been fine & the weather milder;
the brow of a high hill along which our Road led for miles offered almost around me the finest
Views & above all on one Side a fine Valley with the Severn interspersed, its opposite banks
high, the whole scattered with a continued Succession of Houses, buildings, parks, woods, downs
&c a fruitful Soil, fine Inclosures bespeaking even at this Time the highest Cultivation & in the
furthest distance the Welch Mountains, some with snowy Tops, surpassed in the perception any
description I can give of it —— Well it was for me I could not say with a certain Independency a
few good friends here let us pitch our Tents, London would have been troubled to get me back

My Progress will be impeded here to Morrow, the day of rest,5 I do not however regret it,
being in very good quarters at an Inn one of the best & cleanest I have been at for some time in
a most agreeable Situation. With the beginning of the Week I shall however endeavor to
accomplish the remaining purpose of my Journey & travel homewards with all expedition hoping
to reach Town on Thursday or Friday & to hear there every wished for account of your, your
good Lady’s John’s & Mr. Leach’s family’s good Health. Pray unite my best Regards and make
them meet a kind Reception.

I have no reason to complain of the Success of my Journey & if Times at all mend,6 I think
I may flatter myself with deriving a greater benefit from it here after, the Opulence of
respectability I have met with in most of the Connections whose acquaintance I have courted has
exceeded my Expectations.
It is growing late & I have walked a good deal to save my otherwise very willing Horse who is as
yet not one hair the worse for his Work, the bed is therefore not unacceptable. God Bless you all
I beg your Remembrance & am truly Yours


A valuable letter, and a remarkable evidence of the way in which merchants traveled and acted as
their own agents in extending & conducting their business. Mr. Peischell as a Drysalter7 would be
engaged in visiting the West of England Clothiers and the Clifton residents were Bristol merchants
in connection with the cloth trade.


1. On the outskirts of Stroud, Gloucestershire.
2. Now part of Bristol.
3. Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, is about 20 miles (32km) from Clifton.
4. About 12 miles (19km) direct, but Pieschell’s comments about the Severn and the ‘Welch’ mountains suggest that he
took a more picturesque route.
5. Sunday travel was frowned upon by many people and stage coach travel was forbidden. In Jane Austen’s
Persuasion Anne Elliot could perceive her cousin’s charm, but was clear-eyed about his faults. ‘Sunday-travelling
had been a common thing.’ – OUP edition p.161
6. A reference to trade uncertainty in this period of the Napoleonic wars.
7. Not only dyestuffs but the mordants needed to ‘fix’ dyes would have come from the drysalting trade.

13 August. 1808. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett.
The first French Leter

[address] Monsieur
Monsieur John Leach Bennett

Mon cher petit Ami

Votre lettre m’a fait bien du plaisir et je vous en rend en consequence mes
remerciments & si vous voulés bien continuer a vous souvenir de moi d’exprimer de tems a tems
vos pensées je ne manquerai pas de repondre de mon mieux á vos efforts agréables.

Que vôtre
Gaieté á quatre Jambes a du moins conservé un Oeil j’ai êté bien aisé
d’apprendre, me flattant que vous aviés maintenant encore beaucoup d’Amusement sur son dos et
que nous pourrons, après que vous aurés pratiqué pour quelque tems, entreprendre nôtre
Cavalcade aux environs de
Box Hillsans avoir besoin d’aller auparavant au Comté d’Essex.

J’aurai souhaité de pouvoir accomplir vos Voeux en vous communicant la Confirmation des
nouvelles repandues depuis quelque tems au Sujet de la Termination favourable d’une Bataille
dans la Mediterannée, mais les derniers fois de cette partie du Monde n’en disent rien; ils nous
laissent cependant l’Espoir que la Victoire après laquelle nous languissons tous, sera nôtre partage
ou du moins celui de ce pays avant longtems.

Je crains de fatiguer vôtre Attention en ajoutant d’avantage & je repête donc seulement que
je suis sincérement & avec beaucoup d’Amitié toujours le

A Pieschell
ce 13e. d’Avril 1808

[My dear little friend

Your letter has greatly pleased me and in consequence I return my thanks & if you wish to continue to
remember me by expressing from time to time your thoughts I shall not fail to reply as best I can to your pleasing efforts.

That your
Gaiety on four legs has at least kept your eye in I have been pleased to learn, flattering myself
that you have now still more enjoyment on his back and that we shall be able, after you have practised for a
while, to undertake our horse-ride at
Hill without needing to go beforehand to the County of Essex.

I shall have wished to be able to answer your wishes in giving you confirmation of the news which has
been spreading for a while about the favourable result of a battle in the Mediterranean,1 but the last reports from
that part of the world say nothing about it; which leaves us however with the hope that the victory we all long for
will be ours or at least that of this country before long.

I am afraid of wearying you before long so I only repeat that I am sincerely and with much affection always


A Pieschell
13th April 1808]

1. Possibly just a rumour. Although April 1808 did see a successful raid by British ships on French vessels at Rochefort,
near La Rochelle, destroying four and damaging seven, the news is unlikely to have reached this country by the 13th.


A page from Augustus Pieschell’s first letter in French to John Leach Bennett



26. Novr. 1808. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett
1. In Frenc -. 2. English
[address] Monsieur John Leach Bennett


Mon jeune & cher Ami

Vous excuserés volontiérement que je n’ai pu satisfaire plûtot vos
Attentes au Sujet de vôtre Traduction de L’isle des Enfants, si je vous assure que malgré mes
visites deux ôu trois fois par Jour chés Monr Harvey je ne l’ai trouvé chés lui que ce Matin.
Vous savés deja que les Libraires ne sont pas en general les personnes desquelles on doit
s’attendre a recevoir l’encouragement que meritent les Commencements des Tâches semblable
a celle que vous aves entrepris avec un Zêle & du Succés surpassant vôtre age & qui vous
feront toujours beaucoup d’honneur. Monr. Harvey pretend qu’il a deja imprimé & pourvu au
fond des Livres de cette espêce autant qu’il croit suffir amplement á la demande que la Saison
approchante peut leur amêner; cependant si vous voulés vendre vôtre Manuscrit avec la liberté
qu’on puisse l’imprimer á l’avenir oû d’en faire des extraits pour d’autres publications, selon
qu’on le jugera apropos, on vous donnera deux Guinées. C’est peutêtre une remuneration qui ne
repond pas entiérement á vos voeux & aux peines que vous avés pris, mais il faut prendre ce
Monde comme il est & je me remets a vôtre decision, que je vous prie de me communiquer afin
que je puisse agir en consequence ———
Je suis bien faché de ne point avoir reussi aussi bien que je l’ai souhaité, vous prendrés j’espêre
ma bonne volonté pour une preuve que j’aurais eu infiniment plus de plaisir a vous annoncer un
resultat plus satisfaisant de part & d’autre, & vous serés toujours convaincu de l’amitié sincêre
avec laquelle je ne cesserai d’être

Le vôtre á tous égards
Londres Augts. Pieschell
ce 26e. Novembre 1808
[My young & dear friend

You will willingly excuse me that I have not been able sooner to satisfy your expectations on the
subject of your translation of The Island of Children, if I assure you that in spite of my visits two or three times
a day to Mr Harvey I did not find him at home until this morning. You are already aware that booksellers are
not in general those from whom one can expect to receive the encouragement needed to begin tasks such as
you have undertaken with zeal and success transcending your age & which will always do you much honour.
Mr Harvey claims to have already printed & spent enough on as many books of that sort as he thinks amply
sufficient for the demand which the coming season can require; however if you wish to sell your manuscript
with agreement for it to to be printed in the future or for extracts from it to be made for other publications, as
judged appropriate, he would pay you two guineas. That is perhaps remuneration which does not entirely
match your wishes & the trouble you have taken, but one has to take this world as it is & I defer to your
decision, which I am asking you to communicate to me so that I can act accordingly ————
I am very sorry not to have succeeded as well as I had wished, you will accept I hope my goodwill for a
token that I should have had infinitely more pleasure in reporting to you a more satisfactory result on both
sides, & you will remain assured of the sincere affection with which I shall not cease to be

Yours with all my respects

Augts. Pieschell
26th November 1808]


My dear John

The foregoing lines I meant to have brought you myself but some material business
interfering I have been precluded from doing it as well as from sending them by the post for this
Evening’s delivery, I add now this in english from two consideration to save you some trouble &
myself perhaps a greater, having got of late much out of practice to write french. I have to
request you will remember me to your father & Mother & to the family at the Abby, thanking
your father for his Letter this Morning and the present it accompanied & telling him at the same
time that I m[ust – paper torn] be very caref[ul – paper torn – h]ow I praise in future any thing in his
possession, and as I can use no better Organ than yours Mr. Leach will accept expressed by you
my acknowledgments for some Handkerchiefs I received from him. I have to regret that I cannot
leave Town to Morrow to offer my own Thanks & regards myself & to repeat to you that I am

Your sincere wellwisher

I need not say in haste
it is pretty apparent1

1. In fact Mr Pieschell’s always beautiful handwriting shows little sign of haste in this letter.
It appears that John had translated into English a French book for children called L’Isle des Enfants, the title of which
perhaps suggests a Rousseau-style narrative. Pieschell seems to have tried, and failed, to find a publisher. I have not
been able to trace the original book.

15. Feb 1809. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett
[address] J L Bennett

Mon cher Ami

En vous priant de vouloir bien faire agréer á vos chers parents les felicitations que ce
Jour offre aussi de ma part, je m’assure de la bonne volonté avec laquelle vous exprimérés tout
ce que je peu souhaiter de mieux & de la meilleure reception de mes Sentiments, parceque vous
avés en même tems l’intérêt le plus intime aux Voeux que je fais pour la preservation & le
bonheur de vôtre Mère & de vôtre grand Mère. Tous vos Amis je me flatte
accepteront favorablement la Sincerité avec la quelle je suis aussi

toujours le vôtre
Londres Augt. Pieschell
ce 15e. Fevrier 1809

[My dear friend

In asking you to be willing to make acceptable to your dear parents the felicitations which
today offers for my part, I am assured of the good will with which you will express better everything I can
wish & of the best reception of my sentiments, because you have at the same time the closest interest in the
wishes which I have for the well-being & happiness of your mother & grandmother. All your friends
I flatter myself will accept with approval the sincerity with which I remain

ever yours
London Augt. Pieschell
15th February 1809]



13 Jany. 1812. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett

[address] Mr. John Bennett


Mon cher Ami

Ne pouvant avoir le plaisir de passer chés vous demain j’envoi ce que j’avois
l’intention de porter moi même, quelques Oranges pour Madame vôtre Mére, qui j’espére se
porte de mieux en mieux; sa Santé aussibien que sa Gaieté je me flatte augmenteront de Jour en
Jour. Je souhaiterai d’y contribuer mais comme je n’ai pas le Talent de deviner aussi fort que
vous, si vous voulés bien rendre quelque Assistance á mes Intentions je vous en aurai beaucoup

Mes affaires le permettant je compte d’aller a Wimbledon Mercredi & je me
prevalerai de la permission de Monsieur vôtre pére de laisser mon cheval á sa maison & si la
promenade avec moi vers l’endroit que vous n’aimés guére, ne vous degoute pas tout á fait je
serai bien aise pourvu que le Tems fasse bien, que vous alliés m’accompagner ———
Faites je vous prie mes Compliments & temoignés mes Régards a tous les Amis qui veulent en
accepter & excusant l’embarras que je vous donne de dechifrer mon écriture qui n’est pas bien
coulant en francais croyés que je suis sincérement

le vôtre
Siselane Augt Pieschell
ce 13 Janvier 1812
[My dear John

Not being able to have the pleasure of visiting you tomorrow, I am sending what I had
intended to bring myself, some oranges for Madame your mother, who I hope is feeling better and better;
her health as well as her spirits I flatter myself will improve from day to day. I shall wish to contribute to
this, but as I have not the talent of perceiving as well as you, if you are willing to assist me in my intentions I
shall be very obliged to you.

My affairs permitting, I expect to go to Wimbledon on Wednesday & I shall prevail on
Monsieur your father’s permission to leave my horse at his house, & if the visit with me to the spot which
you do not care for does not completely disgust you I shall be happy, provided the weather is good, if you
would accompany me ——— Make I beg you my compliments & give my regards to all the friends
who wish to accept them, & apologising for the difficulty I give you to decipher my writing which is not
very fluent in French, believe me I am sincerely

Siselane Augt Pieschell
13th January 1812]



25. March 1812. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett
[address] Mr. J L Bennett

Mon cher Ami

La lettre que vous m’avés fait le plaisir de m’écrire m’a donnée beaucoup de
Satisfaction autant par la preuve qu’elle me fournit de vôtre Souvenir que par les progrés qu’elle
marque dans vôtre maniére d’exprimer vos Sentiments en francais. Continués je vous prie de
faire pour l’avenir des pas également rapides & vous ne manquerés d’arriver á la perfection, qui
je n’ai pas besoin de vous le dire, doit être le but de nos Actions de quelque genre qu’elles
soient. Je suis moi même trop hôrs de l’habitude de correspondre dans cette langue
pour que vous puisserés rétirer des Avantages proportionnés de mes lettres, mais vous ne
pouvés doûter que plus que vous pratiquéres vous même cette Correspondance d’autant les
leçons de vôtre Maitre & l’étude que vous possedés déja s’imprimeront avec plus de force sur
vôtre Memoire & vous donneront de l’aisance dans l’exécution. Il me faut observer
une Erreur qui vous est échappée, mais c’est sur l’Addresse de vôtre lettre; vous voudrés bien
croire que je n’aspire avec mes Amis a d’autres titres que ceux dont ils m’ont fait part jusqu’ici
et que ma Vanité ne sera point du tout chatouillé d’aucun changements.

Je vous remercierai personellement de vos Intentions á Regard de ma petite Commission,
elle ne hâte nullement, & le Tems a fait si froid que le côté du feu au moins selon mes Sensations
a eû plus de charme que le vent du Nord, & je crois vous avés êté de mon opinion. Si je peu
m’éloigner d’ici vers le Midi Aprés demain je me ferai le plaisir de diner avec vos parents & si le
jour fait plus beau une promenade dans l’aprés midi sera fort de mon gout. Presentés s’il vous
plait mes égards á Monsieur votre pere & Madame vôtre Mére.

Je m’apperçois que mes occupations m’ont entrainé a écrire plus vite que je n’aurai du
faire pour être lû sans peine, mais cependant ne croyés pas autrement que je serai toujours fort
aisé de recevoir vos Lettres & d’y repondre de mon mieux,

Vous Souhaitant toute prospérité possible I suis

Mon cher Ami

vôtre affectioné
Londres A P
ce 25e. Mars 1812
Vôtre grand cheval peut certainement rester a son paturage, qui j’en suis faché n’est guére
abundant, jusqu’á ce que vous en aurés besoin.

[My dear friend

The letter which you have pleased me by writing has given me much satisfaction, as much by
the proof which it furnishes of your memory as by the progress which it marks in your manner of expressing
your sentiments in French. I beg you to continue to make as rapid improvement in the future & you will not
fail to reach perfection, which I do not need to tell you must be the goal of our actions, whatever they are. I
am myself too far out of the habit of corresponding in this language for you to derive proportionate benefit
from my letters, but you cannot doubt that, the more that you yourself practise, this correspondence, as
well as the lessons from your tutor and the knowledge that you already have will impress themselves with
more force on your memory & will give you ease of execution. I must point out an error that has escaped
you, but it is on the address of your letter; you must believe that I do not aspire with my friends to other
titles than those with which they have favoured me until now, and that my vanity will not be tickled at all by
any changes.


I will thank you personally for your intentions with regard to my little commission, which is not
urgent, & the weather has been so cold that the fireside at least according to my feelings has had more
charm than the north wind, & I think you have been of my opinion. If I can get away from here around
midday the day after tomorrow I shall do myself the pleasure of dining with your parents & if the weather is
better a stroll in the afternoon would be much to my taste. Please give my regards to Monsieur your father
& Madame your mother.

I realise that my preoccupations have led me to write more quickly than I ought to have done to be
read without difficulty, but despite that do not think other than that I shall always be very happy to receive
your letters & to answer them as well as I can.

Wishing you every possible prosperity I am

my dear friend

yours affectionately
London AP
25th March 1812
Your big horse may certainly remain in his pasture, which I am sorry is hardly abundant, until you have need
of him.]1

1. This letter and the previous one suggest that Mr Pieschell had already taken the Wimbledon property referred to in
(44) and subsequently.

June 1812 Thomas Bennett to John L. Bennett at
Mount House Hastings

[address] Mr J.L. Bennett
at Mr Penfold’s
Mount House1

My dear John

I thank you much for the short Letter I receivd yesterday which containd the pleasing
account of your dear Mother’s reinstatement of health and your aunt Ann’s improving. I
sincerely hope they & all the party will remain so without any more drawbacks during your stay
from home

on my arrival here Monday eveng I found Mrs Stratton who remain’d ’till Wednesday, on
Sunday they had at ye Abby quite a Party to what they had been used to since your & your
Aunts’ absence on Saturday Mr Mrs. & Masr. Hammond – Sunday Mr. Mrs. & Jas Stratton with
Mr Saxton & Hoole making them in the whole to Dinner
one dozen!!

I hope your journey to Winchelsea & Rye answered your expectations & proved a very
agreeable day to all.

present my best respects to your good Friend Pieschell tell him I hope our Hay concern2 will
prove a good one, if this Morng had been fine the whole would have been stackd before Night but it
has provd otherwise having raind a little all the Morng that I fear not any will be fit to carry this
Day. however I trust it will not hurt as ¾ is stacked & covered well & the remainder is up in cocks
—— I am afraid I must be in Town on Saturday therefore shall not be able to give the Party a
meeting at 7Oaks3 Common as purposed but I am very contented with the Holidays already
experience’d & shall have much pleasure in seeing your Party at Merton again.

as I could not when at Hastings see any thing to give you as a remembrance that I liked I
purpose giving you the little neat new Penknife you may recollect I shewed you
there, if that is worth
your acceptance Your dr Grandfather Grandmother & Great do. with William are all well & request
me to write every good wish & remembrance to all the
dear Ladies & yrself with thine affectionately
Merton Abbey Thursday Noon Thomas Bennett


‘PLAN of a Printing Manufactory & BLEACHING FIELD in the Occupation of THOMAS BENNETT situate at MERTON
area 14.1.15 AUG. 1812 W LEACH SURVEYOR’
William Leach was the surviving son of John Leach. The caption suggests that Thomas Bennett had taken over the
proprietorship of the works from his father-in-law John Leach in or by August 1812.


Extract from the 1865 (revised 1871) 1:2500 OS map


N.B The visitors at Merton Abbey 1. 2 Mr & Mrs. Stratton 3. James Stratton (?)
4 Mr. Hammond – an artist in oils & water colour & a good painter
5 Mr. [Master?] Hammond was also an artist, a good miniature painter by whom the miniature of
my Father in a blue cloth Jacket was painted.
6. Mr. Samuel Hoole of H.M. Record Office.
7. Mr. T. Bennett. 8,9 Mr. & Mrs. Leach 10. Harriott Leach
11. Mrs. Hudson, the great Grandmother – (Mother of Mrs. Leach?
12. William Leach, then 24 years of age and I suppose, out of his articles & following the profession
of a Land Surveyor
1. John, now 14 years of age, was on holiday at Hastings with his mother and her sisters – Elizabeth, Ann and Harriott,
though Canon Bennett (see above) places Harriott at Merton. Thomas Bennett and Mr Pieschell visited them at
Hastings. See (49). Mount House was a lodging house in George Street, Hastings. The house is still there, as No.59a
and is Grade II listed. A directory of c.1815 lists ‘Miss Penfold’ as proprietor.
2. Thomas Bennett and Pieschell may have been in partnership growing hay as a commercial venture.
3. Sevenoaks, which is on the road to Hastings from London.

18 June 1812 Mr. Thomas Bennett to Mrs. T.B.
at Mount House Hastings

[address] Mrs Bennett

at Mr Penfold’s

Mount House

Hastings —— Sussex

My dearest Girl

your dear handwriting gave me a great deal of pleasure this morng —— it was
unexpected as I did not know the Post left Hastings on the Sundy. but had flattered myself to
hear from some one of you on Tuesday – one long week is almost past since I had the comfort of
being in yours and my dear Boy’s company since when the time seems to lag especially as I am
not much employed – but to hear from you every now & then and to have the assurance that you
are all well and comfortable as you can be, will greatly alleviate & tend to amuse my thoughts
which centers at Hastings I take all my Meals with the Family at the Abbey who are all
quite well ——— On Sunday I was at Church but did not hear a very clever Man Mr Bullock1 is
confined with the Gout & has not done duty these 2 Sundays & I am almost afraid I shall not
hear him again as his Time is nearly out ——— at Dinner there was only us Old Folks with Mr
Hoole at dinner William was in Town he did not see Mrs Silk but heard she continued very ill —

— we drank tea at five your Father and Mr Hoole walkd to Wimbledon to view Pieschell’s House
& Garden which they much admird I set off on my Horse towards Hastings got thro Wickham
near to Farnboro but found I could only reach you in
my thoughts.
on Wednesday last I saw the doctor about the heat of the Bath (which your Father forgot to
mention) he said the Heat usually recommended for weak Subjects was 94° but thought Miss
Ann would do better to consult her own feelings, as nature was the best Guide & 4 or 5 degrees
either way could not hurt but he would recommend its being cooler rather than too much heat —

— He asked me very kindly after you and said he had great hopes the change of Air would be of
much service to you if your feet still swells he recommends you to bath them with strong Spirits,
Rum or
Brandy & rub either well in but
not to the Soles of them as it would hurt perspiration as
much higher as you please
Your Father frequently expresses his thoughts about his dear dear Girls & Boy at Hastings
& thanks God very fervently that his dear Ann improves in Health & requests me to unite his
Love to all and sincerest regards to AP to whom he cannot express his feelings


My dearest Girl I hope when our mutual good Friend has left you, you will frequently write
me a few lines & if there is any thing you are in need of to make you more comfortable be
assured it will give me great pleasure to procure it you – with Love to the Ladies & John &
sincerest respects to Pieschell I remain

truly thine

T Bennett

Thank Pieschell for his kind Letter & tell Him I am just going to give William his instructions
and shall have much pleasure in seeing him Thursday eveng
Merton Abb Monday 3 oclock

Mr. & Mrs. Silk were old friends. Mr. Silk was an excellent sketcher of architectural subjects in Pencil,

chiefly in outline. I know nothing about Mrs. Silk.
The visit of Mr. Leach & Mr. Hoole to Mr. Peischell’s House & Garden at Wimbledon which they much
admire” shows that Mr. Peischell’s hopes expressed in his Letter to T.B. 16 Feb. 1805 had been fully

The medical prescription is curious – Miss Ann Leach then 25 years old, had been always delicate &
had a serious curvature of the spine

1. Bennett worshipped at St Mary’s Wimbledon. When the vicar Herbert Randolph left in 1810 a curate, Edward Bullock,
took charge.

22. June 1812. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett at Hastings
[address] Mr John Leach Bennett

My dear John

As my pen may run on rather more rapidly in writing to you than it did in the Letter to
your good Mother, from an Apprehension of causing too much trouble to decipher a scribbling
Hand, I will not neglect the short time remaining to save the post and to thank you for your
acceptable remembrance received this morning; the only regret it could leave with me was to find
the Weather had as about here influenced your Atmosphere & prevented much Entertainment
out of doors since; let us hope for a more congenial sky and that then ample opportunities and
Inclinations will not be wanting to make Amends particularly as, I dare to say, you will also
receive many further Inducements to be happy from an accession I may promise to your party at
Hastings to day I will not therefore take up much of your Time by repeating the Good
wishes &c that come with these lines to you likewise from Merton, they will be better heard than
read; but I will chiefly intrude upon you with my request that all your Exertions may be continued
to render the Ladies as comfortable as they can possibly be & that you will be good enough in
addition to the Attentions your own Inclination leads you to pay them procure them every
pleasure within your reach; it would defeat every wish and Intention of mine that their stay
should not embrace all that can in any way tend to make it most satisfactory The Inclosures1
will assist you to execute this Object and as such I beg you to use them.

I am glad to hear of your Aunt Anne not disliking the Bath, it will no doubt be of benefit to
her and the example may induce your Mother & your Aunts E & H to try the effect and perhaps
in the End you may be outdone by the Ladies,
little Coward as I needs must call you hugging
yourself in an excuse of the rough Sea that prevented you from bathing when you were
extremely anxious to do it. So far with a Joke which you see I cannot spare you from altho’
I perceive the growing blush on your cheeks —— You are however good & ready to excuse
much from me, knowing it not ill meant


You will until I am able to come down again afford me great pleasure in repeating your
Letters & telling me frequently if such be the case that all are happy & well.
I am always & truly

Yours &c
London Augt Pieschell
ye. 22 June 1812

Your Mother and your Aunts I trust do not forget the Bargain they made with me and which they
obligingly promised to conclude with the person who comes up so slily the Steps of the Mount &
glides in under the Stairs.

I had almost forgot your Poney of frisky & jolly Notoriety, I saw him yesterday indulging at
ease; not being well read in his Countenance & Expression I felt some difficulty to make out
whether he had rather be where he was or under your agreeable Burden.

[scribbled at foot of sheet]

10____ 3511. 5 May

5 ____ 3434 g 27 April

5 ____ 3433 j

[on outside of letter]

The paper2 will continue to go down
until you write again that you are
quite tired of calling at the post office for it

1. Has Mr Pieschell sent John some money? See also (48).
2. Presumably a newspaper.

1 July 1812. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett
at Hastings

[address] Mr. John L Bennett
at Mr. Penfold’s
Mount House Hastings

Dear John

Finding by the favor of your letter received this morning that you look for a punctual
reply e’re you would be inclined to let me hear from you again I will not long debar myself from
that pleasure. I shall however beg of you not to be so scrupulously exact for the future and if
want of Leisure or interesting Information to communicate prevent my writing so frequently, you
will oblige me by affording the opportunity of thanking you in one Answer for two or three of your
letters, particularly as a Side and a half, not very closely written, will I hope not greatly intrude
on your time and as you have the means of mentioning Subjects that cannot fail of proving
acceptable. I am happy to hear of your Mother & your Aunts continuing well & of Miss
Anne’s gaining Strength, I hope the Sea Air will further extend its good effects & that you will
not be among the least benefitted at Hastings. From Merton you have had probably within
the last days accounts of all being well, my Sunday passed with your friends and your
Grandfather appeared in good Spirits. When I parted with your father on Monday Morning he
had been for several Hours busily employed and as soon as his Task can be accomplished he will
join your Party, but he could not fix the exact day his longings might be gratified. From the
Silence you have kept respecting your Amusements I apprehend they have not been very
multiplied or productive of much Satisfaction, but I trust the fault has not rested either in your
obliging willingness or your Means. The Weather about here has not been very favourable,


some Rain almost every day, I wish you have been more fortunate in this respect. Your
Father told me he had written to induce the Ladies & yourself to prolong the Stay at Hastings a
few Weeks beyond the intended Time, pray add my requests to the same purpose & represent
the pity it would be after being once on the Spot to leave it, without taking away from it all the
Advantages especially in regard to Miss Anne’s Health that could possibly be obtained by an
extension. Accordingly as I may be favored with a resolution upon this Subject I shall
endeavor to arrange my plans for coming down, that I shall procure myself this pleasure early &
for the longest feasible period I need not assure you & when we meet I shall be truly glad to join
in the opinion that the Ladies have not
forgot all the Bargains they made with me, but I shall
want ample Testimony to praise their good faith!

Pray make my Regards and remembrance acceptable to all & believe me

Sincerely Yours

Augt Pieschell
1 July 1812

I shall be glad of a letter from you by Friday’s post


1 July 1812. Mr. Leach to John L. Bennett at Hastings

[address] Mr. J. L. Bennett
Mount House

July 1st. 1812

My ever dear boy

I thank you for your agreeable Letter which we have been expecting severall
days past, it gives us all great sattisfaction to know that you are all well and that Ann keeps
mending, and I am particularly pleased to hear of the industry of Eliza and Ann, we have been
sadly disapointed respecting Ann’s medecines which shall be forwarded the first opportunity. You
must not expect to see your father yet as he is extremely busy at present. It begins to seem a
long long time since we saw you and the strawberries want you but every thing else I think will
keep verry well
a little longer, I have this minute receivd a Letter from Mrs. Rocke who enquires
very kindly after you all and desires to be rememberd to you, she talks of paying us a visit in
your absence. We are all thank God pretty well and all join in love and affection to you all, from
your affectionate Grandfather

Jno. Leach
PS. Mr Pieschell’s mare fell lame and your father was obliged to ride his own horse all the way
home and arived about 10 oclock safe and well

The P.S. of the Letter is a Record of a very memorable Ride of my Grandfather and Mr. Peischell
from Hastings
They had both ridden their own horses to Hastings from home – probably together as Mr. Peischell
was then living at Wimbledon. It was arranged that Mr. Peischell’s groom should meet them with
two horses, at Tonbridge or Sevenoaks more probably well rested & ready for them to mount & ride
home. When they arrived they found that Mr. Peischell’s mare was lame, my grandfather’s horse was
quite fresh and well able to continue the journey. My grandfather therefore gave up his led horse to
Mr. Peischell, fed & rested the horse he had ridden from Hastings, and rode him home safe & well.
The distance from Hastings to Merton is about 65 miles.


They left Hastings after early dinner shortly before the afternoon Mail started and it did not pass
them before they left the Hastings & London Road at Bromley, for the cross Road by Beckenham &
Streatham to Home about 10.p.m. – and man & horse “well”.

Such is the account my Father has given me of this good bit of his Father’s horsemanship.
In Carey’s Itinerary 1828 London Stage coach directory The Time to
Hastings is thus given “(Rl.
Mail) in 9¾ hours (Express) 9 hours (Paragon) 8 hours. –


15 July 1812. Mr. Peischell to John L Bennett at Hastings

[address] Mr. J L Bennett

Dear John

I have to thank you for a very punctual reply to my last, it would have however been
more pleasing had it conveyed an Assent rather than a Negative to my wishes & signified the
Intentions of your Mother and your Aunts to sojourn longer in their present Abode. The
reduction of pleasure you will see with me is not to be laid to your charge & you’ll therefore
acquit me of having by my acknowledgment paid a rude Compliment to your Letter which under
other considerations I trust you’ll believe me happy in having received.

I am afraid your Aunts as well as your good Mother are beginning to feel a little homesick
& that you have not had it in your power to divert their attention much; pray tell them all goes on
well, the flowers will remain long in bloom & grace their Gardens if they do not come back quite
so soon, & the Cherries are not yet near so rosy as I hope you have seen the Circle round your
breakfast Table before you received this.

You will I hope see your Father in a few days & your humble Servant
shortly after, in the mean Time I request you will use the inclosed and as the Weather will surely
be fine next Week frequently do the Honor’s
Alfresco.1 The more you have been good enough
to endeavor to amuse the more I shall have to acknowledge when we meet.

Every Good be with you. Adieu! yours truly
London A P
ye 15 July 1812

1. Mr Pieschell seems to have sent more money to John, with the thought that he could entertain his mother and aunts
to an occasional outdoor repast.
‘Hastings from
the London



June 6 – July 18th. 1812. Journal of John L. Bennett at Hastings
No. entry between June 25 – & July 8.
[pencil]Hastings 1812

Journal 1812
June 6. Set off at 5 o-clock with Mr. Pieschell, My father & mother & my three Aunts for
Hastings, arrived safe at the Swan Inn1 about half past six & slept there

7. Went to our lodgings at Mount House2 on the Mount & took a walk in the Eveng.
8. Went on the Sea in a pleasure Boat, very fine weather, in the afternoon went to Bopeep3
the ladies on Donkeys.
9. My father returned this morning by the stage, we walked to the Old Roar a cascade so
called about 2½ Miles from Hastings,4 walked on the Beach, saw part of the Cliff fall which is
rather an uncommon sight.
10. Went to catch trouts with the waterman, on which we afterwards dined, in the evening
we walked to Lover’s Seat.5
11. Went to the sand caves (which run 150 Yards under Ground)6 & Bohemia farm House7
in the Morng, in the afternoon went to Fairlight down, but the weather being hazy we saw but
12. Went to Hollington Church8 which stands in the midst of a thick wood ¼ of a mile from
any House in the morng. in the Eveng walked on the Sands
June 13. Went to Ore Church9 in the Morng. in the evening went to the fish ponds, & the
dripping well,10 with which we were highly delighted.
14. In the morng. went to Church, in the afternoon walked to Bohemia & in the evening
walked on the parade.
15. Past a most delightful day at a farm House, near the Fish ponds,11 in the morning we
walked to the dripping well & the Signal post12 & in the afternoon to fairlight down, from whence
is a most delightful view & we plainly discerned the French Coast.
16. Rode to the beautiful seat of the Earl of Ashburnham went over the House &
Gardens,13 returned by Bexhill (where we dined) to Hastings.
17. The sea very rough, we walked on the Beach beyond Ecclesbourne, got completely wet
through, in the afternoon walked again on the Beach.
18. Mr Pieschell returned except a short walk I took in the morning we staid at home all
19. Staid at Home in the morning being wet, in the evening walked to Bohemia.
20. Walked along the Beach to get my Aunt Elizabeth some sea poppies, returned by
21. In the morning went to Church, in the evening walked to the fish-ponds.
22. Walked to the Old Roar, Hollington Church with Master Goringe in the morng, in the
eveng. went to Bohemia.
23. My father came to us this Morning, in the eveng. we walked to Fairlight down.
24. Hired a poney to ride to Winchelsea, but finding him very obstinate, my father went
alone, drank tea at the fish ponds, walked to the dripping well & lover’s seat.
25. Walked to the Old Roar in the morng. after dinner my father left us in the Eveng
walked on the Sands & on the parade.
Note. the following fortnight not being very fine, & as we
were alone our walks were confined to the Beach & the country within a mile or two of the place.
July 8. This eveng. my father again came down.
9. In the morng. walked on the Beach in the eveng we went to Ecclesbourne
10. In the morng walked again on the Beach, in the eveng to Bohemia.
11. In the eveng. Mr Pieschell came down with Mr & Mrs Hartwig


July 12. Mr & Mrs Hartwig dined with us in the eveng walked over the cliffs to Ecclesbourne

13. In the morng walked on the Beach, in the eveng walked to fairlight downs.
14. We rode to Winchelsea, were much delighted with the Church, the Castle & a
Gentleman’s house called the friars.14
15. In the Morng went to Hollington Church (the ladies on Donkeys) Mr & Mrs Hartwig
afterwards dined with us, in the eveng went to the Barracks.15
16. Spent the Day at the fish ponds.
17. In the morng went on the sea in a row Boat, drank tea with Mr & Mrs Hartwig in the
Eveng walked on the Beach.
18. Set off at 5 oclock for Merton, breakfasted at Tunbridge wells (about 12 oclock) where
we staid about 3 Hours, dined at Sevenoaks Common & arrived at Home about 11 o-clock
1. One of Hastings’ earliest inns. It stood on the south-west corner of the junction of the High Street and Swan Terrace.
It was destroyed, with loss of life, by enemy action in 1943, and the site left clear as a memorial.
2. See (43) note 1.

3. An area represented by modern Grosvenor Crescent, to the west of the town. The name derives from the hide-and-
seek activities of local smugglers. In 1804 there was a public house at Bo-Peep that offered alfresco tea and cream.
4. A small waterfall at the northern end of modern Alexandra Park. It lost much of its original ‘roar’ later in the 19th
century when water was extracted upstream.
5. Lovers Seat is in Fairlight, east of Fairlight Glen. There was a bench on a ledge high above the sea. Cliff erosion has
now obliterated the spot.
6. Probably what are now known as St Clement’s Caves, above the High Street, though there are others.
7. Bohemia farmhouse was north-west of Old Town – the area is still called Bohemia. The farmhouse served tea and
syllabub in the summer.
8. Now known as ‘Hollington Church in the Wood’, it is still surrounded by trees, though not so isolated as it was.
9. About 1.5km (1 mile) from the Old Town. The medieval church of St Helen is now a fragmentary ruin replaced by a
church of 1869.
10. In Fairlight Glen, about 3km (1.8 miles) east of Hastings. ‘Dripping’ or ‘dropping’ wells are fed by water dripping from
11. The Fishponds were another local beauty spot towards Fairlight.
12. Probably Fairlight Down, the highest point near Hastings, and one of the triangulation points established as a
precursor to the Ordnance Survey mapping.
13. Ashburnham Place is about 6 km west of Battle. It is now a Christian conference and prayer centre.
14. Probably the house now known as Greyfriars.
15. Probably the Halton barracks, demolished in 1823. Halton is north-east of the Old Town.
‘Hastings, the Lovers Seat’: lithograph c.1825


12 May 1813. Mr. Leach to John L. Bennett

from Dorking, where he was looking out for

a House to which he might remove with his

Family on retiring from Business.

[address] J.L.Bennett
Merton Abbey
Dorking 12th. May 1813
My dear John

I am pleased to find your good father is going to take you to St. Pauls but am sorry to be
baulk’d of the pleasure of your company, as we mean to be at home on Satturday evening, and
unless you give up going to the Play I have no hopes of seeing you here, but could you do that I
should think you might set of early on friday morning and return with us on Saturday evening but
I can by no means agree you should do so unless it is quite agreeable to you and your dear
Parents. pray contrive to let Mr. Hoole know I shall be at home on Satty. evening and that I wish
much to see him

Tell my dear girls I have a chance of geting a piece of ground that will just suit them and
that your Grandmother and I went to Bookham on Satturday but that place does not please us, I
am glad they are all at home and allso that Ann has in a degree succeeded. pray give our loves to
all joind with the respects &c. of all their friends here.

Yours with the sincerest

affection and love

Jno. Leach
PS. I have sent this
with a small loaf to
make a parcel for the
coach that you may have
it this afternoon

The first mention of Bookham. Mr. Leach afterwards bought a cottage with a large Garden and
paddock opposite to Eastern entrance to the Church yard which he enlarged, and made a
comfortable home – for himself his widow and their children.1

The P.S. about the small loaf to make a parcel was an expedient to make the delivery of the letter
by the Dorking coach which passed through Merton ostensibly, if not realy legal, and did not expose
the coachman to prosecution for defrauding H.M. Post Office.

1. The ‘cottage’ was the substantial house later known as (The) Hermitage which still stands, near the parish church of
St Nicholas, Great Bookham, Surrey. John Leach bought it in 1813, and it was occupied by the family until 1881.
Sketches of the church by Leach’s son William, a surveyor, survive. The house had earlier been the home of the
novelist and diarist Fanny Burney and her French émigré husband Général d’Arblay.
A younger woman novelist, Jane Austen, was the goddaughter of the vicar of Bookham at this date, the Rev. Samuel
Cooke. It is almost certain that she visited the Cookes in 1814. Perhaps the Leaches encountered at the vicarage, or at
least glimpsed in the vicarage pew, Mr Cooke’s sharp-eyed and witty guest, and the next letter makes it clear that
John Leach had received ‘civilities’ from his ‘Reverend Neighbour’.
D Le Faye (ed.)Jane Austen’s LettersOUP (1995) p.263
S E D Fortescue People and Places of Great and Little Bookham (1978) privately printed, Gt Bookham pp.50, 90, 93, 100
S E D FortescueThe Story of Two Villages: Great & Little Bookham (1975) privately printed, Gt Bookham pp.47, 51, 53


The Hermitage, Great Bookham, today and in 1820



18 July 1814. Mr. Peischell to John L. Bennett at Bookham

My dear John

Having understood you are to return to Merton tomorrow evening I write to say
William is desired to set out from Wimbledon in the afternoon at halfpast 5 o’Clock, to go to
Ashted & save you the walk from there by driving you back, you will I hope thereby enjoy the
opportunity of a Ramble about Bookham in the Morning in the Attempt to which this days
Showers may have foiled you ———

In offering my best remembrance to all good friends at Bookham, I have to request you will
take their pleasure about the Time of the Morning I might order the Chaises for Farnham on
Sunday next should the influence of St. Swithin cease by that Time & admit of my having the
pleasure to see the Excursion afford some Entertainment Most likely your Grandfather
will not object to shew a return for his Reverend Neighbours Civilities1 I will therefore beg his
leave to send some fish on friday by Poulter2 if it can be obtained to keep good for a day or two.

London is more than usually dull to me, altho’ even Monday, whether the Gloom not quite
so usual for an August day or the extreme difference of the Atmosphere of Tuesday is the Cause
I have not yet found out, News I have none to add for I hope you do not look upon it as

nouvelle” that I am truly

London Augt Pieschell
ye. 18th. July 1814

1. See Note 1 for the previous letter.
2. The Bookham carrier. See Bennett’s note to (59).

15 June 1813. M. LeGrip to John L. Bennett

[address] Mr.. J.. Bennett

Mr.. Le Grip présente ses complimens à Mr.. J.. Bennett, il se propose d’avoir le plaisir de lui
faire une petite visite Vendredi vers les 2 heures & lui fait présent, pour récompense de sa
diligence &c. &c. de l’abrégé de l’histoire universelle, chef’doeuvre du grand Bossuet.
Historia recté vocatur testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, nuntia
vetustatis. ———

Mitcham 15 Juin 1813

[Monsieur Le Grip presents his compliments to Mr J Bennett; he intends to have the pleasure of paying a
brief visit about two o’clock on Friday and presenting him, as a reward for his diligence etc. etc. with the
abridged universal history which is the masterpiece of the great Bossuet.1
History is rightly called the evidence of time, the light of truth, the life of memory, the directress of life, the
herald of antiquity.2]

Mr. Le Grip3 was my Father’s French, and Latin (?) Master – He was I believe an Emigrée, who settled
at Mitcham during the French Revolution, and was an able Teacher. I have the Book referred to. FB

1. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), bishop of Meaux, historian and orator, published Discours sur l’Histoire
Universelle in Paris in 1681. It went into many editions.
2. Cicero’s De Oratore 2 IX 36.
3. Louis Le Grip was one of a series of Catholic chaplains to Marmaduke Langdale of The Firs, Mitcham, during the
period 1788-1822. He may well have been resident at the house, which stood at about the mid-point of the present
Langdale Avenue.
R Simpson A History of Mitcham Mission (1797) in RC Diocese of Southwark Archives. Information from Dr Tony Scott.



12. April 1815. Mr. Peischell to Mrs. Thomas Bennett
[address] Mrs. S J Bennett
My dear Madam

Having long been desirous to testify my Sense of your highly valued friendship &
Kindness during an Acquaintance of many Years I now crave your Permission in feeble
Testimony of it, to be allowed becoming accessory from time to time & in as far as present or
future Circumstances may afford me the pleasure of so doing, to the Investment of some fund
secured for your use & benefit under a proper Trusteeship. Not doubting an Arrangement to that
purpose may be executed satisfactorily I hereby authorize Mr. Bennett to appropriate
accordingly the Amount of five hundred pounds of the money of mine in his Hands, and beg only
to add I shall feel every Gratification in your being pleased to accept the foregoing Expressions
as conveying the sincerest Sentiments of Esteem & Regard from

My dear Madam

Your truly & always obliged
London Augt Pieschell
ye 12 April 1815

An offer of £500.0.0 money to be settled on her by a Trust deed to be arranged by Mr. Thomas
Bennett in testimony of his regard for her kindness & friendship to him.


30. Octr 1815 Mr Pieschell to Mr. Thomas Bennett from Allenberg1
[address] Mr. Thoms Bennett

Altenberg1 ye 30th. October
My Dear Bennett

The very first Moment I have in some degree to myself I am happy in
improving to thank you for the very kind letter I received from you, which proved the more
highly gratifying as it contained the welcome Accounts of all our friends, in which I had almost
placed some afflicting doubts from the Length of Time during which I had not heard from Persons
I so much wish to Value & Esteem. I may now indulge the Hope of meeting you shortly again all
well in England & having again been forced to tear myself one after another from all family
Connection & Intercourse it will be some Consolation to me to throw myself once more on those
friendly & kind Sentiments I have before received at Merton. Pray name my affectionate
Regard & I hope I may say brotherly Love to Mrs. Bennett & John, and at Bookham2 you cannot
say too much either. I am now travelling homeward meeting continually swarms & Hordes of
Russian Soldiers, Cossacks, Bashkirs3 & God knows what other I might say brutes, but feel no
great desire to encounter them these long dark Nights, the days being considerably on the
decline my progress will be slower in proportion and I fear I shall not see you for some days after
you receive this —— My Brother from Magdeburg as well as all my other friends have heaped
kindness after kindness on me & my mother and all their choicest affections, amongst the proofs
of the former is an abundant supply of plants & trees for which Mrs. Bennett’s fostering Hand will
plan & please to direct the planting, if the Garden should not conveniently receive them all you


may most likely be able to find out some other small space of Ground. The fruit Trees I am
assured are of choicest Selections & I should be glad to nurse what has been so kindly intended.
Should these Things arrive at London before me I have written to Mr. Hoffmann4 with my
request for the plants & Trees being conveyed to you for which purpose you will have the
Goodness if not inconvenient to allow the Assistance of your Waggon.

Pardon my Great Hurry, the postillion has already blown his Horn twice & is quite
impatient I must join the Carriage, but not without assuring you & Mrs. Bennett & John of my
most affectionate & constant remembrances

Adieu! God bless you all. Ever Yours

Augt Pieschell

I must thank you still for your kind Information about my Servant S. and am truly glad he
conducts himself properly

A very interesting account of the condition of Prussia during the return of the Allied Army from
France after the Waterloo Campaign

1. ‘Altenberg’ is what Pieschell seems to have written, not ‘Allenberg’. There is an Altenberg to the south of Dresden.
2. Mr and Mrs John Leach, with their three unmarried daughters, were now living at Bookham.
3. From the southern Urals.
4. Probably his nephew or his brother-in-law.
5-20 Sept 1816. Diary of John L. Bennett of a tour through the midland Counties with Mr.
Peischell, his Mother, and the three Aunts

Septr 5th. 1816. We left Merton about 2 oclock this afternoon the party being composed of
my mother, my three Aunts, Mr Pieschell & myself & passing through the delightful suburbs of
London, over Highgate Hill, we reached Barnet; which we found in a great Bustle on account of a
large Cattle-fair annually held there, the next place of any consequence was St Albans, which is a
good market Town, & has a large handsome Church in the highest part of it, we passed through
this to Redburn,1 a place of little consequence, where we changed, & proceeded by the light of an
unclouded Moon through Dunstable (famous for the manufacture of Straw-Bonnets) to
Hockliffe,2 where we slept this is a straggling village on a sandy soil surrounded by apparently
fertile Meadows.

1. Redbourn, Hertfordshire, about 6.5km (4 miles) north of St Albans.
2. About 6.5km (4 miles) beyond Dunstable.
Septr 6th. Passed over sandy Roads through Woburn (on the right of which saw the
venerable woods of Woburn Abbey, seat of the Duke of Bedford) to Newport Pagnell, on the
River Ouse, saw nothing worth mentioning ’till we came to Queen’s Cross, a light handsome
building erected by Edward 1st to the memory of his Queen Eleanor, within about a mile of
Northampton, where we staid a short time: it is a large handsome town built principally with a
kind of yellow stone dug in the Neighbourhood & situated on the side of a hill. Leaving this place
we passed along a road bounded on each side by a Wall composed of small pieces of stone
heaped loosely together, to Market Harborough, a place of not much consequence, & from
thence without seeing any thing worthy of notice to Leicester, & so ended our journey for this
day. Leicester is a large populous Town, & has extensive manufactures in different branches of
the Wool Trade, the houses are almost all built with red bricks, which does not add much to the
beauty of the Town.1

1. John Leach Bennett’s prejudice in favour of stone rather than brick was probably a general one at this period, when
older brick houses were made more fashionable by being given new stone, or even imitation stone, façades.


Septr 7. From thence we proceeded through no place of consequence to Loughborough,
changed there & crossing the Trent at Shardlow arrived at Derby which is a large well built
Town, where there is a curious manufactory of Silk & another of Porcelain. Beyond this place the
road winds among fertile hills of no great height till it reaches Wirksworth a small town, from
hence it ascends for some distance & then descending very abruptly, presented to our view the
delightful scenery of Matlock-Dale, the fine Cotton Mill of Mr Arkwright1 in the fore ground
formed a pleasing contrast with the dark woods, & lofty rocks beyond. Advancing a little further
we enterd the Dale through a Rock which has been blasted for the purpose of admitting the
Road, & here a truly beautiful scene spread itself before us, the river Derwent, ran with a
murmuring noise on, our right hand, & beyond it an almost perpendicular Rock, rose to a
considerable height, shewing its grotesque & rugged forms above the woods with which it was in
most places covered: on our left the Hills, are covered with herbage, but not so perpendicular as
on the other: winding by the side of the river each turn of which presented us with a different
view of this enchanting Dale we came to the Old Bath.2 And having come to this Stage of our
journey I think it right to take a general retrospective view of the country through which we
passed: as far as Derby, it is in general flat, but in the highest state of cultivation, the Churches
are built of stone, with tall spires, & being mostly kept in good repair, give an air of comfort to
the villages: the harvest in many places was just begun, & as far as I could judge appeared very
plentiful though much of the land by which we passed, consisted of very fine meadows, which feed
a great quantity of Oxen for the London Market; in Leicester-Shire we noticed a peculiar breed
of Sheep so called, they are very large & their wool is very long & white.

1. Inventor Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-92) built a cotton-spinning mill at Cromford in Matlock Dale and powered it with
one of Boulton and Watt’s steam engines.
Ironically, the Hon. John Byng, visiting in 1790, noted that the place ‘[would] quickly become as noisy as
Cashalton[sic], or Merton in Surrey’. See C B Andrews (ed.) The Torrington Diaries Vol II, Eyre & Spottiswoode
(1935) p.195
2. This is about a kilometre north of Cromford. Matlock’s tepid waters had been known since the 17th century. The first
bath house was built in 1734, and a hotel called Old Bath was built later. The New Bath lay a little to the south of this.
The road through Matlock had been improved by the date of John Leach Bennett’s visit, as he describes, and the
place had become accustomed to many visitors.
The Old Bath,
Matlock, in the early
19th century


Septr 8th. This morning we had a delightful walk to the village of Matlock, about 1½ mile
from the Bath, where the Dale terminates; the scenery here is of the same kind as I have before
described, except that the rocks are higher & not so well eroded, one in particular called the
High Tor, as particularly romantic, the river too is in many places obstructed by rocks, & forms
several beautiful cascades. The afternoon being wet confined us to our Room.1

1. A Sunday. There is no mention of church, but the party had perhaps planned their journey so that they would not be
travelling on the day of rest.
Septr 9. This day being wet we amused ourselves in the morning with examining &
purchasing some curious specimens of Spar,1 & other productions of Nature, in the Museum of
Messrs Browne & Mawe,2 which is indeed well worth the attention of all who visit Matlock.

1. A term used for any clear mineral rock with well-defined cleavage, but in the Matlock area ‘spar’ probably refers to
fluorspar (calcium fluoride, CaF2), the strikingly coloured local version of which is ‘blue john’.
2. The proprietors of probably the first museum at Matlock.
Septr 10. This morning we went to the Rutland Cavern1 which is situated about half way up
the heights of Abraham it was as our Guide informed us hewn through a rock of solid Lime stone
by Miners so far back as the year 400, & the entrance has within a few years been made
convenient by blowing through the rock. It contains strata of lead, copper & brass2 ore in very
inconsiderable quantities, besides most of the different kinds of Spar; this was formerly worked
as a lead mine but the vein of ore is now quite exhausted; in the lowest part where it is 60 yds
below the surface of the hill is a well of pure water; from thence we walked to the top of the
heights, where we were delighted with an extensive & beautifull view of the surrounding country
in all directions, the high tor forming a prominent feature in the prospect.

1. The largest of the caverns at Matlock. It was worked by the Romans for lead ore.
2. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. He may be referring to a zinc ore.
Septr 11. In the morning we walked about the surrounding country, & in the afternoon we
went to view Smedley’s Cavern,1 which nearly resembles the other, except that it is more the
work of nature, & contains more beautifull specimens of Spar, particularly what is called the
Snow fossil, & the stalactite, which is composed of water of a petrifying quality which dropping
from the rocks is formed into a solid mass in shape resembling an Icicle. In this place I should
mention a Well,2 near the new bath, which has the same power, though in a different manner, as it
seems to cover what it petrifies with an Argillaceous substance, giving it somewhat the
appearance of earthen-ware

1. Probably the one known by mid-century as Cumberland Cavern. It was described then as the second largest and the
most natural.
2. The petrifying well is in the centre of Matlock Bath.
Septr 12. Bidding adieu to Matlock, we proceeded through a fine hilly country by the side
of the Derwent, to Edensor near Chatsworth, the magnificent seat of the Duke of Devonshire,
which place we went to view the following morng.

Septr 13. The house is a handsome Stone building, situated in a fine park, a hill covered
with wood rises behind it & the “dusky Derwent” over which is a handsome stone bridge, runs in
front. The principal part of the house was built about 100 years since, but a few rooms are shown,
which they say were inhabited by the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, during her confinement
here. Some of the rooms are fitted up in the highest style of modern taste, the others are merely
rooms of State, containing a great many pictures, though not by the best masters, a few fine
flower-pieces attracted my attention, & the carving in wood with which all the rooms (&
especially the state dining room) are adorned, is peculiarly excellent. The Garden is celebrated
for its water works which are perhaps the finest of their kind in England, in one place the water


issues from a small temple in a very pretty manner, & one fountain throws the water to a height
of Ninety feet. On the hill behind the house, is a tower erected for the sake of the view which is
very beautifull & extensive

Septr 14. Leaving Edensor, we passed through a fine country to Stony-Middleton, which is
indeed rightly named, large masses of rock are seen on every side & the road for a considerable
distance winds between rocks, resembling the Cliffs of the sea shore. Beyond this place the
country assumes a barren & dreary appearance, not a house or a tree are to be seen for several
miles, till on des-cending a steep hill, a richly cultivated valley presents itself, it is of several
miles in length & entirely surrounded by hills, in some places rising to the height of 1200 feet
above the valley, the most considerable of these is Mam Tor, whose lofty head was that day hid
by clouds, of this hill (which is also called the shivering mountain on account of the shale &
stones, continually falling from it) the inhabitants say that though it falls every day it does not
diminish, or change its appearance. At the foot of this hill is situated the village of Castleton (so
called from an ancient castle the ruins of which are still standing) it is small, has nothing to boast
but a highly romantic situation the accommodations were miserable, in fact our landlady informed
us, that nobody came to Castleton except to see peak’s hole; to “peak’s hole”1 accordingly we
went, & found it well worth travelling some miles to see, the entrance is an arch formed by
nature, of great height & considerable extent, in this place some rope-makers have settled
themselves & carry on their business very commodiously, the effect of this cavern with so many
busy hands employed, formed a striking & uncommon spectacle, from thence through a small
door we arrived at the first waters, over which we were ferried by the guide, in a small boat
holding only two persons, the impending rock being so low that we were obliged to lie down in it
at full-length,2 from this place we arrived at what is called the Chancel,3 which is a natural
Cavern of considerable height & extent, in this place some boys used formerly to sing solemn
airs for the amusement of the visitors, but this has been for some time disused, though the effect
of music in such a place must be highly delightful, from thence, we passed by roger rain’s cave,
(so called on account of the water which is continually dropping from the roof like a shower), to a
fine clear stream of water, which continues the whole length of the cavern, our guide led us, by
the side of this stream through several caverns to which he gave different names, such as the
Duke of Gloucester’s Hall, the Devils’ cellar & Tom of Lincoln4 (so called on account of its
resemblance to a bell) ’till the rock approached so near the surface of the water as to forbid, our
further progress this stream loses itself about 4 or 5 miles off, & thus finds a subterraneous
passage till it shows itself in this wonderfull Cavern, this they said had been proved by a sack of
bran, which being put in where the water loses itself was found in Peak’s hole near this place our
guide treated us with a blast as he called it, which is the explosion of some gunpowder, rammed
into the rock, the effect it has on the nerves echoing through the vaults is truly electrical.5

1. Now known as Peak Cavern.
2. There is now a path.
3. Or Orchestral Chamber.
4. Or Bell House.
5. There is a vivid account of a visit to this cavern in 1782 by a German pastor Carl Philip Moritz – Mr Pieschell was not
the first German visitor!
Journeys of a German in England (tr. R Nettel) Eland Books, London (1983 1st ed. 1965) pp.160-166

Septr 15th. This morning being extremely fine, & our accommodations very uncomfortable,
we left Castleton & ascending a hill of 1½ miles in length (from whence we were indulged with a
last view of the valley) passed by the ebbing & flowing well over a hilly country chiefly grass land
to Buxton, thence we continued over the same kind of country to Newhaven Inn.1 About four
miles beyond this place we left our chaises to walk through Dove-dale, which we were informed
was about two miles through. To attempt to describe this dale with any degree of novelty since it
has so often been done by pen & pencil would be vain, the general appearance of it is romantic in


the highest degree, the river runs with a gentle murmuring noise, between rocks & hills of the
most extraordinary shape, in many places rising to the height of 3 or 400 feet, some formed by
nature in the shape of Pyramids some hollowed into Caverns, approaching the water so near as
apparently to stop all further progress, while every turn of the river presents to the enraptured
eye some totally different view, unfortunately the length of the dale was much greater than we
expected & before we reached the end, it was too late to see all the beauties, though the part
nearest Newhaven appeared to me the finest, the Ladies were particularly glad to see the
Chaises, as the air was getting extremely damp & they were completely tired with so long &
scrambling a walk, we entered the town of Ashburn in the dark.2

1. About 6.5km (4 miles) north of Ashbourne.
2. On this Sunday the party does indeed travel.
Septr 16. This day being obliged to stay at Ashburn while some of our Cloths were washing,
we employed in walking about the town & its environs, it is situated in a very fertile pleasant
Country, & from the London road is a very fine view, in the town there is nothing remarkable.

Septr 17. We left Ashburn this morning & passed, through a highly cultivated & pleasant
country to Uttoxeter, where we changed & kept on to the city of Lichfield, the short time we
stayed there was employed in visiting the Cathedral, which was founded & dedicated to St. Chad
by one of the Kings of the Saxon Heptarchy, & afterwards enlarged & improved by King’s
Stephen & John, besides being benefited by some noblemen whose names are perpetuated by a
modern painted window in the north end. In the civil wars it was stormed & taken by O
Cromwell’s army, & by him made a barrack & Stable, in the reign of Charles 2nd it was restored
& since that time has been much improved, the Choir has been adorned with plaster ornaments
in the ancient style, & with painted windows, the colors of which are extremely brilliant, & the
designs considering the time they were executed (early in the 16th century) very good, the whole
of the Cathedral is in excellent repair, & has an air of solemn grandeur very suitable to a place
of worship; there are some good monuments particularly to Saml Johnson & D Garrick both
natives of this Town. —— It appears to be a well built City & pleasantly situated. Leaving
Lichfield we passed over the same kind of country as we had seen in the morning to Coleshill,1
where we put up for the night in an excellent Inn.

1. Just to the east of Birmingham.
Septr 18. We reached Coventry about 10 o-clock this morning, but finding it a dirty
disagreeable looking city, we changed & kept on without any thing worthy of notice to Southam1
& from thence to Banbury a pretty good town; two more stages brought us to Woodstock, a small
but neat Town famous for a peculiar mode of dressing leather & manufacturing gloves.2 The
whole district from Ashburn to this place presents little variety, it is uniformly in a high state of
cultivation, the corn looking well, a great deal cut, & in some parts carried.

1. Between Leamington and Daventry.
2. ‘Woodstock’ gloves were typically made from sheep and lamb skins bought in from elsewhere, pared and bleached in
the town and spread on the hedges to bleach. Tan driving gloves, a speciality, were made from leather cured by a
special process using egg-yolk.
A Ballard Chronicles of the Royal Borough of Woodstock Alden & Co, Oxford (1896) pp.142-3

Septr 19. This morning we walked to view the gardens of Blenheim, the princely seat of
the Duke of Marlborough the house not being open to the public ’till after 3 ‘o.clock this mansion
(as is well known) was erected by parliament for the great Duke, to commemorate the glorious
battle of Blenheim, at the expence of half a million besides £200,000 which the Duke himself
contributed the architect was Sir Jno Vanburgh, the order is the Corinthian & the south front
seen from the garden very elegant, the gardens were laid out by the famous Browne,1 but have


since that time been entirely altered & disposed with considerable taste by the present Duke, a
small brook which ran through the park has by a single dam been formed into a fine sheet of
water covering 260 acres, ressembling a large river, which falling over the beforementioned dam,
forms a fine cascade which though artificial is so well arranged, as to appear natural, one bank of
this lake forming part of the park & in a rude uncultivated state, is finely contrasted with the
opposite one laid out in lawns, adorned with beautiful shrubs & trees with here & there a small
temple or bronze statue, these pleasure grounds are enlivened by some beautiful foreign
pheasants, which range here at liberty, & are so tame as to eat from one’s hand, each turn of the
walks presents a different view of the Lake, the park or the house: in these grounds are still
remaining some trees, of great sise & extraordinary age, having formerly belonged to the
ancient forest of Woodstock, famed in story as the residence of fair Rosamond. crossing the
grand bridge, we came to a lofty pillar on the summit of which is a statue of the famous Duke 10
feet high, on the base are inscribed the different actions of the duke, & on the other side the acts
of parliament conferring various honors on himself & his heirs. In the afternoon we returned to
view the house, after passing the first court, we entered a fine area 348 feet wide open on one
side to the park, from whence it is seperated by Iron palisades, & over which is a fine view
towards Churchills pillar. The interior of the house is richly decorated with marble pillars &
sculpture together with a collection of paintings by the best Masters, the library which is of very
large dimensions is peculiarly worthy of notice. We left Woodstock highly satisfied with our days
amusement & a few miles brought us to Oxford.

1. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-83).
Septr 20th. Understanding that four of the Colledges viz All Soul’s, Christ Church, New
Colledge & Magdalen most merited our attention; we set out to view All Souls, which has a
handsome Chapel, with a beautiful altar piece representing the appearance of our saviour to
Mary Magdalen painted by Mr Mengs at Rome1 the dignity of our Saviour, & the joy apparent
in the countenance of Mary are admirably expressed, the library which is esteemed one of the
finest in Oxford is a noble room 200 feet long & 40 broad, ornamented with busts of
distinguished characters over the Book-cases; in the Hall is a fine Statue of Judge Blackstone
by Bacon.2 We next went to Christ Church, which we approached by a broad gravel walk,
between two rows of fine trees, the hall of this colledge is the longest in Oxford, is filled with
portraits of men who have been educated there, & distinguished themselves either in church or
state, some of them very fine: the chapel which is also the Cathedral is a very ancient structure
now undergoing a thorough repair, but it did not appear to me particularly deserving of notice:
there is also a handsome library the upper room, which is3

1. Anton Raffael Mengs (1728-79) was an early Neoclassic painter. This ‘noli me tangere’ painting had been
commissioned by the college.
2. John Bacon (1740-99) was a fashionable sculptor. He produced this seated figure of Sir William Blackstone in 1782.
3 The manuscript ends here.
[pencil] vide T.B. to J.L.B. at Oxford. p57 [(57)]



5. September 1816. Mr. Thomas Bennett to John L. Bennett
from Cromer
Cromer Saty afternoon 5 Septr.

My dear John

we arrived here very comfortably yesterday afternoon about 2 oclock & before Tea
we got in full possession of our Lodgings which I believe were the only ones to be immediately
had sufficient for our accommodation. the road we came was pretty well diversified till we reachd
Newmarket from thence to Norwich it was very flat & uninteresting; we slept at
Attleburgh, and
reachd Norwich to breakfast we then walked to the Terrace round the County Jail1 which is
situated on an eminence & has a complete panorama view of the City & hills around – we then
visited the Cathedral which is very handsome, & soon after 11 continued our Route to Cromer, it
is a small clean quiet kind of Place it will not accommodate many families the beach is
particularly good the sands continue for Miles the Cliffs are as high as most we have seen but of
a soft sandy soil they do not form so romantic an appearance as the Cliffs about Hastings this
morning we walkd on the sands nearly three Miles to Overstrand & back over the Cliffs by the
Lighthouse which afforded us much pleasure as the Country is very beautiful about, & the Sea
view is more busy as there are Ships continually passing —— it will afford us much pleasure to
hear from you, and the sooner our good Friend Pieschell can make it convenient
to bring you to
us, the better – your dear Mother & Aunts unite their Love to you & best respects to Mr

with yours affectionately
Thos Bennett
direct for me at Mrs. Ditchell’s Cromer; is all sufft.

your aunt Eliza is
now writing to Bookham

[pencil] I think that my grandfather must have gone to Cromer to seek for Lodgings & have
taken his sister Eliza Mrs Acland with him then returned to Merton
The next letter will then come in after my Father’s Diary ends on Sept 20th – as it contained £30 for
the journey of my Father Grandmother & perhaps my Aunts from Oxford to Cromer via

1. Norwich castle served as the gaol at that period.
2. Frederick Bennett seems to have been mistaken. I do not believe this letter fits in here at all. Nothing internal to the
letter places it in September 1816. Thomas Bennett omitted to include the year in the date, and unfortunately there is
no postmark (presumably this letter was enclosed in another). I believe it was written in another year. See (58).
Thomas Bennett says he is at Cromer on 5 September in the company of his son’s ‘dear Mother & Aunts’. The aunts
are much more likely to be his wife’s three unmarried sisters Leach, as on other occasions, than to include Elizabeth
(Bennett) Ackland. One clue is the letter to Bookham mentioned in the postscript. Eliza(beth) Leach would naturally
be writing to her parents there. Be that as it may, it was not possible for Sarah Jane Bennett to be in Cromer on the 5
September and simultaneously be journeying from Merton towards Derbyshire.



19.Sept.1816. Mr. Thomas Bennett to John L. Bennett

[address] Mr. J.L.Bennett

Post Office
Thursday} Oxford
19 Septr. }

Merton 19 Septr. 1816
My dear John

Ive here enclosed agreeable to yr wish half a £30 Bank* note which I hope will reach
your hands safe the other is addressed as directed it gave me much pleasure to read of the
welfare of all the dear party, your amusement & intended route towards home which if the
weather continues fine will Ive no doubt afford you still much gratification – the weather hitherto
has indeed; been very favourable for your excursion & I pray for a continuance of it as well on
your account as for the general public benefit that will result from it in having an abundant
well housed; —— last Sunday I took Mr Haite1 to Bookham we had with William a
pleasant walk to the high Beeches the scenery about which you have an Idea of we enjoyed it
much the day was delightfully fine not a cloud to be seen – your dr. Grandfather I hope is
mending from his complaint, he accompanied
Mum2 to Church, the rest were all well, many
enquiries after your party which on our return we found your Grandfather able to answer as he
receivd in our absence your aunt Eliza’s Letter —— he begd me if I wrote to say everything for
him to all his dear Daughters yourself & Mr. Pieschell as Ive nothing more to add must depute
you to say any or every thing your good heart dictates for him & my sincere Love to your dear
Mother Aunts & yourself hoping for the pleasure of meeting you all safe & sound when you have
“seen all that is to be seen”
* No 12039

dated 21 Augt. 1816

I remain yours affectionately

My dear dear John

Thos. Bennett

1. This is probably William Haité, tenant at the time of a cottage, sometimes known as The Nook, which stood at
Merton Abbey, between Phipps Bridge Road and the Wandle. Haité worked as a designer for one of the local textile
firms, but it is not certain which. His son George (1825-71) became an important designer of shawls, and the V&A
have a collection of his drawings.
E N Montague Phipps Bridge Merton Historical Society (2006) p.104.

2. Thomas Bennett must be referring to his mother-in-law Mrs Leach. A notably early use of the familiar term for
‘Mother’. See also (10).



25 Sept.1816 Mr. Thomas Bennett to John L. Bennett
at Cromer

[address] Mr. J.L.Bennett
Mrs.. Ditchell’s

[Note that the two clear postmarks read 1817]1

Merton 3 oclock Thursday
My dearest John

it is now almost a fortnight I can say after recollecting myself as it appears much
longer since I had the pleasure of seeing or conversing with any of your circle except thro the
beautiful Moon which my fancy every night says is conducting you to the Cliff or Jetty to admire
her —— I have been expecting to hear from you to have been informed how you & our mutual
Friend like Cromer & its environs which are this nor doubt you have explored Ive had nothing to
write about as yr Grandfather undertook to inform you of my reaching home; last Sunday I went
with Haite2 to Bookham & spent the day very comfortably, leaving your Grandfr & Grandmother
quite in Spirits; next Sunday I purpose being there if fine – at Merton things go on in the usual
jog trot way – I waited till this time hoping your Grand father would have sent me word he had
heard from some one of your party how you all were but I trust you are all well —— My Mother
is gone to Gravesend and as the weather has been tolerably fine I hope it will strengthen her

I suppose when you write (write soon) you will be able to say when you intend to move your
quarters & your intended Route homewards which by the end of next week I shall begin to
expect; the Bookhamites are all for you coming thro Bedfordshire to see William3 but I can say
nothing about it as it rests with higher Powers —— pray make my best remembrances
acceptable round your teatable to your dearest Mother, Aunts & Friend Pieschell, believing me
always yours most


T Bennett

I suppose your Grandfather informd you Mr. Parrot4 has taken his new Wife to shew at Bookham

Mr. Parrot, the Doctor at Mitcham and the Father of Mr. John Parrott an eminent doctor who
removed from Mitcham, (where Mr. Tippell who married Miss Parrott carried on their Father’s
practice after his death) to Clapham where his sons succeeded him with great success

1. This letter clearly follows (56), which we can assume also belongs to September 1817.
2. See(57).
3. Sarah Jane Bennett’s brother William Leach, a surveyor.
4. John Parrott was a surgeon and prominent member of local society, who lived at the Cricket Green, Mitcham. Apart
from his professional duties, he had been a regular guest at Nelson’s Merton Place. Parrott’s first wife died in 1798.
E N Montague The Cricket Green Merton Historical Society (2001) pp.70, 78-79.



24 December 1816. Mr. Peischell to John Leach Bennett

Dear John

Many occupations I am sorry do not admit of my having the pleasure this Week
personaly to thank your good friends at Bookham for their kind Remembrance & to acknowledge
your Letter of Yesterday; my best Regards I beg to return to all with every good Wish this Season
or any other could suggest for their Health & Happiness & your own.

In the purchase of the Cottage [illegible] in next friday’s Sale to which you have been so good
to direct my attention, I should have chiefly the View of doing an acceptable thing to Mrs. Wheatley
& her friends,1 & if the laying out three hundred pounds or Guineas can attain the end I am most
ready to do it, the present value of the buildings &c. considering the great Reduction in the
Estimate of all property I could not myself be a Judge of, & to the Nature of the Heriott, the fine on
death or Alienation, the liability of any particular Trouble or Attendance from the Tenure & to the
Correctness of the Title I am equally a Stranger;2 but a good title at the above Sum would most
likely compensate the other outgoings. Your grandfather’s Judgment being much more availing
than any opinion I could form from my own Experience I shall be satisfied in his obliging
determination on these Subjects and am always

Sincerely Yours
London Augt Pieschell
24 december 1816

I believe the cottage alluded to was adjoining to Mr. Leach’s property3 and was occupied by Master
Harris when I first knew it and afterwards by Poulter the Bookham carrier

1. Unidentified.
2. Pieschell is concerned to know what obligations and/or penalties he would be subject to under the jurisdiction of the
local manorial court.
3. At Bookham.
The Sarah: watercolour sketch



[loose watercolour drawing of a sailing-boat flying the Union Flag and the Red Ensign; on reverse in pencil

– The ‘Sarah’ my great grandfather Mr Thomas Bennett’s “Sailing Boat” = yacht FB]
25.June 1818. The Revd Charles Bond, Vicar of Margaretting.
Co. Essex, & sometime P.C. of Merton, Co. Surrey to
Mr. Thomas Bennett, on the death of Mr. Leach,
23. May. 1818.

[address] Mr. Thos. Bennett
near Tooting

Margaretting June 25th
My dear Sir 1818.

It was with the greatest concern that I heard of the death of my good old friend Mr. Leach;
his Son1 sent me the sad intelligence from Luton, & I have in answer, returned him my sincere
condolence, assuring him & the whole family of my most cordial sympathy on the mournful
occasion – I pray God that the affliction may be sanctified to you all, & you may bear the
separation with due resignation to the divine will, recollecting that it is but for a season, as I trust
that we, who imitate the example of our departed friend, shall all meet again in a future state
never more to part –- when I was at Bookham last Summer, (a visit I now reflect on with much
satisfaction) I had some conversation with him on this subject & was happy to find that he had
weaned himself from worldly business & pleasures, & seemed prepared & ready to depart
whenever it shd. please God to call him home. He is now, good man, released from his earthly
trials, & we humbly hope entered on an Eternity of happiness, a thought of all others best
calculated to soothe your melancholy, & enable you totally to subdue it –

I feel much obliged to Mrs. Leach & the family for remembering me in the number of
intimate friends to whom rings are sent; I shall thankfully receive the mournful pledge, & wear it
for his sake whom I highly esteemed – you will make my kindest regards to all the family, &
believe me to be

my dear Sir
Yours faithfully
Chs. Bond

[the writer has drawn a dotted circle, labelled size of ring]

The Rev. Charles Bond was for many years Incumbent of Merton and much honoured & beloved by
Mr. Leach and all his family. He married my Grandfather & Grandmother 18 March 1797.
In 18142 he resigned Merton & was instituted to the Vicarage of Margaretting Co. Essex

1. William Leach, a surveyor in Bedfordshire. See (61).
2. Frederick Bennett was mistaken. Bond had ceased to be the perpetual curate (‘P.C.’) at Merton in 1800, being
succeeded briefly by James Olive in that year. Thomas Lancaster was the next incumbent, serving from 1801 to 1823.



20.Aug. 1818. William Leach, to John L. Bennett
from Luton Park, Beds.1

Luton Park
Augt. 20th. 1818

Dear John

I am much obliged to you for geting C Leach’s bill &c you have done better than I
expected, the money I should wish you to keep for the present, as I am about purchasing a small
Freehold in this parish, merely for the sake of a Vote, for should I stay in this part of the World I
think it will be of some use to me, & the rent will give me as good Interest as I can get for the
Money, & altho’ by taking the Estates at Bookham, with my note of hand, will be more than my
present share of my Father’s property, yet I should think it will not be equal to what my share will
be & it is only paying Interest for that money till I can pay it off & I mean to put by every thing
but my Salary for that purpose after I have bought this Cottage, which will be under £

The Lease of the Bake house is with your Uncle John2 in Fenchurch St. I should be obliged
to you to get it down to Merton for me & it must some time or other be made over to me as it
was never done by my Dear Father although there was an Agreement between us to prove he
had parted with & ’till that is done I cannot let a Lease. I am very sorry to hear of Mr.
Bazalgettes3 loss, because I think it very likely it was wilfully done &
perhaps by somebody in
Bookham we have had a dredfull fire on the farther side of the Parish by a Haystack heating
after being built Six weeks or more which burnt House & everything ([blot] far as dead Stock)
but three small Wheat Stacks or as they call them here Wheat Cocks. I am glad to hear
you are all so well & give my Love to them all & beg your Aunts to send me the Shirts & the
Cloaths I left when I was last at Bookham & particularly a Key which I left; as I am much in
want of it

I remain Yours Sincerely

Wm. Leach

P.S. I think this will do!!!
William Leach at that time was settled at Luton & had an appointment as a Surveyor on the Duke
of Bedford’s Estate4 – Hence perhaps the importance he attached to obtaining a vote for the county
by the possession of a cottage in Luton

1. This letter clearly refers to various business matters arising from the death of John Leach senior, but it has not been
possible to interpret the details. ‘C Leach’ has not been identified. Nor has the significance of the cryptic postscript!
2. Presumably Thomas Bennett’s brother John, a silversmith.
3. Jean-Louis Bazalgette bought Eastwick Park, at Great Bookham, in1792, and later became lord of the manor of
Bookham. He was the grandfather of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the civil engineer most famous for the construction of
London’s sewers. Sir Joseph lived in Morden from at least 1851 to about 1871, when he moved to Wimbledon. He is
buried in the churchyard of St Mary, Wimbledon, but several Bazalgettes are commemorated on a headstone in the
churchyard of St Lawrence, Morden. Seven Bazalgette children were baptised at Morden.
S Halliday The Great Stink of London Sutton Publishing, Stroud (1999) p.6
F Clayton The Registers of Morden, Surrey 1634-1812 (1901) Parish Register Society, lv

4. Correspondence with Woburn Abbey has not confirmed this statement. No reference to William Leach has been
found in the papers there, nor does it appear that the Russell family ever held any property at Luton.
As William Leach gives his address as Luton Park, it is perhaps more likely that he was employed there. Luton Park
(Luton Hoo) had been acquired in 1762 by the third earl of Bute after he resigned the premiership. Lady Bute’s life
interest in a large fortune paid for the skills of Robert Adam and ‘Capability’ Brown in improving respectively the
house and the grounds. By 1818, the date of this letter, Bute’s great-grandson, the second marquess, was the owner,
and was making changes of his own. Unfortunately the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service have
been unable to find any mention of William Leach either at Woburn or at Luton Park.



21. Aug. 1818. Miss Robson to Mrs. Thos. Bennett

[address] Bennett
Merton Abbey

Augt 21. 1818

My dear Mrs Bennett

When Trouble is with me, I love to be silent —— but when it is with my Friends, I
long to speak — and I have very lately heard news that I am sure has given your affectionate
heart great pain, and been a sad interruption of Comfort to the Family at Bookham. Allow me to
enquire after you & them? I have unwillingly been such a Stranger – I have hoped in vain for an
opportunity to See – or at least to hear from some of you. And now I almost dread to call your
remembrance to my subject – and yet I cannot bear it should be thought a melancholy one. Such
an excellent man! So much Sense! So much Genius! And above all, so much goodness of heart!
Must ever be an honor to his Family – to his Country – to the World.
His Loss indeed I do lament – for his family’s sake by whom he was so much beloved —— for
the public to whom he was a bright example – and let me add for my
own sake I did hope once
more to have had the pleasure & profit of his Conversation.

It was not to be ——— He is now in Blessedness where there is no more change – “with
the Spirits of just Men made perfect” – Let us not dishonor his memory by too much sadness –
Let us strive to imitate his Virtues, that we may meet him in glory.

I want much to know how you do – & Mr Bennet, & Son – I want to know how Mrs Leach &
all your Sisters are – and I shall take it as a great favor if you will oblige me with a few lines. I
am too far off to call on you – besides not being so good a Walker. but it might so happen that
you or some of your Family when in Town might not be far from my present abode – and
therefore I will subjoin my address in hopes of the pleasure of seeing or hearing from some of
the Valued Friends with whom I have spent so many agreeable hours & days at Merton Abbey

And I do beg the favor of you to tell the Bookham Ladies they have my Love & kindest
Wishes – for Time and Trouble – tho aided by Absence & Silence have not had the power to
make any alteration in the heart of her who will ever remember former Kindness and who is

Dear Madam

Your – & their – Affectte Hble Servt

Maria Robson

at No. 45 St John St Road Islington

near Sadlers Wells.

Miss Robson was the daughter of the Revd Thomas Robson Rector of Morden 1744 to 1788.1 She
was Baptized at Morden 18 Feb. 1753. and buried in the Church yard 13. Nov.1829. “7 flat stones
mark the resting place of the Rector and his family.”2 Extract from Mr Churchwarden Claytons
Letter 18.March 1898 –
Miss Robson was a very intimate friend of the Leach family at Merton Abbey – is the Maria of the
letters of congratulation to “John” on his 10th Birthday page.35 – and the object of Mr Hooles
affections in his widowhood, to the great amusement of his Friends at the Abbey

1. An error. Thomas Robson was rector from 1744 to 1778, the year of his death.
2. The inscriptions on the seven Robson stones are given in F Clayton The Registers of Morden, Surrey Parish Register
Society (1901) London p.xlv.



20.Sept 1818. Mr.Pieschell to John L. Bennett
from Alten Platen1 Germany

[address] Mr. J L Bennet

Alten Platow1e 20th. Septber
My Dear John 1819

Only a few Hours have I suffered to elapse since the receipt of your obliging Letter
to return my Thanks & to reciprocate the friendly Expressions it contains; the Information you
have been so good to give me from our Bookham friends has proved highly acceptable & tho’ I
found with Regret on perusing your Letter frequently no very decided account of your father’s &
your Mother’s & your own Health I indulge the Hope & reliance that you continue all quite well.
Since I wrote last my Time has been devoted to going from Place to Place in Search of Family
enjoyments which I am happy to say I met in as high a degree as I could expect truly thankful to
that Providence who has reserved them for us to this Time, & who will I hope also allow me
shortly to rejoin those more permanently destined for me, including the Pleasure of meeting you
all well again at Merton, as I intend to resume my Journey homeward the day after to Morrow
by the Way of Dover, where if the calls from Siselane are not very urgent I intend to stay two or
three days for the benefit of the Warm Sea Baths,2 to eradicate if possible some slight
disposition to rheumatic Affection again brought on by the Approach of Autumn, the change of
Beds different Manner of Living &c—— If the Weather continues as fine with you as it has most
generally been in the Progress of my Travels I should feel happy if your father & Mother with
you could make it agreeably to give me the Meeting on my arrival there which I should think,
will not be protracted beyond Ten/or twelve days from the Present Time & the Scenery about
Dover does not appear from the short View I had of it by any Means unusually of Notice—— At
any rate if I do not meet with all or any of the friends named I hope to find a letter at the Post
Office & to meet you as I anxiously Wish & hope quite well at Home. The Calls of my Relations
about me, hurry the Conclusion of the letter. I close therefore with united affectionate Regard &
am always truly Yours Augt Pieschell

1. The name of the place is not clear.
2. Dover had both warm and cold saltwater baths at this date.



May.22.1820 Miss Maria Cragg to Mr John L. Bennett

[postmarked Cheltenham]
[address] Mr. John L. Bennett

Believe me my dear John your very affectionate favor gave me
pleasure more than Language
can describe – I was most anxiously expecting to hear from
one whom I now find, I can enjoy no
happiness without, & which back so little while before our walk from Wimbledon Church, I was
endeavouring to harden a heart, which is now
your’s – Oh! What has it not felt for you – when for
hours I have sat in my bed room – seen you walking with your Mother,1 and thought; was I back
in her place by your
side that I should be happy – & is it possible – that it is to
him that I address
these few lines? Is it the him, whose heart I thought was giving the
one who like myself, had been
his companion when a child? I should not so often have treated you so unkindly my
dearest John,
had I not been told that she was attached to you – of course concluded it was the same on your
part. & that I would not rob her of one, who I knew would make her happy perhaps you
remember my sister Anne2 saying that I wished to go to Cheltenham (Poor Girl she little thought
my reason) as I knew it was the only way that I could get from Merton & then to part with you
for ever and make her happy – but now how altered are things with what different Ideas do I
think of again meeting you, who are always in my thoughts, in the day time I fancy myself by
your side; in my Uncles Garden, & when nature requires repose, you appear before me in my
dreams – in the public walks every one appears gay & cheerful but
me – my Cousin3 tells me I
have lost my spirits, & cannot account for it otherwise than that I am
97 miles from
him, who I
now look up to, for all the
comforts, all the pleasures that this world can afford me. Do
come if
business will alow you, before the last week, as I cannot bear to longer separated from you, &
agree with you in thinking it would be difficult to obtain a conveyance home as we mean to travel
Post. – most sincerely hope to have the pleasure of seeing you on Saterday – but hope you will
let me know when you have fixed the day, that I may get a bed for you near our House – and
wish you to come direct to us when you arrive, how anxiously do I look forward to the moment
when I shall see you coming to the House. My cousin is sitting by [paper torn] & wants me to do
some work for her[paper torn] fore must conclude – Adieu my de[ar] John most sincerely wish
you every comfort – pleasure & Blessing this world can afford you, & which shall be the
study of your’s for ever Attached. Maria Cragg
G[illegible]’s House May 22nd. 1820
Will you give our love to my Uncle & Ann, and say my Cousin’s Cold is much better than when
she first came down, and think in a day or two it will be quite well – but are expecting to hear
from them – pray remember me kindly to your Father and Mother – Farewell

Maria Cragg was the 4th daughter of Mr. John Cragg of Horsham Co. Sussex & Maria4 his
wife the daughter of & sister of Admiral Isaac Smith & his Brother Chs Smith of Merton
Abby – , and a wholesale clock & watch maker of of good repute & large business in the early part
of Cent XIX5 – Mr Cragg was a member of the firm & his special department was the Traveling or
County agency which had to be carried on by personal visits to the customers.

Admiral Smith & Mrs. Cook were then settled in her house at Clapham. Mr. Charles Smith was
not in strong health and as the air of Merton was then in high repute, he bought a third of the
Merton Abbey Estate of Lord Mansfield6 and took a 42 years lease of the whole property as he had
determined to live at the Abbey house. This expired at Midsummer 1843.

Mr. Cragg & his family I conclude took up their abode in the Bunhill Row House His only son
Isaac Cragg was the heir at law to the two Brothers, & accordingly he took the name of Cragg


Smith when of age, & became the recognized head of the Firm which was carried on in his name.
Witness my clock (the Oracle), which was made for my Grand Father when my father removed to
his house at Bexhill in or about 1826. Carter[?] the Clockmaker in Minster Street, Salisbury when I
happened to mention in a “Clock Talk” that [illegible] bore his name as maker on its face said at
once “There are no better clocks in England since[?]” – My Father was apprenticed to that Firm &
we always dealt with them and he then showed me one of their watches – A large gold Hunter of a
pattern I remembered – “It bears our name he said “but it has their private mark as the makers,
which he showed. It is he said an excellent watch. That he said was the custom of those days. The
Cragg family was then very much with their Uncle Charles at the Abbey. It was a second home to
them especially during the School Holidays and naturally Little John Bennett” was one of [illegible]
playfellows. He & Maria Cragg were born in the same year 1898, and as she was very pretty they
naturally became[illegible] “sweet hearts”. My grandfather probably regarded this early attachment
with satisfaction & I suppose that her family did not object. Mr. Bennett had by his energy & ability
lifted the Business of which he was sole proprietor out of all difficulties but had made a name for
himself both at home & on the continent. He had rediscovered a lost branch of the art the Printing
of Black & Purples, for which there was a large demand. He must have been quite aware that Maria
Cragg would make his only son a good wife & bring him into a good family. And so I assume he did
not oppose his wishes. But I can suppose that my Grandmother had other wishes, and if so the
connection she favoured was not one that my grandfather would approve and he had good reasons
for objecting to the Male Branch of the family7 – All this came to a crisis in 1820 & the two letters
pp. my Father has so carefully preserved, give a very graphic account of the crisis and its happy
termination – Isaac Cragg Smith & my Father were thenceforth Brothers in Law [illegible] & not
merely in law, and he always “considered his wife’s sisters as his own sisters & [illegible] accordingly
and on Isaac Cragg Smith’s death he naturally occupied his place in my Mother’s Family.

1. Maria seems to have acted as a companion to Mrs Elizabeth Cook, widow of the explorer and a distant cousin of
Maria’s (Maria’s great-great-grandfather was Elizabeth Cook’s grandfather – see the family tree). Mrs Cook had a
house in Clapham, where Admiral Isaac Smith was often with her, and she in turn often stayed with Charles Smith and
the Admiral at Abbey Gate House. It must have been from an upstairs window there that Maria would have seen
John with his mother in the garden of Hotham House in Haydons Road, or perhaps in the fields. The distance
between the houses was not much more than 100 metres. See the map on p20.
2. Ann(e) Cragg, two years older than Maria, married Robert Mackrell. Their elder son Charles Robert inherited the
Merton Abbey estate from his great-uncle Isaac Smith, and when 21 changed his name to Smith. On his death in 1882
ownership passed to his brother John Mackrell.
3. Elizabeth Cook, aged 78 at this time, whom Maria has accompanied to Cheltenham.
4. This is a mistake. Maria’s mother was Ursula, not Maria. Ursula’s father was Charles Smith. See the Cook, Cragg and
Smith family tree.
5. The business was in Bunhill Row, but the reference books list too many clockmakers named Smith in or near there to
be certain of the exact details.
6. The vendor was called Mansfield, but there is no connection known with Lord Mansfield.
7. Unfortunately, despite both Maria’s letter and Frederick Bennett’s comments, we are none the wiser about the young
woman whose family had an objectionable male branch.



10 June 1820. Miss Maria Cragg to Mr. J.L. Bennett

[postmarked Cheltenham]
[address] Mr. John L. Bennett

How can I express my gratitude to you my dearest John for the sentiments which I have
this day received, but by devoting my life, as long as It shall please God, entirely to your
happiness, which alone can secure mine. John I think we must be the
couple in Merton,
love like ours, was never known
there before, indeed I can find no words to express what I
feel – nor can I refrain from addressing you to night (tho’ all in the House are retired to rest
except myself) as I know I have no other opportunity of writing – therefore will not brake my
promise – We are but just returned from spending the Evening at Mrs Frost’s and sincerely
wished you could have been with us – as to me the Evening appeared very different to the one
which they spent with us – when I had
you by my side – my John how many places & things have
I to recall to my memory the happy moments which we have spent to gether, but believe me I
need not places & things to remind me, as they are deeply written on my
heart. & even at this
moment I have the rose which you gave me the first time you went into the market with me –
could I but take you by the Hand, as I do this
rose, I should be happy which I have so fondly
missed ever since we parted – but now it begins to wither – to decay – it tells me the time we
have been separated from each other – how often have I kissed it, you will think me weak, but
John I have so long disguised my affections, that now they know no bounds. therefore abandon
that thought. I was extremely anxious about you on Monday, as it began to rain with us, about 4

o clock – and continued to pour all the Evening, I can assure you the streets were quite flooded –
and knew you had a long ride, even after you left the Coach. To morrow we are going to Mrs.
Ballard’s who is come here from Clapham with her family – I wish I could remain quiet in the
House, but my Cousin spe[nt – paper torn] most of the day in the Streets; first in [one – paper torn]
Shop then another, and I am obliged to be with her – but thank God it is only for a few more days
– therefore must make myself happy and expect to be at Clapham about 5 o’clock next Thursday
– (how my heart beats when I think of it) when I hope to see my dear Uncle Chas. in perfect
health and you on Saturday. Cheltenham is quite in a bustle as the Duke of Wellington is
expected here next week.1 My Cousin & Uncle2 desire to be kindly remembered to you – as
likewise to my Uncle Chas & Ann should you see to whom do not forget me as also to your father
& mother – you cannot think how hurt I was – when I went to pay for your room to think that you
had done so before me as was my Cousin and Uncle indeed I could hardly stand – as I had no
Idea of your doing so – to pay for your room when you came to spend a few days with us – but I
must conclude as I have but little room left to write upon – beging you to accept the fondest
wishes from your’s sincerely and most affectionately attached
Maria Cragg Cheltenham
1. I can find five documented visits by the Duke of Wellington to Cheltenham – in 1805, 1816, 1823, 1824 and 1828, but
not one in 1820.
2. Possibly Admiral Isaac Smith.



Mr. B.Austin – to Mr. Bennett. 7.Aug.1820

[address] Mr. Bennett


. Augt. 1820.
My Dear Sir;

The obligation which you have so recently conferred upon me in the very kind
interest you have taken in my favor during my troublesome litigation with Mrs. B.2– calls upon me
for more than a verbal acknowledgment. I shall therefore request your acceptance of a trifling
memorial of my humble & sincere thanks for your friendly attention to my wellfare – herewith you
will receive two Copies of a new edition of a work by our very worthy neighbour (& my most highly
esteemed friend) the Revd. Dr. Peers.3 you may be already acquainted with the work, if so I beg you
to name whether it would be preferable to have two Copies of this, or one of this and some other
little Volume in lieu of the second copy – but it is my hope that the Doctor will be found an
agreeable and valuable companion and I thought the second copy would be found worth the
acceptance of one of your friends perhaps your Son.

Our temporal mercies health, friends, & prosperity in our affairs, demand a heart full of
gratitude to our heavenly Benefactor – yet these are but a part of His ways of Mercy – these will
quickly have their period and at death will seem very short-lived indulgencies, tho’ infinitely
beyond any of the deserts of man – the Mercies of Redemption are
farbeyond compare with all the
riches honors & pleasures of the world. therefore these are our greatest blessings. and happy for
us they are in no way dependant on our worldly situation & circumstances they are wholly
independant on them, and it is a truth of daily experience that those who really are blessed with
lively faith & hope, of the eternal realities, of the things revealed unto man in the Scriptures of
divine Truth, are
peculiarly rich, even when they have no portion of worldly inheritance – having
nothing they possess all things – it is also happy for those whom has called by his Providence to
other stations that the abundan[ce – paper torn] of His temporal blessings will not preclude them
from the unbounded enjoyment of all spiritual blessings and of the same heavenly Inheritance
which by the gospel is preached unto the poor – they are but Stewards of God – and under his
gracious teaching & with His help & blessing they are made faithful stewards by the power of his
Word & Spirit upon their hearts – such is the blessing of the word of life that whatever is agreeable
thereto & has the same tendency will be esteemed of importance to our best interests – as
promoting our present and everlasting peace – the christian warfare, fighting the good fight of faith
day by day, is a duty from which we can have no discharge during life, but we have one who is
Almighty – on whom help is ever laid for our assistance & relief – and through Him alone we can
obtain the Victory over ourselves the world & Satan. He will bring off His soldiers more than
conquerors for they shall be renewed in the spirit of the mind and be transformed into his own
blessed image & likeness – so that they will sing – O. grave where is thy victory – O death where is
thy sting? Thanks be to God who giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ – believe me
to remain My dear Sir Your much obliged & Sincere friend B. Austin

1. Ravensbury was one of the manors of Mitcham and the name survives in that of Ravensbury Park, all that is left of a
substantial estate. There were several manor houses here at different periods, as well as mills and textile printing
works. At this date Bailey Austin was the proprietor of the Ravensbury print works.
2. Probably Mrs Frances Barnard, who held the lease of Ravensbury Manor at the time. The problem between her and
Austin has not been identified.
3. The Rev. John Witherington Peers MA DCL (Oxon), after eight years as the incumbent at Chislehampton,
Oxfordshire, served as rector of Morden from 1778 until his death in 1835 at the age of 89. He founded the Morden
Sunday School in 1791, built the gallery at the west end, to accommodate the children, and also a small school hall.


He raised money for this work by lecturing, preaching and publishing pamphlets and sermons for children. There are
memorials to him, his wife and his daughter in St Lawrence’s church, Morden. The work referred to in this letter,
which was perhaps, according to Canon Bennett’s index, called Minutia, has not been traced.

Alumni Oxonienses

F Clayton The Registers of Morden, Surrey 1634-1812 (1901) Parish Register Society, liv

T L Livermore The Story of Morden and its Churches (1968) p.11

[loose sheet of writing paper]
[recto] [embossed address] 6, The Beacon, Exmouth1
[pencil – not Frederick Bennett’s writing]

Besides home Trade, 5000 watches a year to America2

?s belonged to Ld. Mansfield & ? to Sir W. Phipard. The latter C.S. bought up & took

a Lease of Lord M’s ?s3

[verso] [pencil – probably Frederick Bennett’s writing, very scrawled]

Mr. Mackrell & my Mother were adopted[?]4
Mr. F[illegible] at that house at

1. This was Frederick Bennett’s address when he retired to Exmouth. Earlier in the 19th century Nelson’s widow Fanny
had also lived at a house in The Beacon (No.13), perhaps the pleasantest road in Exmouth.
2. If this is a reference to the Smiths’ watch- and clockmaking business it is rather impressive.
3. ‘… two third undivided parts … belong to Richard Fezzard Mansfield Esq. and the other third undivided part to
Charles Smith Esq…’ from a survey of the Merton Abbey estate in 1802 at Lambeth Archives S.505 S.R.128
4. It is impossible to be certain what this scribbled note means or even says.

20.Oct.1820 Mr. Jno L.Bennett to Mrs. Bennett from Hastings
on his wedding tour

[address] Mrs. Bennett
My dear Mother

That you may not accuse me of neglect in not writing to you, I sit down for that
purpose though there has been a regular report at Merton every day Since our departure. from
that you will hear of our health & happiness, but I know you would rather receive such
assurances from myself. The behaviour of our friends at Ovingdean1 was throughout kind in the
extreme, the ceremony was performed & we left the place without any one except the family
knowing any thing of it – my dear Maria was as might be expected from the agitation of her mind
previously, considerably affected during the ceremony & on parting with her father, but that of
course is past & we are now quite settled & quite happy; & on the whole we may think ourselves
fortunate in having obtained the lodgings we have, at least as our party is not likely to object to
small rooms, the Situation is retired & pleasant, & the woman of the house very civil &
attentive. Hastings still holds the same place in my estimation it ever did,2 & the girls3 are very
much pleased with what they have seen of it. I had some hope of receiving a letter from my
father before this, from you, though it would give me great pleasure I dare not expect one, but
from him I flatter myself soon to hear a good account of all our friends at Merton & at Bookham,
not excepting Wandsworth Common;4 to each & every one give my most affectionate
remembrances. United as Maria & I now are, you must think that in offering my dutiful &
affectionate regards to you & my father I am offering them in the name of us both —— Jane
desires her love5 —— Farewell believe me my dearest mother your ever affectionate Son
Hastings Jno L Bennett
20th Octr 1820


1. John Leach Bennett’s uncle, William Leach, had married Sarah Jane, daughter of the Rev. John Marshall of
Ovingdean, near Brighton. The Marshalls and the Bennetts were close, and it appears that John Leach Bennett and
Maria Cragg were married by Mr Marshall at Ovingdean, presumably by licence. See also (78).
2. The memory of his holiday at Hastings in 1812 seems to have been a pleasant one. See (49).
3. It was quite usual for the bride’s sister, or bridesmaid, to accompany the newly married couple on honeymoon. This
arrangement provided the wife with company when the husband perhaps went riding or walking. Maria’s sister Jane,
two years younger, seems to have been her choice.
4. Pieschell had a house at Wandsworth at this time. See (71).
5. See Note 3 above.

23.October 1820 – Mrs. Bennett to John L.Bennett at Hastings
on his Wedding Tour

My dearest Boy

Your father says, Sarah write and congratulate our dear children, & I to set an
example of obedience to all
good wives1 take up the pen to say (what you already know) that our
most ernest prayers are offerd up to the Almighty for your welfare & happiness both here &
hereafter. We have been much gratified by the good wishes of all your relations & friends on the
occasion particularly Pieschell & your aunts who desire their best love & regards, we dined with
the former yesterday& met Mr & Mrs Hoffman2 who also beg to offer their congratulations which
Mr H means to do in person when you return home. I have this morning been to Mr Smith3 who is
quite well as are all the rest of the Family Mrs Cooke continues to mend daily Ann desires her
love & bids me say she meant to have written to Jane to day but as she thinks one letter from
Merton in a day sufficient she will defer it to the latter end of the week & the week following I
trust I shall have you home by my
ain fire side. God bless you both my dear children give my
love to Jane & believe me your

affectionate mother
Merton Oct 23 S J Bennett

1. The underlining is a little reminder to the new daughter-in-law!
2. Pieschell’s nephew and his wife. See (71).
3. Charles Smith at the Gate House. It appears that Elizabeth Cook was there too, and perhaps Ann(e) Cragg had taken
over from her sister Maria the duties of companion to the old lady.

October 1820 – Isaac Cragg1 to John L.Bennett

[address] Mr. John Bennett
Mrs. Reeves
Meadow Cottage

My dear John

Having a few minutes to spare I am happy to devote them to the pleasing task of
answering your very kind Letter. Allow me to thank you for the many warm & Friendly
Sentiments contained in it, & at the same time to assure you they are received and Registered in
a Heart that will ever be happy to acknowledge & return them with equal warmth & sincerity —

I congratulate you upon your “present Happiness” & I sincerely hope with you, that it may
“last for ever” —— my Uncle has kindly given me leave, to accept your kind & pressing
Invitation, but realy the weather is so miserably bad, that you must excuse me, for the only


pleasure I could enjoy, would be the Happiness of joining you, & my Sisters, which I must defer
’till your Return, I am afraid to expose my crazy Body,2 to such weather as we have had, since
you left; If it has been as bad with you, I am fearful you have all been prisoners in your 10 Foot
Drawing Room3 – I should be happier there, than Thousands are with all their equipage & Show
—— I must conclude, for I have been called away ten times, during the last ten lines –

I do hope Maria will spare a few minutes to write to me, my Uncle informs me, that Ann
wrote to Her on Monday, therefore you know all the Merton News – I have a great many things
to inform Her of, but now I have not time – My Uncle & Father unite with me in Love to yourself,
& my Sisters, & believe me that I subscribe myself with great pleasure ——

Your Affectionate Brother

Isaac Cragg
London –

2 oClock –

1. Maria (Cragg) Bennett’s brother, and John Leach Bennett’s brother-in-law.
2. It appears that the writer suffered poor health. He was no more than 38 when he died. See (93), (94) and (95).
3. See the reference to ‘small rooms’ in (67).

28.June 1821. Mrs. Bennett to John L.Bennett
from Bonchurch I of Wight

[address] Mr J L Bennett



Bonchurch June 28

My dear John

I have received both your letters and need not say how happy I was to hear of
your safe arrival at home & of the pleasant journey you had there, of ourselves I have little to
tell save that we are all well & find the walks around this delightful place quite as beautiful as
ever, indeed for the last few days as the weather has been much finer we have thought them
more so, we could have wished our stay not to have exceeded the middle of next month but as Mr
Pieschell cannot make it convenient to come before that time & as we are all so desirous he
should see & admire this enchanting spot we make ourselves as comfortable as we can be so far
from home especially as your dear father means to join our party next week. —— Respecting
the Marshalls1 you will of course do as Maria & yourself think proper Although I should have
been glad to see Louisa2 I had rather nothing was said on the subject but
Grandma should offer
to escort her. Your Aunt Eliza3 heard from Bookham yesterday & as she does not mean to write
till next week she will thank you to let your Grandmother know you have heard from us. Your
aunts3 join me in love to your father yourself & Maria in kind remembrance to Pieschell &
respects to all inquiring friends & believe me to remain

Your affectionate mother

S J Bennett

1. The Rev. John Marshall of Ovingdean and his family, in-laws of William Leach, Sarah Jane Bennett’s brother. The
son, the Rev. J W H Marshall, later also rector of Ovingdean, married Jane Cragg, Maria’s sister (see family tree).
2. Perhaps Louisa Marshall, J W H Marshall’s sister, who became John Leach Bennett’s second wife.
3. Sarah Jane Bennett seems to have been on holiday with her sister Elizabeth and at least one other sister.



15.Oct 1821 Mr.Bennett to John L. Bennett
at Sandgate

[address] J L Bennett Esqr


Near Folkstone

At Mrs.Taylor’s Kent Monday morn

Merton Mondy 15 Oct 1821
My dear John

Your Letter of Sat gave me much pleasure as upon the whole I flatter myself your
party are not disappointed with Sandgate which I rather feared under the disadvantage of having
so lately viewed the beautiful Scenery about Bonchurch – also to find you got comfortably in your
Lodgings without any of the Party feeling the fatigue of travelling ——— Yesterday I had a very
agreeable ride with our mutual Friend1 we were onhorse say poneyback from 10 till 4 when we
reachd Wandsth Comn – with no common appetite we took a view of his Estates in the
neighbourhood of Addington Warlingham & home thro Sanderstd.
Mr. Hoffman is better & has
been getting so but poor fellow only sets up about 1 hour or so a day that message was sent wth
his Compt
in answer to your Letter, but going thro 2 or 3 – it fell short. I some times doubt
whether or not A P will visit You, he really cannot say when, if at all —— I tried hard to get him
to say when but in vain he requests his Kind remembrance to all wishing you comfortable & says
you must not expect him ’till you see him —— he has an appointt. On Wedy afternoon – perhaps
he may start on Wedy by Dover Mail & be with you to breakfast Thy Morng or perhaps he may
go by the Coach Thy Morng but this is only conjecture of mine —— Ive just been to Mr Smith
Saw Jane & Is’ll[?] who all desire their Love &c they are all well & Mrs Cook was better on Saty
eveng. Jane wishes Maria to write to her if so I shall soon again here of
your Welfare which is my
only wish & comfort —

Give my love to all &

believe me My dear Jno

Yours affectionately


Mr. Peischell then lived in the Eastern of two Houses on Wandsworth Common on the north side of
the Common formed by the junction of Burnt wood Lane & Garrett.2 I believe he built it for himself
about this time. The mention of his estates proves that had been & was still a very prosperous man
Mr. Hoffman was a partner, or assistant in the firm, and a nephew of Mr Peischell, vide p 753 I once
met him when I was in London with my Father in a narrow city street. My recollection of him is very
distinct – a big blustering German, with a low crowned hat & rather broad brim Black coat &
worsted dark drab breeches and top boots

1. Pieschell.
2. The present-day Burntwood Lane and Garratt Lane.
3. And see (54) and (68).



1821. 28′ October 1821. Mrs.J.L.Bennett to John L. Bennett
from Sandgate

[address] John Bennett Esqr

My dearest John

I assure you the sight of the Postman gave me this morning, more pleasure than from
any thing I had received since we parted – as he conveyed to me your dear and affectionate
letter, and think it is one of the greatest blessings that was ever invented that of conveying
intelligence from those most dear when so far separated – I am left as usual quite alone – and
your Father & Mother are gone to Hythe Church and what is still worse in suspence of whether
we set off to morrow morning or not – towards home – your father seems much pleased with the
place I only wish I were with you at Merton and then I should not care how long he stoped but I
will not be the cause of bringing him home, and I will endeavour to make myself happy – but this
I think when I [illegible] to him (please God) who is most dear to me on earth he shall never leave
me for so long again – John I cannot bear to be from you – and [if ?] possible I miss you more,
than when you left me at Cheltenham – you say you have little news to tell me – I am sure I have
none to tell you, and dull Sandgate is just the same as when you left – and when once out of it I
will never enter it again if I can help it – They are just returned – and I find it is settled to set off
to morrow morning – therefore we wish you to send Harriot to meet Charlotte to
morrow night, at
Tooting by the 7 o clock Mitcham Coach – I told your mother not to go a moment sooner than
they both wished it – she made me answer that they had settled to go to Bookham if the weather
continued fine as soon as they got home – the[y] [h]ave thought it was[?] bett[er] to l[ea]ve
Sandgate – I conclude w[ish]ing this may find you and all my dear friends as well as it leaves us –
and believe me to remain always

Your very affectionate WIFE

Maria Bennett
Sunday 28th

The surface of the paper of this letter is damaged in several places.


13.October 1822. John Leach Bennett.
A solemn Resolution of Holy Living.

13 Octo 1822 – Mem – I have resolved this day to begin reading the Holy Scriptures in the
following manner, viz in no case to read less than a chapter a day, to read them with the
seriousness, which the infinite importance of the subject demands, to read them not from a vain
curiosity but with an earnest desire than it may tend to advance my happiness in this world & in
the next, & inform me more particularly in the will of the Almighty, which he has deigned in
mercy thus to reveal to mankind, & in which I now feel my deficiency; & I humbly pray that God
will assist me with his grace in this work, that it may tend to my spiritual advantage, & may
cause me to be not only “almost but altogether a Christian”. —— I write this as a solemn
memento in case of my inattention, that what I am about to read, “have God for their author
Salvation for their end, & truth without any mixture of error for their composition.” – & in case of
neglect to accuse me of it, to the intent that I may repent of such negligence, & endeavour
through God’s grace to amend it in future. JLB



[pencil] Are these lines an original composition of my Father’s?1

Sweet smiling cherub! if for thee

Indulgent Heaven, would grant my prayer

And might the threads of Destiny

Be woven by maternal Care;

No golden wishes these should twine

If thy life’s web was wrought by me

Calm peaceful pleasures should be thine

From grandeur & ambition free!

I would not ask for courtly grace,

Around thy polished Limbs to play

Nor beauty’s smile to deck thy Face

(Given but to lead some heart astray)

I would not ask the wreath of Fame

Around thy youthful brow to twine

Nor that the Statesman’s envied Name

And tinsell’d honors, should be thine.

Ne’er may War’s crimson’d Laurel;

To crown thee with a hero’s wreath

(Like Roses smiling o’er a Tomb

Honor and Death lie hid beneath;)

Nor yet be thine the feverish Life,

On whom the fated Muses smile

The Poet like the Indian Wife,

Oft lights his own funereal pile.

No; I would ask that Virtue bright

May fix thy Footsteps, ne’er to stray

That meek Religion’s holy Light

May guide thee through Life’s desert way.

1. Frederick Bennett was born in 1822, the first child of John Leach Bennett and his wife Maria.

14.Feby1823. Draft of a letter from J.L.Bennett on Mr. Peischell’s death, and Mr. Hoffmans reply to it

As I took as early an opportunity as respect for the memory of my late dear friend would allow, of
calling on you, I have been muchconfused surprised at not seeing or hearing from you in return, &
would have called again but am unwilling toper intrude where I may be unwelcome – at length have
heard, not indeed from you but in such a manner as leaves me no room to doubt that the message was
sent by your orders, I have heard from Jones by a woman accidentally passing desiring to know
whether we had any books of your late uncle’s as there would be a sale next week, now I think you
might have known that if any books had been here we should have considered ourselves bound to
send return send them long since ——& if you had determined to show your[illegible] might have
found a more proper way than through a washerwoman as as the message returned by her may not be
satisfactory sufficiently explicit I here repeat that we have no books ——

I certainly did expect from the long & unbroken friendship which subsisted between your late
uncle & my family as well as from the sentiments which in former days you have expressed that when
his brother came to England we should have been informed of it & introduced to him I certainly did
feel anxious to see the brother of the dearest friend I ever had or ever shall have. ’tis true he may not


have arrived, though the sale leads me to suppose that he is you have kept me in complete ignorance
& I own your conduct appears a little inexplicable – whether you choose to explain it must rest with
yourself I lay no claim to an explanation but I cannot help feeling a slight & when I feel slighted I
cannot helpexpressing myself giving vent to my feelings I remain

Your obedt Serv
Merton JLB
14 feb 1823

You will excuse me entering further upon the Subject of your Note of to day, than to say, that I
never have thought of sending Messages about books to Merton and if an old woman has said
so, she has told a Story. My Mother & Mr Pieschell1 being so much engaged have, upon an
application on my part, declined visiting in the Neighbourhood. I am


Your obedt. Servant
Sizelane T[?] Hoffman
14 february 1823

Mr. Pieschell was my Godfather – He died quite suddenly from Heart Complaint. My grand Father
Thomas Bennett was the other Godfather

1. ‘My Mother’ would have been Augustus Pieschell’s sister and ‘Mr Pieschell’ his brother.

29.Aug. 1827. Mrs. Rocke to John Leach Bennett
on his Father’s death.

[address] J L Bennett Esqr

My dear John

tho I have no doubts but Elinor1 who has I understand written to you has said every
thing she knows that I should be desirous of saying to you, yet I cannot forbear addressing you
myself as I feel so anxious for your dear Mother, indeed nothing but the stern necessity to which I
have been obliged to submit for many years2 could have prevented my hastening to her
immediately upon hearing of the fatal termination to your poor dear Father’s illness for tho’ as you
say a letter might disturb her yet I flatter my self the presence of an old friend would have been a
comfort to her, tho’ she has those about, and with her that are more able and quite as willing as I
could to be to administer every consolation her present bereav’d state will admit of, yet having
been with her during her first great affliction,3 when her own sisters were too young to participate in
her feelings upon that distressing event, I have ever since felt the affection of a sister for her and
appear to have a natural claim to share her sorrows and sincerely wish it had been in my power to
offer my personal attentions to her, you I know will say every thing, that is kind for me and pray let
me know frequently how she is, that she may be supported with a strength far beyond any human
aid is the sincere and earnest prayer of

your faithful attached friend
Augt 29 –1827 Anne Rocke

Porlock Wear4
near Minehead


my dear Elinor has I doubt not told you of all our movements, but I shall certainly be here a
fortnight longer and I hope long before that time to hear from you
Kiss my dear God Son5 – for me and remember me most kindly to Maria and every other
member of your family when you think your dear Mother is in a fit state of mind to receive a
letter from me let me know and I will write to her immediately

Mr. Thomas Bennett died on 20 August 1827 at Merton, (in Wimbledon parish)6 and was buried in
Wimbledon Churchyard7

1. Elinor may have been one of Mrs Rocke’s daughters – the ‘my dear Elinor’ suggests so, though Frederick Bennett in
his notes to (5) mentions only three Rocke daughters – Elizabeth, Joanna and Mary. However, according to the
archivist at Somerset Record Office, John Rocke had a sister called Elinor, and it may well have been a family name.
The ‘Elizabeth’ remembered by Frederick Bennett may have really been ‘Elinor’.
2. Mrs Rocke’s financial difficulties were also, apparently, the subject of (25). See also (77).
3. The death by drowning of Sarah Jane (Leach) Bennett’s brother John Leach at the age of 25. See notes to (2).
4. Worthy and Porlock Weir are about 2.5km (1.5 miles) west of Porlock.
5. Frederick Bennett.
6. Though the Bennetts spoke of themselves as living in Merton they knew perfectly well that Hotham House, in (what
is now) Haydons Road was in Wimbledon parish.
7. The Bennett grave lies not far from the west door of St Mary’s, Wimbledon. The monument is plain and dignified. Its
inscription reads: ‘Here rest the mortal remains of THOMAS BENNETT who died 28th August 1827 aged 52 years and of
SARAH JANE, his widow who died 30th June 1851, aged 76 years.’
On the other side: ‘Also of their son JOHN LEACH BENNETT who died 5th Novr 1873 aged 75 years and of MARIA his
wife who died 2nd May 1841 aged 42 years and of LOUISA his widow who died 25th May 1877, aged 73 years.’
Louisa, John’s second wife, was a daughter of the Revd John Marshall of Ovingdean. They would have known each
other for many years, as the Marshalls and Craggs (Maria Bennett was a Cragg before marriage) were already connected,
and John’s uncle, William Leach, was married to Sarah Jane, another daughter of John Marshall.
The Bennett grave at St Mary’s Church, Wimbledon



13. September 1827. Mrs. Rocke to Mrs. Bennett Senr.
on the death of Mr. Bennett
[address] Mrs. Bennett Senr.
Miss Leaches

Worthy near Porlock Wear

Septr 18th 1827

I have no doubt but that my dear Friend has been informed by her excellent Son, that I have
forborne writing to her in compliance with his wishes, as he hoped a little time would render her mind
more equal to bear a recurrence to painful recollections, which even a letter from one so long known
and attached must revive, and it is the only motive which could have induced me to omit doing what
would have been a relief to myself and appeared a natural and necessary attention to you, as you
possess an abundant share of reason and religion I have that confidence in you that you will not
“sorrow as one without hope”2 for great as your loss is, still you have many and great comforts left,
and the natural feelings cannot be restrained or is it desirable they should, yet time that greater
softener of all our afflictions will I trust bring its consolations to you my dear Friend, even at the
present time you have many that thousands in the same melancholy state are in want of, you can have
no fear but that he for whom you mourn is far happier, than even his happy lot in this world could
make him, and that the remembrance of his goodness and virtues will live in the when both you and
myself have passed that “bourne from which no traveller returns”,3 you who are in some degree
acquainted with the trials I have sustained in this life will not wonder that I look forward to it as a
haven of rest and peace, and I cannot be sufficiently thankful, to that Almighty and merciful Being
who enables me to do so, had worldly prosperity attended me I might have forgotten, that here we
have no “abiding city” or those dear children who are now the comfort and support of my age might
have proved the means of bringing it with sorrow to the grave, such reflections as these not only
reconcile me, but even render me thankful for a lot, that in the early stage of my life I should have
considered insupportable, you have no doubt heard from Rocke or Elinor the particulars of our
leaving the Green I shall therefore pass that over, and only tell you that I was persuaded to come
here by my children. I had been for some time very much harrassed in mind, as well as ill in health,
and James4 said he thought a little sea air would be of service to Mary but as he could not leave home
if I would come here with her, he could often visit us and it would really oblige him, these were all
excuses to withdraw me from the trouble and vexations of our removal, thus you see my dear friend
even our troubles have this good attending them that it proves a touchstone by which we can form an
estimate of the intrinsic value of our friends – I have often wished for your society in my walks, as I
know how much you would enjoy the beauties which abound. I had seen nothing of the picturesque
beauties of this county till I visited this part of it. I had formed the hope that at the Green I had found
a home for the remainder of my life, in that I am disapointed but still I do not regret coming into this
country as we can certainly live at much less expence than nearer town and being surrounded by a
beautiful country is to me a great enjoyment and costs nothing my dear Elinor has been indeed a
tower of strength to me for with the advice and assistance of our dear James, she has transacted all
the business which must have fallen upon me in Rocke’s absence and which I was little able to
contend with, she has also procured a cottage about nine miles from Dunster at a village, or rather
Hamlet ofDunster, Alcombe, between that place and Minehead, which is the post town, it contains
two sitting r[ooms – paper torn] three kitchens all necessary offices, five bedrooms and a toler[able paper
torn] good garden the rent is fiveteen guineas a year and the taxes not amount to five, the
landlord undertook to paint and put it into good repairs which are now nearly completed and I go to it
tomorrow,5 I have not yet seen it as my children wished me not till it was put in order and the


furniture in, for the purpose of doing this Elinor has been some time at Dulverton packing up and
Elisabeth and Anne at Alcombe unpacking and arranging – I do not of course expect to find it very
large but still I do not fear but there will be found sufficient room to satisfy a true friend and as such
it will allways give me great pleasure to see you or any of your family who will partake such
accommodation as it will afford, and I trust it will not be any great length of time before I see you
and my Godson at any rate, and perhaps John will escort you down, the change of scene will be of
use to you and the society of an old friend will cheer me, we have been very well accomodated here
at an old farm house adjoining Ld Kings,6 Woods, the Master of which is a half-pay officer who has
transformed his sword into a plow share his wife is of this country, and a perfect farmer’s wife, they
have six children which have proved a great source of amusement to my young ones ——
make our kind remembrances acceptable to Maria, John, and all around you, I hope you will not
think it uncivil but I was really surprised to hear your Brother is about to be married,7 but pray tell
him that I sincerely wish him and the object of his choice every happiness this world can give them
and believe me my dear Friend ever your attached and faithful friend

A Rocke

1. Sarah Jane Bennett, newly bereaved, must have gone to stay with her mother and sisters at Bookham.
2. ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as
others which have no hope.’ I Thessalonians IV xiii
3. ‘The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns …’ Hamlet III.
4. Perhaps to be identified as James Brown, and as husband to Mary Rocke – see Frederick Bennett’s notes to (5)
5. One is irresistibly reminded of Mrs Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, having to retrench and leasing a ‘small’ cottage
of two sitting-rooms, domestic offices, four bedrooms and two attics. Oddly enough, she had a daughter called Elinor.
6. Lord King, later Earl of Lovelace, was a local landowner.
7. William Leach married Sarah Jane Marshall, daughter of the Rev. John Marshall of Ovingdean, Sussex.

23.August.1827. the Rev.J.W.H.Marshall to J.L.Bennett
on the death of his Father

[address] J.L.Bennett Esqr
Ovingdean Augst 23rd 1827
My dear John

It was I assure you with heartfelt sorrow that we yesterday received the melancholy
intelligence which your letter conveyed, – & have no doubt but it is a great shock to you all; – it
must indeed be a great comfort to you that it did not happen away from home, but no greater
consolation can be afforded than the reflection which must arise from the knowledge of the many
Virtues & Good Qualities possessed by your dear departed Father, whilst living, & the assurance
which we have, that to those who live such a life, death puts an end to their troubles, but
unspeakably & everlastingly increases their happiness; – Let us then my dear John, endeavour not
to give way to immoderate grief, but submit with Christian resignation to the will of Heaven,
knowing that all-things are ordered for our good, – & let us exert ourselves to imitate & recollect
the good example which has been shewn us by him who is now taken from us; – We one & all join
kind regards to all, & in the hope that you are all as well as can be expected, under so severe a

Believe me, my dear John

Your Sincere Friend

J W H Marshall


The Rev. John William Henry Marshall of Corpus Coll Cambridge was the only son of the Rev John
Marshall Rector of Ovingdean, and curate to his Father & also of SouthEase – In 1826 he married
my mother’s sister, Jane Cragg, who lived with “Uncle Charles Smith & Mrs. Smith at the Abbey
house. The wedding was celebrated at Merton Church and being a special pet of the Bride I had the
honour of sitting next to her at the Wedding Breakfast which I distinctly remember. It was all very
grand & the cake was very nice but I did not like Mr. John Marshall taking my dear aunt away. –
She was the next junior sister to my mother and was constantly coming “over the way” from the
Abbey to us, and I gratefully recollect how she used to sit before the fire, taking off my shoes &
socks & rubbing my poor little chilblained feet.” After her marriage I was a good deal at
Ovingdean – Mr. John Marshall was a very worthy & excellent man


Letters from Bishop Chapman
John Leach Bennett
from 1819 to 1831

These letters form so interesting a series
that I thought it better to preserve them in
chronological order with other Family Letters

James Chapman when Bishop of Colombo


Frederick Bennett chose to group together the following seven letters written by James Chapman to his
first cousin John Leach Bennett. There are seven of them, dating from March 1819 to December 1831:
three from Eton, two from King’s College, Cambridge, and two from Reigate, where Chapman’s father
had retired.

James Chapman was perhaps the most distinguished member of the family. He was born on 25 November
1799, the second son of Mary Bennett, who was Thomas Bennett’s eldest sister, and her husband James
Chapman senior, a schoolmaster of Wandsworth. The younger Chapman’s anonymous biographer
describes the school as a ‘well-conducted one’ for ‘sons of wealthy merchants in the London suburbs’,
and the Bennett grandfather as a ‘much-respected resident of Wandsworth, possessor of a wharf, where at
that time a large shipping business was carried on’.1 (No mention of coal!) The boys at the school, it is
added, ‘were not intended for the learned professions’.1 No doubt they benefited by receiving a broader
education than at more elevated establishments, including arithmetic, probably some history and perhaps a
foreign language or two, as well as the neat handwriting that Frederick Bennett mentions in his account of
the Bennetts. Latin seems to have been taught however, and James Chapman junior must have been given
a good grounding in the classics, because at the age of ten he was admitted as a King’s Scholar at Eton.

His biographer suggests that Chapman’s parents were unaware of the conditions under which their son
would be living in Eton’s Long Chamber.2 Edward Coleridge, a near contemporary of Chapman and later a
friend and connection by marriage wrote in the 1870s: ‘Life in Long Chamber in my time was a very rough
one, and too severe a trial for any Boy. It was neither Moral, Decent, or Cleanly. … The College provided
neither Breakfast nor Tea, nor any eatable supper. There were no means of Washing for any but the Sixth
Form, and those of the meanest sort. … All were locked up after Latin Prayers … at 8.30, and left to
themselves or the tender mercies of the Sixth Form till 7 a.m. the next morning. …’.3 Nevertheless
Chapman, a very young and not robust boy, courageously ‘prayed on his knees in the Long Chamber
twice a day, despite abuse and mockery’.2 Young Arthur in Tom Brown’s Schooldays to the life!

He survived, and ultimately flourished. The writer of theMemorials suggests that his Eton friends included
the poet Winthrop Mackworth Praed, regarded as the most brilliant boy of his generation.4 However
Praed was two or three years younger, was of a different character, and had very different political views. I
have found no mention of Chapman in any of Praed’s many published letters from Eton, or in the only
biography of Praed. Another Eton contemporary mentioned by the biographer however, and one
apparently with more in common with Chapman, was Edward Bouverie Pusey, who became one of the
leaders of the Tractarian, or Oxford, Movement. Pusey had received his preparatory education at the Revd
Richard Roberts’s academy at Mitcham.5

The first three letters which follow find Chapman in the Sixth Form, aged 18 and hoping to obtain one of
the coveted places at King’s College, Cambridge.

1. [anonymous] Memorials of James Chapman DD First Bishop of Colombo Skeffington & Son, London (1892) p.1
See also (2) Note 3.
2. Memorials p.2

3. ‘Edward Coleridge at Eton’Etoniana 19 June 1940 p.483
4. Memorials p.4
5. E N Montague and J Goodman (eds) Lord Monson’s Schooldays: Reminiscences of Mitcham 1804-1809 Merton
Historical Society (2001) pp.15-17, 37, 39



Eton College. 12 March 1819 James Chapman to
John Leach Bennett

My dear John,

May I venture to hope that any sensation of pleasure will be mingled with that of
surprise at being addressed by one who has perhaps no other claim on your attention but his own
forwardness, no other pretensions to your notice but his own earnest wishes. To tell the truth it has
been long my determination to intrude myself on your privacy in the shape of a correspondent, but
circumstances have, I know not how, conspired to overthrow all my good resolutions: I have often
experienced, perhaps as often abused your good-nature, now in good earnest I am about to draw
largely on your patience. This is like the Country Parson who having invited himself to partake of
the Squire’s substantial roast-beef, apologises afterwards, & hopes he is not intrusive, but forgets
to add that it was the savour of the dinner which attracted him: I am more candid; I tell you it was
my determination, but recollect you are not obliged in etiquette to pay attention to anyone whom
you may consider as intruding. – And now, my dear John that I have explained the motives of my
conduct, you will do me the justice at least to believe them sincere, & if I know you aright, you will
neither refuse me a welcome, or wish me to have remained silent. It is not often that I have an
hour’s leisure at my own disposal; now that I have, it is with great pleasure that I devote it “to my
heart’s content”. To continue the illustration of my conduct by this imaginary dinner, (always a
grateful subject but more so perhaps in reality, than imagination) as the Parson generally carried a
good song or diverting story in his pocket as a passport to the more comfortable gratification of his
internals, so I must endeavour to amuse you to ensure my welcome, & preserve consistency. – I
recollect some time since having seen a Letter, which a friend of mine preserved as a curiosity,
which began, “As I am not able to write, I can’t, but I write this to tell you so.” It reminds me of the
unsuspecting Irishman, who when on the point of execution, gave strict injunctions to his
surrounding friends, not to wait for him to tell themthat he was dead before they cut him down. –
Having thus come to my Letter by a circuitous route not unlike that described in the old lines

For ever going round about

For that which lies before our nose
it is time that I should pay my reckoning. To waive all trifling, & turn at once to more interesting
subjects. How have you fared in the world of Letters since I saw you? I have been too much
engaged in other pursuits to think much of light reading, nevertheless I have pilfered a few
pleasant hours from the time of “sleep & silence”, culling sweets from the fairy ground, & the
garden of poetry, & tis this perhaps which has enabled me to persevere in studies of a more severe
& uninteresting nature, inasmuch as it has been to the mind, what exercise is to the body: It rouses
the flagging attention, awakens the faculties, invigorates the mental constitution, & by forming a
relaxation from mental energy, it applies a stimulus which renders even “labour’s self a pleasure”.

– Have you yet seen Rogers’s1 ‘Human Life’: with the recollection of his ‘Pleasures of Memory’
full & lively as the reality, we turn to it with expectations highly raised, & which, for myself I
answer, were not at all disappointed: A hurried perusal will hardly justify a decided opinion, but the
impressions it left on my mind were all of a pleasurable nature: It struck me as highly wrought, in
some places even to obscurity, for it is a maxim which I think could hardly be disputed, that a poem
may be too much as well as too little polished: What Pope with justice calls (speaking of correction)
“the last, & greatest art, the art to blot”2 if overstrained becomes a blemish, & altho’ an absolutely
necessary study, is one capable of abuse. For myself, I know not but that I should prefer, the
impetuous flow, the vivid & ardent effusions of a brilliant imagination, the awe-inspiring bursts of
unrestrained, unshackled genius to the cold, but elegant polish of accuracy. In the one there is more
to be felt, from the other more to be learnt; the one is addressed to the soul, the other to reason;
but I have wandered strangely from my proposed object, which was merely to hazard a doubtful


opinion of this little poem, to confirm which I shall wait a second reading: I had lost sight of the
question, & was proceeding I know not whither, & as Tony Lumpkin would very sagaciously inform
me, “If you know not where you come from, where you are, or where you are going, the first thing
that I have to tell you is, that you have lost your way.”3 The Last Iss4 of the Quarterly5 appears a
very interesting one. The long article on Brougham’s Committee6 is either by Gifford7 or Canning8
or both. A strong body of evidence is brought agst him, & it is written in powerful & energetic, but
rather bitter Language. But Brougham was the first to make it a party question; let him therefore
bear, as he may, the [illegible] which his own obstinacy has imposed on himself. – That appears to be
a very interesting one also on Egyptian Antiquities, – Smedley has just published “A Churchman’s
Second Epistle.” I have seen it somewhere remarked that those who admired the first, will find
much more to praise in the second, while those who disliked the former, will be still less pleased
with the present. Its beauties & defects are of a higher & more marked character; defects they are
not, at least no well-wisher to the Church will consider them as such: if firmness of principle,
conscientious integrity & unbending perseverance in that principle, & an open avowal of what one
feels & believes to be the true path of duty constitute defects, then do his Letters ab[ound? – torn]
in them:[torn – ?o]n the contrary we admire them as excellencies,

We will extol them as such, we will encourage and che

rish that feeling of veneration the most ardent & piety

the most devoted to an Establishment the most perfect,

faultless, & immaculate that human wisdom & fore-9
sight ever has, or ever could devise: But this is an age in which if anyone stands up firmly in
defence ofwhat principles, which conviction assures him are correct, he is called a sectarian, a
polemic, a bigot, in a word, he is branded with every ignominious epithet which conscious weakness
& obstinate error can devise. – But I am rendering it a labour for you to read, what it would be little
cause of satisfaction to you to know it is a pleasure for me to write. The fact is, & I tell you at once,
I have always had recourse to Letter-writing as a relaxation from other & more severe pursuits; &
this accounts for my frequently trifling , & writing what perhaps ten minutes afterwards I should be
ashamed to read: When I take up my pen to “hold sweet converse with an absent friend”, I
unburthen myself of all restraint, & lay myself with all my foibles & defects open to the eye of
friendship: There is in my character a mixture of the weak, trifling & the puerile with little either of
the amiable or generous to counteract their effects: Such as I am, you have my picture, I could wish
for your sake it was better, but I cannot gloss it to deceive. – I have just finished writing for a
Declamation prize,10 not that I have any chance of being ‘the happy man’, but I knew it would give
pleasure to my dear Father: This is the second I have written for, neither of which have been yet
given, but the two cannot be given to the same: I do not in the least expect either of them, as there
is one with whom to try is sufficient honour. I have always both times been unfortunate in having
the same boy put against me; but although one may not succeed, under the circumstances
character is not at all injured – one resignation will arrive in about two months, caused by a
marriage, & another is at present doubtful, as some misunderstanding has unfortunately arisen
about the right of patronage. A living became vacant in December, but some one entered an
objection against the right of Kings presenting to it: Report says it is put in Chancery, but there is
no foundation for it: Were it so, there would be but little chance of its being decided before
August.11 – and now that I have exhausted your patience, I can only add that if it affords you half
the pleasure in reading, that it has me in writing, I shall be more than satisfied : & should you ever
feel inclined to devote an hour to literary gossip, & friendly salutation, I need not add how proud,
how happy I should be to become the object of your thoughts, & believe me ever
Eton Coll: Mar.12.1819 Y’rs very sincerely

J. Chapman


1. Samuel Rogers (1763-1855), banker, art collector, and fashionable poet, published The Pleasures of Memory in 1792. It went
into several editions and was highly praised. Human Life and other later works were not so well received. In 1818 William
Hazlitt declared in a lecture that in Rogers’s work ‘the decomposition of prose is substituted for the composition of poetry’.
However, on Wordsworth’s death in 1850 he was offered the laureateship. Wisely, perhaps, he declined. See also (8).
2. ‘Even copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.’
Alexander PopeImitations of Horace: To Augustus lines 280-1

3. Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer
4. Issue
5. The Quarterly Review was started in 1809 as a Tory rival to the Whig Edinburgh Review, founded seven years earlier.
6. Henry Peter, Lord Brougham (1778-1868), who was educated at Edinburgh University, was a distinguished lawyer. In 1820
he conducted the defence of Queen Caroline, and he rose to be lord chancellor. He was much concerned with reform in
education, being one of the prime movers in the founding of London University. He also supported parliamentary reform
and was co-founder of the Edinburgh Review.
Brougham’s parliamentary committee, first set up in 1816 to enquire into the state of education for the poorer classes in and
around London, succeeded in 1818 in establishing a Royal Commission to enquire into all educational endowments. This
seems to be what Chapman is commenting on.
7. William Gifford (1756-1826) made a name for himself with his biting style as a writer. From 1809 to 1824, as first editor of the
Quarterly Review, he was in a post for which his abilities did not equip him, and was bitterly attacked by many younger
writers of the time.
8. George Canning (1770-1827), Tory statesman, foreign secretary in 1822 and prime minister in 1827, was a frequent and
influential contributor to the Quarterly Review.
9. Chapman’s own layout. See also p.145
10. There were two sorts of Declamations. The first were speeches delivered in the presence of the Provost and Fellows eight
times a year. They were written and learnt by heart by the King’s Scholars 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th in the school order. The second
type of Declamation pitted two boys against each other in argument. This form of contest was inaugurated by Henry Bland
who became headmaster in 1820. As letter(80) dates from 1819, the first type is probably what Chapman describes, though
the element of boy against boy seems to belong to the second.
11. The Eton College archivist writes: ‘At that time only boys who had been King’s Scholars at Eton were eligible to go to the
sister foundation, King’s College Cambridge. Every year in July or August a roll was drawn up of those eligible to fill
vacancies in the two foundations in the course of the following year. When a vacancy occurred it was given to the boy at
the head of the list and everyone on that roll moved up a place. Vacancies occurred regularly at Eton as boys reached the
end of their school careers, but were much rarer at King’s. The College had a total of 70 members and even after a young
man had graduated he would generally continue as a Fellow until compelled to resign on marriage or on accepting a living.
(A Fellowship at that time did not mean the same as it does today, and Fellows did not even have to reside – many King’s
Fellows returned to Eton as assistant masters.) Thus, being on the roll for King’s did not necessarily mean a place there,
and as boys had to leave the school at a certain age they would have to look to other colleges as the time drew near when
the new roll would be drawn up and the old one cancelled.’

29 March 1819. Eton – James Chapman to J.L.Bennett

My dear John

Of the pleasure I received from your Letter, my eagerness to communicate some portion
of it to you must be my best acknowledgement. Indeed I felt as much flattered as pleased by your
kind reception of my proposal; but I am not sorry to have anticipated you, inasmuch as it has proved
to me that I was not mistaken in my idea of your character, & as it afforded me an opportunity of
paying a small but sincere tribute of respect to qualities which as a friend I have so long admired. To
speak candidly, it had been my intention to have proposed it on the evening which I had the pleasure
of spending in your Society at the Wharf,1 but I was so amazed by the flippancy & puerilities of a
brother-guest, that I had not even the good-breeding to conceal my disgust: You will call me ill-
natured, I must submit to your judgement, having first declared that there are two things which I hate;
a monopoly of conversation by any one, but it is intolerable when in the hands of a fool. I now put the
question, and wait implicitly your decision, Had I in the present instance ground for complaint? If so, I
am acquitted of ill-nature; If not, I throw myself on your mercy; & fear not the result. – I have often
smiled at the singular conceit of a literal, not a literary, painter from the classics: To give you one
instance; in his illustration of a passage in Horace where punishment is represented as being slow to


overtake guilt, & which the poet has figuratively but beautifully expressed in the words scelestum
deseruit pede Poena claudo,2 he has as expressively tho not quite so poetically conveyed to his
admirers the full force of the original in representing Dame Poena with a wooden leg: So, methinks,
should any one attempt to illustrate our correspondence, we should see your Letters rising like a
melting February billet-doux amidst a profusion of smiling Cupids, airy Graces, naked Loves,
bleeding hearts, endless knots, & sighs of as tristeful a nature as the far-famed Huncamunca’s,3
above the clouds breathing fragrance & pleasure, while minewould sink from their own specific
ponderosity, like some unhappy cur in the village pond with a brick about his neck, doomed to perish
by the weight they bear along with them. – Having now given a picture of my own equal to that of this
scientific painter in fidelity, tho’ not in humour or ingenuity, we will turn ‘whilst the fit is on me’ to
subjects of a more attractive nature. Have you read the last Quarterly: I have not all, but it appears
generally speaking a very interesting one. Brougham has met with an opponent in Canning whose wit
he may pretend to hold in contempt, but whom he must feel to be as superior to himself as the God of
day is to the Goddess of Dulness. The Review of Samov[?] is by Coleridge, nephew to the poet, &
those on Brougham’s Committee, & Sir Robt Wilson are Cannings. I know not whether I told you in
my last, but of the No. preceding this they sold 15,000 copies: a sale as unprecedented, as it is
indicative of public opinion on the merits of the work. The Edinburgh is sinking very fast. Brougham
has (to speak rather vulgarly, but expressively) ‘done for himself’ in his examinations of, &
disrespectful insults to the representatives of the most enlightened bodies in the kingdom: In his envy
of everything truly English he strikes root & branch at every institution where this noble spirit is
fostered & cherished, hence our Universities & Public Schools are honoured in receiving so great a
portion of his spleen & jealousy. They have stood the test, they have not shrunk from investigation,
but courted it, & they nowrise in spite of Mr Brougham & his misapplied powers, rise triumphant, &
invigorated by what was intended to overwhelm them with shame & dishonour, if not entirely crush &
annihilate them: His quiver is empty, his arrows recoil upon his own head.4 He was brought up at
Edinburgh, & is a principal contributor to that review; we need not go much farther in search of a
reason for his jealousy of every thing Englishmen are wont to admire, to emulate, & to attain. But
whilst I am lavish of my own nonsense, I am too forgetful of yr patience, & the indulgence you are
wont to extend to me: I charge my Letters on the same principle that the simple Esquimaux charged
his gun, “more powder”, said he, “more kill”; he broke his collar bone in consequence, poor fellow! –
& missed his object: mine are perhaps more harmless weapons, but if they do not have the effect of
killing, there is a fair chance of their surfeiting you. Mr Brougham; “that well known name awakens
all my woe”, nothing but Brougham, you’ll say, like Sterne’s starling saluted every one with the same
note ‘Can’t get out! Can’t get out!’,5 so I cannot extricate myself from Mr Brougham: Mungo here,
Mungo there, Mungo everywhere. Had he met with no obstacle you might you might perhaps have
had the pleasure of welcoming me to the Abbey, in a green baize coat, yellow breeches & stockings,
hob-nailed pumps, & a cap, like an Indian’s scalp, with an interesting tuft of red in the centre: add to
this, the hair cut straight round the forehead with a bowl, & a simpering Charity-boy’s chubby, round,
Lancastrian face, & the picture would be complete.6 Imagine your worthy cousin in this interesting
garb, & then say if you do not think he would tell his Godfather & Godmother his name was James
with as perfect an air as the most ragged & dirty of the Missionary school. Cry you mercy? Well I
have done. If you want an interesting book to read, & an useful one too, I would recommend to you
Mad. De Stael’s posthumous work on the French Revolution.7 If you have it not in your Club, it would
be a good book to order, as it is one which you would be glad to procure at half price after it has been
round: I have not yet opened it myself, having had so little time, but it is in reserve for the holidays. –
Another book I have read, & recommend from experience, Stewart Rose’s Letters from the North of
Italy.8 They are not the result of, or the reflections suggested by a month’s flying tour, but are
observations collected with diligence, & communicated with judgement, & easy elegance of a
protracted residence. They contain the reflections of a man of taste & a scholar, but detai[led? – paper
cut] in so natural & unaffected a style that they appear to proceed from the moment, altho’ they are


the result of much labour & research. It is not by any means a classical work, but gives you a picture
of Italy as it is under the despotism of Austria, not indeed a very favourable one, but apparently an
unprejudiced one. There is much disquisition about the language, & provincial dialects of Italy which
to some may be tedious & uninteresting, notwithstanding their value, but it is frequently enlivened by
anecdote, & interesting & distinguishing traits of Italian character which amuse while they instruct. I
was the more pleased with it myself, because it is the first of the kind that I have read, being very
different from either Eustace or Forsyth.9 – It is late & I ought perhaps to be joining in the nasal
chorus which on every side surrounds me: You will think from my conversation that I am almost
asleep; well; if it acts as a soporific upon yourself, the effect will be an innocent one; but I could not
deny myself the pleasure of expressing my feelings at your kind reception of the proposal: May it
only be as great a source of delight & recreation to you, as it is to myself, & neither of us will have
reason to regret our resolution. – You did not wrong me when you thought a repetition of such tidings
would be welcome: I do not mean to make professions or vaunting exultation, but you will believe me
sincere, when I tell you it was the assurance of the pleasure it would give my good Father, that
stimulated me to put in practice that which before only existed in imagination: that it has succeeded
beyond my most sanguine expectations for my own sake I am happy, but more particularly for his. He
has done much, very much more for me than I could ever have expected, & I only hope that it will
ever be, as it ever has been, my first pleasure & pride to repay in however humble a coin, benefits so
exemplary, & affection so truly parental. I open my bosom in confidence to you as a friend: they are
feelings certainly of which no one need be ashamed, but their is an alloy of hypocrisy always mixed up
with ostentation which I cannot endure: besides they are feelings which are much more pleasing to
oneself, than to the world. It is for this reason that if the world could not discover my feelings from my
actions, it should never know them from my professions. To you I scruple not to divulge them,
because I know you are actuated by the same. Allow me to thank you for your congratulations, & I do
it the more gladly, because I know them to be sincere. We shall see each other soon, as I shall be at
Wandsworth1 on Thursday. My task has just been given me to polish a little consequently shall be
fully employed till that time, but I will find time to write them a few lines to morrow, & believe me

Yr affecte friend Mar 29

J.C. Eton
1. The Wharf at Wandsworth was the home and place of business as coal merchants of the Bennetts. By this date
Thomas Bennett senior (1742-1815), grandfather of James Chapman and John Leach Bennett, was dead, and his son
William, born in 1779, was running the business.
2. Horace Odes Book III ii 31-2. With the preceding line, without which it does not make sense, the quotation is as follows:
‘raro antecedentum scelestum
deseruit pede Poena claudo.’
This is translated by James Michie in the Penguin edition of 1978 as:
‘Yet Vengeance, with one lame foot, seldom loses
Track of the outlaw, though she sets off late.’

3. Huncamunca is a character in Henry Fielding’s mock-heroic farce Tom Thumb (1730).
4. See (80) notes 6 and 7.
5. Laurence Sterne A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768), in the chapter called ‘The Passport: the
Hotel at Paris’. What the starling said in fact was the more formal ‘I can’t get out – I can’t get out’.
6. A satirical image of a charity school pupil.
7. Madame Anne-Louise-Germaine de Stäel (née Necker), born in 1766, was one of the foremost French intellectuals of
her time. She died in 1817. Her Considérations sur la Révolution Française was published posthumously in 1818,
the year before Chapman wrote his letter.
8. William Stewart Rose (1775-1843), Eton and Cambridge educated, friend of Walter Scott, best known as a translator of
Italian works, such as Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. His Letters from the North of Italy had just been published.
9. John Chetwode Eustace published his Classical Tour through Italy in 1802. Joseph Forsyth was the author of
Remarks on antiquities, arts, and letters during an excursion in Italy … of a similar date.



May 7. 1819. Eton James Chapman to J.L.Bennett

[address] Jno. Bennett Esq
Merton Abbey
May – 7 – 1819 – Eton

My dear John,

That an account of my present situation would be as uninteresting for you to
trace, as difficult for me to describe, I doubt not: that you will not have the opportunity of
reading it, or I of writing it, is a matter of still less uncertainty: We are both in the dark, & what
is still less consolatory, are likely to remain so. All are bustling all are anxious, while my
contented self sit unconcerned, like the Hibernian, who, on being told in the midst of a heavy
storm that the house would fall, turned himself composedly in his bed, & exclaimed, “What care
I for the house? I am only a lodger.” – We live here very comfortably, & very idly: the same
routine day after day, idleness succeeds to study, tears to idleness & laughter to tears: a man
might indeed, as Pope says, pass his time much better, but I question whether any man could
pass it much easier. Cricket is at hand, & when that comes, what will become of all my good
resolutions? Like political promises they will hold forth, I fear, but little expectation, & that
little they will be sure to disappoint. So pernicious, & at the same time seductive is the effect of a
glowing sun, a bat & a ball produce on the constitution of yr unworthy friend. The wickets are
raised an inch and a half higher,1 this is disconcerting to some; to me, who never prided myself
on my skill in wielding the bat it is a source rather of pleasure, than alarm. The Harrow already
talk of beating us; so much are they elated with their pilfered triumph, that a prospect of failure
they will not suffer to enter their thoughts, much less awaken their fear. We will be with ye
anon, & ’twill go hard but your spire is levelled with the dust, ye tongue-swollen boasters! – But
to turn to a more interesting field for speculation, & one wch promises a much more abundant
harvest that the sterile subject of Harrow – “Small things make base men proud,” saith the
swan of Avon.2 Nature’s fairest child; we need not look very far for the cause of their pride. – In
good sooth I have nothing to make this at all acceptable; I have thought little, I have written less
& I have read nothing since I last saw you: Why then, you will say, do I write: Your own
indulgence will perhaps suggest an apology. I dare not offer one, save it is the desire of making
myself ridiculous in your eyes. It is not sent to you with the same self satisfaction which no doubt
the worthy Baronet enjoyed, when he accompanied, a pair of shoes as a present to a lady with
the following distich

Madam, myself & all the Muses

Begs your acceptance of a pair of shoeses
It may perhaps have equal pretensions to poetry & grammar, but unfortunately not a spark of
the ingenuity & originality of its prototype: Should it excite a smile, it will be that of ridicule. We
have in our microcosm, as you may suppose, every species of character, literate & illiterate; but
the misfortune is that the line of demarcation is not sufficiently distinguishable, inasmuch as the
latter not unfrequently assume to themselves the authority of the former, & they in their turn
prove themselves not deficient in the honourable qualifications of the latter: We have reviewers
& authors, play-writers & play actors, critics & cavillers, poets, & prosers in abundance: One
thrusts into yr hands an essay, the early aspiration of infant genius, on a child’s rattle, or wooden
cock-horse, for which amusements ‘twould have been better for him had he preserved a taste a
few years longer; Another deafens your ears with a stuttering , turgid declamation on the feats
of Tom Thumb, Jack the Giant-killer, Simon Pure,3 & Little Jack Horner, shewing how absurd
& unnatural it is to represent him as thrusting his thumb into the pie, when it ought to have
been his forefinger: another endeavours to make your head as thick as his own while reciting a


serio-ludicrous lamentation on the degeneracy of the age (this novel subject!); illustrating the
truth of his argument most laughably in his own unsuspecting self. – Another comes simpering up
with a piece of poetry in wch he has studiously avoided using some particular letter, to which the
only praise you can give is (in the words of I forget whom) to recommend him [in – pencil] the next
piece he writes, to leave out all the Alphabet. Then come hundreds of sonnets to Lauras &
Delias, Canary birds & lap dogs, sense & nonsense, whilst reading which your only feeling is
that of commiseration for the unhappy objects to whom they are addressed: but last & worst of
all these are a few empty-headed politicians, the violence of whose sentiments is only surpassed
by the shallowness of their arguments, who have learnt by rote certain abusive epithets, & have
ransacked the Dregs of the Examiner’s virulence (itself the dreg & lowest refuse of politics) for
‘toadeaters, placemen, pensioners & other much less courteous & delicate appellations, which
they retail with admirable complacency to all whether willing or reluctant to listen to them. But
my picture you say is overcharged: at some future opportunity I may be induced to represent it
in more correct & amiable, but less glaring colours. Certain it is that I am happier here, than I
can expect to be when thrust upon the world, & surrounded by all equally desirous to take
advantage of the inexperienced. So all have said, & so I must expect to find it. Have I not
exhausted yr patience? Dare I risk any additional trial? You answer me not; (one good reason)
Silence gives consent. – Of all species of reading, biography has most charms for me. The

derived from it is equal to the pleasure one takes in

the pursuit of it: To trace the character of genius as in

fluenced by external motives, to observe the studies wch

have matured the scholar, the incident wch has aroused

the poet, the lessons wch have perfected the philosopher’ 4

is deeply interesting, & must be highly beneficial. It cd hardly now be denied that the
study of the human mind is the most efficient auxiliary to the formation of character; the
observation of the motives of actions in others, is most likely to influence action in oneself. It is
History which narrates in glowing & vivid colours brilliant achievements, but biography lays
open to our view in a faithful & true light the steps by wch they have been attained, & the
motives wch gave rise to them: the one displays the circumstances, the other the principles of
exalted characters: the one illustrates the person, the other ennobles the mind. It is in the grand
& comprehensive scale of History that we are led to admire the aspiring flights, the remote, &
therefore the more impressive, grandeur, the splendid successes of ambition; but what a
sickening view does biography represent of the paths by which lead to so unenviable an
eminence. – Those beings whose pictures in history we look upon with awe, & confess them
contemplate as the noblest of mankind, biography forces us to confess are governed by the same
passions, swayed by the same feelings, & subject to the same weakness as ourselves. How
humiliating is the reflection! but how forcible is the conviction! But I must have mercy on you. A
friend of mine told me the other day the greatest fault in my Letters was thr length: I have not,
to yr cost, taken it as a general hint, to himself perhaps I may send but a few lines when I write
next, or take reavenge myself a double sheet. I heard from Kings yesterday, but there is no
prospect of change at all.5 Indeed I have now relinquished even all hope; so that for my friends to
cherish it when I have given it up wd be preposterous. As long as it held out any promise to me, I
was willing to indulge; now that it has deserted me, I am not obliged to be more courteous towards
so capricious a maiden. – I shall be at Wandsworth6 for a day or two in about a fortnight concerning
my being entered at Cambridge, which I must be before the end of June;7 & should I happen to see
you, wch I can hardly hope, it will add much to the pleasure of
Yr’s affectionately



1. Dr Andrew Hignell of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians writes: ‘The stumps/wickets in the late
18th/early 19th century usually measured 24 inches high by 7 inches wide – in 1819 an amendment was introduced
allowing the height to be raised by an additional 2 inches, with further changes in 1823, allowing an extra inch to
both height and width. The size of equipment used in junior matches was sometimes smaller, therefore it is perfectly
feasible for a wicket to be made an inch and a half higher, rather than the two inches elsewhere.’
2. King Henry VI Pt 2 Act IV Scene i 106
3. Simon Pure. A Quaker preacher in Susannah Centlivre’s play A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718), and a byword for purity.
4. Chapman’s own layout. See also p.140
5. Vacancies at King’s were fewer than the number of King’s Scholars leaving Eton, and boys had to leave the school
by a certain age.
6. Wandsworth was where his parents still lived, as did his Bennett grandmother (who was also John Leach Bennett’s
grandmother) and some others of the family.
7. Chapman was entered for Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated on 2 June1819, but, as the Eton archivist
writes: ‘ [A] Fellow of King’s conveniently died and so created a vacancy enabling [Chapman] to migrate to King’s,
as the 1818/19 roll was still valid. This explains his reference to his disappointment … [H]e thought he would not get
a King’s place. He was not at the head of the King’s roll, but the boy who was could fill the vacancy caused by
resignation due to marriage. However if there was a dispute about whether or not King’s had a right to present a
King’s Fellow, so causing another vacancy, and it went to court, then there would be a delay and another vacancy
was unlikely to occur before the roll was cancelled in August and he had to leave Eton. The advantages of King’s
were that you got a degree without taking an examination, and were locked into a virtuous circle of access to College
livings, both Eton and Cambridge, and perhaps the plum of all, an Eton fellowship.’

May 30 1820 – Kings College – James Chapman to

[address] Mr John Bennett
Merton Abbey
My dear John, Kings Coll:1 May 30 1820

I feel a very sensible pleasure in resuming after so long an interval of
silence wch I can hardly persuade myself is half so long as it has been, a correspondence which
has served to dispel from the harassed spirit many a heavy thought, & to solace many a troubled
moment. It is generally my custom when fatigued by application, when my & each corporal
agent is unnerved to fly to that which I have ever found a restorative of saving virtue both as it
affects my spirits & habits of mind, I mean to that office of friendship wch I am now performing
most agreeably to my own inclination & I trust not wholly unconsonant with your wish. – as to
my having neglected it so long I fancy I shall be most eloquent when most silent. – I really begin
to fancy myself an altered being, from what I was two short months ago: My objects, my
pursuits, my habits both of mind & thought have of late acquired a tone which I can hardly
account for. I am at times in some distress of mind, which I am unable to trace to any origin;
Images, wch never before presented themselves to my view, rise suddenly on my thoughts,
engross them for a moment, & vanish utterly: another train arises in succession, as baseless as
that wch it succeeds, & as visionary, all so quick is the succession that for hours together I appear
to be in a waking, anxious, baseless dream. I should not quarrel with these dreams or reveries if
they were profitable in one single point, but I complain of them because they leave my mind in
as unsatisfactory, more agitated & less reasonable a state than when they entered. I have but
faintly traced out, my dear John, what I would fain understand more perfectly myself, for you to
see & to pity the weakness, restlessness & almost utter vacuity of your friend’s mind. One very
great consolation I derive indeed (& I cannot express its value) from the desire it has infused
into my mind of attaining some knowledge of the truths of religion. These are my resource when
I find my day-dreams coming on, & I never rise from the subject without feeling mind
composed, my faith strengthened, & my hopes confirmed, & myself wiser & I trust better by the


You will think it strange for one so trifling to talk so wildly; methinks you will denominate my
reveries, madness, you will perhaps call me an enthusiast; well, I will bear all these hard words,
& more: I will relinquish all my claims to reason, so you will allow me my ravings: I will be
content to be excluded from the bustle & busy interruptions of society, so you will let me indulge
my thoughts & contemplations: I will exclaim with ye philosophic moralist, the pensive Jacques,2
Oh that I were a fool! I am ambitious for a motley coat! However, I will quit the subject that my
Letter may not like myself be made entirely of ‘phantasy & whim’, & lest you should interpret
into a most humorous conceit, what affects me as a sad reality. My reading since I last saw you,
has been as usual principally directed to ye Classics, more from necessity perhaps than
inclination, but my English has been more varied & perhaps on that account less satisfactory. I
took some pains to learn the Hebrew elements about a month ago, but I find it has cost me much
less pains to forget all I had attained. I had advanced as far as ye pronouns in Italian, when my
day-dreams dispelled all those rays of light, & transported me into the midst of Tillotson3, who
has chained me firmly & not I hope unprofitably to his fine illustrations, & sound expositions of
Scriptural texts. What pity ’tis our old divines, wch perhaps constitute ye richest field of English
literature, are not studied by those who ought to emulate them. The glories of our theological
reign are past, & I fear we shall not again see that horizon decked with such fair & such bright
ornaments. We need not look far for the cause of this change; Divinity now is the only study that
is neglected. In every other profession to obtain, I will not say eminence, but subsistence, days &
nights, months & years, mental vigor & bodily energy must be applied to their respective
studies. Look at the Bar; how long is it before a man can attain any celebrity at all, & what is to
be endured before he tastes it: Look again at ye profession of Physic, after leavg ye University
hospitals are to be regularly attended for 3 years, connections to be sought, & practical
experience to be acquired, but from one who presents himself fit for Holy Orders, little more is
required than from a child who comes to be confirmed at his parish church. This is literally the
resource of all who are unfit for every thing else: It is the readiest & easiest way for all who by
habitual indolence, dissipated character & wasted talents are disqualified from more honorable
& more active pursuits to obtain an easy subsistence. Little is required from them, & while the
gates are so widely opened, in vain will those who might check the evil, regret its diffusion & its
power. In other professions too the community are not ye sufferers, because not obliged to fee a
lawyer, or put yr. lives into ye hands of an inexperienced physician, but he that should heal their
souls, & explain to them ye reason of the faith that is in them, is not of their own choice: & they
must submit to him whom chance or party influence chooses to entrust wth so weighty & often
neglected charge. There are no doubt very many exceptions to this, but still the evil is great, &
growing: & all I wanted to prove was ye reason of ye great deficiency of Sterling talent &
vigorous exertion in ye body of ye Church of England. – I fear I shall tire you. I caught hold of
Tully’s Narrative of a 10 year’s residence in Tripoly,4 & in this travelling & book-making age, it
is pleasing to open a book from which you may derive much information, conveyed in simple,
plain narrative. I begin to feel disgust for most modern writing, especially periodical agst wch, if
you are in want of a strong antipathy strongly illustrated, I will send you a good sheet.
Wordsworth is really a true poet, wth all his egotism & affectation, & I wd prove it had I room. I
refer you to a new publication of his called “Duddon River”:5 some of ye small [illegible]are
really beautiful: so much thought, & mental, wch I conceive to be true poetry, wth an excellent
description of Lake Scenery. What a fine writer is Massinger?6 I shall take up reading our old
poets. What a taste is ours! to reject Dryden, Pope, Massinger, Shirley7 &c. for ye meretricious
tinzel of modern rhyming. Adieu my dr John, wth kindest respects to yr father & mother,&
believe me

Most affectly


1. See (82) note 7.

2. As You Like It, Act II Scene vii
3. John Tillotson (1630-1694) was archbishop of Canterbury from 1630 to 1694. He wrote such works as The Wisdom
of being Religious (1664), various collections of sermons and The Rule of Faith.
4. Letters written during a ten years’ residence at the court of Tripoli published from originals in the possession of the
family of the late Richard Tully Esq. The third edition was published in 1819.
5. The River Duddon, one of Wordsworth Lakeland poems (the Duddon is in south Cumbria) was only published in
1820, so Chapman’s reading was up-to-date.
6. Philip Massinger (1583-1640), a gifted and prolific playwright, who collaborated sometimes with John Fletcher and
with Thomas Dekker.
7. James Shirley (1596-1666) was a schoolmaster and playwright. His work was admired in his own time, but his
reputation has not survived as well as Massinger’s.
March 21. 1822. Kings College James Chapman on his

appointment as Assistant Master at Eton College

to J.L.Bennett

Kings, Mar. 21. 1822
My dear John,

I received this morning your kind congratulations, & was much pleased with this
new expression of that affectionate regard you have so often manifested towards me. Accept
my thanks both for the feeling & the expression of it. You may be assured it does not diminish
the satisfaction I could not help feeling under any circumstances, to find it so welcome to my
friends. In truth it is very flattering to me: I could not at all expect it; & that they should
reserve the situation so long vacant for me cannot but add both to the pleasure & the
obligation.1 It does not diminish its value either in being entirely unsolicited. My dear parents
are I hear delighted; I am pleased that they should be so; Though I cannot appreciate its
truth, I cannot doubt that the success of their offspring awakens the finest & dearest feeling in
the breast of parents. May both yours & my own live to cherish it long: they both deserve it, &
both have too much good feeling not to be sensible of it as a blessing.

I had hoped, dear John, to have returned your congratulations upon a more auspicious
occasion. I have been so anxious about my Sister’s2 dear babe, that I am sensibly awake to
what your own agitation must be:3 It is that however which quickens our happiness when
suspense is no more. It would be well for us if we always bore in mind, that whatever our
situation is, whether of tribulation or joy, it is intended as a trial: Such a counsellor would
enable us to bear our success with meekness, & our afflictions with contentment. But you will
tell me, I am not yet in my pulpit, therefore might spare you: In truth I wish I had time to
write to you more at length, but I am & have been very much engaged. Every hour is of value
to me now: Time will not be my own very soon: I hope all your anxiety will be at an end by the
time I reach home. It will be the end of next week; I shall see you soon afterwards. Present my
kindest regards to Mrs Bennett, & to your Father & Mother. God bless you and your’s in the
hour of trial & believe me ever

Your’s affectionately
I will deliver your message to Marshall4 & doubt not he will write

1. See (80) note 11.

2. Chapman had two sisters, both of whom married.
3. Chapman is referring to the imminent birth of Frederick Bennett.
4. Perhaps J W H Marshall, son of the rector of Ovingdean, and future husband of Jane Cragg.



Aug 17. 1827. The Rev James Chapman to J.L.Bennett
on the death1 of his Father Mr. Thos. Bennett

[address] John Bennett Esq:
Merton Abbey

[pencil:] J Chapman Aug 17.1827 On hearing of my Grandfather’s fatal
complaint – internal cancer

My dear John Reigate Aug. 17.

[added in ink: 1827]

I regretted very much that I could not reach you yesterday, but was so drenched
by the rain on my way in the neighbourhood of Buckland,2 that I did not think it at all safe to
proceed. It would have been more satisfaction, although a melancholy one, to have met: at
least I should have heard your real opinion of your poor father’s malady. The mingled feeling
of respect & kindness I have always entertained towards him, awakens a painful interest in
the melancholy accounts we have successively received. But I know not why we should repine:
the peaceful & even tenor of his life can bring little agitation to his bed of sickness. Had it
been so ordained, it would have been pleasing to see him enjoy a few short years of quiet &
repose: but His will be done, in whose hands we all are! It may perhaps breathe additional
comfort to his mind to see Mr Lindsay:3 but of this your own feelings will judge best. I was
pleased to hear that all your own are so well; & with kindest [paper torn] to Maria, & your
afflicted Father & Mother, believe me,

My dear John,
Yours affectionately
Jas Chapman

1. In fact the letter was written in response to news of Thomas Bennett’s illness, not his death.
2. Near Reigate.
3. The Rev. Henry Lindsay was vicar of Wimbledon from 1819 to 1846.

Decr. 2.1831. The Rev. James Chapman to J.L.Bennett
on the death of Mr. Chapman of Reigate
his Father.

[black border]
[address] Misss A. Mitcham[?] [not in Chapman’s writing]
J.Fisher[?] [not in Chapman’s writing]
John Bennett Esq:
Merton Abbey
Surrey Tooting

[in pencil]: On the death of his Father

Dec. 2.
My dear John, 1831

Our communications now have all some tinge of melancholy; but they are the
tributes of that friendly feeling which protracted absence only tends to confirm. You will
perhaps have heard before this reaches you of the lamented death of my excellent Father.
Although he had been unwell for several weeks the lamented result was not at all anticipated
till within a few hours of his departure. I was not able to reach him in time to see how tranquilly &
how blissfully his spirit fled: but it is some comfort to me to know that I had both his blessing &


his prayers. As his life had been humanly speaking, unoffending, so his end was peaceful:
full of faith, full of comfort, full of anticipation. My dear Mother & Sisters are now
composed & comforted; & will be I trust strengthened by the same divine blessing which cheered
so happily his latter end. In truth such a death as he has been blessed with leaves those
dear to him nothing to sorrow for but their own bereavement. The same example which his long
life has been to us, his death has confirmed. No greater blessing could he have
bequeathed us. God bless you & yours. Believe me ever

Yours affectionately
Jas Chapman
Mrs Ackland1 is happily here, & a great comfort to my Mother

1. Elizabeth (Bennett) Ackland (1774-1840) was a younger sister to Mrs Chapman (née Mary Bennett).
Chapman’s appointment at Eton as an assistant master was from 10 July 1822 to 1834. He gained his BA at
King’s in 1823, and his MA in 1826. Eton’s headmaster was then Dr John Keate, whose later reputation was as
a ferocious flogger, though in private life he seems to have been benign enough. Late in 1833 Chapman was
noted by Mrs Keate’s sister, who lived mostly with the Keates, to be paying ‘much court’ to Fanny, the second
of the six Keate daughters. ‘Poor man’, Miss Brown wrote, ‘He has been unfortunate in his matrimonial schemes
between jilting and dying.’ (Certainly, an earlier betrothal had ended with the young woman’s death.) Chapman
formally applied for permission to address Fanny, which was refused. However, in April 1835, they became
engaged, and in August that year were married, at Hartley Wespall, where Keate was rector.
Chapman had been ordained deacon in 1824 and priest in 1825. Whether or not he thought Fanny ‘would do
for a Master’s wife’ (Miss Brown did not think so), he had left Eton in 1834 to become rector of Dunton
Waylett in Essex. Today the A127 runs straight through the village, but it was then very isolated, set in still
malarial marshes, and with no rectory. Chapman built a rectory, established a school and served as a Guardian of
the Poor. His inclinations were high church, and he embraced the practices of the Oxford Movement.
It is thought that he was offered in 1844 the headmastership at Harrow, but Vaughan was appointed at the last
moment. The following year Chapman became Doctor of Divinity, and was consecrated as the first bishop of
Colombo, a new diocese carved out of that of Madras.
He was conscientious in this post, and during his time a cathedral, several churches, a college and a school were
built. He travelled all over Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and to Mauritius and the Seychelles. However there were many
problems – with local ‘rebellions’, staff disputes, epidemics, finance, and, not least, his own health, which had
already been undermined by the Essex ‘ague’. The Chapmans had several daughters, the youngest and ‘most
gifted’ of whom died quite young. Their only son, always delicate, had been moved from Eton to Radley, but
died there of typhoid.
In 1860 Chapman resigned. ‘Age and climate are telling upon me.’ However his health improved rapidly on
returning to this country. He narrowly missed becoming provost of Eton, but was appointed to a fellowship there,
taking possession of a residence in the cloisters, which he retained for life. He took up an Eton living, at Wootton
Courtney in Somerset, where he restored the church. In 1867 he attended the first Lambeth Conference, and in
the following year he took temporary charge of the diocese of Bath and Wells. For the rest of his life he spent
part of the year at Eton, where some of his ‘most weighty and striking’ sermons were addressed to the boys.
Gilbert Coleridge inEton in the Seventies(Smith, Elder & Co, 1912) quotes one of the Lytteltons as follows:
‘Bishop Chapman once began his discourse with the question, “What is leasing?” and as no boy, and probably
not all the masters, knew what leasing was, there was something approaching to a hush in the congregation. But it
was unavailing. The sentence conveyed no meaning, and at the end of twenty-five minutes we listlessly sauntered
out of the building, leaving the question of leasing exactly where it was before.’ (‘Leasing’, meaning ‘deceit’,
appears inPsalmsIV ii andPsalmsV vi.)
Bishop Chapman died in 1879.

Sources: Memorials of James Chapman DD First Bishop of Colombo [no author] Skeffington & Son, London

(1892). The foreword acknowledges the contribution of Canon Frederick Bennett. Some of the letters in this collection

are quoted in the book, by courtesy of Bennett. The preface was written by Richard Durnford, bishop of Chichester,

whose wife was another Miss Keate.

‘Eton under Keate: Extracts from the Diary of Miss Margaretta Brown’Etoniana(1938-1943) pp.289, 470, 667, 684, 698, 746


(87) and (88) blank
25.Nov.1827. Mr. Chapman, of Reigate (formerly of

Wandsworth) to Mr. John Leach Bennett

in reMrs Aclands Trusts

[address] Mr Bennett

[pencil] MS of Mr. James Chapman The Father of Bishop Chapman

Reigate 25th Nov. 1827
My Dear Sir,

I received a Letter about a week since, from Messrs. Dawes & Chatfield, with
whom no doubt you are acquainted, and by whom your dear Father and I had several Cases
arranged, during our Executorship; among which was that property, which came to your
Aunt Ackland,1 after your Grandmother Bennett’s decease:2 — the Letter was to signify
that it was expedient for another Name to be joined to mine, in the place of your Father’s, that
part of Mrs Ackland’s property being only in our two Names; and should any thing happen to me,
there will be no one to claim it. I wrote them an immediate Answer, saying that I expected your
Aunt with me this Week, and that I would consult with her, and as soon as possible after, I would
call upon them: Your Aunt is now with us, and of course I have named the state of the Case to
her, with my opinion thereon, which perfectly coincides with her particular wish and desire ~ As
your dear Father and I passed through our Executorship with so much union and pleasure, with
perfect satisfaction to every one, I should be happy, if you have no objection thereto, to have
your Name inserted in the Writings, in lieu of your dear Father’s, there will be very little to do in
it, but for the Survivor of the Trust to divide that part of Mrs Ackland’s property among her
surviving Children, in equal proportions, after her decease. If you will have the goodness to write
to me, upon your receiving this, whether you will allow your Name to be joined with mine, I shall
feel very much obliged. I have much pleasure in saying we are here in delightful Health, as, we
most sincerely hope this will meet your dear partner, your dear Mother, self & Family; to whom
all here unite in kindest Love and affection, with the warmest wishes for your Comfort and

I am My Dr Sir
Yours very truly & Sincerely
Saturday Evening Jas Chapman3

1. See the note to (86).
2. Sarah (Noble ) Bennett had died in 1821.
3. James Chapman senior would himself die in 1831. See (86).
[the following letter is written on the second half of the sheet]

26 Novr 1827
My dear Sir

If it be any satisfaction to Mrs Ackland that my name should be joined with yours
in the trust which rests in yourself I will cheerfully undertake it even if it should at some
future day which I trust may be far – very far removed give me a little trouble

As my lamented father’s decease is proved at the Bank, it will only be necessary for you
the first time your business calls you to London, to see your Stock broker & make the transfer


into your name & mine, a memorandum of this Transaction on the back of the deed will I believe,
be all that is required but as you will most likely call on Dawes & Chatfield they will tell you if I
am correct.

It gives me pleasure to hear so favourable an account of your & your good family’s health,
my mother is with us & as well as my wife & children in such weather. our united love & good
wishes attend you all believe me

My Dear Sir Yours most truly
Jas Chapman


31. August 1831. Miss Leach1 to Mrs Bennett Senr (my
Grandmother)2 from Shirehampton Co. Somerset
[address] Mrs Bennett Senr
August 31st 1830

My dear Sally,

You have no doubt expected to hear from us before this, but we stayed with Mrs
Hammond two days longer than we intended, and do not go from here till Thursday morning, and
we did not think it worth while to write till we could tell you where to find us at Clifton4 – if you
feel disposed to come, we should be very glad to see you and I have no doubt you would think
yourself very well repaid for the trouble and expence of the journey. This is a most delightful
country and we have been upon the whole very fortunate in the weather, I think we have had one
thorough wet day since we left home. We intend to stay a week at Clifton and go home by way of
Worcester and Cheltenham and shall most likely pay a visit to Malvern.5[two lines deleted and
illegible here; inserted above the deletion is:it should be likely to set in wet] Let us hear from you
whether you come or not, but if you do come, your best plan will be to come by one of the earliest
coaches, and when you get to the inn at Bristol desire the porter to get you a car which will bring
you to us at once We are going tomorrow morning to Clifton to see after lodgings, and I shall
leave this unsealed till we have got one that I may give you a proper direction. Anne and
Harriott6 unite with me in love to you all, hoping you will pluck up resolution to come to us.

Yours affectionately

E Leach
Sion Spring House7


Near Bristol

1. Elizabeth Leach (1785 -1849), the eldest of the unmarried Leach sisters.
2. Sarah Jane (Leach) Bennett, now a widow.
3. Between Bristol and Avonmouth.
4. Clifton is on high ground to the west of Bristol city centre. The original attraction was the Hotwells down below at
river level. By 1830 the spa was in decline, but Clifton itself was still being developed as an elegant suburb.
5. This choice of route, which includes two more spas, suggests that the Leach sisters liked to ‘take the waters’.
Perhaps Anne still hoped for improvement to her bent spine. See (44).
6. The other two Leach sisters.
7. The warm Sion Spring was discovered in 1793 and a short-lived pump-room was built. Chilcott’s New Guide to Clifton &
The Hotwells (4th ed., no date, but soon after 1832) describes Sion Spring House as a boarding house ‘delightfully situated
on the Downs, commanding views of the most romantic scenery, the river, &c. &c. [which] obtains the entire approbation
of its visitors, not more for the beauty of the situation, than for the attention and good management of the proprietors’.



24.Novr 1830. Rev.J.W.H.Marshall to Mr. John L. Bennett
The advowson of which he gives particulars was doubtless
in answer to inquiries of Mr. Lewis for his son
R.G.Lewis B.A. Wadham College – Oxford.

[address] J.L.Bennett Esqre.

Ovingdean Novr 24th 1830.
My dear John,

You must have thought it strange that you have heard nothing from Mr Cooper or me
respecting the Advowson I spoke to you about, when at Merton; – but till yesterday week Mr
Cooper had not been able to see the person to whom it at present belongs, & I was then
prevented meeting him by the weather, – & as Tuesday is the only day that he is sure of being at
home, I waited till yesterday, when I walked over & saw him. ——

The Rectory of South Heighton cum Tarring Neville1 is above value in the King’s Books. –
There is a Glebe-barn, Close & Garden, & 8 Acres of Arable Land in Tenantry, & 9 Acres of
Brook Land. – Land Tax 12 per Anm; Feefarm Rent to Lord Radnor £2..15s..10d per Anm; Yearly
Tenths £1..17s..4d; – Total No of Acres in the Parish 1800. Population very small, no house,
Incumbent’s age 81. Lowest estimate of Tithes, including rent of Glebe 300. – The Advowson
was purchased some time ago by Mrs Winch of Pet2 for her Son who is settled at Pet; ——
She is not anxious to sell, but would have no objection should an offer be made, by which she may
not be a loser; – I believe the price would be about 4500: ——It
is situated on the East of the River about 5 Miles from Lewes, & 4 from Seaford, the roads
pretty good for the Country, not Turnpikes.3 ——
I believe it is tolerably healthy; – Mr Geer the Rector resides in a house of his own in the
Village, he is Asthmatic, & of eccentric habits, laying in bed half his time, & frequently thought
to be going very fast, but to the astonishment of all he recovers, & is perhaps as likely to live as
any person of his years. ——
I believe I have above given you all the information I can; – & should Mr Lewis think it likely to
suit him, & wish to make any further enquiries, I shall be happy to see him here, or on
mentioning my name Mr Cooper would go with him to ride over the Parish; & knows much more
than I do of the Parties. ———
Our neighbourhood abounds with bad news, as is the case unfortunately with many others at
present, but I know not of any good except that we have had no fire nearer than Lewes yet,
though in constant fear & alarm;4 – nothing hardly is talked of but fires & destruction of
property, when & where it will end God only knows, or by whom it is instigated. ——

We are all quite well except Louisa, who has had a cold & sore throat for some days past.
Jane & the Chicks5 are quite well, they join in love to you all, & in the hope that all Friends
around you are well, to whom give our love & remembrances. —
Mr Coleman was quite surprised the other day to see Baby so much improved, she grows nicely,
is very merry, & Jane thinks her God Papas & God Mamma would like to see her. —— I
suppose you will see them at Clapham6 tomorrow, if so give our love to them & say we hope to
hear a good account of them when Maria can spare time to write. ———

With love & best wishes believe me,
My dear John
Yrs Affectionately
J W H Marshall


1. Just to the north of Newhaven
2. Pett is in East Sussex, between Hastings and Winchelsea.
3. ‘Country’ roads, i.e. roads maintained by the parish, were not usually as well surfaced as turnpiked roads, which were
managed by trusts who raised the necessary funds from tolls.
4. This is a reference to the ‘Captain Swing’ agrarian riots. Sussex was particularly affected. There was an outbreak at
Lewes on 15 November 1830.
E J Hobsbawm and George Rudé‚ Captain Swing (1993, 1st pub. 1969) Pimlico, London p.108

5. Marshall’s wife was Jane Cragg. They had four daughters, one of whom died in infancy.
6. Perhaps at Elizabeth Cook’s house.

22.Sept 1831. Mr. Isaac Cragg Smith to Mr. John Leach Bennett

[black border]

Merton Abbey
22nd Sepr 1831 My
Dear John

I have just recd. your very kind Note & also the Elegant Gold Box “as a present from
yourself & my other Esteemed Brothers in Law”. I beg you will believe me & assure them, that
a present of far less Value, conveying the same sentiments expressed in your Note would have
been highly prized by me, as a confirmation & an additional pleasure to the satisfaction that I
feel when I look back “on the past” that I have always endeavoured to perform a Brothers
Duty” & to know that such is believed by yourselves, affords me additional pleasure —

I beg you will accept & present my warmest thanks to my other Brothers in Law for this
very Valuable & Handsome mark of their esteem which I assure you I shall ever prize & look
upon with the Happiest feelings —

That we may continue united as Brothers, is the sincere wish of

Yours Very Affectionately

I Cragg Smith1

Mr. Isaac Cragg Smith, my mother’s only Brother succeeded to the Merton Abbey Estate and other
property as heir to his uncle Charles Smith, decd 2:July 1827,2 and R. Admiral Isaac Smith decd 2
July 1831, as their heir at Law and my Father by this letter appears to have been deputed by his
brothers in law to present him with a family testimonial on the happy event as it was thought to be.

-He was very kind to me and I loved him dearly
He died 7. Dec 1831, and is buried with his uncles and his wife3 (dec. 4 Dec. 1823) in a vault in the
angle between the chancel and vestry on the S. side of Merton Church. Cf. page 69
1. See Frederick Bennett’s notes to (64).
Isaac Cragg Smith’s wife was Caroline Wyatt, daughter of Edward Wyatt of Merton. She had died, with her infant
son, in 1823. Edward Wyatt (1757-1833) was a member of the Wyatt dynasty which included architects, sculptors and
surveyors. Sir Jeffry Wyattville (who ‘improved’ the family name), James Wyatt and Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt are
perhaps the best known today. Edward Wyatt was a carver and gilder, who did much work at Windsor Castle under
his cousin Sir Jeffry, for George IV. He had premises in Oxford Street where he lived over the shop, and where
Caroline was born, but in 1813 he acquired Merton Cottage, in what is now called Church Path, Merton. One of
Caroline’s brothers, Richard James Wyatt, was a Neoclassical sculptor, most of whose career was in Rome. He carved
the Smith monument in Merton church, which commemorates the brothers Isaac and Charles Smith, together with
their nephew Isaac Cragg Smith and his wife Caroline, the sculptor’s sister.
2. A slip. Charles Smith died on 6 September 1827.
3. Caroline Cragg Smith and her baby were originally buried at Bunhill Fields. Their remains were removed to Merton
after her husband’s death.



8 Dec 1831 – The Rev. J.W.Henry Marshall to Mr. J.L.Bennett
on the Death of Mr. Cragg-Smith. 7.Dec.1831.

[black border]
[address] John L. Bennett Esqre

My dear John,

You can easier imagine than I can describe our surprise & grief at the
melancholy contents of your letter; – Mr Leach having told us the cause of your not leaving
home, gave us reason to expect an unfavourable account, but Jane was almost overcome by the
shock when she read your letter, which unfortunately she took of the Postman; – she is now, I
am glad to say more composed, & desires me to say that if she can be of the least service to
Maria or Mrs Cook she would come up immediately, & will be glad to have a line by return of
Post if they wish her to come; — Her inclination is to come, but (except for the above reasons)
I think she would be better at home, as I think it would be more than she could well bear. —
If Maria thinks Jane can be of any help to her, she will come on Saturday after the Post comes
in; – I will not fix the day now, but should we hear nothing from you I will come up the
beginning of the week, as I am sure if I can render you any assistance, you will not hesitate to let
me know. —

We all unite in love & Jane joins in the sincere hope that Maria will be supported under so
severe a trial, with my dear John,

Ovingdean Yrs Affectionately
Decr 8th 1831 J W H Marshall


9.Dec.1831. Mr. James Jew. of Gloucester to Mr. J.L.Bennett
on the death of Mr. Isaac Cragg Smith

[black border]
[address] John L. Bennett Esqre
Merton Abbey

My dear Friend Gloucester Decr.9th – 1831

I know not how to express our feelings on the receipt of your Letter, particularly my
dear Ursula whos heart have been always wrap’d up in her poor Brother, to be deprived of
him so unexpected and by such an awful dispensation of Providence, I was fearful would have
been more than she could have borne with, but thank God she is as well as can be expected
under such distressing circumstances, She much wishes to come up with me and return at the
same time that if she is equal to it she may see him once more before he is consigned to the
Earth, how far it may be prudent I shall leave to you if there is any objection pray drop me a
line by return of Post – as I shall see you soon I shall refrain from any inquiries as to the
probably cause of this melancholy occurrence, I feel much for Mrs Cragg1 who I am sure will
be sadly distressed, am happy to hear Maria keeps up give our kind love to her and all friends
and believe me my dear friend yours most affectionately

James Jew
I expect to see you Tuesday or Wednesday

Mr. James Jew of Gloucester married Ursula Cragg my Mother’s youngest sister. He was a very
good and kind man, of an old Gloucester family

1. It is not clear who this Mrs Cragg is. Isaac Cragg Smith’s mother, Ursula (Smith) Cragg, had died in 1802.



23.Decr 1831. The Revd James Chapman to Mr.J.L.Bennett
on the death of Mr. Cragg-Smith

[black border]
[address] J. L. Bennett Esq:


[paper pasted down]


Dec. 23.1831

My dear John ,

I was grieved to hear from you of the trial to which Maria had been subjected
in the loss of her only brother : but there is much ground for thankfulness that your anxiety
for her has been so happily relieved . I thank you for your kind enquiry after my mother &
sisters , who are indeed as comfortable as under her painful circumstances I would at all
expect. There is something so consolatory and so improving , in the realities of a Christian’s
death bed that I gather from my good Father’s end much more of thankfulness than regret :
It leaves indeed little to sorrow for , but much to rejoice in . I shall in all probability leave
them for a week on Monday : as other branches of the family will be here , but shall not delay
my return from T[illegible] beyond the beginning of the following week , when I hope we shall
meet . I requested John Bennett1 to provide for you a remembrance of my dear Father ,
which I know your friendship will accept , as a memorial of one for whom you felt esteem.
Make my kindest remembrances to Maria & all at home [paper torn] & [all?] that are dear to
you I hope prosper well . Circumstances have of late estranged us too much .
Believe me ever

Yours affectionately

Jas Chapman

1. Probably John Thomas Bennett, an uncle to both Chapman and John Leach Bennett. He was a silversmith.



16.April 1832. Edward Jameson } to Mr. J.L.Bennett
& Mary Woodhead}
in re Joseph Woodhead, transported for Life
to New South Wales for a Burglary committed
at our house at Merton for which he was convicted
at the Kingston Assizes 1826

[address] John Leach Bennett Esqr
Merton Surry
10th April 1832

The person who addresses you in this Letter is the Brother in law to Joseph Woodhead
of whom you became the just and Lawful prosecutor about six years ago – he most humbly
presumes to supplicate on behalf of the prisoner and himself, but more especially for an aged
Mother whose Sun is nearly set for ever through the profligacy, of a Banished and only Son –
But a Letter which we have lately received over which many an affectionate tear has been
shed and which as served to give comfort in some measure in a hopeless case == in it he most
frankly acknowledges the == extremity of his youthful folly and his deep sorrow – for the same –
and as pleasing a part still is that he has been with Thos Wells Esqr ever since he has been there
and as a proof of his good conduct he says – his Master will do anything he can for him to get his
time == mitigated that he may have the freedom of the Island1 – which he says can only be done
by getting a Petition drawn up in England and sent over to the Governor Respectably Signed –
but the most efficatious of any is that of your own as the prosecutor Which the prisoner is
anxious we should apply to you for, and if we have been fortunate enough to succeed in our
application you will confer an Infinite obligation on lamenting Friends over an unfortunate
Relation ==
We would esteem it an additional Kindness if you would favour us with an answer ——

We remain Your Obdt
Humble Servts
Edwd Jameson
85 York St Mary Woodhead

[the following draft letter, on the same sheet as the above, is in pencil, with some illegible crossings-out.]

I have received your very proper letter relative to your brother in law Jos Woodhead who was
convicted of a burglary in my house at the Surry Assizes.
As I had no vindictive feeling in prosecuting him & rejoice to hear that his conduct has been
proper since his transportation & if it can be proved to have been such as to entitle him to a
remission of his sentence, I should offer no opposition to it, but on the contrary forward it as
far as I could, – thus far I am willing to certify in any way required but you must see that I
cannot sign any testimonials as to his character since he has been with Mr Wells & indeed
that it can only be proved by persons who have had opportunities of observing him
subsequent to his leaving the country

I remain &c


At the time when the Burglary took place I was staying with my Grandfather & Grandmother at the
House my grand father had built for himself at the foot of Boxhill on his retiring from business – My
recollection of the circumstances is very distinct Constant burglaries had taken place in Merton
Wimbledon Mitcham & indeed in the whole of the neighbourhood. My Father for the protection of
our house had a large bell fixed on staircase Landing, with this every door in the hall was connected
by a wire link at night, so that no one from the outside could go beyond the room he had entered,
without his attempt to open the door being defeated, & the great Bell ringing violently –

One night this occurred. The Burglars were there and my Father who had a gun loaded with
swan shot2 in his Bedroom jumped out of bed, and rushed to the window from which he saw two
men on the East lawn running away to gain the meadows – as he had always suspected they would
do. He threw up the window sash & fired at the legs of the nearest They got away. He then dressed
& armed with an old naval cutlass kept in his bedroom he went down to rouse the Mounted Horse
Patrol at the station in the Turnpike road, at the end of Haydon’s Lane,3 & get them to follow the
men On going down the Stairs he heard someone behind him. It was my Mother with the Poker &
the Housemaid with the [illegible] of the Bedroom, prepared to assist in the defence – You must
mount guard my Father said while I am gone. Which they boldly did – The cook meanwhile weeping
safely in bed – In a very short time the Patrol men were on the Chase – But they could not find the
Burglars – It was found next morning that while some of the swan shot from my Father’s gun were
on the Lawn, a good part of the charge was missing. In the ditch between our iron hurdles & the
Abbey Lodge4 field a dark Lanthorn5 was found dropped by the Burglars. It had been lately mended.
The Bow Street Officers found the place where it had been mended. The people[?] could identify the
man who brought it but did not know him or his abode. Shortly afterwards a man was apprehended
for an assault on a woman, & while in charge was obliged to get a surgeon to extract some swan
shot from his back some had previously been roughly extracted by his friends. The surgeon’s report
was noticed in the Bow Street papers & the Bow Street officers found that the mender of the
Lanthorn recognized him as the man that brought it. The swan shot from his back was of the same
No as the remainder of the charge & the Holes in his waistcoat also fitted – Accordingly he was
tried & convicted. My Father’s fear was that he would be hung, & he was very thankful for the
merciful sentence of Transportation for Life – of which this letter is the signal. The other Burglar
was believed to be a Mitcham man who escaped but was Transported some time afterwards.
Woodhead was a Westminster man. The Burglaries ceased for a long Time. But no attempt was ever
made again on our house.


1. Perhaps Norfolk Island, 1000 miles east of New South Wales, the site of a particularly grim convict settlement.
2. Swan shot: large shot used for shooting the bigger game birds.
3. Presumably this was on the west side of the junction, as the land on the east side of Haydons Lane belonged to
Bennett right up to the turnpike road (Merton High Street).
4. Abbey Lodge was the next property to the east, opposite Abbey Gate House, but set well back from the turnpike
road. See the map on p20.
5. A ‘dark lantern’. This is one that had a cover so that the light could be completely obscured if required.
What was it that the housemaid seized from the bedroom?


John Leach Bennett photographed in his later years



10.October 1835. The Revd Richard Roberts, of Chelsea to
Mr. J.L.Bennett

[address] J.L.Bennett Esq r
Whitehead’s Grove . Sloane Street
Octr. 10. 1835. –
My dear Sir.

As Mr. Watts is proposing to go to Merton, I avail myself of that opportunity, to
address a Line to you. Knowing that our friend had consulted you, I held it to be an idle form
to acquaint you with that, which I was aware you already knew. But it is not an idle form, but a
matter due from the obliged to acknowledge his obligation to him who has conferred it. Under
this impression allow me to convey to you my sincere thanks for the honor you have done me in
confiding your son to my care; and to express a hope that you have had no reason to regret so
Frederic is a good Boy; and it is no speech of flattery to say, that, were all our Pupils like him,
Schoolmasterism (I believe I coin the word) would be any thing but an irksome employment.
Mais ils ne le sont pas. The kind conduct displayed by Mrs Bennett and yourself to us, since we
have had the pleasure to know you, demands our thanks; and I beg, in the name of Mrs
Roberts and myself, to convey to you this due tribute. I feel no doubt of the success of my
friend and successor here; and the consciencious way in which he has discharged the duties of
his station, since we have been together, and his ready and cheerful compliance with all my
plans, together with many judicious suggestions of his own, have contributed materially to my
comfort and ease. This is a testimony which is his due; and to you as his warm and valuable
Friend, I hold it right to make it known. Mr. Watts will have, as he deserves, my exertions,
wishes, & prayers for his success; and I really think his path is pretty straight before him.
Pray offer my best Comps. to Mrs.Bennett; and believe me to feel myself, my dear Sir,

Your obliged and obedient Servt

Richd ..Roberts

The Revd.Richard Roberts was my first schoolmaster. He was the son of the Rev Dr Roberts who had

for many years at the end of the last century and later conducted a large & prosperous School at1
The School at No 3 Whiteheads Grove had at this time been carried on with much success by the
Rev Richard Roberts M.A. Merton College Oxford and Curate of St Matthews Friday Street, London

– He had an admirable Helpmate in Mrs.Roberts. They brought up their own children well & the
tone of the school & household was thoroughly good. The boys were of Gentle birth & many
afterwards distinguished themselves. Bishop Alexander Ewing of Argyle & the Isles was one of his
Pupils. I went to Whiteheads Grove after Easter 1836. Mr.Roberts’s health was weak & though he
was not much more than 50 years old he retired he lived first in Chelsea, & retained his City
Curacy. After about two years he moved to Caversham of which he had the Curacy. When I was
resident in Oxford 1840-44 He & Mrs. Roberts & their second daughter were living at Wallingford
where he had the Chaplaincy of the Union House. I used to ride over once every term to spend a
day with them, to my great pleasure Some time after I left Oxford they removed to Worcester
Mr.Roberts’ native place where first Mrs Roberts then Mr Roberts above 80 years of age entered into
Rest. Miss Roberts is still living there and is one of our best and dearest Friends. Mr.Roberts died in
1873 during my Father’s last Illness. He had kindly asked me to give him his last Communion but
he would not have me sent for by his daughter, for “his Father perhaps wants him more than I do.”
and so I lost the great privelege. for I did not know that he was much worse than usual – he was
then a permanent invalid[?] till I had tidings of his death.


Mr Richard Watts was in 1830 an usher in a Private school at Mitcham kept by a Mr Haydon. He
was engaged by my Father in March to give me lessons Latin, French, & afterwards in Greek on
Wednesday & Saturday afternoons.2 He had been well educated but his Father was in difficulties
and, he had to earn his own living, by school teaching. He was kind to me, and I liked him, and
being well mannered & possessing musical accomplishments he became a frequent visitor at
Merton, & he specialy ingratiated himself with my Father – Mr.Haydon’s school failed & then
Mr.Watts became assistant to Mr.Roberts about 1832, & did well – On Mr.Roberts retirement the
school was carried on by Mr.Watts in partnership with a Mr. John Jardine who was an excellent
teacher & the Brother of Miss Jardine a school-mistress with a good connexion at Tryon House in
Sloane Street. They did not agree & dissolved partnership in – 37 & Mr Watts carried on the School
at No.3 & Mr Jardine his School in opposite house in Whiteheads Grove. Mr.Watts had a very
serious illness before the partnership was dissolved which must have added to his difficulties He
became insolvent in midsummer 38. and my Father & Mr Roberts both lost some money which they
had lent him – In 1839 he was introduced by the Rev.W.Orpen[?]. vicar of Shirley Co. Hants whose
pupil I then was, to the Islington Clerical Education Society by whom he was adopted & sent to
Magdalen Hall Oxford where he graduated BA. in 1842. After holding several curacies he became
Rector of Nailstone; Leicestershire, in 1852 which living he held till his death in 1897 – R.I.P.

1. Sentence incomplete. It is tempting to suggest that this Dr Roberts’s father was the Dr Richard Roberts who ran a
much-respected school at Mitcham between 1792 and 1826. An argument against this is that the Mitcham Roberts,
and indeed his father, had been educated at Eton and King’s, whereas Bennett tells us that his Dr Roberts had been at
Merton College, Oxford. See Lord Monson’s Schooldays: reminiscences of Mitcham 1804-1809 E N Montague and
J Goodman (eds) Merton Historical Society (2001).
2. Frederick Bennett would have been eight years old in 1830.

The above is the last of the family letters arranged and commented on by Canon Frederick Bennett in 1898.
They are followed by a series of hand-written miscellaneous items, probably all, or most, collected and
transcribed, or composed, by Samuel Hoole, the family friend of the Bennetts. See(35) and(43).



Laid in loose:For the Benefit of Benson’s Family June 9th 1796 – the text of a verse tribute written by
a Mr. Taylor and spoken by the actress Mrs Jordan

(99) and (100) blank

M.S.S. of Mr. Samuel Hoole, of H.M. Record Office
Jan’ ’82 – Feb. 1802
Letter from the Abbot of Buldewas in Shropshire to King Edw. III with an offer of a subsidy

Transcription of a document in medieval Latin


Loquitur Senex, 13 lines taken from Seneca: Thyestes ii chorus. The last three lines are well known:
Illi mors gravis incubat
Qui notus nimis omnibus
Ignotus moritur sibi.

[‘On him does death lie heavily who, but too well known to all, dies to himself unknown.’ – Translation
taken fromOxford Dictionary of Quotations]


Paradoxical Wedding Jan 02, text of a riddle poem, written on the reverse of a page from a London
directory of 1794


To Andromache – a three-page poem in rhymed couplets.

S. Hoole 1803. Probably written about 1802, when Mr.& Mrs.Bennett had removed to the
Merton house, & the fear of invasion had not ceased as it did after the Battle of Trafalgar 1805.
To Andromache1
Renowned Hector, valiant prince of Troy,
Possess’d a noble wife and lovely boy:
Beneath your peaceful roof a Pair I see,
Happier than Hector and Andromache.
Though not inroll’d among the sons of fame,
Nor honour’d with a great, or sounding name,
Your husband every virtue does possess,
Which can insure domestic happiness:
Of heart affectionate, of gentle mind,
To all around benevolent and kind:
Though large concerns in trade demand his care,
He solely educates his son and heir,
And of his pains the pleasing fruit appears
In young Astyanax’s opening years.

If Critics ask – “Will you compare this name
With mighty Hector of immortal fame?”
I answer, yes, and undertake to prove,
That it as well deserves respect and love.
The Grecian bard, who Hector’s deeds has told,
(Those deeds which chiefly were esteem’d of old)
Little relates of his domestic life,
Scarce more than mentioning his child and wife,


His valour well deserv’d a better cause,
Than that, which broke through the most sacred laws,
Yet noble Hector, when the Grecian powers,
In arms appear’d before Troy’s lofty towers,
Would have avoided that inglorious strife
And to the Spartan king restor’d his wife:2
But, over-rul’d in council, when the voice
Of haughty Trojans left him not that choice,
He led their forces on the hostile plain,
And, by the fierce Achilles’ arm was slain.
I will with confidence presume to say,
That princely Hector, till the fatal day
Which call’d him forth in that unhappy strife
Enjoy’d the blessing of domestic life:
But yes, that Hector, in the pomp and state
Which grac’d his board, and waited at his gate,
Could not more real happiness enjoy,
Than you, your husband, and your hopeful boy.

Our nation, in this more enlightened age,
Would scorn to sully the historic page
By standing forth to vindicate a deed
Like that which made the noble Hector bleed.
But England has for ages stood confest
Th’Oppressor’s scourge, protector of th’opprest.
And, at this hour, her Naval fires are hurl’d
Against the Tyrant of the western world.
In such a cause we have upon record,
A line of heroes, and although your lord
Has not, in actual service, drawn his sword,
Well train’d to arms, he’s ready at the word.
Modest and unassuming though he be
He valiantly would fight for liberty;
(True valour with humility is join’d,
‘Tis boasting indicates a coward’s mind:)
And should his country’s service send him out,
To fight her battle, there can be no doubt,
As Volunteer he well would do his part,
And meet the French with a true British heart.
But, better far, such Trial to be spar’d, )
Which we may hope; for England is prepar’d, )
And Providence, we trust, will be her guard. )
I end in Bloomfield’s words3 “And may your days,
“Glide on, as glides the stream that never strays,
“Bright as whose shingled bed, till life’s decline
“May all your worth, and all your virtues shine.

1. Mr Hoole, if this is his composition, rather fancifully compares Thomas and Sarah Bennett to Hector and
Andromache of Troy, and their son John to young Astyanax.
2. Hector’s brother Paris had seduced, and carried off to Troy, Helen, the wife of Menelaus of Sparta, thus triggering the
Trojan War.
3. Robert Bloomfield (1766-1823), farm labourer and then shoemaker, wrote the hugely successful The Farmer’s Boy
(1800), which was illustrated with engravings by Thomas Bewick, but he died in poverty. The lines quoted here form
the final passage of Bloomfield’s The Miller’s Maid, but ‘strays’ is ‘stays’ in the edition of 1814.



Character of a good Wife – a three-stanza poem with introduction.


(i) Sit tibi terra levis (‘May the earth lie lightly upon you’) – a four-line verse obituary (in English) for a
pug, with footnote
(ii) A note about the lawful interest rates in four reigns

(i) (Laid in loose)The Village Church – a sonnet
(ii) A Dialogue – an eleven-stanza poem, in which ‘Good-bye’ and ‘How-d’ye-do’ converse.1810[pencil]
To the memory of my daughter Magdalene Hoole who departed this life on the 13th Feby 1810 in
the 24th year of her age – a three-page poem in rhymed couplets


(i) To Mrs. Bennett 1807 [pencil]
Say, my dear Friend, how I shall best make known,
A sense of gratitude, for favours shown.
Remember how you spy’d my kindling fire,
And make me hope to gain my heart’s desire:
How well that heart you know, needs not be told;
But does my Fair to you her mind unfold?
Exert your influence with her on my part,
Nothing omit, you think may win her heart:
Nor fail to represent my ardent Love:
(Eager am I my faith and truth to prove)
Tell her, the merit which my heart has won
Till Life shall end, will keep that heart her own.
Written about 1808 [pencil]

The acrostic by Mr Hoole addressed to Sarah Jane Bennett


[The seal is still on this note]

Mr.Hoole’s seal with which this impression was made had been in my Father’s possession as long as I
can remember, and at his death came into my possession – The Matrix is of Blue paste imitation of
Amethyst On the next page (verso) is an impression of it made (22.Sept 1899) and below it a sketch
of the subject of the intaglio well drawn. The seal is mounted in gold of the beginning of the XIX
Century – It was evidently made for a lady’s seal. The French description of the subject on it Recto.
Of 3 pages M.S. is in Mr.Hooles own writing and the flourishes with which it concludes are also by
his hand – witness the acrostic. Was it all designed as an offering to Miss Maria Robson? And was
she so unkind as to give the whole to my Father or Grandmother who gave it to my Father?


[The impression of the seal and the drawing referred to in the above]
[pencil] I think this M.S. is in my Father’s writing

Tiré de l’Histoire de l’Academie Royal – three-page text in French on the scene depicted on the


(i) On the marriage of two aged persons, or, Cupid and Hymen’s Frolic – a ten-stanza poem from
the European Magazine Feb.1808, which Canon Bennett believed to be a composition of Samuel
Hoole’s. In fact it appears (on pages 137-8 of volume 53) over the initials ‘J.S.’. Hoole may have copied it
out as part of his attentions to Miss Robson. See(62).








(ii) Ducite ab Urbe domum, mea Carmina ducite ROBSON
Virgil, ‘mutat’.

This line is adapted from Virgil, Eclogue VIII line 68. The shepherd Alphesiboeus commands his songs to
lead his love Daphnia back from the city to him. Perhaps Hoole wrote this in 1818 when Miss Robson was
at Islington. See (62).

Jesus, Justice, & Sinner – a conversation in rhymed couplets

MSS S. Hoole



M.S.S. Genealogical Documents

Extracted from the Family Bible of Mr. John Leach of Merton Abbey. Surrey


John Leach
(Susannah Hall

1. John Leach*
2. Thomas Leach
3. James Leach
4. Mary Leach
5. Richard Leach
6. Edmond Leach
7. Bishop Leach
8. William Leach
(John Leach*
(Jane Hudson

1.John Leach
2.James Leach
3.Thomas Leach
4.Sarah Jane Leach

5.Elizh. Sarh. Leach
6.Anne Leach
7.William Leach+
8.Harriot Leach

+ William Leach

Oct. 1708

27 March 1748
27 Nov.1750
3.May 1753
18.Oct 1756
31.Jan 1759
23 June 1762

26.Dec 1742
4 Feb.1748

25 Sept.1770
15.Feb 1775

16 Nov.1785.
6.Aug 1787
6 July 1788
2 Dec. 1789

16 1781 aged 73
Dec.6 1802 ” 83

August 21.1757

21.Feb 1833

June 29.1794 – 29 years
(Decd Infant)
(Decd Infant)
30.June 1851 – 76

14 Jan 1849 – 64 )
7.Dec.1848 – 61 )
29.March 1864 – 76 )
Jan 23.1846 – 57 )

married Sarah Jane, Second daughter

of the Rev.John Marshall Rector of Ovingdean
Sussex. They had 5.Sons and 1.Daughter
of whom Mr.John Leach of Crawley Surrey is
the only Survivor. (9.June 1898.)



Married at Merton
9 April 1742
Buried at Morden


(Married Isaac Hudson
(of Merton 1.July 1777
(at Merton

Married at Morden
Buried at Great Bookham


Burd at Merton NI

Mar’d Thos. Bennett
at Merton 18.Mar 1797
Buried at Wimbledon NI
Buried at Great
Bookham. NI



grandmother F.B.
Mrs Sarah Bennett (1744-1821)
[pasted in is a small coloured drawing, a half-figure portrait] [verso] Mrs Sarah Bennett my great

Extracts from St Saviours Registers Southwark

Marriages. 1729. December 21
William Bennett & Mary Wilson
2 Baptisms 1742. November 21
Thomas son of William Bennett, a Lighterman, and Mary

3 Marriages 1762. No 513 (abstract)
Thomas Bennett of this Parish Bachelor, a Minor with consent of William
Bennett his Father and Sarah Noble of the Parish of Wandsworth Co: Surrey
a minor with consent of Joshua Noble her Father were married in this
Church by License 25. May by.T. Jones Chaplain

Signed Thomas Bennett )
Sarah Noble )
in the presence of William Willm. Bennett )
John Yates )


Extracts from M.SS. of the above Mr. Thomas Bennett of Wandsworth
Family Thomas Bennett son of William & Mary Bennett
Bible was Born Nov.1. O.S. 1742.
Fly Leaves Sarah daughter of Joshua & Mary Noble

was Born October 14. O.S. 1744
were Married May 25.1762
Mrs. Mary Noble Died Decr. 1774 aged 53

Mr. Joshua Noble Died Sept.29.1782 aged 66


The following children of Thomas & Sarah Bennett
were Born and Baptised at Wandsworth

Date of Birth Christian Married Deceased

1. 1763 Jany 4 Mary 1775 James Chapman d1831 13.Jany 1839
2. 1764 Sept 12 Elizabeth Died

3. 1765 Aug 21 Sarah John Butcher d. 20. Oct 1843
4. 1767 June 19 LucyDo

5. 1768 Nov 3 Noble William Joshua 2 Dec. 1791
6. {1769 -Infant 7.Feb. 1769
7. {1769 -Infant 14.Feb.1769
8. {1770. Jan. 10 Thomas Arnold Do
9. {1770. Jan. 10 Infant Jany 29. 1770
10.{1771. July 12 Thomas John Do
11.{1771. July 12 Infant Aug 23. 1771
12.1772 30[?] Sept Harriot Ann Thomas Hancock d. Decr. 1861

13.1774 Jan 13 Elizabeth Headley Acland Nov. 1840


14.1775 {Feb.26 Thomas Sarah Jane Leach m.1797 August 20 1827
{Eldest d.1851


{surviving son John Leach Bennett o.s. ^

15.1776 Nov.25. James Edward Do
16.1777 July (/) Infant 17. July —
17.1778 May 8. Joshua Sarah Ansell 1840
18.1779 July 6 William (unmarried sp.) 8 May 1866
19.1780 July 4 “a still born” 4.July 1780
20.1782 Octr18 John Thomas Amelia Chapman dec’d.
of Crouch ^ 6.Oct 1845
21.1783.Nov.13. Amelia William Spinks ^ 8.Sept. 1876
22.1785. July 1. James Edmund Died in India.

The Burials of the unbaptised children are entered “Died, February 7 1769.” Etc on leaf.No.3. of M.S.
the M.S. of Mr. T Bennett

[On page (117) the entries under ‘Married’, the entries under ‘Deceased’ relating to those who married,
and the statement at the bottom of the page are all in red ink. The symbol^presumably means ‘had

(118) is missing
(119) and (120)




[in pencil] M.S. of J.L.B. An account of the Smith Family other memorials in the writing of Rear

Admiral Isaac Smith
Charles Smith a currier in pipe foot Lane Bermondsey died about 1746. or 7 leaving 2 sons & 2
daughters. Viz Elizabeth, Guy, Charles & Mary

1. Elizabeth married John Nott leaving 2 children since dead Guy Smith: a whitser & currier
Father’s business died leaving some children
2. Mary married J Batts of Wapping afterwards Jno Blackburn of Shadwell leaving one daughter
(Elizabeth) by J Batts who married Mr Jas Cook of the Navy, in 1762. Mary Blackburn died March
1770 aged 76. Stepney Charles S[mith: paper torn] married Charity Coleman & was a merchants’
agent & belonged [to: paper torn] the custom house lived in poor Jewry Lane Algate & died
in1[paper torn]9 & Buried at Aldgate. Charity his wife died Feb 18 1771 aged 80 [paper torn: bu]ried
in Aldgate Church, leaving 3 sons & 1 daughter
—— Viz – Charles Smith, who died July 14. 1801 aged 77 leaving 4 sons & 1 Daughter & buried in
Bunhill fields as was his wife Hannah 23 May 1784 aged 53.
—— Saml Smith died Sept 9th 1802 aged 73 leaving 3 sons & 1 daughter & was buried in Mr
Cottingham’s Chapel Baker’s Row as was his wife March 16th. 1811
—— John Smith died Nov 1784 had one daughter
—— Mary Smith died unmarried 1772. buried Stepney

Chas Smith’s}
family }
Isaac Smith: unmarriedCharles: married no children
Timothy: do no children
Nathaniel. Several children by a colour’d woman at St Helena
Ann Wilson – 2 sons Wm & James
Ursula Cragg. – Sundries
Saml Smith}
family }
Charles SmithTobias Smith
John Smith
daughter died unmarried
John Smith –
Tobias Smith
1 daughter
Several children
Charles Smith grandfather

Eliz Cook3Guy Smith
no children
Chas Smith

Chas Smith
Sam Smith John Smith Mary Smithsingle
Ad Isaac

&c Chas John
7 sons 1 son
6 daughters 2 daughters


A letter from John Leach Bennett to Frederick Bennett

Frederick Bennett had clearly been interested in his family’s history for some time, as the following letter to
him from his father John Leach Bennett shows:

Merton S
19th Decr 1862
My dear Fred

Since the arrival of your letter I have been prevented sometimes by engagements &
sometimes by the weather from going to Wandsworth, this day however being fine I have seen
our uncle William,1 but as I anticipated have gained very little from him, he does not even know
where his father’s family lived, but he knows that his father served his time to a lighterman in
Lambeth, this must have commenced about 1756 as he appears to have been born in 1742: in
Aubrey’s history of Surrey the name of Benet only occurs twice


John Bennet of London died 7 Sept 1625 buried at Chertsey
2nd Mr Lyonell Bennett a good benefactor to this church 1629 in a window of St George the
Martyr Southwark. ——
the last named was probably an ancestor of ours, but it would be difficult to trace any
relationship between him & the families named by your correspondent, who is I suppose a
relation of Mr Sladen the eminent proctor & therefore a good genealogist which I am not.——2

As you have heard from Louisa3 a full account of the consecration, I have nothing to add
on this subject, except to bear my testimony to the satisfactory manner in which it passed off &
to express my thankfulness that all has been so successfully completed.

As I may not write again before Xmas I take this opportunity of wishing you & all your
family much happiness at the approaching happy Season & many returns of it.
believe me
Your affectionate father
Jno L Bennett

1. William Bennett (1779-1866), known as ‘Buckles’, a younger brother of Thomas Bennett, and hence John Leach
Bennett’s uncle and Frederick Bennett’s great-uncle.
2. Frederick Bennett’s ‘correspondent’ was, according to his own notes, the Rev. E H M Sladen, the curate at Alton
Barnes in County Cork and ‘not only a learned Divine but an accomplished Antiquary Herald & Genealogist’.
3. Louisa (née Marshall) was John Leach Bennett’s second wife, and Frederick Bennett’s stepmother. There is no
information about the ‘consecration’.
The last page of John Leach Bennett’s letter to his son


An obituary for Frederick Bennett

Among the documents owned by Martin Riley is the following unattributed cutting. It dates from some time
in July 1903, and appears to be from a church publication.


‘On the 1st inst. the death, at Exmouth, of the Rev. Frederick Bennett brought to his rest one whose vigour
and wisdom had for many years been prominent in the Salisbury diocese. The son of Mr. John Leach
Bennett, of Merton, he was born in 1822, and spent the fifty years of his ministerial life in the same diocese.
Although he was for almost the whole of that half century in one parish, he showed how such a
continuity need imply neither stagnation in his pastoral charge, nor limitation of his views and energies. He
took his degree at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1843, and was ordained two years later. His first curacy,
Maddington, Wilts, was afterwards his benefice, with which the Bishop joined later the adjoining parish of
Shrewton. The two together form one large village, containing then more than a thousand people. He was
a pioneer of Church work and principle, bringing with him from Oxford1 a zeal which the remote villages in
the middle of Salisbury Plain had not experienced. Religion, intelligence, and morals were in a neglected
state. Dissent was strong. There was an endowed Baptist chapel, as well as a Wesleyan meeting-house.
There were no parochial schools, and the churches were both in disrepair. He built, at his own expense, a
chapel for Maddington, and, by great exertions, restored and enlarged the church at Shrewton. He at once
opened schools of a temporary character, and afterwards erected handsome school buildings in the centre
of the village. He started, and always maintained, daily services and weekly Communion. He regularly
took part in the religious instruction in the day schools, and also in the night schools which he carried on
during the winter months. His parochial visitation was most systematic. He kept a list of all the houses in
the parish with ruled columns for the twelve months in the year, so that he might note how often in a month
each was visited. Such details may seem to be commonplace now. But the Church of the present day does
not know how much it owes to those who began some sixty years ago to work their parishes on such lines
as these. Not a few parishes have been lifted up by having as their clergy those who had been his curates
at Shrewton.
‘For twenty years he was an ideal organizing secretary for the S.P.G.2 and produced a great effect in the
Archdeaconry of Wilts by his missionary zeal. In 1868, Bishop Hamilton gave him a prebendal stall in the
cathedral, and two years later he was made a Rural Dean by Bishop Moberly. In this latter office he was
most vigorous and successful, having great influence with his brethren.
‘When his health failed seriously ten years ago, he determined to give up his work; but the village in which
he lived so long has still a touching consciousness that his impress upon it was permanent. He had a remarkable
large circle of friends, and in his new home at Exmouth, as well as in the diocese of Salisbury
and many other places, the removal of this example of unpretentious but high principled energy leaves a
sense of serious loss.’

1. The Oxford Movement, which originated from a sermon preached in Oxford in 1833 by John Keble, aimed to restore
High Church principles in the Church of England. Other leaders included John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie
Pusey. Their Tracts for the Times (1833-41) had considerable effect, and the Movement is sometimes referred to as
2. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts.


An obituary for John Mackrell

From The Times 14 December 1909 (page 10):

‘The death is announced of Mr. John Mackrell, of High Trees, Clapham-common, aged 85, who
was one of the oldest solicitors on the roll.

‘Mr. Mackrell was admitted in 1845, and in 1849 joined the later Mr. Millard, then Clerk to the
Cordwainers’ Company, in partnership. He afterwards came on the Court of that Company, and was
Master in 1897-8. In 1862-3 he served the office of senior Under-Sheriff of London and Middlesex, and
was then appointed solicitor to the Honourable the Irish Company,1 who were at that time involved in
serious litigation in respect of the reclamation of Lough Foyle. Mr. Mackrell, however, was successful in
bringing about a settlement. Soon afterwards he became solicitor in England to the Governments of New
Zealand and New South Wales, and he drew the attention of Sir Julius Vogel, Premier of New Zealand,
who was then in England, to the benefit which would result if the Colonial Government loans were raised
by the issue of inscribed stock. Sir Julius Vogel, with the assistance of Mr. Mackrell and in consultation
with the Colonial Secretary, negotiated with the Bank of England for the issue and inscription of Colonial
stock. The co-operation of the other Colonial Governments was obtained, and after the terms of the Bill
had been settled it was introduced in the House of Commons. Mr. Parnell at first blocked it, but eventually
it passed into law as the Colonial Stock Act. Mr. Mackrell was much interested in educational questions,
and endowed, through the Law Society, a prize known as the “John Mackrell prize” for articled clerks
who, on passing their final examination, “should have shown the greatest practical knowledge of and
capacity to advise upon and transact matters of business falling within the province of a practising solicitor,
as distinct from the mere knowledge of the principles and practice of the law.”2

‘Mr. Mackrell retired from his firm in 1884. He died unmarried, and is to be buried at his native
place, Collingbourne Ducis, Wilts.’3

1. This was not what is generally known as a society. It was a large company which owned a great deal of land in Ulster.
2. The prize is still awarded.
3. According to the inscription on the family tomb at St Andrew, Collingbourne Ducis, Mackrell died on 11 December




Merton Abbey.

The book measures 32.5cm x 20.5cm. The cover is cloth, shiny black, with a slight grain, lined with the
paper that forms the leaves – laid, without watermark, and ruled in faint blue. The inside front cover bears
a purple rubber-stamped legend which reads: BROWN & Co., BOOKSELLERS & STATIONERS,

Pages are not numbered, and less than a quarter of the book has been used. The contents are hand-written
and consist of a section called ‘Merton Abbey’, in Canon Frederick Bennett’s writing, an ‘Abstract of
Documents’ in a different handwriting, and notes from Hughson and from Walford, in this second
handwriting. The documents abstracted were held by John Mackrell, who was a cousin of Canon Bennett
and inherited the Merton Abbey estate.

The main text ofMerton Abbey is on the right-hand pages, and occasional notes are on the left-hand. In
this transcription these notes are placed immediately after the passage they relate to, marked by his ‘+’,
and are enclosed in brackets { }. Apart from this, the original layout, as well as the spelling and
punctuation, has been respected as far as possible. Editorial notes are at the end of the account, p.182.


The Village of Merton is situated in the plain or wide valley between the Chalk Ridge of the Surrey
Downs and the tertiary Hills of Wimbledon & Kingston. It is on the left bank of the River Wandle. The
Church one of the few mentioned in Domesday book, is nearly on the watershed between the valley of the
Wandle & that of Beverley brook which rising near Sutton & Cheam passes between Coombe Wood &
{+ and is the boundary of the parishes of Wimbledon & Kingston.} It then goes

through Richmond Park, & enters the Thames near Mortlake. The only Hill in the parish is Cannon
Hill about a mile South west of the Church. The soil is a deep clay, with a slight covering of sand &
gravel. It is what is known to Geologists as the London Clay. The Parish is bounded on the North
by Wimbledon on the north, by Mitcham & Morden on the East & South & on the West by Malden &

In 1215.1 Gilbert Norman, Sheriff of Surry, founded a priory of Austin Canons near the
Church. The Buildings were of wood. About two years afterwards the first Prior Robert Bayle
induced the founder to remove the monastery to the extreme east of the parish where the Wandle
formed the boundary of the Abbey close, on the east side & the parish of Wimbledon & the Old
Road fro London to Epsom on the North. The Original course of the Wandle was evidently the small
brook which now runs from Phips bridge to Merton Bridge, between the parishes of Merton &
Wimbledon & Mitcham & is called the “Pickle”. The present main stream of the Wandle is
apparently an artificial cutting or canal through the Abbey grounds, made for the purpose of
supplying the fish stews and turning the Abbey mill wheels.2 The upper part is embanked. The flood
waters could always be carried off by the Pickle which formed a natural moat to the Abbey
property on the East & South.+

{+ This was my Father’s theory, and it is supported by the fact that the Pickle is the boundary
between the parishes of Merton & Mitcham. The Site of the Abbey was a marsh and the attraction it
possessed must have been the abundant supply of fish to be always obtained from the river. The
land is inferior in quality to that by the Church.}

The Prior & his fifteen brethren removed to the new building which was of wood about 1117. In
1121 Henry I granted the manor of Merton to the Canons of the Priory, about 1130 The priory was
fresh built of Stone3 the foundation stone being laid in great pomp by Gilbert Norman himself the


prior & the – 36 brethren – Gilbert died in July of the same year and was buried in the church. The
Buildings were completed in 1136. – The history of the Foundation of the priory (or Abbey as it is
popularly called) is related in a contemporary M.S. No 28 in the Heralds College.4 It is a small
quarto and not very clearly written, but in excellent presentation.

The Priory was endowed by other benefactors, and persons of rank entered it as Brethren. In
1236 a Parliament was held by Henry III in the Priory when “the Statutes of Merton were enacted
and the Earls and Barons unanimously rejected the provisions of the Canon Law with regard to
Illegitimacy of Children born before marriage, with the answer “Nolumus leges Angliæ mutari”.5

{[Jeremy] Collier Ecc[lesiastical] Hist[ory] vol. ii. pp 466-477}

On St Barnabas day 1258. Boniface Abp. Of Canterbury held a provincial Synod in the Priory, for
the reformation of discipline & to protect the Church against lay encroachment

{vide Collier E. H. vol. ii pp. 448-536}

The Prior of Merton had a seat in Parliament as a Mitred Abbot. S. Thomas à Becket was educated
in the Priory School as was also Walter de Merton Bishop of Rochester, Chancellor of England, who
founded his college here,6 but afterwards removed it to Oxford. It was indeed one of the grandest
monastic institutions in England, and well endowed by the liberality of kings & nobles. The priory
was dissolved by the surrender of the last Prior John Bowle B.D. Fellow of All Souls College Oxford
who obtained a pension of 200 marks for life and was made a canon of Windsor.+

{+ “John Bowle,7 the last Prior with 14 of his monks betrayed his Trust by a Villainous Surrender
16 April 1538, to King Henry VIII who assigned him as pretium Sceleris a pension of £133..6..8. He
was afterwards a canon of the collegiate Church of Windsor and died in 1558.” Aubrey. Hist. Surry.
vol vi p.359}

And so this glory departed from Merton.

In 1673, Aubrey thus described the condition of this “most magnificent Abbey, founded by
King Henry I for canons of the Order of St Austin in 1121, which was dedicated to the ever blessed
Virgin Mary.

{Aubrey Hist. Surrey. vol.1. p226

Aubrey’s Licence for a Survey of the County of Surrey is dated 2. May 1673 “The Natural history
and Antiquities of the County of Surry begun in the year 1673. by John Aubrey Esq. F.R.S. and
continued to the present time”, bears a preface of 1691 but was not published till 1723 In
containing the addenda he gives the list of Priors}

“The Abbey walls (which are eight foot high, of Flint) contain sixty-five acres. A fine clear
stream runs through here, wherein are excellent Trouts; it passes by the kitchen and drives a mill;
this stream is the River Wandle which riseth at Croydon.

“Here is but little of the old Building of the Abbey remaining. The Tradition is that heretofore
were Seven Rings of Bells, and Several Chapels; one of them is remaining still, with an old pulpit &
two old gates. That the Bells of St. Mary Overy came from the Abbey, I have heard Mr. Pepys and
the Parishioners say, who also talk of seven parish Churches within these Walls, but they mean
probably Chapels; the Prior of Merton Abbey was a Lord Prior. In Priorie de Merton, 1. corodie. 1

“At the Sacrilegious Dissolution it was valu’d according to Speed at £1039..5. 3 by Dugdale
£957..19..5. ob. per annum. It has been generally observed fatal to its Possessors”

“Walter Merton Bishop of Rochester & Lord Chancellor of England (Founder of Merton
College in Oxford) began his college here, and after was persuaded to place it in Oxford”6


The following extract from Lysons Environs of London gives a picture of the Abbey more than
a century later. & supplies the history of the site of the Abbey to the close of the last century.

{Lysons Environs of London. Vol.1. pp.344-346. (1792)}

“The site of the Abbey was granted by Queen Mary to the Priory at Shene. After the
dissolution of that monastery, it was kept for some time in the hands of the crown, & was leased by
Queen Elizabeth to Gregory Lovel.+

{+ Died 15.March 1797, & Buried in Merton Church. On his monument on the S. side of the
Chancel he is described as “Gregory Lovell, of Merton Abbey Esquier, Cofferer of her Majesties
Household, second son of Sir Francis Lovell of Harling in Norfolk”. FB}

It was afterwards granted to Nicholas Zouch and appears to have passed through the hands of
various persons before the middle of the last century at which time it was the property of Rowland

{Who founded the almshouses in Merton Street July 1656 FB}8

“During the civil wars it appears to have been used as a garrison. In July 1648 The Derby House
Committee were ordered by the Parliament to make Farnham Castle indefensible and to secure
Merton Abbey & other places of strength in the same County.”+

{+ There is a local tradition that Cannon Hill was so called from Oliver Cromwell having
established his batteries there for the siege of the Abbey, about two miles off. The strategical
importance of the Abbey must have been in that it was surrounded by a strong wall & moat, &
commanded the road to Epsom FB}

“In the year 1680 Merton Abbey was advertised to be let & was described as containing
several large rooms, and a very fine Chapel. Vertue who visited this place about sixty years ago
mentions the Chapel as being then entire, and says that it resembled the Saxon buildings. At
present9 there is no other vestige of the Abbey than the east window of a chapel, of crumbling stone,
which seems, from the style of architecture, to have been built in the fifteenth century. The walls
which surround the premises, including a space of about sixty acres, are nearly entire, being built of
flints. The site of the Abbey, after passing through various hands, became the property of Sir
William Phippard, Knt in 1711. It is now divided into severalties, two thirds of which belong to
Richard Fezard Mansfield, Esq. who married one of Sir William’s grand-daughters.

“In the year 1724, a manufactory for Printing Calicoes was established upon the site of
Merton Abbey, which still exists upon the same spot, being at present in the occupation of Messrs
Newton, [Greaves], Hodgson and Leach+ 10

{+ Mr. John Leach, my great grandfather, whose eldest daughter Sarah Jane married Mr. Thomas
Bennett of Wandsworth 1797.}

who carry on a very extensive trade, and have brought the art to a great degree of perfection.
Another manufactory of the same nature was established within the walls of the Abbey, in the year
1752, which is now carried on by Mr. Halfhide, and at the north-east corner of the premises is a
copper mill, in the occupation of Mr. Thoytts, which has been long established there. Upon a
moderate computation, there are a thousand persons now employed within the walls in different
manufactories; a pleasing contrast to the monastic indolence, which reigned there in former times”.

At the time of Lysons’ writing (1790-91) the above account Mr. Leach & Mr. Newton occupied
a long gabled edifice11 converted into two dwelling houses, which was probably part of the monastic
buildings. All external traces of ecclesiastical architecture had been covered over with plaster and
the alterations which had made the old fabric a manor house. It was situated on the left bank of the
Wandle immediately opposite the remains of the old chapel, and in an excellent & well arranged


garden of long straight walks & pleached alleys – and containing three large canals or fishponds
communicating with each other. Mr. Leach occupied the western half of the building and Mr Newton
the eastern – the former was pulled down about 60 years ago, the latter is still standing but has
been further modernized and is now occupied by the present tenant of the manufactory Mr. Littler. –
The Firm of Mess. Newton Leach, Greaves & Hodgson occupied about 40 acres of the Abbey
precincts – the other factories and the grounds of the “Abbey House”12 on the Northern side of the
enclosure & adjoining the London & Epsom Road, which remain with very little alteration to the
present time, took up the rest of the site. The Abbey House is a charming old red brick House built
upon the remains of an earlier structure, & on the Abbey wall itself. Standing in about 15 acres of
pleasure ground & paddock, at the end of a long Canal from a gateway facing the Abbey & running
due south of the House. Very probably this house takes the place of the Guesten House of the Abbey,
and the Abbey, as it was called, which was occupied by Mr Leach & Mr. Newton is the successor of
the Priory Lodgings, or Houses, which Aubrey terms “the Kitchen”

Mr. Charles Smith bought the Third of the Abbey site severalties which were not the property
of Mr. Mansfield in 13 and he lived in the House till his death in 1830.14

{Mr. Charles Smith & Admiral Isaac Smith were my mother’s15 uncles by the marriage of their sister
Ursula with Mr. John Cragg my grandfather.

Mr. Isaac Cragg Smith was my mother’s brother.}

He was succeeded by his brother Admiral Smith who died at the Abbey in 1831, who left the
property to his nephew Mr. Isaac Cragg Smith, & who died also at the Abbey House in the same
year. By his will the property passed to his nephew Charles Robert Mackrell a minor who took the
name of Smith on attaining his majority in 1843, and who died at Shrewton16 in Wilts in 1882.

{Charles Robert, son of Robert & Ann Mackrell, of Collingbourne, Wilts}

It is now the property of his brother Mr John Mackrell of Clapham. The two thirds of the Estate
belonging to the Mansfield family have been inherited by Mr. Mansfield now Police Magistrate at
Marlborough Street.

The Calico printing Business of Mess. Newton, Greaves, Hodgson & Leach was so extensive
that they not only rented the extensive works & bleaching grounds within the walls of the Abbey,
but they owned a considerable tract of Land in the parish of Wimbledon between Haydons Lane &
the Wandle and some portion of Biggery Mead [illegible] about acres The meads near the river
were land not for bleaching and the whole farm[?] seems from a map still existing to have been used
for the purposes of the firm. They had bought it of the Exrs of Sir Richard Hotham, who lived at
Merton Place, on which he had spent Large Sums of money. He was the founder of Bognor, then
called Hothampton;17 This speculation involved him in pecuniary difficulties & necessitated the sale
of his Merton property on his death.

At the close of the century the firm dissolved partnership. Mess. Greaves18 & Hodgson retired,
& the Abbey factory was divided between Mr Leach & Mr. Newton, who continued to reside in the
houses they had before occupied. With the exception of the water wheel & works on the Wandle, &
some of the adjoining workshops which were tenanted by Mr. Newton all the premises & grounds on
the left right bank of the Wandle were held by Mr. Leach, those on the right left Bank by Mr. Newton.
About 1800 Mr Leach took his Son in Law Mr Thomas Bennett, who had married his eldest daughter
Sarah Jane, into partnership. Under his energetic management the business largely increased. This
was in a great measure due to Mr. Bennett having discovered the process of printing Black & Purple
patterns in Calicos, which had been a secret confined to the firm of the Arbuthnots,19 and which had
to a great extent been Lost, if it had not been entirely discontinued, when they failed. Under Mr.
Bennetts management the “Black & Purple Calico prints” of Leach & Bennett, or as they were
commonly called “Bennetts black & purples” acquired an European reputation, and made the


1866 copy of an 1805 map of the Merton Abbey estate
In 1805 the estate was occupied as follows:
plots A–F: Newton, plots G–N: Leach, plots Q–S: Smith, plots O–P, T–X: West, and plots Y–Z: the copper mills.


A survey of 1802, revised in 1805, describes each of the buildings shown on the map.
(Lambeth Archives – Survey 1802S.505 S.R.128)

The Leaches’ house is described as: The Smiths’ house is described as:
‘Part of the Abbey House, consisting of a Kitchen, Pantry, ‘a substantial Brick-built Dwelling House consisting of a
2 Parlours, Cellar, 5 Bedrooms, 2 Garrets & laundry, the walls Kitchen, Pantry, Cellars, Hall, 3 Parlours, Drawing Room, 4
of batten & lath & plaister, with workshops detached’ best Bedrooms & 4 Servants’ Rooms’


fortune of the firm. About 1812. Mr. Leach retired from Business, & left the Abbey. Mr. Bennett
carried on the business alone till about 1820 when he took his only son, & child, Mr John Leach
Bennett into partnership with him. Mr. Bennett retired about 1825, and about 1832 his son finding
that the calico printing business could no longer be carried on profitably in the south of England
resigned his lease in favour of Mr. Littler a silk printer. Mr. Heath who was at that time tenant of the
works formerly occupied by Mr. Newton removed to another factory at Garratt shortly afterwards,
and then Mr. Littler took the whole works, & removed to the Abbey where his son is still living &
carrying on the trade of printing but with a very reduced establishment.20

In 185 21 the Brighton Railway Company made their line from London to Wimbledon, & cut
the Abbey grounds into two nearly even halves. The Merton Abbey station being built in what must
have been the site of the abbey itself. The part south of the Railway is occupied by Mr. Littler, and
that to the north by the Abbey House & grounds the small printing factory formerly Mr Halfhides,
and a Flock Mill formerly the Copper mills of Mr Thoyts, and afterwards Messrs. Shears. The walls
of the Abbey with the external moats remain in very much the same condition as described by
Aubrey & Lysons. The eastern wall, not being required for a fence against a road has fallen in many
places into ruins but it can be well traced[?] and the western moat is perfect which it is supplied
with water is perfect. It turns off from the Wandle at Phips Bridge a little above the place where the
eastern moat or “Pickle” leaves the river is still perfect; It is a good deal silted up but it supplies
the canals or Fishponds in the Abbey Garden, occupied by Mr Leach, which are now very shallow,
and are being fast filled up with mud. According to the Ordnance (25. inch) Map, the overflow, if
any from these ponds runs into the Bleaching fields to the south of the Abbey gardens; but there is
probably a covered over flow drain to the Wandle near the Water wheel Bridge & sluice. The Canals
in the Abbey House Grounds and the Mill pond to the East of the Wandle, which never retained
water after it was cleaned out in 1831, when the western dam appears to have been injured, are
also parts of the ancient fish stews. The mill ponds below the level of the Wandle to the East, were
probably formed when the River was embanked for the purposes of the Calico Printing factories.
They may however have only taken the place of a larger pond or Lake through which the Wandle
flowed by the side of the ancient Abbey. In the dried up Millpond in the Abbey grounds there are
traces of ancient foundations which are supposed to have been those of the abbey mill. It may have
formed part of the course of the Wandle before the present high level channel was made.

The whole of the ponds were well stocked with Fish – Pike, Perch, Roach, & Eels. In the
Abbey House Canal some Carp were put by Mr Smith for many years they never bred but simply
increased in bulk. The small species of Carp called Prussian Carp were introduced into the Ditches
of the Bleaching fields early in this century and increased so much as almost to drive out other fish.
The Abbey ponds have been very much neglected, and have not had many fish in them for a long
time. About the time that Mr. Leach lived at the Abbey they were deep & well cared for and it is said
that Tench were caught in them; Tench certainly were not found within memory in the Abbey House
Canal, but Pike & perch were very plentiful. The canals were cleaned out by Mr. I.C.Smith in 1831.
and were never so well stocked with fish again. The penstock & grating between the Wandle & the
Canal were not replaced and the fish escaped into the River. During the time that the Croydon
Sewage was allowed to pass into the river, the Wandle was almost emptied of fish, but of late years
since the water has become purer, the trout have returned, and the Abbey fishponds are better
stocked. A very large fresh water mussel (Anodonita Cygnea+) {+ vide Woodward Shells p.484}22
abounds in the mud of these ponds. It is found also in the Longleat ponds. It is not common and it
would be interesting to ascertain whether it was used as an article of food by the Monks in the
Middle ages. The minnow does not exist in the Wandle but the Stickleback is very plentiful The
Trout of the Wandle are the Red Thames trout and are often of large size. There were always some in
the Abbey Grounds as long as the river was preserved[?], but the factory dyes that were allowed to
pass into the river prevented them being so abundant as in the upper parts of the Wandle.


Edmund Littler at the Merton Abbey works in 1890
The building behind him is thought to date from the time of Thomas Bennett


The Abbey gardens, or farm, probably extended for a considerable distance outside the walls,
& Merton Place, the sometime residence of Admiral Sir Richard Hotham, and afterwards of Lord
Nelson may have been used by the monks. The house was surrounded by a moat of which only two
small portions remain. It may have been originally a Moated Grange which might protect the
entrance to the Abbey, and not improbably it may have been of a very much earlier date and
possibly a small fortress or castle – perhaps the residence of Gilbert Norman, of very much the
same character as the moated sites of Castle and Granges in the Wiltshire valleys. This is however a
mere conjecture of my own and I do not attach much importance to it

1. A slip for 1115.
2. Conjectural. The present main stream is certainly artificial, but may post-date the priory. However the priory would
certainly have used the Wandle’s water for sanitary purposes and probably for fishponds, and would have had to
divert at least some of the stream for these purposes.
3. The stone building was begun at this time.
4. College of Heralds. Arundel MS.28
5. ‘We are not willing to change the laws of England.’
6. The scholars of Walter de Merton’s college were at Oxford, but the establishment was funded by his estates at
Malden, Surrey.
7. The last prior was John Ramsey.
8. The Rowland Wilson almshouses stood about where Brisbane Avenue meets Kingston Road. The last vestige of the
building survived until 1967.
9. This is still part of the extract from Lysons, date of publication 1792.
10. ‘[Greaves]’ is an insertion by Frederick Bennett.
11. ‘Merton Abbey’ or ‘The Abbey’ in these documents. More recently ‘Mr Littler’s House’ or ‘Abbey House’.
Demolished 1914. Edmund Littler was the last occupant, and he was the last proprietor of the printworks before
Arthur Lasenby Liberty bought him out in 1904. Littler continued to occupy the house as Liberty’s tenant until
January 1909 when he committed suicide. Depression following influenza was stated to be the likely cause.
12. ‘Abbey House’ in these documents. More recently ‘Abbey Gate House’. Demolished 1906.
13. 1802.
14. 1827.
15. Frederick Bennett’s mother was Maria Cragg.
16. Frederick Bennett was vicar of Shrewton with Maddington, Wiltshire.
17. ‘Hothamton’ was how Hotham chose to spell the name. See G Young A History of Bognor Regis Chichester (1983)
chapter 2.
18. Charles Greaves died in 1800.
19. This may be a reference to John Arbuthnot(t) of the Ravensbury calico-printing works at Mitcham. See E N
Montague Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 Merton Historical Society and
Merton Library Service (1992) p.41
20. By the time Canon Bennett was writing this account (1898) Edmund Littler junior was producing his high-quality
fabrics only for Arthur Lasenby Liberty. See Note 11 above.
21. In 1868 the London Brighton & South Coast Railway, with the London & South Western Railway, built a line
connecting Streatham with Wimbledon, with stations at Merton Park (‘Lower Merton’) and Merton Abbey.
22. S P Woodward’s book, published 1851-6, is called Mollusca. The page reference should be 434.
Abbey Gate House
c.1900, the house
once owned by the
Smiths and frequently
visited by the Craggs


[The following is in a different handwriting – probably that of John Mackrell. There is also a second copy in
existence of this section, in yet another handwriting.]

Abstract of Documents in the Possession of John Mackrell, of High Trees, Clapham Common Esqr
relating to Merton Place, Lord Nelson & Lady Hamilton

Lord Nelson came to Merton from the Fleet on 22nd October 1801

His Purchase Deed of Merton Place is dated 24th October 1801.

The Release recites a Mortgage of 31st October 1793 by C Graves to Currey to secure £10,000 &
Interest His death, payment off of the Mortgage and Sale by his Representatives to Lord [Nelson]1 for
£9,000 free of Land Tax of

Merton Place with Coachhouse Stables & Offices &c ? Acerage
The Shrubbery & Footway 3. 3. 11
The great Lawn & Coppice adjoining 18. 0. 13
West Lords2 & The Coppice adjoining 4. 1. 37
East Lords2 5. 1.0

West Lords Leaze3 9. 3.12
East Lords Leaze 10. 0. 14
51.2. 7

In Merton Wimbledon & Mitcham or some of them formerly in the occupation of Sir William4
Hotham his Tenants or assigns & then lately of said Charles Graves his Tenants or assigns.

£7,000 only paid

£2,000 secured by term of 500 years granted to Grave’s Representatives

Subject thereto Conveyance in favor of Lord Nelson but to uses to bar dower Sir Wm. Hamilton
being the Trustee

On 23rd October 1803. The £2000 having been paid off a Surrender of term endorsed on
conveyance 8th Nov. 1802. Release by William Axe & others to Lord Nelson in consideration £8000.

William Nelson advancing £4000 by Sale of Consols (£5873 2. 9.) and £4000 being paid by
Lord Nelson.

House with Barns Stables &c in Merton then lately occupied by Thomas Berriman & then of
William Axe his Tenants or Assigns

3 Closes called High Overs 50 acres
The Vines 12 ”
Cow Leaze 18 ”
Hollow Mead5 18 ”
Little Barn Close5 2″
Cow Leaze 10 ”
Pipes Mead 2 ”
2 Orchards & Barn & Yard 2 ”

Together 114 acres

in Merton & Mitcham lately occupied by Berriman then by Robert Linton as servant6 to William Axe

A Term of 500 years granted to William Nelson granted as security for loan, and subject
thereto the Conveyance in favor of Lord Nelson to uses to bar dower


By Deed dated 4th March 1806 after Reciting Lord Nelson’s Will & Codicil Lady Hamilton
selected House and 70 acres as authorised by the Codicil & purchased of the Trustees 2. 2. 10 for
£175. —— The selected premises are shewn on the map on the Deed & were then in her occupation
or that of her tenants & she released to the Trustees all other Lord Nelson’s property in Merton
Wimbledon & Mitcham

By same Deed the 2. 2. 10 were conveyed to Lady Hamilton & the 70 acres upon the trusts in
favor of Lady Hamilton & otherwise as mentd. in the Codicil

27th Decr. 1808. Lady Hamilton conveyed to Sir John Perring A. Davidson7 Abraham
Goldsmid Richard Wilson & G Lavie her Merton Property subject to certain annuities which she
granted upon trust for sale.

The Trustees paid off the four annuities & sold the Estate with certain articles of Furniture &c to
Asher Goldsmid

19th August 1809 – Conveyance to Asher Goldsmid to uses to bar dower of Merton Place on
South side of Turnpike Road from Merton to Kingston as then enclosed & as shewn on the said plan
on Deed of Selection of 1806

20th Novr. 1809. Declaration of Trust by Asher Goldsmid of one moiety in favor of Abraham

Nov: 1809. Abraham Goldsmid’s will 28th. Septr. 1810 – He died

Novr. 1810 – The Goldsmid’s being in difficulties executed a Deed of Inspection

In this interval the House must have been pulled down or was it not burnt down

April 1821 Their Debts having been satisfied Inspectors executed a Deed releasing the Estate

As to Nelsons Fields

6th Feby. 1822. Asher Goldsmid & Abraham’s Representatives sold & conveyed to —— Harrington
for £4000 a portion of property purchased by Lord Nelson which had been in the possession of
Asher Goldsmid 4th March 1823 – Conveyance by Harrington of a portion of his purchase to Anne
Keys for £2600

The Property was put up for sale by Auction in 7. Lots in July 1823 one Lot only was sold and
the rest was again put up in the following September in 31. Lots & these were afterwards

1. The word ‘Nelson’ appears in the second copy.
2. Should be ‘West Lawn’ and ‘East Lawn’.
3. Pasture
4. Appears correctly as Sir Richard Hotham in second copy.
5. These two items appear in reverse order in the second copy.
6. ‘tenant’ in the second copy
7. Nelson’s friend Alexander Davison had been also his prize agent and banker.
8. For a detailed account of the history of Merton Place see Peter Hopkins A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place
(1998) Merton Historical Society


In “London & its Neighbourhood” by David Hughson L.L.D. Vol 5 page 291 published by Shalford
of 112 Holborn Hill in 1808 there is a description of Merton Abbey, stating it to include about 65
acres. It mentions Merton Place as the Seat of the late Lord Nelson & as formerly belonging to
Thomas Sainsbury Lord Mayor of London & lately put up for Sale,1 & there is a drawing of Lord
Nelson’s Villa with a Canal & Bridge – There is also a drawing of Mr. Abraham Goldsmid’s mansion
but incorrectly describes it as being in Morden.2 There is also a drawing of Merton Church

A Printing of Calico was established in 1724 but there was a Calico Factory as early as 15723

It was estimated that in 1808, 1000 persons were employed in different manufactories within
the Walls including the Copper Mill.

1. This is incorrect. It was Morden Hall that Thomas Sainsbury took on a 21-year lease from Richard Garth in 1782. He
left within ten years.
2. Abraham Goldsmid’s house was indeed in Morden. It was Morden Lodge, predecessor to the present house of that name.
3. Incorrect. Printed (or ‘painted’) calicoes were not produced in this country before the late 17th century.
In “Greater London” by Edward Walford M.A. Published by Cassell’s without date but subsequent
to 18881 Vol 2. page 516 there is a description of the Abbey – It states –

That the first Stone Priory of Merton was built in 11302

That the Statute of Merton was passed in 1236.

That the surrounding Wall is built of Flint & Stone & Brick some of which are Roman.3

That Mr. Littler’s House4 is built of yellow ochre brick of the Dutch Type – The House is
approached with a rude Norman Arch with an Elizabethan Entablature.5

That the modern Abbey House6 is thought by strangers to have been Lord Nelson’s “but this is
not the case tho’ the tradition may easily have arisen from their having occupied it whilst Merton
Place was being prepared for them”7

That in the North Aisle of the Church is a Monument to the widow of Captain Cook the
Navigator who lived at Merton for many years8 It relates an interview with Hudson over 90 years
old then living at Merton who stood by the door of the Post Chaise when Nelson left on Sepr. 1805 –
That as a boy he often saw Nelson fishing in the Wandle & sauntering with Sir William & Lady
Hamilton about their pretty grounds which extended on both sides of the High Road. That he & his
wife (a daughter of Cribb’s Nelson’s gardener) lived for upwards of ½ a century in one of the
Cottages built by Nelson at the Bottom of Abbey Lane9

That before the Hamilton’s came Merton Place was occupied by a Family named Graves in
business in London10

That he remembered the Streamlet which was made artificially by Lady Hamilton who called
it “The Nile”

It is stated that the House and its Contents were sold in 1808 to Mr. Asher Goldsmid11 who
lived there for a time & Hudson stated that Nelson’s Study & some of the other Rooms were long
preserved as left by Lady Hamilton

The Stabling and one pleasure Garden & Grove were situated on the opposite side of the Road
access being obtained to them by a Tunnel beneath the Street & in the Grove there was a Mound
surrounded by Trees & that the Stables were pulled down in 1882.12

That the estate occupied by the Hamilton’s covered about 30 acres13 to the South of the old Abbey Walls

The House was one Storey high of plain brick, almost surrounded by a Verandah & looked


South to which side The Drive led round from the Entrance Gates by the side of which stood a
Lodge Gate.14 The Lodge then converted into a grocer’s Shop close by the Nelson’s Arms.15

1. Greater London was published in 1883/4.
2. The first stone was laid in 1125.
3. The presence of Roman bricks is not confirmed by modern investigation.
4. ‘Mr Littler’s House’, known as Abbey House in more recent times, but as ‘Merton Abbey’ at the time of these letters,
was the house occupied by John Leach and James Newton and their families. Their works adjoined each other. The
house was pulled down in 1914 by the then owners, Liberty & Co, revealing within its fabric a Norman arch. This was
re-erected in 1935 in the Merton churchyard.
5. This arch was replaced c.1990 with a new one in a style suggested by that of its predecessor. It stands beside
Merantun Way a few feet from the site of the original.
6. This house, which fronted the High Street, was known in its latter years as Abbey Gate House. It was demolished in
1906. At the time of these letters it was the home of Charles Smith and his brother Admiral Isaac Smith, and was
visited frequently by the Cragg family.
7. There was no necessity. The Hamiltons moved into Merton Place to prepare it for Nelson, before he had returned
ashore, and before the final papers were signed.
8. It was Mrs Cook who paid for the monument, which commemorates not her, but the Smith family.
9. James Hudson married Maria Cribb, a daughter of Francis and Hannah Cribb, who lived over the parish boundary, in
Wimbledon. Francis was indeed Nelson’s gardener at Merton Place. A younger Cribb daughter, born during the
Trafalgar campaign, was baptised Emma, as Nelson had requested. The Hudsons may have lived at or near the junction
of Abbey Road and High Path. Perhaps there was a connection with the Hudsons who married into the Leach family.
10. The name was spelled Greaves, but, to judge from the frequency with which it appears as Graves, that may have been
how it was pronounced. Charles Greaves, William Hodgson, James Newton & John Leach of Cheapside, London,
calico printers at Merton Abbey, had bought Merton Place from Sir Richard Hotham in 1793. When they defaulted on
part of the payment, Greaves was able to pay half what was owing and he was allowed to occupy the house for life,
provided it was sold on his death. It was his widow Ann who, in 1801, sold it to Lord Nelson.
See P Hopkins A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place Merton Historical Society (1998).

11. It was the brothers Abraham and Asher Goldsmid who bought the house and what remained of the land for nearly
£13000 in 1809. Neither of them lived there.
12. The stabling, which occupied the eastern angle between Haydons Road and the main road, had originally belonged
to the Bennetts. Nelson first rented it and then bought it. By the 1890s this bit of land was covered by housing.
13. The extent south of the priory walls was rather more than this.
14. Merton Place was part two-storey and part three-storey. It fronted east, where the entrance was flanked by canted
bays of tall windows, with canopies over.
‘Lord Nelson’s Villa at Merton’




Sarah Jane








fl. c.1700
–– Bishop = –– Leach
? John Leach
Susannah Hall b

1770 1780
Thomas James a Mary a = Isaac Hudson Richard ab Edmond ab Bishop a = Elizabeth Cook William ab
1744– 1748– 1750 of Merton 1753–57 1756–74 1759– of Mitcham 1762–63
–1811 d 1784 b 1826
1768 issue

JOHN LEACHa = Jane Hudson
1742–1818 Morden 1748-1833

buried Gt Bookham

buried Gt Bookham

1769–94 1770 1771 (?Sarah) LEACH 1787–1848 1789–1846
buried Merton d. inf. d. inf. 1785–1849 buried Gt Bookham
buried Gt Bookham Rev John Marshall
of Ovingdean

1775–1851 Merton 1775–1827 1788–1864

1800–1864 1803–1841


Wm. Marshal John Harriot Fredk Henry


(2) 1843

buried Wimbledon= JOHN LEACH BENNETT
= Louisa Marshall
see BENNETT family tree
baptised at Morden
buried at Morden
* see COOK, CRAGG and SMITH family tree
Names in CAPITALS are those of authors of documents in this publication.



Names in CAPITALS are those of authors of documents in this publication

* see LEACH family tree
** see COOK, CRAGG and SMITH family tree
Elizabeth Lucy 1767 d. inf.
d. inf.
Rev Robert Butcher
Vicar of Wandsworth

Sarah = John Butcher

3 pairs

d. inf.
Harriot Ann = Thomas1772–1861


1s 2d Noble William Joshua Thomas

1785 drowned at sea
Mary = JAMES CHAPMAN Elizabeth = Headley Ackland

Schoolmaster 1774-1840

1755–1831 3s Elizabeth Anne

Rev Thomas=Rebecca JAMES CHAPMAN=Frances Keate Sarah=James M Rossiter Elizabeth=William Hutton 1s 2d
?–1828 Miller 1799–1879

d. of ?–1899

dsp dsp

d. of Dr Miller 1st Bishop of Colombo
Dr Keate

of Croydon of Eton
2d Mary Robert Grafton
married d. 1864
and had dsp
James Fredk Anthony
Leonard Pitt Maton
1s 2d
= Emily




Canon of Salisbury

Ada Mary GERTRUDE 3 Ethel Katherine6 Isobel

Charles Maria Edith Margaret
Frederick Louisa Ellen Emily Ginevra Beatrice ELIZABETH Dorothea Maud Sarah
1851–? 1846–? 1846– 1849– 1853– 1855– 1857– 1860– 1864– 1866–

= 1881 = = = = = =/div
Lucy Mary Anthony James John M Ernest Alfred G Sir (Cyril) Arthur
Wainwright Hutton Hutton Rattray Powys Lound MA Pearson

Rector of Sapcote

Charles Phyllis Charles
Marcus Mary Frederick
1884–? 1882– =

Mabel de Saye Jacomb

Anthony de Saye 1889–

1, 2, 3, 4, 5: Successive custodians of the documents

6: Custodian of John Leach’s ‘Treatise’ before it went to the V&A
7: Godson of John Mackrell** and last heir of Merton Abbey estate



William Bennet = Mary Joshua = Mary
lighterman Wilson Noble ––
coal merchant c.1721–1782 c.1716–1774

Thomas Bennett = Sarah Noble


James Edw. infant
1776 1777 d.

d. inf.



1780William John Thomas = Amelia Chapman JAMES EDMUND
1779–1866 1782–1845(?6) 1785–?
d.s.p. silversmith d. India

Joshua = Sarah Ansell Amelia = William Spinks


1820 (1)

(1843) = (2) Louisa Marshall


Thomas 1d Harriet Amelia William
1820– died 1825– 1815– = ‘native
DCL QC young =A Keppel princess’
= Baylis at the Cape

c.1804–1877 Solomon Charlotte Fanny Bessie 3d
3rd daughter of = = 1841 = = Chester Jones = 1d
Rev John Marshall Selina Greaves A G Baylis Martin Capt Fredk
rector of Ovingdean Blackmore Blackmore

Joshua William
Susan Passmore

Elizabeth Maria = Thomas Langton
1826–1897 of Wandsworth
Louisa1832–? William Gertrude
MartinRev Charles Wynne
of WimbledonEdgar A Keppel Eva Ada

2s 1s Thomas 1d


1s 2d

Frederick7 = Margaret 3s 7d others Leonard James = Mary Herbert 1s Edith Mary Isabel Sarah

Wynne of Wimbledon

Carslake = = = =


Hugh B – Hook – Hook – Spence
(partner of

John Mackrell**)

Stephanie = Robert Kilvert Marjorie = Rev Lambert Commander Reginald4 Harry 2d 4s 2d 1d

(nephew of 1890–1971

Riley Foster Pitt Maton OBE MP for
Rev Francis

1885–1965 Newmarket
Kilvert, diarist)

and 2s and 2d ‘richest commoner
in England’

1s 2d Martin Riley5



Charles Smith = ?


Elizabeth Smith = John Nott Guy Smith = ? James Batts = Mary Smith = John Blackburn

whitster of Wapping (1) c.1694–1770 (2) of Shadwell
& currier
2 childred decd children Elizabeth Batts = Captain James Cook RN FRS
1742–1835 Barking 1728–1779

James Cook Nathaniel Cook Elizabeth Cook Joseph Cook George Cook Hugh Cook
Commander RN Midshipman 1776–1771 1768 1772 1776–1793
1763–1794 1764–1780 b/d b/d (Christ Coll. Cam.)

{see inscriptions on tombs in Church of St Andrew the Great, Cambridge}

Isaac Charles = Elizabeth Timothy Ann = – Wilson William Ursula = John Cragg Nathaniel

Smith Smith Lancaster Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith
Rear Admiral =(2) Rev E 1757–1819 1760 1765–1790 1767 1765–? 1769–1810
1753–1831 1755–1827 Walford at Mitcham –1797 –1802
of Merton Abbey dsp several children ‘by
. William James coloured woman at St Helena’

Elizabeth Cragg Mary Cragg = James Adams ISAAC CRAGG SMITH=Caroline Wyatt Ann Cragg = Robert Mackrell
1788(?)– 1792–

FRCS 1793–1831 1793–1823 1796–1875


James John Louisa William Mary Jane Eliza Augustus Charlotte Henry Fanny Charles Robert John Louisa Jane
Adams Adams Adams Adams Adams Adams Adams Adams Adams Smith Mackrell Mackrell
FRCS FRCS of Shrewton of High 1825–1855
1816– 1818– 1820– 1821– 1825– 1828– 1833– 1835– Lodge Trees
=Fredk =Mary Ann =Henry =John Wilts Clapham
Perman Miles Carman Perman 1822–1882 1824–1909

This family tree was drawn up by Canon Bennett c.1898
with additions / corrections by John Mackrell.
The years of their deaths have been inserted.

Names in CAPITALS are those of authors of documents in this publication


See BENNETT family tree


Charles Smith = Charity Coleman



Charles Smith = Hannah Samuel Smith = ? John Smith = ? Mary Smith Tobias Smith = ?

1724–1801 1729–1784 c.1729–1802 –1811 –1784 –1772

daughter several children

Charles Smith = ? ? = Tobias Smith John Smith = ?
of Stratford


= John Smith daughter


James Margaret Ann William Holden Charles Cook Anne Isaac B

Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith

1813– 1815– 1818– 1820– 1822– 1824–

Charles Winifred Samuel Catherine Isaac Margaret Robert Elizabeth John Alexander
Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith Smith
–1833 =Newcombe d. =Newcombe Lt Col d. d.


d. {d. were dead at Mrs Cook’s death 1835}
1820 (1) [(2) 1843]
MARIA CRAGG = JOHN LEACH BENNETT* = [Louisa] [Sarah Jane] JWH=Jane Cragg Ursula Cragg = (1)JAMES JEW

1798–1873 Marshall Marshall MARSHALL 1800– 1802–1854 = (2) James Lind
c.1804–1877 1800–1864 1803–1841
= Rector of


[William Leach]
FREDERICK* Emily Elizabeth Maria Louisa Sarah Jane Louisa Mary Elizabeth Emily Mary
BENNETT 1824–1858 1826– 1832– = Christopher d.1891 b/d 1831
1822–1903 =Leonard =Thomas Langton West
= Ellen Maton Pitt Maton


A block of the recent Bennet’s [sic] Courtyard flats built on the site of Bennett’s Mill. Towards the foreground is the Wandle.

An early 19th-century millstone at Merton Abbey Mills, excavated in 2004 at Bennett’s Mill




Note: There may be more than one reference to a subject on a page.
If the reference is only to a modern editorial note the page number is followed by ‘n’.

Abbey Gate House (‘Abbey House’) 21, 26, 40, 61,
124n, 177, 185, 186n
Abbey House (‘Merton Abbey’) 22, 23, 56, 61, 76,
176, 182n, 185, 186n
Abbey Lodge 26, 158
Abbey Road 37
Ackland, Anne 30
Ackland, ‘Bessie’ 19, 30
Ackland, Elizabeth (née Bennett) 14n, 19, 30, 31, 50,
76, 79, 150, 151
Ackland, Headley 30
Addington, Surrey 130
Alten Platen (?), Germany 122
Allwood, Rev. P—— 25, 60
Altenberg (?), Germany 108
Ansell, Sarah,see Bennett, Sarah
Ansell/Ancell family 32, 33n, 72
Arbuthnot(t) family 23, 26n, 177, 182n
Aubrey, John 175, 180
Austen, Jane 105n
Austin, Bailey 126
Axe, William 38, 183
Ayres, ——, silversmith 25, 30
Ballard, Mrs 125
Barber, Captain James 40
Barnard, Frances 126
Barrymore, Louisa 31

Bartlett, (?) Thomas 56, 57n, 62-63, 65, 68, 71, 73, 86

Baylis, Charlotte (née Bennett)
Baylis family
Bazalgette family
Beddall, ——-
Bennet, Mary
Bennet, William
Bennett, Amelia,see Spinks, Amelia
Bennett, Bessie,see Blackmore, Bessie
Bennett, Charles Frederick
Bennett, Charlotte,see Baylis, Charlotte

55, 56, 65, 79
31, 33
12, 13
12, 13


Bennett, Elizabeth,see Ackland, Elizabeth
Bennett, Ellen (née Maton) 29, 43
Bennett, Ethel Dorothea 43
Bennett, Fanny, see Blackmore, Fanny

Bennett, Frederick, Canon

letter to

Bennett, Gertrude

Bennett, Gertrude Elizabeth
letters from

29, 30, 31n, 43, 44, 132,
148n, 160, 171, 182n

43, 44

Bennett, Harriot,see Hancock, Harriot
Bennett, James Edmund 14n, 25, 27-28, 76

letter from 69
Bennett, James Edward 14n
Bennett, John Leach 27, 28, 29, 31n, 35, 39, 48,

60, 66, 71, 76, 77, 78,124, 180
birthday verses to 86-87
diary of a tour through the Midland counties 109-114
journal of visit to Hastings 103-104

Bennett, John Leach (cont.)
letters from 127, 132, 151, 157, 170
letters to 79, 81, 82 (2), 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 91, 92, 93,

94, 95, 99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 107 (2), 115,
116, 117, 118, 120, 122, 123, 125, 128, 129,
130, 131, 133 (2), 136, 139, 141, 144, 146, 148,
149 (2), 151, 153, 154, 155 (2), 156, 157, 160
a ‘solemn resolution’ 131
verses by (?) 132
Bennett, John Thomas 14n, 25, 30, 156
Bennett, Joshua 14n, 21, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 61, 79
Bennett, Joshua William 32
Bennett, Katherine Maud 43, 44n, 64
Bennett, Louisa (née Marshall) 129n, 134n, 170
Bennett, Maria (née Cragg) 30, 48, 123, 124, 134n

letters from 123, 125, 131
Bennett, Maria Louisa 19, 50
Bennett, Mary, see Chapman, Mary
Bennett, Mary (daughter of Joshua) 33
Bennett, Noble William Joshua 14,17, 18, 19n, 21, 29, 53
Bennett, Sarah,see Butcher, Sarah
Bennett, Sarah (née Ansell) 32
Bennett, Sarah (née Noble) 13, 14, 17, 18, 27, 29
Bennett, Sarah, see Horne, Sarah
Bennett, Sarah Jane (née Leach) 23, 24, 25, 30, 31n, 32, 34,

39, 48, 50, 53, 55, 58, 59,

83, 84, 87, 109, 124, 134n
letters from 128, 129
letters to 55, 56, 58, 60, 66, 76, 77, 79,

98, 108, 121, 127, 135, 152
Bennett, Selina (née Greaves) 32
Bennett, Solomon 32
Bennett, Susan (née Passmore) 32

Bennett, Thomas (1742-1815)
Bennett, Thomas (1775-1827)

letters from
letters to

Bennett, William (‘Buckles’)

Bennett, William Martin
Bennett coat of arms

12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 25, 27,
29, 53, 55, 60, 61, 76
14n, 18, 19, 21-26, 28, 30, 31,
32, 36, 38, 39, 48, 50, 53, 55, 58,
59, 61, 66, 84, 86, 98, 101, 124,
133, 134, 136, 149, 151, 177-180
55, 56, 76, 77, 79, 95,
98, 115, 116, 117, 130
49, 52 (2), 59, 60, 62 (2), 63,
65, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73,
75, 78, 83 (2), 88, 108, 119
14n, 17, 21, 25, 28, 29,
30, 32, 34-36, 61, 170

10, 12, 14n

Bennett family genealogical entries 167-168
Berriman, Thomas 183
Biggery Mead 25, 61, 177
Birmingham 70
Bishop, Miss ——-23, 26n
Bishop, Rebecca 26n

letter from 49
Blackmore, Bessie (née Bennett) 33
Blackmore family 32, 33, 35
Blaxland, ——-60
Blenheim Palace 113-114


Boating 18, 23, 50, 53, 76
Bognor 37, 40n
Bonchurch, Isle of Wight 129
Bond, Rev. Charles 25, 39, 40n, 56, 58

letter from 119
Bookham, Surrey 43, 105, 109n, 118, 120
Bow Street officers 158
Box Hill, Surrey 30, 89
Brighton 62
Bristol, and see Clifton 63, 66, 152
Brown (?), James 135,136n
Brown, Mary (née Rocke) 55, 134n, 135
‘Buckles’,see William Bennett
Bullock, Rev. Edward 98, 99n
Bunhill Row 123,124n
Burney, Fanny 105n
Butcher, John 18, 30
Butcher,Rev. Robert Holt 18, 25
Butcher, Sarah (née Bennett) 14, 17-18, 30, 31
Buxton, Derbyshire 73

Caernarfon, North Wales 72
Calico printing 15, 21, 23, 32, 61, 62-63, 64, 68,

72, 75, 124, 126n, 176-180, 185
Castle Cary, Somerset 66, 68
Cecil(l), John 26n
Chapman, Elizabeth 27, 30
Chapman, Fanny (née Keate) 150
Chapman, James (1755-1831) 18, 21, 23, 28, 29,

30, 34, 35, 50, 51, 138

letter from 151

letter to 151
Chapman, James (1799-1879), Bishop of Colombo 27, 29,

30, 137, 138, 146n, 150

letters from 139, 141, 144, 146, 148, 149 (2), 156

children 150
Chapman, Mary (née Bennett) 14n, 17-18, 29, 30, 31, 138
Chapman, Rebecca (née Miller) 30
Chapman, Sarah, see Rossiter family
Chapman, Rev. Thomas 27, 29, 30
Chatsworth, Derbyshire 111-112
Cheltenham 123-125
Chichester, Richard Durnford, Bishop of 29
Clapham, Greater London 124n, 125, 153, 154n
Clarke, ——-79
Clifton, Bristol 31, 88, 152
Coal 12, 14, 15, 23, 32, 55
Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire 172
Colombo, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) 30, 150
Conham, Somerset 75 – 77
Conwy, North Wales 72
Cook, Elizabeth (née Batts) 44n, 48, 123, 124n,

125, 128, 130, 185
Cook, Captain James 43
Cooke, Rev. Samuel 105n
Copper 15, 26n, 176, 180, 185
Cragg, Anne 124n
Cragg, Isaac, see Smith, Isaac Cragg
Cragg, Jane, see Marshall, Jane
Cragg, John 30, 48, 123, 177
Cragg, Maria,see Bennett, Maria
Cragg, Ursula, see Jew, Ursula
Cragg, Ursula (née Smith) 177

Cribb family 185,186n
Cricket 144, 146n
Cromer, Norfolk 115
‘Crops’, andsee Calico printing 63, 64n
Croydon, Surrey 15, 32
Currey, ——-183

Dallin, Rev. Thomas 31
Davison, Alexander 184
Dawes & Chatfield 151, 152
de Stael, Anne-Louise-Germaine 142,143n
Dormay family 32, 35, 36n
Dover, Kent 122
Drysalters 84, 88, 89n
Dulcote Hill, Somerset 66
Dunton Waylett, Essex 30, 150

East India Company 27
Edinburgh Review, The 141n, 142
Epsom, Surrey 55
Eton College 30, 138 -146, 150
Exmouth, Devon 43, 44

Falconer, William 52
Fenning, William 68
Forbes, ——-56

Garratt 15, 19n, 180
Garth family 49
Glovers’ Company 21
Goldsmid family 184, 185, 186n
Grasshoff, J L 79n

letter from 78
Gravesend, Kent 35, 69, 76
Greaves family 23, 25, 26, 61, 177, 183, 185, 186n
Greaves, Selina,see Bennett, Selina

Haité family 116
Halfhide, —— 21, 176, 180
Hamilton, (Emma) Lady 37-40, 183-184, 185
Hamilton, Sir William 37-39, 183, 185
Hammond family 95, 98
Hancock, Harriot (née Bennett) 14n, 25, 31, 58
Hancock, Thomas 31
Harrington, ——-184
Harrow School 144, 150
Harvey, ——-91
Haslewood, William 40n
Hastings, Sussex 95, 98-104, 127, 128n
Haydons Road (‘Haydon’s Lane’) 25, 37, 38, 61, 64n, 177
Heath, ——-180
High Path 37
High Street, Merton 37, 61
Hodgson, William 21, 23, 25, 26, 61, 62, 66, 177
Hoffmann, T—— (?)

letter from 133
Hoffmann family 109, 128, 130
Hook family 33, 35
Hoole, Samuel 86, 87n, 95, 98, 121

manuscripts of 162-165

verses by 162, 164
Horne, ——-33
Horne, Sarah (née Bennett) 33


Horsham, Sussex 123
Hotham, Sir Richard 25, 26, 37, 38, 61, 64, 177, 182, 183
Hotham House (‘Merton’) 26, 32, 33n, 34, 48, 55, 57, 64,

83, 84n, 124n, 157-158
Hudson, Isaac 49
Hudson, James 185
Hudson, John 25
Hudson family 26n, 49
Hughson, David 185
Hutton family 29-30

Iron Railway, see Surrey Iron Railway
L’Isle des Enfants 91, 92n

Jameson, Edward

letter from 157

letter to 157
Jardine, Miss ——-31, 161
Jardine, John 161
Jew, James

letter from 155
Jew, Ursula (née Cragg) 155
Jones, Mrs Chester 31

Keatch, T——-68
Keatch, William 57n, 62-63
Keate, Fanny, see Chapman, Fanny
Keate, Dr John 150
Keate family 150
Keys, Anne 184
King’s College, Cambridge 30, 138, 140, 141n, 145, 146n, 150
Kingston Assizes 157

Lancaster, Rev. Thomas 40n, 119n
Langton family 35
Lavie, G—— 184
Leach, Ann(e) 23, 31n, 43, 86, 87n, 98, 99, 100-101, 105, 109
Leach, Bishop 49
Leach, Elizabeth Susannah 23, 31n, 43, 62, 63, 86, 87n, 109
letter from 152
Leach, Harriot(t)/Harriet 23, 31n, 43, 76, 87, 109
Leach, Jane (née Hudson)23, 24, 25, 26n, 39, 48, 49, 50, 60, 98
Leach, John (1708-1781) 23
Leach, John (1742-1818) 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 38, 39, 48, 49,
50, 53, 55, 56, 58, 60, 61, 76, 79, 82,
83, 84, 105n, 119, 176-180, 186n
letters from 58, 62 (2), 63, 65, 66, 68,
70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 101, 105
Leach, John (1769-1794) 23, 24, 50, 51n, 53, 134n

letters from 49, 52 (2)
Leach, Sarah Jane,see Bennett, Sarah Jane
Leach, Sarah Jane (née Marshall) 128n

Leach, Susanna 66
Leach, William 24, 61, 63, 73, 98, 117, 128n, 136

letter from 120
Leach family genealogical entries 166
Leach, Newton, Greaves & Hodgson, and see under
separate names 61, 176
LeGrip, Louis

letter from 107
Lewis family 71, 73
Liberty, Arthur Lasenby 182n

Lindsey, Rev. Henry 149
Linton, Robert 183
Littler family 177, 180, 182n, 185
Llansanffraid Glan Conwy, North Wales 70, 71
Lucas, —— 25
Lukin, Annsee Rocke, Ann
Lukin, Lionel, father 23, 56-57
Lukin, Lionel, son 50, 55, 56-57
Lukin’s lifeboat 57
Luton Park 120
Lysons, Daniel 15, 19n, 21, 176

McCalmont family 32-33
Mackrell, Charles Robert (later Smith) 177
Mackrell, John 44n, 61, 124n, 172, 177, 183
Mackrell, Robert 124n
Madder, and see Calico printing 63, 64, 72
Maddington, Wiltshire 171
Manchester 32, 72, 73
Mansfield family 21, 26n, 61, 124n, 127n, 177
Margaretting, Essex 39, 119
Marshall, Jane (née Cragg) 31, 128n, 129n, 137
Marshall, Rev. John 129, 136n, 137
Marshall, Rev J W H 31, 129, 137, 148n

letters from 136, 153, 155
Marshall, Louisa,see Bennett, Louisa
Marshall, Sarah Jane, see Leach, Sarah Jane
Maton, Ellen,see Bennett, Ellen
Maton, Leonard James 44n
Maton, Commander Reginald Foster Pitt RN OBE 44n

letters to 43, 44
Merton 15, 174, 185
Merton, church of St Mary 53, 137, 154, 185
‘Merton Abbey’, and see Abbey House and Abbey Gate
House 21, 61, 154, 174-182, 185-186
Merton Grove 37, 40n
Merton Light Infantry, see Volunteers
Merton Place 25, 26, 37, 39-40, 117n, 182, 183, 185, 186n
Merton Priory 174-175
Merton Road 37
Miller, Dr ——-30
Mitcham 23, 61, 68n, 107, 117, 138
Morden 49, 185

Nelson (‘Thompson’), Horatia 39
Nelson, Vice Admiral Horatio Viscount 26, 37-39, 61n, 64n,

78, 81n, 117n, 182, 183-184, 185
Nelson, William Earl 39, 40n, 183
Nelson Arms 185, 186n
‘Nelson’s Fields’ 39, 40
Newton, James 21, 23, 25, 26, 38, 61, 176-177, 186n
Nightingale, ——-82
Noble, Joshua 12, 13, 14, 17, 19n
Noble, Mary 13, 14, 17

Olive, Rev. James 119n
‘Omberows’ / ‘Ombros’, and see Calico printing 63, 64n
Orpen, Rev. W—— 161
Ovingdean 31, 62-63, 127, 128n, 136n
Oxford 114
Oxford Movement 150, 171

Park, Sir James Alan 37, 40n


Parrot(t), John 117
Passmore, Susan, see Bennett, Susan
Patent Office, see United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office
Peak District, Derbyshire 110-113
Peers, Rev. John Witherington 126
Perring, Sir John 184
Phippard, Sir William 127, 170, 176
Pickle, The 174, 180
Pieschell, Augustus 59, 65, 66, 68, 71, 73, 75, 76, 78,

79, 84, 95, 98, 99, 101, 130, 132-133
letters from 59, 60, 79, 81, 82 (2), 83 (2), 84, 85,
86, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99,
100, 102, 107, 108 (2), 118, 122
Pitcher, Mrs 66, 68
Pleasures of Memory, The 59
Pontifex, ——-72
Porlock, Somerset 133, 135
Portsmouth 28, 69
Poulter, ——-107, 118
Price, ——-64
Pusey, Edward Bouverie 138,171n

Quakers 15, 18, 19n, 23
Quarterly Review, The 140, 141n, 142
Quicks Road (‘Quick Footpath’) 37

Railways, and see Surrey Iron Railway 17, 180, 182n
Ravensbury, Mitcham 68n, 126
Reigate, Surrey 30, 138, 149
Ripley, Elizabeth (née Rocke) 55, 134n
Roberts, Rev. Richard of Chelsea 160, 161

letter from 160
Roberts, Rev. Richard of Mitcham 138,161n
Robson, ——-66
Robson, Maria 87

letter from 121
Robson, Rev. Thomas 66n, 87n, 121
Rocke, Ann(e) (née Lukin) 23, 24, 25, 50, 51n, 53, 55,

59, 65, 66, 68, 76, 77, 134n

letters from 60, 133, 135
Rocke (?), Elinor 133, 134, 135
Rocke, Elizabeth,see Ripley, Elizabeth
Rocke, Joanna 55, 134n
Rocke, John Helyar 24, 55, 58, 63, 65, 66,

68, 75, 76, 77, 79, 135
Rocke, Mary, see Brown, Mary
Rodborough, Gloucestershire 88
Rogers, Samuel 59, 139, 141n
Rose, The 84
Rossiter family 27, 30
Rottingdean, Sussex 62-63
Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts … 64
Rye, Sussex 95

Sainsbury, Thomas 185
Sandgate, Kent 131
Saxton, ——-95
Schools 17, 23, 31

Tryon House, Sloane Street 31, 161

and seeChapman, James (1755-1831)

and see Rev. Richard Roberts of Chelsea

and see Rev, Richard Roberts of Mitcham
Severn, River 88

Shears, Messrs 180
Shipwreck, The 52
Shirehampton, near Bristol 152
Shoulder of Mutton Field 25
Shrewton, Wiltshire 171
Silk family 98, 99n
Sise Lane 59
Smith, Caroline Cragg (née Wyatt) 154n
Smith, Charles 21, 25, 26, 30, 39-40, 48, 61, 123,

128, 137, 154, 177, 180, 186n
Smith, Isaac, Rear Admiral 39-40, 48, 123, 154, 177, 186n
Smith, Isaac Cragg 123-124, 154, 155, 156, 177, 180

letters from 128, 154
Smith, Sir (William) Sidney 78
Smith, Ursula,see Cragg Ursula
Smith family genealogical notes 169
Snelling, Joseph 68
South Heighton, Sussex 153
Spencer, ——-15
Spinks family 14n, 31
Stewart Rose, William 142,143n
Stratton family 95, 98
Surrey Iron Railway 15, 19n
‘Swing’ riots 153,154n

Tarring Neville, Sussex 153
Thoyt(t)s, ——-21, 25, 26, 176, 180

United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office 64

Victoria & Albert Museum, National Art Library at 64
Volunteers, Surrey Association 24-25, 53, 73

Wandle, River 15, 17, 19n, 25, 32, 72n, 174, 177, 180
Wandsworth 12, 15-18, 19n, 26, 30, 34-36,
51, 58, 60, 61, 127, 130, 146n
‘Wharf, The’ 15, 17, 27, 28, 29, 32,
35, 50, 53, 55, 141, 143n

Regiment of Infantry, see Volunteers
Warlingham, Surrey 130
Watney family 35, 36n
Watts, Richard 160, 161
Wells, Somerset 56, 63, 65, 66, 68, 75
Wells, Thomas 157
Westfold, Miss ——-23
‘Wharf, The’, see Wandsworth
Wheatley, Mrs 118
White, ——-72
Wilson, Richard 184
Wimbledon 25, 26, 37, 38, 44n, 61, 93, 95n,

98, 99, 123, 134, 149n, 177
Winchelsea, Sussex 95
Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire 109, 120
Woodhead, Joseph 157
Woodhead, Mary

letter from 157
Wootton Courtney, Somerset 30, 150
Wordsworth, William 147,148n
Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire 88, 89n
Wyatt family 154n
Wyatt, Caroline, see Smith, Caroline Cragg

Yeomanry, Surrey, see Volunteers