Astell's World: People and Parrots

Letty Pyke, the girl whose story is at the heart of On Paradise Row, is a fictional character, but the details of her life reflect the all-too-real experiences of many young women in late seventeenth-century England.

 

Aside from the fictional Letty, On Paradise Row is filled with men and women who were Mary Astell’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

 

The Women

 

Atterbury, Catherine Osborne (1666 – 1722): The wife of Francis Atterbury, who would become bishop of Rochester in 1713. She was the daughter of a country clergyman who tutored young men from nearby Oxford. According to Ruth Perry, Catherine Osborne was well-educated and known to be “a great beauty.” She also brought a considerable fortune to her husband on their marriage. The Atterburys’ home in Chelsea “was not large,” but it was “roomy enough for their servants and three growing children.”; Catherine Atterbury “kept a good table” and often “managed things alone when Atterbury stayed in town.” In a letter to Francis Atterbury, Mary Astell is described as a “female friend and witty companion of your wife’s” (The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986], 216).

 

Ball, “Mrs.: A woman referred to as “Mrs. Ball” operated a marriage house in the Fleet, the Hand & Pen—a reference to her appears in the trial of a man for bigam in 1736y, where the clergyman indicates he performed a marriage for the couple “at Mrs. Ball’s, at the Hand and Pen, by the Fleet Prison.” The clergyman claims to have recorded the marriage in “her book” (John Southerden Burn, The Fleet Registers: Comprising the History of Fleet Marriages, and Some Account of the Parsons and Marriage-House Keepers . . . [London: Rivington’s, 1833], 39). Also useful is Walter George Bell, Fleet Street in Seven Centuries . . . (London: Isaac Pitman and Sons, 1912), 400; Bell notes that Mrs. Ball’s marriage-shop was in a barber shop. In addition, see Walter Thornbury, Old and New London: The City, Ancient and Modern (London: Cassell, 1881), 411; and John Ashton, The Fleet: Its River, Prison, and Marriages (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1888), 343, 349.

 

Cecil, Lady Margaret, countess of Ranelagh (1672? – 21 February 1728): The second wife of Richard Jones, earl of Ranelagh. Margaret Cecil was daughter of James Cecil, the 3rd earl of Salisbury, and Margaret Manners, the daughter of John Manners, 8th earl of Rutland.


Although I have not mentioned it in On Paradise Row, Lady Margaret was first married to John Stawell, 2nd baron Stawell (b. 1669), who succeeded to the title after his father’s death in August of 1689. The couple seems to have married early in 1692—but John Stawell died on 30 November 1692 at the age of twenty-four. Before her young husband’s death, Lady Margaret gave birth to a daughter. While John Stawell’s younger half-brother inherited the title, his infant child inherited an “unfinished house, a mortgaged estate . . . , and a debt of £70,000-80,000. As the annual income of the Stawell estates was nor more than £6,000, the situation was desperate. . . .” (On this see Howard Colvin, “Lord Stawell’s Great House in Somerset,” Architectural History 44 [2001]: 332-40.) Perhaps this great debt is one of the reasons for Lady Margaret’s marriage to Richard Jones.

Not quite twenty-four years old, Lady Margaret Cecil was married to the earl of Ranelagh on 11 January 1696. In a letter from Whitehall dated 10 January 1695, one Mr. Vernon relayed the generous terms of the marriage settlement to Robert Sutton, 2nd baron Lexington: “The greatest subject of discourse at present is the Earl of Ranelagh’s marriage with my Lady Stawell, and the advantageous overtures he has made her, which is a jointure of 1600l. per annum rent charge, his house at Chelsea for her life, and his house near my Lord Halifax in fee, the liberty to dispose of 5000l. of her own estate, together with all her plate and jewels, and her pin money is made up 1000l. per annum. Besides, her daughter is to live with her at my Lord’s expense, so that the increase of her fortune is to be preserved to her” (from H. Manners Sutton, The Lexington Papers; or, Some Account of the Courts of London and Vienna; at the Conclusion of the Seventeenth Century, Extracted from the Official and Private Correspondence of Robert Sutton, Lord Lexington [London: John Murray], 161).

 

As one interesting bit of gossip, it was rumored that, shortly after his second marriage, Lord Ranelagh returned home one day and found his new young wife in bed with the 1st earl of Congingsby—the very man Ranelagh’s daughter Frances would marry in 1698. While the old earl is said to have withdrawn discreetly from the chamber and said nothing to his wife and her lover, the earl of Ranelagh disinherited Frances when she married Coningsby.   


A portrait of Lady Margaret Cecil, countess of Ranelagh, was included as one of the “Hampton Court Beauties,” a series of eight portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller. In 1691, Kneller was commissioned by Queen Mary II of England to paint the “reigning toasts” of her court for her husband, William III. They were commissioned to hang in the “water room” at Hampton Court, but they were moved after Queen Mary’s death in 1694 and are now hung in the state rooms of William III.

After the death of her second husband in 1712, Lady Margaret Cecil married George Thomas Downing, with whom she had a daughter, Sarah Isabell, and a son, George.

 

Chamberlain, Lady Oriana: The wife of Sir Willoughby Chamberlain. Living in the Willoughby household is “Sarah a Black servant”—she is one of the slaves Sir Willoughby has brought with him from the Barbados to England. After her husband’s death, Lady Oriana Chamberlain has Sarah baptized. This tiny bit of information comes from the Reverend John King’s Sermon Preached at the Funeral of Sir Willoughby Chamberlain (London, 1697). See also Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (London: Duckworth, 1904), 284.

 

Dawes, Frances d’Arcy (1673 – 1705): The wife of the Reverend Sir William Dawes. Frances d’Arcy was the daughter of Sir Thomas d’Arcy and Jane Cole. William Dawes and Frances were married in 1692. In the years of her marriage to Dawes, Frances Dawes gave birth to seven children, the first one of whom, William, was baptized on 1 May 1696 at All Saints and buried there on 4 June. Two other children also died as infants: Francis and a second William.


In the epitaph on the monument he erects in his wife’s honor, Dawes describes Frances as “the Glory and Ornament” of her sex, a woman known for her “sincere Piety to God,” the “excellent Qualities of her Mind,” the “beauty of her Person,” and the “wonderful sweetness of her Looks and Mien” (the Latin epitaph is translated by John Wilford, “Preface,” The Whole Works of . . . Sir William Dawes [London: 1733], xlix-l). Four children survived Frances Dawes’s death in 1705: Elizabeth, Jane, Darcy, and Thomas, but five short months after his mother died, Thomas “was taken away in his Infancy” (li).

Sir William and his wife are known to have had a residence in Chelsea from 1696 to 1712, although where they lived is unknown. But, as Reginald Blunt notes, the Paradise Row terrace was likely where they had their residence: during the late seventeenth century, the village contained only “a hundred or so of houses, of which not more than a score were of any size or pretension.”Since the occupants of many of those houses are known, Blunt concludes that Paradise Row would be “the only habitat which remained for them.” See Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 181.

 

Gower, Mrs.: A fictional character, imagined as the wife of a clergyman imprisoned in the Fleet—but it is known that a Reverend Henry Gower was performing marriages there in the year 1700 (and perhaps as early as 1689). See John S. Burn, “Clergymen Who Performed Marriages at the Fleet,” in The Fleet Registers, Comprising the History of Fleet Marriages, and Some Account of the Parsons and Marriage-House Keepers . . . (London: Rivingtons, 1833), 25-39 and 59.

 

Hill, [Hester?]: The wife of Thomas Hill, the builder of Ormonde House. The couple occupied one of the smaller houses in the Paradise Row terrace from 1695 until 1698. Although I do not include her first name in On Paradise Row, Thomas Hill’s wife may have been named Hester—a Hester Hill died in Chelsea in 1699, a marble tablet with her date of death in All Saints, “in the belfry, near the west entrance” (Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea: A New History of the Village of Palaces [London: E. Stock, 1892], 375). On the Hills’ residence in the terrace, see Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online

 

Hunt, Madame [Sophia]: A “Madame Hunt” is known to have occupied the eastern-most residence (one of the three larger units) in the terrace on Paradise Row from 1695 to 1699. See Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online.  I have been unable to find any more information more about her; her first name and husband’s political associations are products of my imagination.

 

Jones, Lady Catherine (c. 1668-74 – 14 April 1740): The daughter of Richard Jones, 1st earl of Ranelagh, and Elizabeth Willoughby, the daughter of Francis, 5th baron Willoughby of Parham. According to Ruth Perry, Mary Astell’s biographer, Lady Catherine Jones was Astell’s “oldest and steadiest friend.” Like Astell, Lady Catherine never married. Astell dedicated Letters Concerning the Love of God and, quite probably, The Christian Religion to Lady Catherine and moved into Lady Catherine’s home during the last years of her life.


Lady Catherine Jones was one of three sisters. The eldest, Lady Elizabeth Jones (c. 1665 – 1758), countess of Kildare, was one of King Charles II’s many mistresses. It may well be that her relationship to the king was encouraged by her father: “In 1679-80, when under attack for corruption, Ranelagh was said to have promoted one of his daughters, undoubtedly Elizabeth, as mistress for the king” (Catharine MacLeod and Julie Marciari Alexander, Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II [London: National Portrait Gallery, 2001], 230). Lady Elizabeth Jones married John Fitzgerald, 18th earl of Kildare, in 1684. The two had no children. The earl of Kildare died in 1707, after which Elizabeth, the “amorous adventurer,” would “enjoy 50 years of widowhood”

It is likely that Lady Frances Jones (c. 1671-74 – 1715) was Lady Catherine’s twin sister, although the dates of birth for both women are variously given. Lady Frances would marry Thomas Coningsby, 1st earl Coningsby, but in 1696, the year in which On Paradise Row is set, Coningsby was already married—he had married Barbara Gorges, daughter of Ferdinando Gorges, a merchant in Barbados, in 1675. In November 1697, after twenty-three years of marriage (and having given birth to nine children), Barbara Gorges died. Coningsby married Lady Frances five months later, in April 1698. Because of her marriage to Coningsby, Lady Frances Jones was disinherited by her father. The couple would have three children. Their son, named Richard, after his grandfather, choked on a cherry pit and died at the age of two; there were also two daughters, Margaret and Frances. At the end of his life, Thomas Coningsby published a bitter memoir in which he blamed Ferdinando Gorges for having forced him to marry Barbara when he was just seventeen years old. Coningsby claimed that the marriage had been performed against the will of his mother, who was his guardian. This marriage—and the machinations of Ferdinando Gorges—were the source of the ruinous loss from which Coningsby never managed to recover. He paints himself as the “abused Heir” and his as an “ancient and undone Family” (Pat Rogers, The Life and Times of Thomas, Lord Coningsby: The Whig Hangman and His Victims [London: Continuum, 2011], 39-45).

A portrait of Lady Catherine and her sister, Lady Frances, is mentioned in On Paradise Row—this is the portrait (right) where a small African boy is kneeling on the right, presenting the sisters with a garland of flowers. This large painting (82 x 53 inches) was made by William Wissing in 1687. A mezzotint was produced in 1691, “The Lady Frances and the Lady Catharine Jones Daughters to the Right Honorable Richard Earle of Ranelagh.” (The print is reversed, with the small kneeling boy on the left.)


Lady Catherine’s mother, Elizabeth Willoughby, was married to Richard Jones on 28 October 1662 (her birth date is not certain). She died on 1 August 1695.  Just five months later, on 11 January 1696, the earl of Ranelagh married Lady Margaret Cecil.

Lady Catherine’s paternal grandmother, Katherine Jones, viscountess Ranelagh (1615 – 1691) was the sister of Robert Boyle and, like her brother, she was a scientist. She was also recognized as a political and religious thinker. Three large manuscript collections of medical receipts are associated with her. An online search will produce several sources for Lady Ranelagh’s life and work, but especially useful is Michelle Marie DiMeo’s “Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh (1615-91): Science and Medicine in a Seventeenth-Century Englishwoman’s Writing” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Warwick [England], 2009).

 

Kettilby, Mary (d. before 1734): Author of A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery; for the Use of all Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and Careful Nurses, first published in 1714. Virtually nothing is known of Mary Kettilby, so her family and profession in On Paradise Row are the product of my imagination, as is her home in Little Chelsea and her association with Mary Astell. The first edition of Kettilby’s Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts was published by Richard Wilkin, who was Mary Astell’s publisher, so a connection between the two women is not impossible. Kettilby’s book went through 5 editions, the last published posthumously in 1734, “Printed, for the Executrix of Mary Kettilby.” Her Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts is available at the Internet Archive, and I have referred to several of Kettilby’s recipes here.

The midwifery resources that Mary Kettilby has access to are also available for modern readers. Mary Kettilby’s preferred manual is Jane Sharp’s The Midwives Book; or the Whole Art of Midwifry Discovered [1671], ed. Elaine Hobby (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). Sharp claims that she has “been at Great Cost in Translations for all Books, either French, Dutch, or Italian of this kind,” and I have used that detail in constructing the character of Mary Kettilby. Kettilby’s new acquisition is Justine Siegemund's Die Konigl.- preußische und Chur-Brandenburgische Hof-Wehemutter, first published in 1690 (for an English translation, see The Court Midwife, ed. and trans. Lynne Tatlock (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Louise Bourgeois’ book on midwifery and childbirth, first published in 1609, was expanded in several editions and published in Latin, German, Dutch, and English translations. Her work was incorporated into Thomas Chamberlayne’s The Compleat Midwifes Practice, first published in 1656; a second “enlarged” edition, published in 1659, was “corrected by T.C. I.D. M.S. T.B. practitioners of the said art” and added the name of Nicholas Culpepper to the work; a third edition was published in 1663, and the fourth, published in 1680, noted that the work was drawn “from the experience of our English viz. Sir Theodore Mayern, Dr. Chamberlain, Mr. Nich Culpeper and others of Foreign Nations.” A fifth and final edition appeared in 1698, “corrected, and much Enlarged, by John Peche[y], Fellow of the College of Physicians, London.” Various editions are available online.

The umbilical cord hemorrhage that Mary Kettilby believes is the cause of the death of Letty Pyke’s newborn is a rare but real condition—a recent article notes that such cases of “acute postnatal blood loss” are often not reported and “may be more common than previously recognized.” (The case study presented details the birth of an infant who is found to be lying in a pool of blood five minutes after his birth—examination reveals a tear in the umbilical cord, “from which the baby had lost a large amount of blood.” Despite “multiple transfusions of blood products,” the infant suffered renal failure, respiratory distress, and death. (Neetu Singh and Gautham Suresh, “Severe Hemorrhage from the Umbilical Cord at Birth: A Preventable Cause of Neonatal Shock,” Case Reports in Pediatrics [2013]. I have also relied on Gerald A. Neligan and Marcia C. Smith, “Prevention of Haemorrhage from the Umbilical Cord,” Archives of Disease in Childhood 38 (1963): 471-75. In her Midwives Book, Jane Sharp addresses the proper care of the “navel string,” and she also suggests administering drops of cord blood to revive and strengthen a weak newborn.

King, Elizabeth Aris Eston (c. 1666 – 1727): The wife of John King, rector of Chelsea. For the scant details of her life, see Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (London: Duckworth, 1904), 192. Born Elizabeth Aris, she was the widow of the Reverend John Eston, rector of Peterhall, whom she had married in 1689. After Eston’s death in the same year, John King became rector of Peterhall, and Elizabeth Aris Eston married for the second time in 1690.


With John King, she had seven children—Eulalia (b. and d. 1691); Elizabeth (1692 – 1738); Frances (1694 – 1779); John (1696 – 1728); Joseph (b. 1698, died as an infant); William (1700 – 1747); and a second daughter named Eulalia (1703 – 1733). On Elizabeth King’s children, see Thomas Faulkner, An Historical and Topographical Description of Chelsea, and Its Environs (London: J. Tilling for T. Egerton, 1810), 55—according to Faulkner, his information is drawn from memorials in All Saints Church.


Susan Littleton, the young widow of Dr. Adam Littleton, the previous rector of All Saints, was buried in the church after her death in 1698.

Mancini, Hortense, duchess of Mazarin (1646 – 1699): Mary Astell’s neighbor on Paradise Row. The niece of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, Hortense Mancini was married to Armand Charles de La Porte de La Meilleraye in 1661—he was granted the title of duke of Mazarin. She fled the disastrous marriage and her husband’s pathological jealousy in 1668, finding protectors in Louis XIV of France, Charles-Emmanuel, duke of Savoy, and Charles II, after her arrival in England in 1675.

 

At the time she left her husband, the duchess of Mazarin was accompanied by Nanon, to whom she refers in her Memoirs. While she is under the protection of the duke of Savoy, she is presented with Mustapha, then a small boy. Hortense Mancini is painted with at least three different parrots, and she is known to have a parrot named “Pretty.”


For the life and adventures of Hortense Mancini, see Elizabeth C. Goldsmith, The Kings’ Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin (New York: PublicAffairs, 2012). For Hortense Mancini’s Memoirs, see Hortense Mancini and Marie Mancini, Memoirs, ed. and trans. Sarah Nelson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).

Using the death of her neighbor Hortense Mancini as a starting point, Mary Astell reflects on the marriage of the duchess of Mazarin in Some Reflections upon Marriage (1700).

For details of Hortense Mancini’s residence on Paradise Row, see Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online

Methuen, Mary (b. before 1653, m. 1672): Mary Astell’s friend and neighbor on Paradise Row. She was the daughter of Seacole Chivers, of Comerford, Wiltshire, and his wife, Eleanor Roberts. I can find no date of birth for Mary Methuen, but her brother, Henry, was born c. 1653 and was still an infant when Seacole Chivers died.


Mary Chivers married John Methuen in 1672. She gave birth to five children, three of whom survived infancy—Paul, Mary, and Isabella (Isabella died, unmarried, in 1711). Notorious for his infidelity, John Methuen (1650 – 1706) separated from his wife before he was appointed envoy to Portugal in 1691.


Assessments of John Methuen, made by a number of his contemporaries, have been taken from the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith & Elder, 1885-1900) and from D. Hayton, et al., ed. The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1690-1715 (2002), online at The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History (the entry for Methuen also contains information about his children, which is difficult to find).


In her letters, Mary Astell refers to the fragrance of Mrs. Methuen’s honeysuckle, which tumbled over her garden wall into Astell’s back garden. She also refers to Mrs. Methuen’s reputation for medical knowledge and for her preparations for cures that were widely distributed to Astell, her friends, and her neighbors. (Astell’s correspondence, with its references to Mrs. Methuen, is found in Ruth Perry, The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986], though Perry mistakes her name, calling her “Elizabeth.”)

In The Methuens and Portugal, 1691-1708 (Cambridge: University Press, 1966), A. D. Francis refers only briefly to John Methuen’s wife, Mary: “In 1672 [John Methuen] married Mary Chivers, the daughter of a rich Wiltshire clothier” (3); and “At some time after the birth of his children, and before his departure abroad, he separated from his wife, and there is no mention of her in the whole of his surviving correspondence” (4).

Pelham, Lady Grace (m. 1686): The wife of the Whig politician Thomas Pelham (became baronet of Laughton in 1703 and created 1st baron Pelham in 1706). Lady Pelham and her husband lived in the large house on the corner just east of the row of terraces on Paradise Row. In 1691, the land had been leased to Thomas Hill, principal mason of the Hospital, who built the house and was its first resident. The Pelhams were known to have occupied, “at different times, houses in Paradise Row,” and they lived in this house between 1700 and 1703. (The house itself was later known as Ormonde House after it was occupied by Mary Butler, duchess of Ormonde, c. 1730-33). See Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 3-7, available at British History Online, and Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 99.

 

Pennant, Catherine: The wife of John Pennant (c. 1640 – 1709). The details of John Pennant and his love for Don Saltero’s are drawn from a description by the topographer Thomas Pennant—whose father was John Pennant’s cousin (Reginald Blunt, In Cheyne Walk and Thereabout: Containing Short Accounts of Some Ingenious People and Famous Places that Were by the Riverside at Chelsea [London: Mills & Boon, 1914, 34-35). On John Pennant’s likely residence in the terrace on Paradise Row, see Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 181.

 

Rolles, Gertrude (d. 1699): An “exchange woman,” Gertrude Rolles was a widow who kept a milliner’s stall in the Royal Exchange in the 1680s and 1690s. Her stall was a large one, “with eight feet of frontage, drawers, cupboards, and additional storage, and a promise on the part of her landlord not to let the adjoining spaces to anyone else selling millinery.” She worked with her two daughters, and in her will she left them not only her business and goods but other investments, commending them for having “been industrious and diligent in the getting of them.” She left only a small sum to each of her two sons. See Margaret H. Hunt, The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender, and the Family in England, 1680-1780 (Berkeley: University of California Press,1996), 143-44.


For information about the London companies that were open to milliners and about indentures, premiums, and other details about apprenticeships, see Amy Louise Erickson, “Eleanor Mosley and Other Milliners in the City of London Companies 1700-1750,” History Workshop Journal 71 (2011): 147-72 (reference to Gertrude Rolles and her daughters is on p. 162); and Jessica Collins, “Jane Holt, Milliner, and Other Women in Business: Apprentices, Freewomen and Mistresses in the Clothworkers’ Company, 1606-1800,” Textile History 44, no. 1 (2013), 72-94 (Collins is especially interesting in her discussion of a millinery apprenticeship as both a means to marriage and a sufficient dowry for girls otherwise lacking a dowry). See also Laura Gowing, “Girls on Forms: Apprenticing Young Women in Seventeenth-Century London,” Journal of British Studies 55 (2016): 447-73, for the specifics of indentures for girls. Information about livery companies is available at the Records of London’s Livery Companies Online, Apprentices and Freemen 1400-1900; in addition to providing a searchable database, the site offers an overview of the livery companies and of the apprenticeship process, as well as fascinating details of personal information about individual apprentices.

The positive view of millinery, described as “a most genteel Business for young Maidens that are good Proficients at their Needle,” offered by Gertrude Rolles in defense of her trade, is from A General Description of All Trades, . . . By Which Parents, Guardians, and Trustees, may, with greater Ease and Certainty, make choice of Trades agreeable to the Capacity, Education, Inclination, Strength, and Fortune of the Youth under their Care (London, 1747), 149-50. (For the source of Elizabeth Wilkin’s negative view of the trade, see below.)

 

Russell, Lady Margaret (m. 1691): Wife of Edward Russell, earl of Orford. The house occupied by Lady Russell and her husband was on the south side of Paradise Row, built on crown lands that had been leased to William Jephson in 1690. The entrance to the house, unfortunately, was from the Hospital stableyard. The earl of Orford and his wife took up the lease on 10 July 1696 and continued their tenancy until 1711. For their occupancy of the house (as well as information about the house’s history), see Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 3-7, available at British History Online.  Details about the earl of Orford are drawn from The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1690-1715 (2002), available online at The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History.

 

Smith, Isabella Letitia, countess of Radnor (c. 1630 – 1714): Isabella Letitia Smith married John, lord Robartes, afterwards the first earl of Radnor, in 1646/7. She is described by Samuel Pepys as “a great beauty indeed.” After the earl of Radnor’s death in 1685, the countess of Radnor married Charles Cheyne, viscount Newhaven (d. 1698). Radnor House, at the western end of Paradise Row where it met Pound Lane (later known as Robinson’s Lane and then Flood Street), was built by the earl of Radnor—he entertained Charles II there and died there in 1685. Many of the details about the countess of Radnor in On Paradise Row are drawn from Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea: A New History of the Village of Palaces (London: E. Stock, 1892), esp. 232-33), and Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 10-13. 

 

The diarist Nicholas Luttrell notes the death of “the countess of Radnor” on 14 January 1697—this countess of Radnor was, in actuality, Elizabeth Cutler, countess of Radnor (b. c. 1670), who had married Charles Robartes, 2nd earl of Radnor, the grandson of the first earl of Radnor. But the reference seems made for confusion, and I enjoyed including it here. (Charles Robartes’s father was the eldest son of John Robartes and his first wife, Sarah Bodvel.)

 

Smith, Lady Anne (1616 – 1698): A widow known to have lived in Chelsea from at least 1695 until her death in 1698. (Her second husband, Sir James Smith, died in 1681 and is buried in All Saints). For at least part of this time, she is known to have occupied a home in Little Chelsea, but I thought the twice widowed Lady Anne, described as “a lady of some importance,” would make an excellent neighbor for Mary Astell. On Lady Anne Smith, see Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (London: Duckworth, 1904), 200-201.

 

Tenison, Anne (1633 – 1714): The wife of Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury. Anne was the daughter of Richard Love, master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and dean of Ely. In his will, Thomas Tenison provides a bequest of £40 and a “silver Tumbler” to Anne Stubbs, whom he describes as “my late Wife’s faithful Woman.” For the will, see Memoirs of the Life and Times of the Most Reverend Father in God, Dr. Thomas Tennison: Late Archbishop of Canterbury, published in London (c. 1716), published after Tenison's death.

 

Upton, Jane (m. 1687): The wife of Ambrose Upton, a merchant. The couple lived in the first of the smaller houses in the terrace on Paradise Row from 1695 to 1697. On 17 September 1696, their daughter, Mary, was baptized at all Saints. See Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online

 

Wilkin, Elizabeth: The wife of Richard Wilkin, Mary Astell’s printer, is a fictional character, but the family members I have given her in On Paradise Row are all historical figures. The bookseller Henry Brome owned the premises at the sign of the Gun in St. Paul’s Churchyard. He was active in the printing business until 1681, when he was succeeded by his widow, Joanna. Joanna Brome conducted business in the same place until 1683, when her son, Charles, took over from her. For details on the Brome family, see Henry R. Plomer, A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725 (Oxford: University Press, 1922), 51. 

 

Much of Elizabeth Wilkin’s speech on the millinery trade and the reputations of milliners is taken from R. Campbell’s The London Tradesman: Being an Historical Account of All the Trades, Professions, Arts, Both Liberal and Mechanic, Now Practised in the Cities of London and Westminster, Calculated for the Instruction of Youth in Their Choice of Business 3rd ed. (London, 1747), 206-9, available online through the Internet Archive or Google Books.

Wisebourne, Elizabeth, “Mother Whybourn” (1652 - 1719): A well-known London brothel-keeper with “considerable premises” on Drury Lane. The daughter of an Anglican clergyman, Wisebourne liked to keep up the pretense of piety, carrying a Bible with her. She is known for visiting prisons to find “likely girls” and for taking children off parents who could not afford to care for them. She dressed her “girls” in “Paint and Patches” and called them “young milliners or Parsons’ daughters.” Her particular specialty was “restoring” the virginity of girls and then selling their “maidenheads” off to whomever was willing to pay the most. Among those who enjoyed her brothel were two of Charles II’s illegitimate sons, Charles Beauclerk, duke of St. Albans, and Charles Lennox, duke of Richmond. See Fergus Linnane, Madams: Bawds & Brothel-Keepers of London (Thrupp [Gloucestershire, England]: Sutton, 2005), 31-36. For a contemporary “biography” of Wisebourne, see The Life of the Late Celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn; vulgarly call’d Mother Wybourn (London, 1721?), by the pseudonymous Anodyne Tanner, accessible through Google Books.

 

Wyndham, Lady Hester (d. 1708): The second wife of Sir Francis Wyndham (1654 – 1716) and the widow of Matthew Ingram. She married Sir Francis in 1695. According to rate books, the couple were residing in one of the three larger residences in the terrace on Paradise Row from 1695 until Lady Hester’s death (Sir Francis Wyndham remarried, and his second wife remained in the home until her death in 1739.) For details on the Wyndhams’ residence in the terrace, see Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online

The Men

Astell, John: Mary Astell’s “distant cousin,” was known to have visited her in Chelsea “from time to time.” He became comptroller of the coal yard at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea in 1716. Among his other responsibilities, he arranged for supplies of coal and candles for the hospital. Mary Astell’s biographer, Ruth Perry, says that John Astell “probably supplied his elderly kinswoman with coal and candles” (Perry, The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986], 296).

 

Atterbury, Francis (1663 – 1732): Clergyman and resident of Chelsea. Francis Atterbury was ordained in 1687, and as a result of his preaching in London, he was made chaplain to Queen Mary and King William (a post he retained after the queen’s death in 1694) and became preacher of Bridewell. He was awarded a doctor of divinity after the events recounted in On Paradise Row and named bishop of Rochester in 1711. His comments about Mary Astell were made in a letter written to his friend and fellow clergyman, George Smalridge, in 1706 (see Robert Folkestone Williams, Memoirs and Correspondence of Francis Atterbury . . . [London, William H. Allen, 1869], 1:169-70). For the fines levied against him for not maintaining the river wall, see Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea: A New History of the Village of Palaces (London: E. Stock, 1892), 103 and Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (London: Duckworth, 1904), 278.

 

Burnet, Gilbert (1643 – 1715): Scottish philosopher and bishop of Salisbury (1689-1715). Mary Astell’s first biography, George Ballard, indicates that Gilbert Burnet objected to Mary Astell’s proposed educational institution for women: “But this design coming to the ears of Bishop Burnet, he immediately . . . remonstrated against it”; such an institution “would look like preparing a way for Popish Orders, that it would be reputed a Nunnery” Burnet “utterly frustrated that noble design.” In his History of My Own Times, however, Burnet wrote that the “breeding of young women to vanity, dressing, and a false appearance of wit and behavior, without proper work or a due measure of knowledge and a serious sense of religion” was the “source of the corruption of that sex.” To remedy this failure, he wrote that “something like monasteries without vows would be a glorious design.”

 

Chamberlain, Sir Willoughby (baptized in November 1664, Barbados – 1697): For the particulars of Willoughby Chamberlain’s life in Barbados, see Jenny Shaw, Everyday Life in the Early English Caribbean: Irish, Africans, and the Construction of Difference (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2013), 122-23, 140-2, 146.

The Reverend John King, rector of All Saints, did pay particular attention to the salvation of Sir Willoughby Chamberlain, whom he eulogized as a man “born in the Fruitful and rich Island of Barbadoes, where he had a great Estate.” However, as King notes, it “must be confessed that he had lived as freely, and as much at large (to use the softest terms of the dead) as any who are exposed to the temptations and snares of much Riches, and under the Conduct of little Prudence and Self-Government. So that the former part of his Life was irregular enough; and he can be esteemed but a late convert.” King also notes that Chamberlain wished “to have a law made to oblige our Plantations baptize Negro slaves” and that he “gave strict orders” that King baptize “the Black who waited on him.” Three months after Sir Willoughby Chamberlain’s death, on 27 April 1698, King baptized “Sarah a Black servant to Orian[a] Lady Chamberlain widow of Sir Willoughby Chamberlain” (Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church [London: Duckworth, 1904], 284). John King’s view of Chamberlain’s life is included in the preface to his Sermon at the Funeral of Sir Willoughby Chamberlain (London, 1697).

 

Dawes, Sir William (1671 – 1724): The Anglican prelate and his wife, Frances, are known to have had a residence in Chelsea from 1696 to 1712, although where they lived is unknown. But, as Reginald Blunt notes, during the late seventeenth century, the village contained only “a hundred or so of houses, of which not more than a score were of any size or pretension”—since the occupants of many of those houses are known, Paradise Row would be “the only habitat which remained” for residents like Dawes and his family. See Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 181.

Dawes was master of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, from 1697-1714, constructing a monument to his wife in the chapel erected there after her death in 1705. In 1696 he earned a doctor of divinity degree, after which he was known as “The Reverend Doctor Sir William Dawes.” In 1697, he was appointed chaplain to William III. An excellent source of information is found in John Wilford’s “Preface” to The Whole Works of . . . Sir William Dawes (London: 1733), 1:i-li. This volume also contains the text of Dawes’s “Sermon Preach’d before the King at Whitehall, 5 November 1696” (1:1-23).

 

Doody, Samuel (1656 – 1706): The botanist and apothecary took over the Apothecaries’ Garden in Chelsea in 1693 and remained as chief gardener until his death in 1706.

 

Jones, Richard, 1st earl of Ranelagh (1641-1712): The father of Lady Catherine Jones and the husband of Lady Margaret Cecil, countess of Ranelagh. An Irish peer, Ranelagh came to England in 1670, and he was created earl of Ranelagh in 1674. Jones was notorious for his financial and sexual dealings. Assessments of Ranelagh, made by a number of his contemporaries, have been taken from the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith & Elder, 1885-1900).

An excellent portrait of the character of Richard Jones is drawn by John Macky, a Scottish spy: the earl of Ranelagh has “a great deal of Wit,” and although he had “originally no great Estate,” he has “spent more Money, built more fine Houses, and laid out more on Houshold-Furniture and Gardening, than any other Nobleman in England; he is a great Epicure, and prodigious Expensive; was Paymaster General all the last War, and is above a hundred thousand Pound Sterling in Arrears, which several Parliaments have been calling him to Account for, yet he escapes with the Punishment only of losing his Place. . . . He is a bold man, and very happy in jests and repartees, and hath often turned the Humour of the House of Commons, when they have designed to have been very severe. He is very fat, black, and turned of sixty Years old” (Memoirs of the Secret Services of John Macky, Esq.; during the Reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and King George I . . . [2nd ed., London, 1733], 136).

 

King, John (1652 – 1732): The Oxford scholar began his tenure at All Saints in 1694. He became  a doctor of divinity in 1698, earning his degree from St. Catharine’s Hall, Cambridge, where his friend, the Anglican prelate Sir William Dawes was Master of St. Catharine’s.  

John King married Elizabeth Aris Eston in 1690, and although it is not mentioned in On Paradise Row, Elizabeth was King’s second wife—his first wife was Anne Durham, whom he had married “in his youth” when he was “first in clerical orders” (c. 1681-84) as the curate of Bray, in Berkshire.

Details about King’s arrival in Chelsea and the state of the rectory (and its finances) are from King’s own account of the parish—much of this is transcribed in Randall Davies, Chelsea Old Church (London: Duckworth, 1904), 193-4. King’s great interest in the location of Sir Thomas More’s Chelsea mansion is documented there, and his letter on the subject is also included (85-6). Information about All Saints and King’s tenure there is also found in Thomas Faulkner, An Historical and Topographical Description of Chelsea, and Its Environs (London: J. Tilling for T. Egerton, 1810); in Alfred Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea: A New History of the Village of Palaces (London: E. Stock, 1892); and in Patricia E. C. Croot, A History of the County of Middlesex, vol. 12: Chelsea (London, Victoria County History, 2004), available at British History Online.


John King succeeded Dr. Adam Littleton as rector of Chelsea—Littleton served as rector from 1670 to his death in 1694. (For details, see Davies, Chelsea Old Church, 190-91).

 

Mustapha: A member of Hortense Mancini’s household from at least 1675, Mustapha remained with her until her death in 1699. As a small boy, he was given to the duchess of Mazarin by Charles-Emmanuel, duke of Savoy—Hortense Mancini was the duke’s mistress from 1673 until the duke’s death in 1675. Variously described as a “Moorish boy” and as the “petit Turc,” Mustapha had come into the duke’s possession after the child was rescued from pirates who had taken him captive. For the few known details about Mustapha, see Elizabeth C. Goldsmith, The Kings’ Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin (New York: PublicAffairs, 2012).

As an adolescent, Mustapha appears in Benedetto Gennari’s Duchess of Mazarin Dressed as Diana, painted c. 1685-87. It is hard to calculate Mustapha’s age—after he was given to Hortense Mancini (1673-75), he served as her page, and he looks like a young teenager in Gennari’s portrait. If he was a small boy when he came into Hortense Mancini’s custody, he may well be about Mary Astell’s age.

In his letters to Hortense Mancini, her devoted friend, Charles de Marguetel de Saint’Denis, seigneur de Saint-Évremond, reminds the duchess that Mustapha has been her constant ally throughout her troubles (“Mustapha partageroit le danger avec vous”); see Oeuvres meslées de Mr. de Saint-Évremond . . . (London: 1709), 3:348:49. At her death, a newsletter notes, “The duchess of Mazarin died yesterday morning. . . . It was believed she had nothing to leave besides her monkeys, parrots, and Mustapha, a Mahometan boy” (quoted by Susan Shifrin and Andrew R. Walkling, ‘“Idylle en Musique’: Duchess Mazarin as Visual, Textual, and Musical Icon,” ‘The Wandering Life I Led’: Essays on Hortense Mancini, Duchess Mazarin and Early Modern Women’s Border Crossings, ed. Susan Shifrin [Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 61).

I have been unable to find any information whatsoever about Mustapha after Hortense Mancini’s death in July 1699.

 

Sancroft, William (1617 – 1693): Archbishop of Canterbury and Mary Astell’s first benefactor after she arrived in London. Her letter and gift of a manuscript of poetry to Sancroft survive, and are transcribed in Ruth Perry, The Celebrated Mary Astell: An Early English Feminist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 400-54.

As a result of the English civil wars, Sancroft left the country in 1649 and did not return until the Restoration. He became archbishop of Canterbury in 1677, his advancement promoted by Charles II. Although Sancroft crowned the Catholic James II in 1685, he refused to support the king’s attempts to ensure a tolerance of religious difference—thereby protecting Catholic faith—and Sancroft was committed to the Tower. When Mary II and William III were declared queen and king, Sancroft refused to swear allegiance to them (feeling bound by the oath he had made to James II). Thus the “non-juring” Sancroft was deprived of his office in 1690. He retired to his family home, Ufford Hall, in Fressingingfield (Suffolk), where he died on 24 November 1693. See “William Sancroft: Piety and Non-Compliance” in Edward Carpenter, Cantuar: The Archbishops in Their Office  3rd ed. ((London, Cassell, 1997), 213-22.

John Tillotson was elected to succeed William Sancroft as archbishop of Canterbury in April 1691. He took up residence in Lambeth after a “large apartment for his wife” had been prepared. He suffered a stroke on 18 November 1694 and died on 22 November, having recommended Thomas Tenison as his successor. Assessments of Tillotson have been taken from the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith & Elder, 1885-1900). See also “John Tillotson, the Liberal,” in Carpenter, Cantuar, 223-28.

 

Tenison, Thomas (1636 – 1715): Enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury on 16 May 1695. Assessments of Tenison have been taken from the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith & Elder, 1885-1900). The Memoirs of the Life and Times of the Most Reverend Father in God, Dr. Thomas Tennison: Late Archbishop of Canterbury were published in London (c. 1716) after his death; appended to the volume is Sancroft’s will, wherein he leaves a bequest to Anne Stubbs, his late wife’s faithful attendant, and another to Thomas Lloyd, a footman whom Tenison commends for having “constantly attended” him in his last illness. See also “Thomas Tenison, the Parish Priest” in Carpenter, Cantuar, 229-38.

 

Vaughan, John, 3rd earl of Carbery (1639-1713): Lived on the south side of Paradise Row in a mansion later known as Gough House. He had no children with his first wife, Mary Brown, and after her death married Lady Anne Saville (1663 – 1690). Their son, born in 1683, died at the age of 2; their daughter, Anne Vaughan, married in 1713 (d. 1751). See Reginald Blunt, Paradise Row: or, A Broken Piece of Old Chelsea . . . (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1906), 162-64; and Walter H. Godfrey, Survey of London, vol. 2: Chelsea, Part 1 (London: London County Council, 1909), 23-28, available at British History Online.

 

Wilkin, Richard: Mary Astell’s printer, his premises at the King’s Head in St. Paul’s Churchyard. He was active from 1693 until 1720, after which his business was taken over by a cousin. In 1700, the first edition of Mary Astell’s Some Reflections upon Marriage was published by John and Elizabeth Nutt, and in On Paradise Row, I have imagined Richard Wilkin and wife, Elizabeth Wilkin, to be working in the business together, as Elizabeth and John Nutt must have done (after her husband died, Elizabeth Nutt seems to have continued as a printer).  Henry R. Plomer, A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725 (Oxford: University Press, 1922), 221-22, 314.

 

 

And the Parrots

 

Hortense Mancini was painted with at least three different parrots: a large green parrot with a blue head sits on a perch next to her in Pietro Francesco Cittadini’s portrait, dated 1670; a smaller green parrot is perched on her finger in Henri Gascar’s portrait, dated 1680 (the subject of this painting is sometimes identified as “a lady in red dress with a book and a parrot”); a dark parrot with a red breast and head is in Benedetto Gennari’s portrait of Mancini dressed as Diana (c. 1685-7), where the bird is perched on the fountain from which Mustapha is drawing water.

For help in identifying the parrots in these portraits of the duchess of Mazarin, I turned to my friend and colleague Charles A. Bergman, an environmentalist and researcher who has been writing about parrots (among many other animals) for decades—he’s a member of the World Parrot Trust and in 2013 traveled to Uganda to assist Jane Goodall in the release of a group of seventeen African Grey parrots that had been confiscated as they were being trafficked into Bulgaria.

After examining the parrots in the Mancini portraits, he offered tentative identifications for them. Rather than “parrots,” the birds are, technically, conures and macaws.

The bird in the Cittadini portrait (right, above) seems to be a Blue- headed Macaw (Ara couloni). 

The bird in the Gascar portrait (right, middle) seems to be a Green Conure Aratinga holochlora). 

The bird next to Mustapha in the Gennari portrait (below) seems to be a Cuban Macaw (Ara tricolor, now extinct).

Since Hortense Mancini was painted with three distinct birds, I have described them to reflect the three birds in the portraits (contemporaries indicate Mancini kept more than one parrot). And since one of Hortense Mancini’s birds was, indeed, named “Pretty,” I have used that name in On Paradise Row.

 

And however improbable it might seem, given her asceticism, Mary Astell did indeed own a parrot, though what kind is not known. Since my friend Chuck has written that African Greys “may be the smartest birds in the world,” I thought it only appropriate that Astell’s parrot would be an African Grey. (The bird on the cover of On Paradise Row  and on the footer of each page  of this website. As for it being a gift to her from Hortense Mancini? Well, that’s my own invention.

 

All three of the birds in the Mancini portraits are new-world species—from eastern Peru, eastern Brazil, and Cuba, respectively. These colorful birds would be particularly desirable (and expensive) status symbols for someone like Hortense Mancini—Louis XIV inspired a new interest in the owning these exotic birds. African Greys, on the other hand, had been kept as pets in England for some time. The earliest known African Grey in England is one belonging to Henry VIII—in 1504, before he became king, a young Henry Tudor is known to have owned such a bird. 

 

There are many images of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth- century birdcages online, and I have put the duchess of Mazarin’s in such elaborate constructions. In addition, many interesting bits and pieces about parrots and birdcages can be found in Bruce Boehrer’s “Dead Parrot Sketch” in Shakespeare among the Animals: Nature and Society in the Drama of Early Modern England (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 99-132, Louise E. Robbins’s Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), and Julia Breittruck’s “Pet Birds: Cages and Practices of Domestication in Eighteenth-Century Paris,” Inter-Disciplines 1 (2012): 6-24.

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Lady Catherine Jones
Hortense Mancini, duchess of Mazarin
Hortense Mancini, duchess of Mazarin
Hortense Mancini, duchess of Mazarin
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