Prinny's Taylor is the title of a biography of Louis Bazalgette, who was tailor to the Prince of Wales, later George IV, for 32 years. It was written by his great-great-great-great grandson, Charles Bazalgette, and is now available as a trade paperback from Amazon and other distributors.
I am amazed to have found a contact for the family of this fan, and to have been able to find out so much about the line of descendants from Louis.
Up until a few weeks ago I just thought it was an unusual name and that I would never know the fan’s history! Then a little bit of googling, and here we are!
So, I have owned this fan since around 1980 but I can’t remember exactly when. I have a very modest fan collection from buying them in my late teens and twenties. My parents bought me this one, so I don’t know where they found it. They lived in Bristol, U.K., so it is likely to have been an antiques place in the west of England somewhere.
You can see from the photos that the ribbon needs replacing, I know enough about fans to know that I shouldn’t attempt this myself. I have been in contact with the fan museum in London about some of my other fans and I will ask them if they know of anyone in New Zealand, where we now live, who could mend it. Otherwise I may have to try and get it in to the U.K. when I go next. And that may not be straightforward since it may well be ivory!!
Anyway, to the interesting part for you, here is what is written on the box:
On the top: Grand mother’s fan FSB
And: Maggie’s Great Grand mother Frances Bazalgette
On the base:
This fan was carved for, & at the request of Daniel BAZALGETTE when he was in China with his mother’s Frances Bazalgette’s initials in Center; years after it came to me Frances Bazalgette. I being Grand & Godchild to the above Frances Bazalgette. I give it to my only daughter Frances Sarah Margaret Bland my married name being F.S. Bland (nee Bazalgette).
On the side:
Margaret is great granddaughter to the above named Frances Balazgette original owner of the fan. F. B.
So it looks to me that Daniel, Louis and Frances’ 4th child, bought the fan for his mother. Presumably somewhere between 1813ish and 1848.
She then passed it to John ‘s (Louis and Catherine’s 4th child) wife?
It eventually came to John’s 11th child Frances Sarah. I know she was born 1830 but not when she died.
Frances Sarah married James Fox Bland and passed the fan to her daughter Frances Sarah Margaret who was born in Ireland (?) 1860.
I know no more about her, do you know where she lived and may have died? I did see that the Blands had their last child in Devon.
I have done a bit of looking around on the internet, and while the fan may have been carved for Daniel, the pictures are not unique, so I guess that Daniel saw the fan for sale already carved and he just had to ask for his mother’s initials to be carved into the centre.
I would love to know if you can shed any light on the family who inherited the fan, and why it should have gone to them out of all the very many children and grandchildren in the family. Does this imply that Frances was fond of the children from Louis’s first marriage, although you imply in your book that she may have been trying to get them out of the house young. Or maybe the fan was picked up by John’s wife after Frances’s death and when her belongings were perhaps being given away.
John was the second surviving son of Louis and his first wife Catherine. So it passed down through his branch of the family, which is not my branch, since I am descended from his eldest son Joseph William (father of the civil engineer of the same name).
Louis bought stock in the East India Company, so it is possible that Daniel was in China for some commercial purpose.
Frances Sarah was one of John and his wife Sarah Van Norden’s numerous daughters but we don’t know quite where she fits in because we don’t know the birthdates of all of their children. She married James Fox Bland in 1858. Their daughter Frances Sarah Margaret Bland was born in 1859 and it seems she was known as Margaret.
So it seems that the fan was passed down through a succession of Franceses!
It is certainly ivory, and of exquisite workmanship.
Many many thanks again to Helen for sharing this fascinating information.
In 1847 it is recorded that Joseph Bazalgette suffered a complete breakdown in his health due to overwork on railway projects during the preceding years, a period known as the ‘Railway Mania’. He retreated to the country to recuperate – apparently to Merton, which at that time was still rural. As far as I know there is no published information on where exactly he was living during that period.
Out of curiosity I emailed the Local Studies Library at Merton to see if they knew more. The reply was:
“I have checked some of our local history books and according to local historian Eric Montague, by 1851 Joseph Bazalgette was living at a house on Central Road (then known as Morden Lane). The house was called Union Villa but was later renamed The Willows. Earlier records suggest that this house was part of a property previously called Duckett’s Farm. Much of the associated land and cottages located in the area were purchased by Joseph in 1866. Willows Avenue and Willows school were built on the site in the 1930s.
Willows Avenue is marked by the red pin on this modern Google map. The Medivet premises and adjoining flats stand on the site of The Willows. Frustratingly I do not have an image of the property but hopefully this information will prove of interest.”
I heard further from the Chairman of the Merton Historical Society, Peter Hopkins, who supplied me with the additional information below. My thanks to him for this, and for his permission to repeat it here:
“Although the site of the house is now within the London Borough of Merton it is in the ancient parish of Morden. He purchased the property from the lord of the manor of Morden, Richard Garth, between January and July 1866. There are several documents at Surrey History Centre in Woking, which detail various transactions involved in the sale, and these include annotated plans. I am not sure how much detail of the house itself is shown on the plans – it is several years since I looked at them and I was more concerned with property boundaries.
I am not aware of any illustrations of the house, but the main document, referenced K85/4/1, reveals that his purchase included a copyhold property known as the Plough Inn, on the roadside in front of the house, and many early photographs of the inn survive, mostly as postcards, including one in a slideshow on our website
The transactions were extended because some parts of the property were sold to the rector of Morden, who lived in the adjoining property, and the final document in the collection relating to this sale is dated 13 July 1872. These documents are in a collection referenced K80/5/42 to K80/5/67, although some deal with side issues. Nos 62 to 67 are the most relevant as involving JW.
Although I have traced the history of the site back to the 15th century, when it formed part of the neighbouring manor of Ravensbury, I have not pursued its more recent history after the sale to JW, so I have no idea when it was demolished. It was called The Willows by 1894/5 on the 25-inch ordnance survey map on the National Library of Scotland website, and on the 1910/13 map, but it had been replaced by housing and the Willows School on the 1932 map, following the building of the St Helier estate. No doubt the voters’ registers and trade directories held by Merton Local Studies Centre would fill in the gaps.”
I contacted Peter Hopkins with the question of whether Joseph perhaps rented property in Merton before buying, and this theory proved correct – witness Peter’s further fulsome reply below:
“I suspect he may already have been renting the property, which was the usual practice at the time, landowners being unwilling, or unable through legal restrictions, to sell parts of their estates.
I took out a 3-month subscription to the online British Newspaper Archive during Covid Lockdown, while researching another Morden property, and discovered hundreds of entries for Merton, Morden and Mitcham that I still need to explore. But I did note down that Joseph’s daughter was born at Morden on 3 Dec 1859, as announced in The Morning Post on 7 December, so he was here long before he purchased the property.
In November 1866 Garth bought a large farm in Merton with the intention of developing it for housing. The railway crossed near the northern section of the new property, and he paid for the building of a station there, named Raynes Park. A few large houses were built in his new road called Grand Drive, but the venture was not as successful as he had hoped. He sold all his interests in Merton and Morden over the coming years, on being appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature, Bengal.
Joseph’s sale documents mention two groups of mortgagees as well as Garth, so the probability is that Garth was having difficulty raising the necessary finances for his proposed new development and offered to sell one of his properties to the sitting tenants, the house and grounds to Joseph and the adjoining field and cottages to the rector. If you contact Surrey History Centre and ask if you could purchase digital copies of the relevant key documents, you will probably discover much more about the transaction, buried among the legal jargon!”
I am most grateful for what is now a pretty complete account and extend my thanks and best wishes to Peter and the Society.
I today received a further email from Peter Hopkins on this subject. Hopefully we can pull all of this information together to give a complete history. Once again I am most grateful to Peter for his research!
“It struck me today that I hadn’t looked at the census records, now available on Ancestry.
The house was called Union Villa in the 1851 census, when he, his wife Mary (called Maria in 1861 and 1871), three young sons, a 7-month-old daughter born in Morden, his sister-in-law, and three servants, two female, one male, were in residence. By 1861 the family, which still included his sister-in-law, had been expanded by three more daughters and three more sons, the youngest not yet named, all born in Morden. This had necessitated the employment of a governess, two nurses, a cook and a housemaid, but no resident male servants. Eldest son Joseph jnr, who would have been 15, was not listed, and his younger brother, called Norman in 1851, was here called Charles N. In 1871, three of the four young children listed in 1861 were no longer listed, but two more sisters-in-law and a nephew were there, plus Joseph’s sister, while the servants were now a needle-woman, a cook, a kitchen maid, a footman and a housemaid. By 1881 the house was called The Willows but, as you know, the Bazalgettes were no longer there, having moved to Wimbledon in 1873.
According to your blog, Joseph, his wife and ten children were living at St Mary’s House, which makes me wonder why only six were named in 1871. I had assumed that Joseph junior was living elsewhere and that three of the four youngest had died in infancy.
I have also looked at some of the Morden extracts I found on the online British Newspaper Archive, and found a description of the house from 1820, when the lease was advertised for sale, and a summary of the contents listed for sale in 1811, when the previous tenant died.
The house was described as ‘a substantial brick-built dwelling house, with laundry, cottages, stables, cow house, &c, yards, gardens, orchard, and paddocks of meadow land, very pleasantly situate on the south side of Morden-lane, in the parish of Morden (nine miles from London), in the county of Surrey. The house was formerly the residence of the Rev. Mr. Pappendick, and contains six bed rooms, two parlours, a kitchen, larder, cellars for wine, beer, &c. The whole of the premises contain 11 acres, held by lease, of which 25 years were unexpired at Michaelmas 1819, at a very low reserved rent.’ [BL_0000174_18200615_002_0004 Morning Post.]
Mr Papendick’s furniture in 1811 ‘comprised four-post and tent bedsteads, with cotton furniture, capital seasoned featherbeds and clean bedding, wardrobe, chests of drawers, excellent set of dining-tables, Pembroke and dressing-tables, dressing-glasses, and pier ditto, carpets, kitchen requisites, about 18 dozen of Port Wine, a cow, and various other articles.’ [BL_0001255_18110227_016_0003 Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser.]
A 61-year lease of Duckets Farm had been granted ‘by virtue of Act of Parliament’ in March 1770 [SHC K85/2/79], and a 14-year extension was later granted [SHC K85/8/2], which would have brought the termination date to 1845, though it is probable that the original lease had taken effect from the previous Michaelmas, so expiring at Michaelmas 1844. In or by 1781 the lease had been assigned to John Groves [SHC K85/2/79], a ‘bricklayer’ or builder. Grves had built the nearby house that replaced the Tudor manor house of Growtes, which was purchased by millionaire financier Abraham Goldsmid, who later had it extended into a spectacular showpiece by the architect John Thomas Groves, and decorated by Crace, the decorators of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. It is likely that the more modest brick house occupied by Papendick in 1811 had also been built by John Groves to replace Ducket’s Tudor farmhouse.
Although we cannot be certain, there is no reason to suppose that Joseph’s Union Villa, later The Willows, was not this late 18th-century house. (Goldsmid’s mansion was demolished and replaced by the present Morden Lodge, but that seems to have been because it was too grandiose to find a buyer.) “
Bazalgette came to Wimbledon village in 1873 with his wife and ten children, moving into St. Mary’s House, Arthur Road, close to St. Mary’s Churchyard, where his tomb can be found. The house had stables – firstly for his carriages but also because he liked to relax by riding round the property in his later years.
It came as a very pleasant surprise to hear that the famous Kitty Pridden had talked enthusiastically about my book at a recent event held at Simpson’s Tavern in London, where she co-hosts those entertaining evenings called ‘the Georgian Dining Academy’. This was quite unexpected and I am most grateful to Kitty and to Jonny Haart, who read some passages from it.
It was equally exciting to see that one of the guests had been moved to buy a copy from Wordery, and wrote a fulsome review there.
Here is a copy of the five-star review – *blushes*
A TOUR DE FORCE!
Not long ago it was my pleasure to attend one of those marvellous and convivial evenings in Simpson’s Tavern, London, organised by the Georgian Dining Academy and hosted by Miss B. (of ‘Takes a Walk’ fame) and Miss Kitty Pridden. During the merriment our hosts regaled us with various interesting and amusing Georgian ‘gems’, in one of which the charming Miss Pridden sang the praises of ‘Prinny’s Taylor’, and Jonny Haart read a few passages from the book, all of which was very well received. Kitty’s enthusiasm was infectious and I ordered a copy as soon as I could. I wasn’t disappointed – this book is a tour de force.
Being something of a connoisseur of the Georgian/Regency period I have read many books about it and several lives of Prinny. Considering that they all say that his most noticeable trait was to ‘dress to excess’, it is indeed odd that none of his biographers has ever taken the trouble to look into what clothes he was buying, and who from, particularly during his pre-Brummell period. I include in the list such stalwarts as J. B. Priestley, Christopher Hibbert, Saul David and Steven Parissien. The latter even devoted a whole chapter to ‘Clothes and Militaria’ but it is obvious that he had never heard of Louis Bazalgette. It is true that Charles Bazalgette was approaching the subject from a different angle, but he seems to have had little difficulty in tracking down nine years of Louis’ detailed accounts and has painstakingly transcribed them (all 285 pages!). This was a major breakthough and makes this book unique and fascinating, considering that none of this information has ever been published before.
It isn’t just about tailoring and Prinny of course, although they of course take up much of the page-space, but it describes Louis’ later life as a West and East-India merchant and innumerable aspects of Georgian life. In short, to use a cliche, it really is a microcosm. The author is, as he says, a bloodhound, and if he finds a lead he follows it relentlessly. For instance, even a minor character – a thief who stole some silver spoons from one of Louis’ sons – has his story followed up. We see his trial at the Old Bailey, his transportation to Australia and how his life turned out afterwards. I find it a pleasure to dip into the book at random and become absorbed in whatever I find.
The title refers to several narrow squeaks in my family history, which, if they had gone the other way, would have snuffed out my male line.
Squeak the first – My ggggfr Joseph William Bazalgette RN, Louis’ eldest son, insisted on joining the navy during the Napoleonic war and served until 1815. He was involved in several dangerous engagements involving using the small-boats under cover of darkness to sneak up and capture enemy vessels in port. So there were many occasions when he could have been killed, and since he didn’t marry until after the war that would have been the end of it. On one such escapade he received a musket ball wound in the upper left thigh, which laid him up for a year. If that ball had been a couple of inches over it would have taken away the family jewels.
Squeak the second – Joseph RN only had one surviving son – Joseph the civil engineer. He was a small and frail child who suffered from asthma. Since there was very little in the way of treatment available in those days he could have succumbed to an asthma attack, which brings us to….
Squeak the third. Joseph’s eldest son Charles Norman, my great-grandfather, did in fact die of an asthma attack in his forties, only a few months after the birth of my grandfather, so if it had been earlier that is another way in which that line would have been extinguished.
Less of a squeak was that my grandfather was in the great war, where he could well have been killed but at least my father had been born in 1913, before he left.
I thought I had blogged this long ago but it appears that I didn’t.
It is a semi-fictional passage from my book which describes the first time when a tailor’s apprentice is invited up on to the ‘board’ to start learning the actual business of tailoring. Before that an apprentice would spend up to a year doing chores so that he learned all the background tasks as well as providing cheap labour.
Thomas Sheppard, one of the apprentices in Bazalgette’s tailoring shop, has been informed by one of the masters, Mr. Smith, that tomorrow, after his chores have been completed, he will be put to the needle. Thomas is pleased at this news, because he has been champing at the bit for some months to be allowed to begin to learn his trade. He does not sleep too well because he is too keyed-up to settle, so is happy when next morning at half past four he can rise, perform some perfunctory ablutions and hurry off at a gangly pace on the twenty-minute walk to Brooks Mews. That morning he cheerily performs his chores in record time and is then told by Mr Smith that he may go and join the workmen.
Thomas’s entry into the sewing room, with its long table and large east-facing windows, is greeted with a variety of remarks, loudest of which is: “Here’s the squeaker! Come aboard, my lad!” which comes from a muscular fellow who extends a rope-calloused palm to help Thomas on to the table. This is Horace, nicknamed Horatio, a name he bears with pride. Horace was once impressed into the navy, and had to serve two years before managing to absent himself from his ship and return to tailoring. His language is consequently well-salted with nauticisms. As the tailors are making room for him he sees a hand flapping at the other end of the board – he is being beckoned by a serious, even studious-looking young man, and uncertain whether by protocol he should stand or not, he crawls over to him. The man introduces himself as Pierre, though his nickname is Pete, a name he bears with resignation. Thomas will find later that this clouded face can very occasionally and suddenly break into a sunny smile, showing for a moment the true beauty in his heart.
Pierre tells him that before starting to sew he must learn to sit properly.
“The cross-legged position is the only way that you can work, both in sewing and pressing. You will find it painful to sit this way for long, but you must persist or you will never find your way past this obstacle. You will get used to it in time and it will feel very natural. When the pain in your thighs or back becomes too much to bear you may change your position a little to get some relief for a while, but you must return to the correct position as soon as you can bear it. As you become tired, resist the tendency to slouch. You must keep your back straight, otherwise you will have trouble with your neck. Here are two small cushions which you must place under your ankle-joints. If you do not use them your joints could become very sore and swollen. I repeat that you must not give up – otherwise you will have fallen at the first fence, as it were, and will never become a tailor.”
“I just couldn’t stand it, myself,” whispers the man sitting next to Thomas, “so I kept shifting about and never got settled. It wasn’t in this shop, but they forced me to sit right by putting a sleeve-board across my knees with a twenty-pound goose-iron on each end. It hurt like the divil I can tell you! After half-an-hour of this I begged to be released, and promised to do better. It was a hard lesson, but I finally made it. Nothing I did could hurt as much as that sleeve-board!”
Pierre touches Thomas on the shoulder and asks if he feels comfortable.
“Not bad – I think I must be quite loose-jointed.” He can see how the position could be much more of an ordeal for a short, stocky man.
“In that case, Thomas, we will try some stitching. I am pleased to hear that you have shown interest already by watching, and asking some of the tailors what stitches they were making. Here are two pieces of calico. First, please baste them together. I expect you know how to do that, but make the seam as straight as you can. That is fine. Now let us try the back-stitch. Make the stitches as even as you can and do not let them get longer as you go. The most important point to note is that your seam must follow the line, otherwise the seams will pucker or the clothes will not fit.”
Thomas spends the next two hours practicing some basic stitches until his legs are very stiff and his buttocks have long ago gone to sleep. He is then allowed down from the board, and has to spend some time trying to get his legs to walk. He hopes tomorrow will be a little better.
Catherine Curzon, aka Madame Gilflurt, is a lady with an impressive output and I don’t know how she finds the time to write frequent blogs as well as posting many images on social media. In addition she has now written a new book: Life in the Georgian Court, of which I was privileged to receive a copy in advance of publication.
This is not just a history of the four Georges, of which there are already many in existence, but the author uses a novel approach: she has grouped the book into four parts, which she calls ‘Acts’ – Childhood, Marriage, Scandal and Death. Each Act is broadly chronological but, if I may continue the theatrical analogy, it consists of mainly quite short ‘scenes’ or vignettes which concentrate not only on the British royals, but also on the royal families in Europe, such as France, Germany, Spain and Russia, which gives a more international picture. Of course, all of these families were closely connected by kinship and marriage.
Catherine’s witty and lively style means that the book is pleasant and absorbing to read through but also tempting for the reader to dip into it anywhere. Those seeking something juicy will naturally choose to head straight for ‘Scandals’!
Thirty-two illustrations, a timeline of major events of the Georgian period, a bibliography, notes and an index all indicate the amount of scholarly work and attention to detail that Catherine has put into this book and I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending it.
The author’s own Afterword neatly sums up the book and gives the potential reader a taste of what to expect:
“In our journey through the royal courts of eighteenth century Europe, we have peeked in at all manner of events from birth to death and plenty in between.
Some of these events rocked nations and continue to resonate today whether in our halls of learning, ruling families or in the very make up of the continental territories and their modes of government, whilst others came and went with barely anyone noticing at all. Whatever their longterm echoes, in every case the royal houses concerned would certainly have felt the impact of those disastrous marriages, whirlwind affairs, whispered scandals or unusual deaths.
One of the most difficult aspects of writing this compendium of royal tales was deciding which to leave out. I hope that this has been a tantalizing taster of the wonders of the Georgian era and proof that, in the courts of Europe, it wasn’t all powdered wigs, pomp and protocol. There was much more to life that that…”
Life in the Georgian Court will be published by Pen and Sword Books and will be available in the UK on 30 June and in September in the USA. It can be pre-ordered now from the publisher. Catherine has just announced that she has completed the draft of the second book in this series – Kings of Georgian Britain – which we avidly anticipate!