Notes and transcriptions by Thomas Noel Hoblyn
1963 (edited by Edward John Hoblyn in 2008)
first of these diaries was kept in 1843 when Thomas Henry Usborne was
33. He was the son of Thomas Usborne of Gillwell House, Great Amwell, in
the hamlet of Sewardstone, Essex, near Waltham Abbey, who was then a
widower of 73,and had himself been a widower for seven years. Byhis late wife Emma, daughter of Thomas Starling Benson, of North
Cray Place, Kent, who died when she was only 23, he had three children,
Emma Rebecca (Emmie) aged 11, Thomas Starling (Tom) aged 9,and
Elizabeth Meux (Bessie) aged 7.He had two sisters, Emma, who
married Blackwall Simonds, and Julia, who married Henry Breedon, Rector
of Pangbourne. (The Breedons are frequently mentioned, but Emma is
always “my sister Emma” and Simonds is only once mentioned as
Blackwall). He appears to be on good terms with his Benson
“in-laws”, whom he often talks about.
In 1843 he is living at Montague Place, London, and often visits his
father at Gillwell, usually going down by carriage. The children are at
school, the two little girls at aBoarding School at Ryde.
It is not clear when Tom went to Eton, but he was there in 1845 (still
He was a member of the Parthenon Club. His income seems to have
consisted of an allowance from his fatherof £100 a month
and the marriage settlement money of £62.10s. p.a. from old T. S.
Benson. His father must have paid the children’s bills.
He is friendly with Isobel Henderson.
By February she is “Isabel darling”. They were engaged in April.
In January 1843 he was very ill;whether or not he had
paratyphoid fever is not clear, but he refers to it as a “Paratype”
attack, and says that he woke up the first day and found that he had
“lost the use of his limbs”. The remedies sound worse than
the disease. He was bled and had calomel every four hours and had
“black draughts” (3/- a dose) and, one night, the doctor put
fourteen leaches on his temples. He was in bed a month and had a nurse.
Various people came to see him during his illness including
Florence, Richard and Starling Benson, Fred Bury and Henry and Emma
Breedon (note this is Henry Breedon’s sister, not Emma Usborne). Mrs.
Seymour who also came “made me very ill with talking". The
children also visited him and his sister Emma (she lived at Woolverton).
He had letters from Isobel and her father, Captain Henderson, and
from Sarah Benson. He does not seem to have been too ill to write his
diary, but he did not go out until the end of February and, on the last
day of March, drove with the nurse down to Gillwell to recuperate.
A month later, he has recovered and records his engagement to Isobel:
“23 Apr. Dear Isobel and I took a long walk after church with Capt. and
Mrs. Henderson”. The next day he gave her a prayer book, a turquoise
brooch, etc., and says (in French) that it has been the happiest day of
his life for many years.
In June he introduced Isobel to Emmy who was “very miserable about
it” and three days later on 27 June 1843 they were married by special
licence (which Capt. Henderson had to fetch from Winchester) and went
off to Pangbourne for a fortnight’s honeymoon. Isobel was only 19. I
do not think Isobel and Emmy can have hit it off very well, but she got
on very well with Bessie (who called her own daughter after her
stepmother) and Tom. She is frequently referred to as “Mama” later
in the diaries, so up to the timewhen ill health overtook her
she probably fitted into the family very well. She must have had money
of her own as he does not seem to allow her much.
The last part of the year was spent at Montague Place and in Jan.1844
we find them still there, taking lessons in German, visiting the
Governor at Gillwell from time to time. During this time he was visited
by his Aunt Sophia(?).
In April they went to stay at
the Pier Hotel, Ryde, presumably to see the children, before they set
off for a long holiday in Germany lasting from May till October, when
they returned to Montague Place.
The places they visited are mentioned and what it cost, but the
(German coinage (thalers or dollars = 3/-
and groschen) is rather confusing. (Some time this year the
brother-in-law Henry Breedon must have died).
In 1845, they are still at Montague Place — Tom is at Eton now and the
two girls at Ryde. He visits Gillwell, but his father must be getting
decrepit and he is helping him with his accounts. On one occasion he
drives down to fetch some wine and the “Buntingford papers”. On 31 May the old man diedand was buried at
Waltham Abbey on 7 June. T.H.U. was an executor, and there was evidently
much to do at Gillwell, though he apparently had never any intentions of
living there — probablycould not afford to. In September he
went to Gillwell in the carriage for the last time. Later in the year
they are evidently thinking of going to Ryde to liveas theywent
there several times staying at Yelf’s Hotel. During those visits to
Ryde he took a bath daily which cost 2/- a time. In November he received£11,000 from his father’sexecutors.
In February 1846 they are again at Hyde, Isobel celebrating her 21st
birthday there on 8 February. On 19 May they finally took up their
quarters at Rosemount, Ryde (which they rented for £81p.a.). At the
beginning of the year Emmy and Bessie were still at a Boarding School
there run byMrs. Butts (£68.13s. for a half year for the two of
them), but later they must have gone daily. Tom was at the Rev.
Hawtrey’s house at Eton (about £100 a year). In June Gillwell was put
up for sale, but there was no bidder. They went for an expedition to
Alum Bay in June.
During 1846 and part of 1847 he kept on the house at
Montague Place, going backwards and forwards to Ryde and to Gillwell, feeding at “The Feathers” or at the Club when he was
in London. During April their friends, Mr. and Mrs.Young were atRyde
with their yacht and took them for a sail round the Island. In June
1847 they took their farewell of Gillwell, which was disposed of at a
two-day sale. In August he and Tom (now 13) went for a tour in Wales. It
was not expensive; it cost £26.16s.6d. for the two of them for ten
During January 1848 they evidently had gay holidays with several
children’s parties. His sister Julia gave both a children’s party
and a ball (at Pangbourne?). In February he and Florence (Benson) went
down to Blackheath to enquire about Woolwich for Tom, who was evidently
marked out for an Army career.
This year the house in Montague Place disappears and he now rents
Chambers in town from the Rev. Thomas Cardale at £20 a year. Although
he was a “gentleman of leisure” he seems to have transacted most of
the family business, investing money, etc., for his sisters, etc.;
anyhow, this was his usual reason for going to town. He saw quite a lot
of his sister Julia Breedon and her sister-in-law Emma was married at
Newchurch by the Rev. Wade (husband of Emma Jane, Julia
Breedon’s daughter) in September.
In June he went on a sailing trip
(with the Youngs?) in “The Stranger” from Ryde to the Scillies,
arriving at St. Mary’s after five days sailing, where they dined at
Mumfords hotel (Perhaps this was Holgates, the owner’s mother was Mrs.
Munford in the 1948).
His income that year was not large, but he is receiving money from his
father’s residuary estate. Old T.S.Benson seems a little erratic with
the marriage settlement money.
Emma, who is now 16, has left school, but Bessie is still at Mrs.
Butts’ and Tom at Eton.
During 1849, they lived quietly at Rosemount; during the early part of
the year he went hunting several times. The total housekeeping at
Rosemount, including three ponies and a man, cost £870 for the year.
Tom became more expensive though and cost him £233 that year.They gave a ball in January.
In September 1849 he and Tom went for a geological tour of the Island
— he seems to have had a considerable interest in geology.He gave a lecture at the Town Hall, Ryde, in December (I cannot
decipher thesubject). During October he and Isobel went on a
visit to his sister Emma who lived at Hermits Tower, Manchester. In
August Bessie went to a new school at Ryde run by Miss Poles or Poole (T.H.U.
is never veryhot on spelling names; they vary considerably as
they may have done in those days, viz. Hobling was an alternative to
Hoblyn and Osborne for Usborne).
The Christmas holidays at Ryde again seem to have been veryjolly
with a lot of parties in January 1850. The family seem even then to have
been musical, there is an account for tuning the piano and harp.Emma, who was 18 in November 1850, was now at a finishing school.
summer she and Isobel stayed at the Freshwater Bay Hotel and he and Tom
used to ride over to see them on the ponies. The Bishops are first
mentioned this year.
In February 1851 he read a paper on the coal formation to the Ryde
Philosophic and Scientific Society. There is very little except accounts
in the diaries for 1851and 1852. From these, however, it is
clear that Emma married William Bishop some time in the summer of 1852
and in that year Tom, who was then 18, went to the R.M.A. Woolwich. It
is not stated when they moved from Ryde to London; but the new house,
No. 30 Onslow Square, was paid for in November 1852. They do not seem to
have moved though until 1854, when he also bought No. 34 Onslow Square.
The two houses each cost £2,400, but had a ground rent as well.No. 34 was let to Baron Marochetti at a rent of £150 a year.
The main entry of interest in the 1853 diary isan extract from
Hasted’s History of Kent (Vol. 3, p.59) giving the history of the
Usborne’s of Loddenden, Staplehurst, obviously another branch of the
family, who had lived there for three centuries. In 1790 it was lately
the property of Edward Usborne and his widow lived there. Sixty years
later, at the time of these diaries, yet another Mrs. Usborne lived
there, who is often mentioned in the years that follow. It must have
been from her that Tom ultimately inherited the house. In 1853 he is
still at Woolwich.
At this time Cunliffe was the family solicitor (succeeding Mr. Bury). It
is interesting that one hundred years later this firm of solicitors
still acts for us in matters concerning the Rotherhythe Property, in
which Harry Hoblyn had a half share with Mrs. Archer (Emma’s daughter
by Willie Butts).
In 1854 they moved to London and T.H.U. gave up his Chambers. This year
he bought a farm at Mardley Bury, near Royston, and also Staynden Farm,
Staplehurst. (These were bought as part of his marriage settlement.In this year Tom
left the “Shop” (RMA Woolwich)and was
gazetted to the 7th Dragoon Guards; there seems to have been some
discussion as to whether he should be transferred to a regiment for the
Crimea, but this did not apparently happen. Tom joined the United
Services Club and his father opened an account at Cox’s for him with
In September T.H.U. and Capt.
Henderson went shooting on the farm at Staplehurst (a poor day) and
there is a note that he went to church with Mrs. Usborne of Loddenden.
Bessie, now 18, left school and is living with them in London.
In November Henry (Roxby) Benson got his majority in the 17th Lancers
and they saw him off for the Crimea, Tom going down to Gravesend to see
Very little is recorded about the year 1855. Tom was still in the Army,
but does not seem to have stayed in long, for by May of the next year he
is settled at Saynden Farm, Staplehurst. Isabel, some of the time
accompanied by Bessie, spent a long time at Ben Rhidding (or Rhidden) in
Wales and I think this may have been the start of her long recurrent
illnesses, which kept her out of London a lot after this.
In January 1856 both Isobel. and Tom were unwell and this may have been
the reason for his coming out of the Army, for it is after this that he
goes to Staplehurst. At this time Bessie went for the first of many
visits to Teddington. It seems that both their friends the Youngs and
T.S. Benson lived there or at Twickenham.
In the spring Isabel again went off to Ben Rhidden and Bessie went to
Ryde. T.H.U. went to stay at the Sun at Staplehurst for a short time in
May. This month Tom got his dogcart smashed up. After, he went to Ben
Rhidden and returned with Isobel in June. Later in the year they all
visited Tom at Staplehurst several times, generally
calling on Mrs. Usborne at Loddenden each time.
This year a few public events are noted, e.g. 29 May Queen’s birthday
and illuminations for the Peace; 13 June Palmer (the poisoner) was
It is amusing to note that on one occasion Capt. Henderson joined him
for an oyster lunch at Scotts.
The beginning of 1857 finds them involved in the lawsuit Usborne v.
Usborne, which went on for a long time and may have been something to do
with his father’s will, for there are now no further payments from the
residuary estate and his means seem restricted.
Isobel is away unwell in January and he is alone at Onslow Square with
Bessie, who already seems to be helping him with his business. By April
Isobel was very ill and in May she went off to Belgium with Miss Pryce,
whence she did not return for more than a year. Miss Pryce, who
eventually became a Clewer sister,seems to have been
Isobel’s inseparable companion for the next few years. She may have
been a nurse or possibly a cousin (T.H.U.’s mother was Rebecca Price).
Bessie, who was 21 on 11 May, evidently looked after her father. She
went frequently to see her Benson grandparents at Teddington and her
friend Sophy Young was married there In July.
William Bishop died on 9July and he notes “poor Emma’s
birthday”on 18 November. She was only 25 and was left with
two children Emmie and Willie.
T.H.U. went twice to Antwerp to see Isobel in July and December.
The family areall together, except Isobel, for the New Year.Poor Isobel, still at Antwerp, is by no means well. T.L.U. seems
very lonely without her, despiteBessie’s companionship and,
perhaps in consequence, the diary is very full, even such events as the
marriage of the Princess Royal with the Prince of Prussia (25 Jan.) and
the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (27 March) being noted. (He
little knew what the former event would bring forth, for these were the
parents of the future Kaiser William of Germany.)
much involved in the Usborne V. Usborne case and goes to the City
frequently, usually by the penny steamer from Chelsea to St. Paul’s
wharf, sometimes returning by the omnibus. He is not very well himself
and has frequent recourse to calomel; he always carefully records each
dose. He seems to have kept a well stocked medicine chest. One day in
January he dined at the fish ordinary at Simpson’s and metDr.
Nott who was a great writer and orator and had been Rector of
Staplehurst with Nicholas Usborne (probably of Spillswell Court not
In April he records the death and funeral at Amwell of his uncle aged
88,but there is nothing to show who he was. Perhaps this uncle
and Aunt Sophy (above) werePryces.
In the same month Emma Bishop went to stay with Mrs. Weeding.
(This may have been Elizabeth Newberry, the mother of Mary Weeding who
became Mrs. Shackleton Hallett, or it may have been her mother-in-law
who diedin 1860). In May he and Bessiehad a rather
adventurous visit to Teddington where they called on the Youngs and saw
Florence and Starling Benson and also Aunt Tiny (first mention).
1858 (continued) Aunt
Tiny must have been Mrs. Henry Benson. They had to walk home from
Later in the same month and again in September he and Bessie went to see
Isobel in Belgium. During visits to Staplehurst thatsummer they
visited various places in Kent, walking over to Marden to see some
Usborne tombstones of the Marden Usbornes and once they dined at
Loddenden at 3 p.m.Dinner seems to have been a movable feast in
In October (6/10/58)old Starling Benson died and was buried at
Twickenham on the 12th.
On 5 November “Wrote to Mr. Hoblyn to say I would be glad to
see him it he was coming to town and allowed Bessie to write on the
other side”. The same day Isabel and Miss Pryce returned from Belgium.
On the evening of the 9th “Mr. Hoblyn smoked a cigar with me when we
came to an explanation about Bessie”.
[A word of explanation here is
necessary.Tom Hoblyn (now
23) had met Bessie earlier, when he was stationedat Parkhurst.
He was a Lieutenant in the 20th Regiment and had served in the Indian
Mutiny, contracting some trouble, probably a form of dysentery, during
the siege of Lucknow. His home was at White Barns, Nr. Buntingford,
Herts., where his father (now 80) and mother (formerly Anne Sarah Hallam)
were living. His mother’s people also lived in the neighbourhood at
Brent Pelham Hall, and Mr. (G.W. Hallam must have helped his daughter
with business matters, for it was with him and Mrs. Hoblyn that T.H.U.
discussed Tom Hoblyn’s prospects and Bessie’s marriage settlement.
His only son George, cousin Sophy’s brother, was killed two years
earlier in the Mutiny. Tom Hoblyn was on sick leave and had come up to
London partly for a Medical Board.]
During November, they all went down
to White Barns to stay and Bessie and Tom’s engagement was
satisfactorily arranged. The last entry of interest is Tom Hoblyn’s
birthday on 6 December. T.H.U. seems to have got on well with Mrs.
Hoblyn who gave him latersome Cornish Dramas to read.
During January 1859 they were having a gay time in London. Tom Usborne
was there and Tom Hoblyn was in and out frequently. One evening he
called when Bessie was out - one can imagine the somewhat embarrassing
situation that followed. He went to Cornwall for ten days at the end of
the month. In April Mr. Hallam died (George Walsh). The following summer
Isabel spent some time in Scotland and T.H.U.and Bessie went to
Staplehurst by train via Pimlico. There are several notes that Tom
Hoblyn was playing cricket — he seems to have been a great cricketer
and in the following year played at Lords. In June Tom Hoblyn went down
to Eton where he saw Willy Benson. It is not clear who Willy was, but he
may have been Col. Henry Benson’s eldest son, Starling, called Willy
to distinguish him from his uncle — the age is about right. Mrs.
Benson (Elizabeth Meux) died in July and they all went to Teddington for
Later that month they again went to stay at Staplehurst, where T.H.U.
hired a horse, which they called the Beastie. It does not seem to have
been very manageable. On the 25 July they dined early as they were to
drink tea (evidently an unusual event) at Loddenden. But on the way home
the Beastie fell and pitched someone (illegible) over his head and they
had to walk home. In the end he smashed up the pony carriage down
Staplehurst hill. The visit ended sadly for Isobel was ill again andhad
to be taken home in an invalid carriage.
There is a long blank after this and only the bare statement on 4
October “Bessie was married this day”. (She was married at Holy
Trinity Church, Brompton). Not long after, Tom Hoblyn was evidently ill
again and so was T.H.U.— he says it was bile. By 3 January 1860 they
better. Bessie and Tom came to stay in February after an adventurous
journey; they were first involved in a railway accident and then nearly
smashed up in a cab. Tom lost his portmanteau, but it turned up the next
In April Mrs.Weeding died; Isobel is ill again and so was
T.H.U. with diarrhoea, etc. It is not at all clear what Isobel’s
recurrent illnesses were due to (she was still only 35). She seems to
have suffered from sickness and hysteria. It must have been some chronic
illness, probably never diagnosed. It is highly probably that a lot of
T.H.U.’s upsets were the result of eating and drinking too well.
In June T.H.U. went down to Patmore Heath to stay with Bessie and Tom,
where Mr.and Mrs.Hoblyn called on them, and he went to White Barns.
(Note: the young Hoblyn’s had a furnished house at Furneaux Pelham,
near Patmore Heath). While he was there, Tom had another attack ofdysentery,
but was able to play cricket a few dayslater.
On 6 August old Mr. Hoblyn died, aged 82, and the next day
“Bessie was brought to bed of a little girl at 5 o’clock
p.m.”. This was, of course, Aunt Isobel. (Isobel Anne) and is the only
one of his grandchildren whose birth he records.
On 13 August he and Tom Usborne went down to White Barns for the funeral
and saw Bessie and her baby on the way back.
In September he and Isobel went to Antwerp for a month.
On their return they called on the Henry Benson’s at Eaton Place. A
few days later Henry, Starling, Richard and Aunt Tiny came to see them
to say goodbye, but where they were going is not stated.
At the end of October Miss Pryce became a nun atClewer, Windsor.
Tom Hoblyn was evidently still in the army for early in November he had
to go off to Ireland for his Adjutancy. A day or so later Bessie left
them for her new residence. (Probably a house called Jopes on Rickling
This month Tom Usborne did something which thoroughly upset his father.
It had something to do with selling his Spanish three per cents; but
evidently did not bear recording for it is all crossed out.
Isobel and he spent Christmas with Emma at Maldon and had dinner with
the Beeeding’s (these must have been Mary Hallett’s parents). It was
In January 1861, they are in London again with the usual festivities.
Emma(Bishop) and the children, Emmie and Willie, stayed with
them. In February he is ill again and seems to live mainly on calomel
and rhubarb. In April Bessie and Tom came up to stay with the Youngs
at Twickenham. The next month there is a note that his sister Emma and
Blackall (Simonds) left St. George’s Road for the Isle of Wight —
this is the only mention of Emma’s husband.
The family are all keen members of the Royal Horticultural Society,
whose gardens then occupied the ground behind the Royal Institution, now
occupied by the Albert Hall, etc. (part of the garden walls are still to
be seen in the Royal Institution, I believe). Each year they go to the
R.H.S. Fete, though this year Isobel was too ill to go. The Fetes on 5and 6 June must have corresponded to the Chelsea Show of today —
with similar weather, thunder, lightening and a heavy hailstorm.
Later that month there were great fires at Kensington, Newington
Causeway and at Southwark that went on burning for several days until it
In September they stayed with the Hendersons at Dawlish.
The next month Bessie, nurse and baby (Isobel) stayed with them prior to
the move to the Views, Rickling Green, on 18 October. During this time
Tom Hoblyn went to see his mother at Brighton en route for Cornwall.
Later T.H.U. was summoned to sit on the Grand Jury at Clerkenwall Green,
but was excused on a medical certificate.
The last entry that year is the death of Prince Albert (Victoria’s
eldest) on 14 December.
There is very little recorded during the next two years. In January 1862
T.H.U. was ill again. On26
February, Edward Hoblyn was born, but there is no record in the diary;
however, in April, Bessie and Tom pay him a visit, the former bringing
the baby with her. That month they dined with the Henry Bensons at 45
Wilton Crescent — in the autumn of that year Aunt Tiny was ill. In
August they went to Southsea and paid a visit to Portsmouth dockyard
where they saw the Warrior, Black Prince and “the new Iron Plater
first rate, not finished yet”. After that they went to see Emma (his
sister) at Ryde. At the end of August they went to Antwerp for a month,
but the trip by the Dolphin started badly, as he fell down the cabin
stairs and hurt his leg.
Bessie and little Edward stayed with them in October, while Tom went
down to White Barns with Toby (his dog?). At the end of that month Tom
Usborne brought his future wife Sisie Downing to see them.
In January 1863 Tom Hoblyn went off to Corfu, though whether this was in
connection with military duties or not is not stated. Bessie and the
children stayed a month with them in London. In April he mentions the
grand procession to meet Princess Alexandria and the subsequent wedding
to the Prince of Wales at Windsor. The rest of this diary is all
accounts. The cost of living for a household consisting usually of two
with three maids is of some interest. The following is the average cost
of housekeeping per week.
Soman may have been the cook/housekeeper, though her wages were only £3.13s.a year. In addition to the above they bought their tea at Ridgways and
spent £1O. 6s. a year on it. Wine, etc., cost £43.14s.for the
year (what a lot they must have got for that!); 20 tons of coal cost £22.
4s. and the gas bill came to £15.1Os.
The main point of interest in 1864 is the appearance of Mr.WilliamPitt
Butts, who called on them for the first time in June — all the
relations coming round to inspect and enquire about Emma “et le futur”.
Later that year Emma became Mrs.Butts, though the date is not recorded.
(In April this year Henry George Hoblyn wasborn).
Isobel went to visit her parents at Dawlish and later in the summer they
spent the whole of August In the Lake District. It cost him £130 for
four of them.
Mrs. Henry Young and Admiral Henderson (Isobel’s father) died in 1865
and Isobel herself was very ill again in April. The only other entry
(except for accounts) records that by November Emma Butts had produced a
baby. (This must have been Beatrice - Auntie Bea , who later married
Rev. G. Archer).
At the start 1866 they are an in town. WillieButts and Tom
Hoblyn seemed to have got on well and dined at the ‘Rag’ together.
There is a note that Emmy and Willie (Bishop) went to stay at
Isabel was again ill in January, something wrong with her chest. In
February Col.and Mrs. Henry Benson called to tell them that young
Starling had been gazetted to the 17th Lancers. They are now living at
92 Eaton Place.
In June he went down to stay at The Views — they were haymaking. Mrs.
Hallam and Sophy were staying there. (Note: this is Sophy, who later
married Col. Watkin — she must have been 16 or 17. The next month
Richard Hallam Hoblyn was born).
By August Tom Hoblyn is evidently seriously ill and comes up to London
for a consultation with a specialist, Sir Ronald Marten(’?) Jones, and
their own Dr. Baber, but they do not seem to have been able to do much
for him. In the last photo I have of him he looks a very sick old man
and one would never dream that he was only 31.
Isobel went to stay in Broadstairs in September, where T.H.U. joined her
but, by the end of October, she was very ill indeed and died on 28
October. The account of her last illness is very harrowing. She was
buried in Brompton Cemetery, Father Richard Benson (the youngest son)
taking the service. (See postscript).
However, this was by no means the end of the troubles that year for on
the 21 December Tom Hoblyn died, being followed a few days later by his
old mother. What a Christmas for them all. Tom was buried in Quendon
churchyard on 28 December and his mother on4January.
The weather was very bitter, deep snow everywhere.
Isabel’s death quite broke up T.H.U. and the household in Onslow
Square. Mrs. Soman left for Ryde to Emma Simonds (she was very violent
at leaving) and T.H.U. rented a new small house in Percy Terrace. But
though some of the furniture was moved there early in the New Year, he
had not moved by the end of 1867. Indeed, the last entry for that year
records that Willie Butts had met Payne, who was going to take Onslow
Square, at the Club. His children visit him from time to time and
Harriet Smith has taken over the housekeeping. He stayed a few days with
Bessie at Rickling and again in September. But on the whole this last
diary is the record of a very sad and lonely old man. Perhaps to ease
his loneliness, he takes to religion and spends much time in church and
seems to find some comfort there.
In August he stayed with Tom at Staplehurst. Mrs. Usborne is still
ensconced at Loddenden and Miss Downing apparently lives with her.
Almost the last entry records that Butts had left to go to Tom’s
wedding at Staplehurst to Miss Downing on 31 December 1867. This is the
end of the diaries. Thomas Henry Usborne died at Percy Terrace fifteen
months later on 22 April 1869 and was buried at Brompton Cemetery.
Bessie was sole executrix.
The diaries give no indication of how T.H. Usborne filled his time.
Apparently he had considerable literary interests. In 1851 he published
“The Magician Priest of Avignon” or “Popery in the Thirteenth
Century” in two volumes. In that book he is said to have been the
author of “A New Guide to the Levant, Syria, etc.”; “Tales of theBraganza”; ‘Scenes and Sketches”, etc. These books must mostly
have been written before these diaries start, during whichperiod
he evidently traveled extensively. He was a very staunch protestant and
violently opposed to the Roman Catholic Church. The “Magician
Priest” was not very well reviewed and there is a reprint of a long
and involved letter that he wrote to the “spectator” in answer to
the criticism. (I can hardly imagine the “Spectator” printing such a
letter nowadays). There is no evidence that T.H.U. ever made any money
out of his writings.
I fear that the picture that emerges of T. H. Usborne is not a very
attractive one. He was an upright man and a good father. In his youth he
traveled a lot and wrote accounts of what he saw. He dabbled in science
in rather a half-hearted sort of way. He was keen on horticulture and
farming but never did any himself. He seems to have conducted a good
deal of the family business, but the family did not seem to have
appreciated all he did for them. He was not a rich man, but had
sufficient to enable him to live well and bring up his family in
comfort. He evidently took considerable interest both in his creature
comforts and in his ailments. He never seems to have earned a penny in
Jane Simondslived the remainder of her life at Ryde,
where she died a very old lady of 89 in February 1885.
widow of the Rector of Pangbourne, also lived to be a very old lady,
dying in 1892. aged 93.E.J. and Henry Breedonhad five
children and no more (as the deed puts it). He died in 1844. The
children were Thomas Henry of Ryde, Frederick William of Jersey, Julia
of Ryde and Emma Jane who married the Rev. Arthur John Wade, Clerk, of
Ryde. The fifth child died young.
(Bishop) seems to have lived at Southsea. She died at Woking at the age
of 56In 1878. Her daughter Emmy Bishop when staying with her
Uncle Torn at Loddenden met the Rev. Reyner, Rector of Staplehurst. They
had one son, Basil. Later she married W.J. Shaw of the firm Smily and
Shaw, “The Finsbury Press”; he was a bad lot and ran through most of
his wife’s money. They lived, at any rate for a time, at Twickenham.
The emerald necklace which we still have was hers; when she was
particularly hard up she sold it to her Aunt Bessie. The last part of
her life was spent near Portsmouth. She died some time in the 1930’s
and I went to her funeral with Basil, I remember that she never would
have a bath in a modern bathroom and always insisted on a hip bath; she
was allergic to tea and never drank it. Emma Butts’ second daughter,
Beatrice Butts (AuntieBea), married the Rev. George Archer,
Rector of Stilton. She was reputed to be very queer inthe head,
though I never remember seeing her. She had a “moiety”with
Harry Hoblyn in the Rotherhythe Property, of which I am now trustee.
They had one daughter, Faith, who marriedJack Glyn and now lives
eventually inherited Loddenden, Staplehurst, where he lived as atypical
country gentleman of his time. He had no children. His wife died in
1906, aged 65,and he must have died a year or so later. The
picture of Charles II and family by Cossiers, which I still have, was
left to my father (E.F.H.) by him and the Ashford Lodge dining table
that Kathleen now has also came from Loddenden.
(Bessie) was left with four children to bring up, though the youngest,
Richard Hallam (Dardie, I have a photo of him) died when he was only 9and was buried in Quendon churchyard with his father. In 1877 she
married the Rev. James Marius Taylor and moved to Quendon Rectory. The
second marriage was not popular with the family, particularly Edward
(Ted) who seldom went home during his stepfather’s lifetime. It is
related that when he first heard the news he was so angry that he sat in
the fire! After the Rev. Taylor died in 1885, aged 57, they moved
to the Grove House, Sible Hedingham, Essex. and it was here that Ted met
his future bride, Alice Warburton, who was staying with her uncle at the
Rectory. Towards the end of the century they moved again to Ashford
Lodge, Halstead, Essex, and Mrs. Taylor lived there until she died. In
her youth and middle age she was a very efficient person, a pillar of
the church, a good business woman, housekeeper, mother and grandmother.
She was always keen on gardening. She was no mean artist and painted
many watercolours. She played the piano and the organ. Alas, her memory
and mind went long before her body and for some ten years before she
died she was a Ward in Chancery. She eventually died on 18 October 1922,
aged 86,and was buried in Halstead cemetery. Ashford Lodge was
burnt down a month later.
Florence (Ted) Hoblyn,
my father, was educated at Felstead and passed into the R.M.A. Woolwich,
being commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He served at many
places at home and abroad, including Malta, Gibraltar, Singapore, mainly
on Coast Defence. It was his great sorrow that he never saw active
service, except as C.R.A. Western Forts, Isle of Wight, in 1914-16. For
a time he was instructor in range finding at Woolwich. He mounted Coast
Defence guns at Gibraltar, Singapore and in the Isle of Wight. He
married Alice Caroline Warburton at Dedham on 27 August 1891 and they
had four children. He retired in 1916 and went to live at Ashford Lodge
(which he rebuilt after the fire) after his mother died. His main
interests outside his work were shooting and gardening (he always had a
garden, wherever he was). He died very suddenly of a heart attack while
out shooting on 31 October 1928 and is buried with his mother in
lived with her mother all her life and was her companion in many
expeditions. She was very keen on hunting and other country pursuits;
she also did a great deal of social work, being among other things
president(?) of the Girls’ Friendly Society in Halstead. She
contracted blood poisoning, probably due to mistreatment, and died in
February 1904 aged only 43. There is a memorial window to her and her
small brother Richard in St. Andrew’s Church, Halstead. I have a diary
that she kept when she and her mother went for a tour in Canada and the
United States, part of the time being spent with her brother Harry, who
was then farming in the States.
is not mentioned in the diary, but was born in 1864. He also went to
Felstead and later took up farming, for a time in Cornwall and later in
the States, though without much success. Eventually he came home and,
breaking his leg in a hunting accident, was lame for the rest of his
life. He lived with his mother at Ashford Lodge until about 1912, when
he set up house on his own at Orleans, West Mersea. During the time that
his mother was a Ward in Chancery, he acted as “receiver”. The last
years of his life were spent at Colchester, where he died In 1933. He is
buried in Halstead cemetery. His housekeeper, Ida Drane, occupies the
house 2 St. Clare Drive, Colchester, for her lifetime.
T. S. Benson
– of all his fifteen children, with the exception of Emma, our great
grandmother, only one, General Henry Roxby Benson, had any offspring.
His wife, Aunt Tiny, lived for many years at Fairy Hill, Reynoldston
R.S.O., Glamorgan. They had four children.
Father Richard Meux Benson,
the youngest son of T. S. Benson, was the founder and for many years
Superior of the Cowley Fathers or, more properly, the Society of St.
John the Evangelist, a religions order for men in the Church of England.
“He was a man of the extremest kindness, that was tempered with a
large share of practical organising wisdom”. He died on 14 January1915,
the eldest of Henry Benson’s children, became a Colonel in the 17th
Lancers and probably late in life married Viscountess Gort, the mother
of Lord Gort, V.C. They lived at Cowes Castle, Isle of Wight, where I
once went to lunch in1911-12.
became a Judge. I only knew him after he had retired, in1917,
when he lived with his daughter Gladys Benson in King William Street,
Knightsbridge. I used to go there to Sunday lunch, always roast beef and
apple tart with claret to wash it down, after which we played Bridge all
the afternoon for 1/- a hundred, the Judge always used to “carry”
and her crippled brother Florence, my godfather, lived at Onslow Square.
He died some years ago; she was still living and a very old lady in 1947
and may be still.
is the only member of’ the Hallam family whom we know anything of. She
married Col. Watkin, R.A., who was a well known inventor of instruments.
I have a pocket barometer and a gunnery instrument of his. The Watkin
Clinometer was still in regular use for gun -laying in 1918.He must have died in the early 1900’s, as far as I
remember the family were in mourning when Kathleen was bridesmaid and I
was page at Cousin Edith’s wedding; this must have been about 1906.
There were five children Harry, Frank, Elsie, Bertha and Edith, of whom
only Bertha is now surviving in England, though Edith Collins, who lives
in South Africa and has a family, may be still alive. Harry was married,
but neither son had any children. Frank, who was a Captain in the
Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action on 1 January 1915, aged
29. Elsie married Col. Allen and had two boys, Franklyn who is married
and has a family (he was in the Navy) and Douglas, who spent most of his
life in Hong Kong.
lived in a flat in Knightsbridge in the latter part of her life; she
died in 1941 or 1942, during one of the worst raids on that part of
London, aged 93.She was always very good to us and my mother was
very fond of her.
and Mrs. Weeding
are referred to once or twice. Elizabeth Weeding was the granddaughter
of one of the Newberry family, a brother to T. S. Benson’s wife
Hannah, and thus second cousin to Bessie Usborne. Her daughter Mary
Weeding married Shackleton Hallett and was completely lost sight of
until her death under rather tragic circumstances during the 1930’s.
Apparently her mind had been deranged for some years and she had lived
at the top of an old house at the mercy of rapacious servants and
letting down a basket for food supplies. She left a lot of jewelry to my
Usborne v. Usborne Case.
In his will old Thomas Usborne left a number of pecuniary legacies to
his Usborne and Breedon grandchildren. The residue of his Estate was
to be divided half to his son T. H. Usborne and a quarter each to his
two daughters Elizabeth Julia Breedon and Emma Jane Simonds. The
trustees of the will, who were to realise his assets and carry out his
wishes, were T. H. IJaborne and his son-in-law Henry Breedon.
Unfortunately, Henry Breedon died before Thomas Usborne and no trustee
was appointed to replace him.
In 1857 there was still a
considerable amount of property unrealised and Elizabeth J.Breedon
and her four grown up children issued a Bill of Complaint against T. H.
Usborne, asking that he should be made to appoint another trustee and
settle up the Estate. In the same year T. H. Usborne himself issued a
Bill of Complaint against his son T.S Usborne asking to be allowed to
appoint a trustee himself since It had been found impracticable to find
a person to be a trustee who would be acceptable both to him and some of
the persons interested in the Estate.
Just how T.S. Usborne comes into this I cannot understand, as,
apparently his interest (unless as heir to his father) had been settled.
However, he may have been awkward in some way. He and his father were
not on very good terms at that time.
The Estate was finally placed in
Chancery and wound up under its supervision. (Thomas Usborne’s Estate
was estimated to be worth about £60,000. Gilwell was valued at £7,000).
Benson Marriage Settlement.
Originally T. S. Benson settled £250 a year on his daughter on her
marriage. In 1840 he appears to have been in low water and unable to pay
the full amount.Accordingly,
a policy for£5,000 with the “Economic” was taken out and
assigned to two trustees, Starling Benson and Henry Breedon, in full
settlement of T.S. Benson’s liability, except for a sum of £62.1Os.
which was to be annually paid by him to T. H. Usborne. T.S. Benson’s
three children, Starling, Sarah Jane and Florence John Benson, agreed to
pay three-fourths of the premium and Thomas Usborne (of Gilwell) one
fourth. (There is a copy or the agreement dated 15.12.1840 in the
Usborne tin box).
Mardley Bury Farm, Royston.
In the Usborne-Benson marriage settlement old Thomas Usborne also
settled a sum of money on his son and his grandchildren. This money came
to T.H.U. on his father’s death and was invested in the Mardley Bury
Farm, presumably on behalf of himself and his three children, in 1853.
In the same yearSaynden Farm, Staplehurst, was bought for Tom.
Torn seems to have been responsible for administering Mardley Bury, but
not to have taken much interest. In 1867there is a letter to the
Agent from T.H.U. (copy) inwhich he says that the “Captain”,
who is seldom in town, does not seem capable of looking after his own
interests or those of any one else! I do not think Tom had any right at
all to the title of Captain.