3450. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 March 1820

3450. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 March 1820⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I have a long letter from the Paper-hanger, my poor namesake, [1]  “humbly begging my mediation with Mr Fisher to pay him his just demands, or necessity will oblige him to sue for it in the Court of Requests, [2]  as he has been advised to do.” There are rogues enough in the world, & this poor man may very possible be one, as you seem to think, but certainly he does not write like one. He has filled two huge pages with his family history, – which is rather interesting to me at this time, when I have been procuring the registers of my own, as far as they can be traced, – unfortunately they do not extend so far back by one generation as I want require. [3]  – He thinks it his duty he says humbly to beg my interposal, & goes on with a dismal story of distresses which it is quite out of my power to relieve or to mitigate. The Southeys it seems were a very numerous race in the days of K William, [4]  – they have not thriven in the world.

Good old Mrs Wilson has been speechless & senseless since Thursday morning – she has sunk under the burden of 78 years, xxxx fairly worn out; – it is therefore surprizing that after the stroke she should so long continue to exist. – It is an aweful thing to have Death in ones house. Sixteen years had made her one of the family, – she had taken a full share in all its joys & its sorrows, & tho we have looked on to this it is xxxxxx matter of impossible not to feel much now that the hour is come. She has led an innocent, happy, humble life: always ready in kind offices, – never was there a more generous spirit, nor a more tender heart. She was never out of sight of these mountains, – scarcely ever out of this immediate circle. – I shall endeavour to say something about this in a different manner when the subject is less painful.

The child thank God, is well & promises well.

God bless you


Thank you for the pocket-books, they arrived this evening, to the great delight of the girls. I got also by the same parcel Duppas portrait, – what an excellent likeness! [5] 

Keswick. 4 March. 1820


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 7 MR 7/ 1820
Endorsement: 4th March 1820; 4 March 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John William Southey (dates unknown), a paper hanger and stationer, whose shop in 1794–1798 was at 35 Bedford Street, Covent Garden. He had gone bankrupt in 1809. It is possible that he was from Somerset and a very distant relative of Southey’s. Southey had sent him some money in 1817. BACK

[2] Courts of Request were small claims courts, modelled on the City of London’s Court of Requests, founded in 1518. The identity of Mr Fisher is unknown. BACK

[3] Southey was dealing with the consequences of John Cannon Southey’s (d. 1768) fantastically complex will, which gave Southey some hope of inheriting property at Fitzhead after the death of his third cousin, and John Cannon Southey’s heir, John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB). To try and prove that he was John Cannon Southey’s heir at law, Southey had instituted a search of the parish registers at Wellington in Somerset, the home of his ancestors; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 February 1820, Letter 3447. BACK

[4] William III (1650–1702; King of Great Britain 1689–1702; DNB). BACK

[5] Possibly an engraving by Charles Turner (1773–1857), produced in 1819, of a portrait of Duppa by Henry Edridge (1769–1821; DNB). The portrait is now in the Royal Collection. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)