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The World of Disney

From Antiquarianism to Archaeology

David W. J. Gill
The World of Disney
From Antiquarianism to

David W. J. Gill

Archaeopress Archaeological Lives

Archaeopress Publishing Ltd
Summertown Pavilion
18-24 Middle Way
Oxford OX2 7LG

ISBN 978-1-78969-827-5
ISBN 978-1-78969-828-2 (e-Pdf)

© David Gill and Archaeopress 2020

Cover image: Portrait of Dr John Disney presented to the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or transmitted, in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without
the prior written permission of the copyright owners.

This book is available direct from Archaeopress or from our website

List of Figures������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ iii
Chapter 1��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1
The Disney Family�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������1
John Disney (1677-1730)������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 3
John Disney (1700-1771)������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 5
Mary Disney��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5
Lewis Disney�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6
Frederick Disney������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 6
John Disney���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7
Conclusion������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 7
Chapter 2��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8
The Break with the Church of England����������������������������������������������������������������8
The Blackburne Family�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8
The Reverend John Disney������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 11
Essex Street Chapel������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13
Disney’s decision to leave the Church of England��������������������������������������������������� 14
Disney at Essex Hall������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 18
The final years at Essex Street Chapel����������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
Chapter 3������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand��������������������� 25
Thomas Brand��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25
Thomas Hollis���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 26
The Tours to Italy���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 28
Brand and Hollis in London����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 31
The Hyde Remodelled�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 32
The Hollis Bequest�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 39
Essex Hall Chapel���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 42
Chapter 4������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex���������������������������������������������������������������� 47
Danbury Place���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47
Disney-Ffytche and Danbury Place���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 49
France and Italy������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 51
Italy and William Hillary��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 53
Return to England��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 55
John Disney: Cambridge, Law and Marriage ������������������������������������������������������������ 57
Chapter 5������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 59
Life at The Hyde and its Collection�������������������������������������������������������������������� 59
John Disney, Recorder of Bridport����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 60
The Death of the Reverend John Disney������������������������������������������������������������������� 61
Prospective MP for Harwich and Magistrate������������������������������������������������������������ 63
The Hillary Family: Divorce, Deaths and Legal Disputes���������������������������������������� 67
The Eastern Counties Railway������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 70
Essex Agricultural Society������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 71
The Disney Family��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 73
Developing the Hyde’s collection������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 74
Family matters�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 77
Chapter 6������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 78
Disney and Learned Societies����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 78
The Chelmsford Philosophical Society���������������������������������������������������������������������� 80
Chapter 7������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 88
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge���������������������������������������������������������� 88
The Establishment of the Disney Chair��������������������������������������������������������������������� 93
Essex Archaeological Society�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 97
Chapter 8����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 103
Going for Gold��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 103
Railway and Other Interests��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������107
Recognition �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������107
Final Years��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������110
Chapter 9����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 112
The Disney Legacy��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 112
Suffolk and the Disney chair�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������115
Archaeological developments�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������118
Abbreviations���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 125
Bibliography������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 126
Index������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 139

List of Figures
Figure 1. St Peter’s Norton Disney © David Gill�������������������������������������������������������������������������������2
Figure 2. Sir Richard Disney’s memorial at Norton Disney. © David Gill�������������������������������������3
Figure 3. John Disney (1677–1730), by Robert White. National Portrait Gallery D10737.����������4
Figure 4. The Reverend Theophilus Lindsey, engraving by Giovanni Vendramini. National
Portrait Gallery D14260.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������9
Figure 5. The Reverend John Disney, engraved by John Basire after Guy Head. National
Portrait Gallery D8486.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12
Figure 6. Thomas Brand-Hollis. Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis.������������������������������������������ 26
Figure 7. Thomas Hollis, by Joseph Wilton. National Portrait Gallery 6946.���������������������������� 27
Figure 8. Athena from the William Lloyd collection. Museum Disneianum.���������������������������� 33
Figure 9. Sarcophagus showing Achilles hiding among the daughters of Lycomedes.
Museum Disneianum.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 34
Figure 10. Sarcophagus with Dionysiac scene. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum.
© David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 34
Figure 11. Detail of sarcophagus with Dionysiac scene. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum.
© David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 34
Figure 12. Sarcophagus and cinerarium displayed at The Hyde. Catalogue of The Hyde.����� 35
Figure 13. Cinerarium of Marcus Ulpius Fortunatus from the William Lloyd collection.
Museum Disneianum.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 36
Figure 14. ‘Atys’, Museum Disneianum.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 36
Figure 15. Cinerarium of Marcus Aurelius, reported to have been found near the tomb of
Caecilia Metella. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.��������������������������� 37
Figure 16. Portrait of Marcus Aurelius once in the Palazzo Barberini. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam
Museum. © David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 37
Figure 17. Funerary inscription of Caius Menanius Batyllus and Anthimus.
Museum Disneianum.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 38
Figure 18. Cinerarium of Titus Flavius Verus, from Pozzuoli. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam
Museum. © David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 39
Figure 19. Medallion of Nero acquired in Venice c. 1752. Museum Disneianum.�������������������� 39
Figure 20. Head of ‘Augustus’ carved on a medieval arch, acquired in Naples c. 1755. Museum
Disneianum.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Figure 21. Thomas Hollis, by Giovanni Battista Cipriani. National Portrait Gallery D46107. 42
Figure 22. ‘Jupiter Column’ found at Great Chesterford in 1803, and presented to the British
Museum by Thomas Brand-Hollis. © David Gill.������������������������������������������������������� 44
Figure 23. Apollo. Museum Disneianum.���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 45
Figure 24. Memorial for Thomas Brand-Hollis, Ingatestone Parish Church.���������������������������� 46
Figure 25. Danbury Place, Essex.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 48
Figure 26. The Hyde, near Ingatestone, Essex.������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 60
Figure 27. Memorial for the Reverend John Disney, and his grandson John, on the Disney
family tomb. © David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 63
Figure 28. Memorial for Dame Frances Hillary at Danbury. © David Gill.��������������������������������� 69
Figure 29. Inscription from Colchester. Museum Disneianum.�������������������������������������������������� 73
Figure 30. Funerary sphinx from Colchester. Colchester Castle Museum © David Gill���������� 75
Figure 31. Attic black-figured lekythos. Museum Disneianum.�������������������������������������������������� 89
Figure 32. ‘Hermarchus’. Museum Disneianum.���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 90
Figure 33. Portrait probably of Faustina the Younger. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum.
© David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 91
Figure 34. Etruscan funerary cinerarium lid. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.
������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 91
Figure 35. Janiform sculpture, displayed as the gift of Disney. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam
Museum. © David Gill.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 93

Figure 36. Attic red-figured column-krater acquired in Naples in 1799 or 1801. Museum
Disneianum.��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 93
Figure 37. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © David Gill���������������������������������������������������� 95
Figure 38. Portrait of Dr John Disney presented to the University of Cambridge. Cambridge,
Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 109
Figure 39. The Disney tomb in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Fryerning, Essex.
© David Gill.������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 110
Figure 40. Inscription for Sophia Disney on the Disney tomb. © David Gill.�������������������������� 111
Figure 41. Inscription for Dr John Disney on the Disney tomb. © David Gill.������������������������ 111
Figure 42. Edgar Disney, by Camille Silvy, 1860. National Portrait Gallery Ax50666.������������ 113
Figure 43. Detail of Paestan bell-krater (now in Cambridge). Museum Disneianum.����������� 114
Figure 44. Detail of Attic red-figured amphora (now in Copenhagen). Museum Disneianum.
����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 114


The heart of this study was presented as an inaugural lecture at University Campus
Suffolk, now the University of Suffolk, in Ipswich on 14 May 2013. I would like to
thank the then Provost, Professor Mike Saks, for his encouragement to develop this
theme. My intention was to explore one of the great archaeological figures who
contributed so much to the development of the discipline in the eastern counties
(and indeed beyond).
My active interest in Disney started towards the beginning of my career as a
member of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum. I would like
to thank my then colleagues, in particular Bob Bourne, Janine Bourriau, Professor
Kevin Butcher, Julie Dawson, and the late Paul Woudhuysen.
Various colleagues have encouraged me in my study of the history of archaeology,
in particular Christopher A. Stray and Michael Vickers. I have valued the input from
Christopher Chippindale, my former Cambridge colleague and research collaborator.
Paul G. Bahn has been a constant research companion, alongside a small group of
colleagues, for over 30 years. The editorial team at the Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography, and in particular Mark Curthoys, has helped me to understand the
nature and complexity of biography. Professor G.M. Ditchfield has assisted me to
understand the Unitarian world in late eighteenth century England and has been
generous with his research.
I am grateful to the hospitality and support of colleagues in a number of
archives and organisations: Howard Hague, The General Assembly of Unitarian
and Free Christian Churches; Adrian James, the Society of Antiquaries; Dr Roger
Lovatt of Peterhouse, Cambridge; Michael Palmer, Archivist & Deputy Librarian,
Zoological Society of London; Edinburgh University Library; David Littlewood of
Nottinghamshire County Council; and the Essex Record Office.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife Caroline for her support and encouragement
in this piece of research.


The name of Dr John Disney is celebrated in the title of the University of Cambridge
Chair of Archaeology. Disney’s benefaction in the mid-19th century prepared the
way for the scientific study of the past. In spite of Disney’s antiquarian interests,
there is no obvious reason why archaeology should have inspired his interest.
My first formal professional encounter with Disney, or at least his collection of
classical sculptures, was as a curatorial member of the Department of Antiquities
at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Some of this material formed part of a
temporary exhibition at the museum exploring the impact of the Grand Tour on
the formation of parts of the classical collections.1 I was subsequently invited to
write a new memoir for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) as part of a
series of archaeological lives that included Dr Winifred Lamb, Honorary Keeper of
the Department of Greek Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam during the inter-war period.2
The important question is why did Disney choose archaeology as the focus for his
gift? The bequest of the sculptures, along with The Hyde near Ingatestone in Essex,
by Thomas Brand-Hollis to Disney’s father, the Reverend John Disney, establishes
the antiquarian past.3 The collection had been formed by Thomas Hollis and Thomas
Brand (later Brand-Hollis) during their Grand Tours of Italy in the mid eighteenth
century. Disney’s uncle (and father-in-law), Lewis Disney-Ffytche, had collected
material in Italy in the 1790s when he was forced to flee from France; some of the
objects were displayed at Danbury Place in Essex. Disney himself was involved
with the creation of the new museum in Chelmsford, the county town of Essex,
as an initiative of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society. He subsequently helped
to establish the Colchester Archaeological Society that evolved into the Essex
Archaeological Society. Disney, like his father, was elected a Fellow of the Society of
Antiquaries; he also was a member of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain
and Ireland.
An equally practical question was how did Disney come to be in a position to
grant this benefaction? The Disney wealth came from different sources. First, the
Reverend Disney received a significant benefaction from Thomas Brand-Hollis who
had supported Disney’s ministry in London when he left the Church of England;
Brand-Hollis had received much of his wealth from his friend Thomas Hollis. The
Brand-Hollis bequest included The Hyde, and its contents, as well as extensive
estates in Dorset. Second, Disney’s marriage to his first cousin Sophia meant that he
inherited part of the estate of his uncle Lewis Disney-Ffytche; this in part had been
derived from the Ffytche family involvement in the East India Company. Third, the
Disneys had profited from their investments in first canals and then the railways; in

Gill 1990c; see also Gill 1990b.
Gill 2004c.
For the place of antiquarianism: Momigliano 1950; see also Miller 2007.

later life Disney was a recipient of the proceeds from the California gold rush. The
model for generous benefactions to universities can be traced back to Thomas Hollis
who was a liberal donor to universities in New England.
This biography ranges far from archaeological and antiquarian interests, though
it touches on the collecting of the classical past in the Grand Tour, the display of
antiquity in eighteenth and nineteenth century country houses, and the creation of
public museums. The story emerges in the enlightenment values of republicanism,
as well as the theological challenges within the Church of England during the late
eighteenth century. Disney’s own intellectual interests and commitments were
broad and included the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Society, the Royal
Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries, as well as the Royal Horticultural
A linear chronological narrative of a biography is difficult to apply to the life
of Disney. The biography starts with the Norman conquest origins of the Disney
family in Lincolnshire (at the village of Norton Disney) and Nottinghamshire, and
explains the family’s associations with specific houses and locations, specifically
Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire, and Danbury Place and The Hyde in Essex. The
account then follows the Reverend John Disney from Cambridge and ordination
in the Church of England, to the resignation of his livings in Lincolnshire and his
appointment as a Unitarian minister in London. It is in London that he encountered
Thomas Brand-Hollis who is a significant benefactor of the Unitarian Essex Street
chapel. The biography then switches back in time to the lives of Thomas Hollis
and Thomas Brand-Hollis, considering their eighteenth-century travels in Italy
and the formation of the collection that was displayed at The Hyde. It explores
their associations with Archdeacon Francis Blackburne, the father-in-law of the
Reverend Disney. The following chapter considers the Disney links with Essex: not
only the gift of The Hyde to the Reverend Disney, but also his brother Lewis, who
on marriage took the family name of Disney-Ffytche. Lewis had been a supporter
of republicanism and purchased property in France (that was seized during the
French Revolution). He and his two daughters were forced to flee to Italy. Lewis’
daughter Sophia married her first cousin, the Reverend Disney’s son, John, and
they settled in Dorset where Disney was the Recorder of Bridport. Sophia’s sister,
Frances, married Sir William Hillary who later formed the Royal National Lifeboat
Institution (RNLI). The main Disney home became The Hyde where the Hollis and
Brand-Hollis collection of sculptures and other art works were displayed. After the
death of the Reverend Disney, John Disney inherited the Hyde and became involved
in a number of learned societies notably the Chelmsford Philosophical Society
that led to the creation of the Chelmsford Museum. Disney prepared a substantial
catalogue of the classical collection that was published as the Museum Disneianum.4
The sculptures then formed part of a gift, the Disney Marbles, to the University
of Cambridge, alongside the benefaction of a Chair of Archaeology. Subsequent to
this gift Disney helped to establish the Essex Archaeological Society, one of a series
Disney 1846; Disney 1849a; Disney 1849b.

of regional and county-based archaeological societies that were emerging in the
middle of the nineteenth century.
This study contributes to a study of the history of archaeology, especially the
transition between antiquarianism and archaeology as a scientific discipline. This
was a time when there was growing scientific interest in the remains of Britain’s
prehistory.5 This is an area of research that is growing in interest.6 Yet Disney’s
perception of archaeology is far removed the range of the discipline in the 21st
century. The impact of Disney’s benefaction continues to bear fruit more than a
century and a half later with Cambridge as one of the leading centres for archaeology
both in the UK and internationally.

Marsden 1974, 48–50.
E.g. Daniel 1967; Trigger 1989; Bahn 1996; Bahn 2014; Cline 2017; Fagan 2018.

Chapter 1

The Disney Family

John Disney, the future benefactor of archaeology in Cambridge, was born at his
uncle’s house, Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire, on 29 May 1779. He was a member
of a Lincolnshire family that could trace its roots back to the Norman invasion. After
the conquest, the Normans occupied the former Roman city of Lincoln and in 1068
constructed a motte and bailey castle within the line of the Roman walls. Work
on the cathedral started in 1072, and its consecration followed in 1092. A Disney
ancestor arrived in Lincolnshire from Isigny-sur-Mer near Bayeux in Normandy.
One of the earliest ancestors was Lambert De Isney of Norton D’Isney. The family
received lands to the south-west of Lincoln, on the road to Newark in neighbouring
Earlier forms of the name appear as De Isney and D’Eisney, although the family
name was formalised as Disney by the early 16th century.1 The family played a
prominent role in the county. The history of the family is recorded in some of the
memorials in the parish church of Norton Disney.2 Sir William D’Isney was high
sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1340, alongside Gilbert De Leddred. A relation, Alexander,
was abbot of Elesham Priory in Lincolnshire (1347–52). Sir William’s grandson, John
D’Isney, was killed at the battle of Towton, Yorkshire in 29 March 1461 during the Wars
of the Roses. His great-grandson, William D’Isney was high sheriff of Lincolnshire in
1532 under Henry VIII. William Disney served as treasurer to the 1st Earl of Rutland,
and after his death, to his son, the 2nd Earl. With his son Richard, William seems to
have played a part in suppressing the 1536 rebellion in Lincolnshire in protest to the
dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.3
In 1544, following the dissolution of the monasteries, Richard Disney (born by
1505-1578) purchased a series of former monastic lands including the manor of
Swinderby, a parish to the north of Norton Disney that retained close links with
the Disney family into the late 18th century. His first wife, Neile Hussey, was the
daughter of William Hussey (d. 1556), sheriff of Lincolnshire (1530–1), and Member
of Parliament for Grantham. From April 1554 Richard served as MP for Grantham,
alongside Thomas Hussey.4 Richard was subsequently sheriff of Lincolnshire (1556–7,
1566–7). Richard secondly married Jane Askew, daughter of Sir William Askew, high
sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1521, and widow of George St Poll, a lawyer for the Duke of

The pedigree of the Disney family can be found in Burke’s Landed Gentry (1858 ed.). For the links with Walt
Disney and his visit to Norton Disney: ‘Disney—D’Issigney’, Daily Telegraph 12 July 1949, 4.
Roberts 1893.
Roberts 1893, 48. See also Allen 1834, 116.
Hofmann 1982.

2 The World of Disney

Figure 1. St Peter’s Norton Disney © David Gill

Suffolk. Jane’s sister, Anne, was martyred for her protestant faith during the reign
of Henry VIII in 1546.5 Richard’s cousin, Thomas, served as MP for Boroughbridge in
Yorkshire in 1563, and appears to have been nominated by the 2nd Earl of Rutland
(whose treasurer was Thomas’ uncle, William Disney).6
Richard’s son, Daniel (d. 1587), was appointed sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1582. His
son, Sir Henry D’Isney (1569–1641), was knighted by King James I in July 1603, two
days before the coronation. Edward Disney served on the Royalist side during the
English Civil War and was imprisoned in Warwick Castle probably after the battle
of Edgehill in 1642. Molyneux Disney (1614–1694), the son of Lieutenant-Colonel
William Disney, had raised troops for Parliament in 1642–43, but by 1649 had started
to be a royal correspondent.7 Molyneux subsequently commanded royalist forces
opposed to the Duke of Monmouth’s landing in 1685 in his unsuccessful bid to oust
James II from power. Ironically, his son William was arrested in London in June 1685
in possession of Monmouth’s Declaration, and was hung, drawn and quartered.8
The main line of the family passed through the eldest son of Sir Henry’s second
marriage to Eleanor Grey. His eldest son was John (1603–90/1).

Watt 2004.
‘Disney, Thomas (c. 1510–68)’, History of Parliament.
Zook 2004. See also Holmes 1973, 465.
Zook 2004.
The Disney Family 3

Figure 2. Sir Richard Disney’s memorial at Norton Disney. © David Gill

John Disney (1677-1730)

The Disney family was firmly established through prominent public roles in
Lincolnshire and the neighbouring Nottinghamshire by the end of the 17th century.
John Disney was born in Lincoln on 26 December 1677, the son of Daniel Disney
(1656-1734) and his wife Catherine Fynes-Clinton.9 His sister, Katherine, was a
Presbyterian and her funeral sermon, The faithful souldier’s reward … occasioned by
the death of Katherine Disney (1692), was preached by the Presbyterian minister the
Reverend William Scoffin, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire.10 Through the Clintons, the
Disneys acquired the estate of Kirkstead that remained in the family until it was
sold nearly a century later by Lewis Disney-Ffytche.11 Daniel Disney appointed a
Presbyterian minister, John Taylor of Lancaster, to the chapel at Kirkstead ‘to
maintain the truths of the Gospel, especially such as are beyond controversy
determined in the Holy Scriptures’.12
John Disney was educated at a dissenting academy in Lincoln, and in 1698 he
married Mary Woolhouse (1677-1763), the daughter of William Woolhouse M.D. of
Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire, to the south-west of Newark.13 There were six
sons and four daughters, including John (b. 1700), Henry (b. 1701), William, Daniel,
Overton and Spurr 2004.
For Scoffin: Leachman 2004.
Allen 1834, 79.
Allen 1834, 79. For Taylor: Sell 2004.
William Woolhouse, of North Muskham in Nottinghamshire, had married Mary Hacker of Flintham Hall.
4 The World of Disney

Figure 3. John Disney (1677–1730), by Robert White.

National Portrait Gallery D10737.

Samuel (1705–41), and Gervase (b. 1709). Samuel was baptised at St Mary in the
Close, suggesting the family lived in Lincoln. John later left money to the Society for
the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) to distribute Bibles and other books
to the poor of the parish of St Mary-in-the-Close at Lincoln, along with the parishes
of Swinderby and Norton Disney that had family links.14
In 1702 John Disney entered the Middle Temple: he subsequently served as
a local magistrate in Lincolnshire. In 1719 he was ordained into the Church of
England originally as the incumbent of Croft and Kirkby-on-Bain, to the south-east
of Lincoln. He was admitted to Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1720, and in 1722
resigned from his Lincolnshire parishes and was appointed to the living of St Mary’s,
Nottingham. All four sons were educated at Cambridge: John, Henry and Gervase at
Magdalene (though Henry was admitted to Queens’ initially), and Samuel at Corpus
Christi. On John’s death in February 1730, his widow Mary returned to her family
home of Flintham Hall where she died in 1763.

Samuel’s son, the Reverend Samuel Disney (d. 1786), was vicar of Halstead in Essex. Daniel Disney
bequeathed money to teach children in the parish of Swinderby: Allen 1834, 267.
The Disney Family 5

John Disney (1700-1771)

The Reverend Disney’s son John was born at Lincoln on 3 April 1700, the eldest of
six sons. He was educated in Lincoln, and then, preceding his father by four years,
at Magdalene College, Cambridge (matriculating in 1 December 1716), and then
(following his father) to the Middle Temple (7 April 1719).
His father, the Reverend Disney, died in February 1730, and on 29 December
1730 John married Frances Cartwright (1709-91), daughter of George Cartwright
of Ossington, Nottinghamshire.15 John served as sheriff of Nottingham in 1733; he
served as a JP in both Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. He lived at Swinderby and
in Lincoln. It appears that John and Frances initially lived in The Close at Lincoln
and were members of St Margaret’s in the Close that lay to the south-east of the
cathedral on Pottergate. In 1735 John seems to have acquired land in Eastgate from
Thomas Howson and built a property there. The house was constructed opposite St
Peter’s in 1736. The architect was Abraham Hayward. John also had two seats in the
church of St Peter’s Eastgate.16
John and Frances had six children, a daughter, Mary (1732–1818), and five sons,
though two boys, John (1734–37) and Frederic (1735–36), died in infancy and were
buried in the graveyard of St Margaret’s Lincoln. The three youngest (and surviving)
sons, Lewis (1739–1822), Frederick (1741–1788) and John (1746–1816), were all born
on Eastgate and were baptised at St Peter’s Eastgate.
The four surviving children were as follows:

Mary Disney

Mary, John and Frances’ eldest child, was born in 1732. At the age of 21, in 1753, she
married Edmund Turnor (1719/20-1805). The main Turnor residence was at Stoke
Rochford, Lincolnshire, to the south of Grantham. In 1775 Turnor purchased Panton
Hall, that had been completed in 1727. He made substantial changes to the property.
Their son, Edmund Turnor (1754-1829), was baptised in Lincoln in 1754, and
educated at Stamford School and then Trinity College, Cambridge.17 After finishing
his studies in Cambridge in 1777, he went on the Grand Tour, visiting France,
Switzerland and Italy. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1786, and of the
Society of Antiquaries in 1788. He married Elizabeth Broke of Nacton Hall, Suffolk,
on 7 May 1795: she died on 21 January 1801. Turnor subsequently was elected MP for
Midhurst in Sussex (1802-06).

The Cartwrights were great political reformers.
Lincolnshire Archives LPC/1/12.
Martin 2004.
6 The World of Disney

Lewis Disney

Lewis, the eldest surviving son of John and Frances, was born in 1739 and was
educated under Mr Clarke in Wakefield; he was admitted as pensioner to Trinity
College, Cambridge 1757. He inherited Flintham Hall from his father, John Disney,
in 1771, and he spent some time there. On his marriage to Elizabeth Ffytche in
September 1775, he moved to Danbury Place in Essex. In 1779 Lewis was nominated
as Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.18

Frederick Disney

Frederick was born in 1741 and was the first of the Disney children to be baptised at
St Peter’s Eastgate in Lincoln in 10 August 1741. He was commissioned lieutenant in
the Royal Fusiliers on 19 June 1758. At the age of 24 he was commissioned captain in
the 21st (Royal North British) Fusiliers Regiment of Foot on 19 February 1766.19 The
regiment had moved to Florida in May 1765, and transferred to Quebec in Canada in
1770, returning to England in 1772.20
The outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775 led to the siege
of Quebec. The regiment formed part of the reinforcements sent to Canada in the
spring of 1776. After the siege was lifted the regiment was quartered at St John’s.
In the spring of 1777, it joined the army of General Burgogyne, moving down Lake
Champlain, and seeing action at the capture of Skenesborough at the head of Lake
Champlain.21 In September the regiment crossed the Hudson and saw action at Still-
The regiment was removed from Burgoyne’s main force and was stationed
around New York, taking part in efforts to relieve pressure on Burgoyne’s main
force. The battle of Saratoga took place in October 1777, and Burgoyne surrendered
his forces to the American colonists on 17 October 1777.
The Royal Fusiliers wintered near Philadelphia. In June 1778 the regiment
took part in the retreat to New York. After operations near New Haven in 1779,
the regiment went to the Carolinas in 1780 taking part in the operations against
Fort Moultie. Frederick was promoted to Battalion Major on 14 November 1780. The
regiment, down to 167 men, took part in the battle of Cowpens on 17 January 1781
under Colonel Tarleton, suffering large numbers of losses: the regimental colours
were lost. Later that year the remaining officers and men were returned to Scotland.
Frederick retired from the army in 1783, and on returning to Lincoln Frederick
served as a magistrate in the city. He died on 13 June 1788 in Lincoln.22

General Evening Post 11–13 November 1779; London Evening Post 11-13 November 1779.
Historical records of the 7th or Royal Regiment of Fusiliers now known as the Royal Fusiliers (the City of London
Regiment) 1685-1903 (Guernsey: F.B. Guerin, 1903), 324.
Cannon 1849, 25–26.
His service under Burgoyne is noted in Thomas 2002, 7.
World 20 June 1788. He was buried on 18 June 1788 at Swinderby.
The Disney Family 7

John Disney

John was born on 29 September 1746, the youngest son of John and Frances.23 Like
his two older brothers, Lewis and Frederick he was baptised at St Peter’s Eastgate in
Lincoln. He was educated at Wakefield Grammar School where the Reverend John
Clarke was the headmaster.24 John then moved to Lincoln Grammar School. At the
age of 16 he had been due to enter the Middle Temple (following in the steps of his
father and grandfather) but was unable to do so due to ill health. He was admitted to
Peterhouse in Cambridge with a Slade scholarship in 1764, and in 1770 was awarded
the LLB.25 He was remembered during his time in Cambridge for ‘the amenity of his
manners, the correctness of his conduct, and a taste and turn for sober enquiry and
In April 1768 he published Animadversions upon the conduct of the Rev. Dr. Rutherforth,
in the controversy which has followed the publication of The confessional (1768). This was
an attack on Thomas Rutherforth, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge,
and a defence of Francis Blackburne’s Confessional.27 Disney was ordained in the
Church of England in 1768 and was honorary chaplain to Edmund Law who had been
consecrated Bishop of Carlisle in the same year. Law was also Master of Peterhouse,
and Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge. In 1769 Disney was
appointed to the livings of Swinderby and Panton in Lincolnshire. Panton Hall was
purchased by his brother-in-law, Edmund (married to his sister Mary) in 1775. In
1771 John’s father died, leaving him a bequest of £2000.


By the second half of the 18th century the Disney family was poised to make an
impact well beyond Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. The eldest son, Lewis,
inherited Flintham Hall; the second son, Frederick, was serving as an army officer
in the Americas; and the third son, John, was ordained into the Church of England.
Their sister, Mary, had married into the Turnor family. Lewis and John were to be
key individuals for the events ahead.

Turner 1843, 178. A different date (17 September 1746) is given in Anon. 1818, 49.
Cooper and Skedd 2004. Clarke was headmaster from 1751 until his resignation due to illness in February
It was suggested that Disney went to Cambridge as his father was a whig: Anon. 1818, 50. For details of
Disney at Peterhouse: Walker 1912, 326,
Anon. 1818, 50.
Gascoigne 2004b.
Chapter 2

The Break with the Church of England

During the 18th century some clergy in the Church of England began to question
their underlying theological beliefs. In the case of the Disney family, specifically
in the case of John Disney, the youngest son of John—who served as sheriff of
Nottingham—and his wife Frances Cartwright, this ecclesiastical position brought
about a break with the Church of England that led directly to new connections
through the Unitarian community in London that provided the foundations of the
new Disney family fortune as well as links with Essex.

The Blackburne Family

One of the key members of the clergy to question the tenets of the Church of
England in the eighteenth century was Francis Blackburne (1705-87), Archdeacon of
Cleveland and rector of Richmond, a small market town on the edge of the Yorkshire
Dales.1 Blackburne had been exposed to radical theological ideas in Cambridge,
where he studied at St Catharine’s College from 1723.2 One of Blackburne’s close
Cambridge friends was Edmund Law (1703–87) who in 1743 became the Archdeacon
of Carlisle, and in 1756 the Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge.3
Blackburne was ordained deacon in March 1728 by the Bishop of Ely, and priest
in 1739 by the Bishop of Norwich. He had hoped to be elected to a college fellowship
but Blackburne’s liberal position alienated him from those in authority.4 He spent
some time at East Comber in Yorkshire, to the east of Hull, where

he was afflicted with a nervous disorder and a dejection of spirits, which

disabled him from pursuing his studies, and obliged him to seek relief in
strong exercise, particularly fox-hunting and other field sports, which
restored him to a tolerable state of health, and power of application to books.5

On the death of Blackburne’s uncle, the Reverend Thomas Brooke, rector of

Richmond, in 1739, the living became vacant. With the support of Richmond’s MP,
In 2007 a plaque was unveiled in Richmond to mark Blackburne’s contribution: ‘Plaque salutes 18th
century churchman’, The Northern Echo 31 January 2007, 14. An account of his life along with some of his
papers appears in the volume edited by his son, Francis: Blackburne 1804. His maternal grandfather was
Thomas Comber (1645–1699), dean of Durham Cathedral.
Young 2004a. Francis’ brother Thomas was a pensioner at Christ’s College, but died of smallpox.
Young 2004b.
Blackburne 1804, iv.
Blackburne 1804, v.

The Break with the Church of England 9

Figure 4. The Reverend Theophilus Lindsey,

engraving by Giovanni Vendramini. National
Portrait Gallery D14260.

John Yorke, Blackburne was inducted in May 1839; Richmond was also Blackburne’s
birthplace.6 In August 1744 Blackburne married Hannah, widow of Joshua Elsworth,
resident of Thorp under Stone, a village to the west of Richmond. Hannah had three
children by her first marriage. A further daughter, Jane, was born in January 1746.7
By the late 1740s Blackburne was openly critical of the Church of England and felt
unable to adhere to the historic Thirty-Nine Articles, the clearly articulated set
of formularies that lie at the heart of the Church of England.8 In July 1750 he was
appointed Archdeacon of Cleveland.9
On 29 September 1760 Blackburne’s step-daughter, Hannah Elsworth (1740-
1812), married a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Theophilus Lindsey
(1723-1808).10 The service, conducted in Richmond, was taken by Blackburne.
Lindsey took his first name, Theophilus, from his godfather, the son of Frances,
Countess of Huntingdon (founder of the eponymous Connexion with its evangelical
emphasis). Lindsey, who had studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, had held a
living at Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk in Yorkshire, but in 1754 he had resigned to move

Blackburne’s family came from Marricke Abbey, close to Richmond.
Her baptism in Richmond was 31 January 1745/6.
Fitzpatrick 1993.
Blackburne 1804, xv.
Hannah’s mother, Hannah (née Hotham), was the widow of Joshua Elsworth. For Hannah’s wedding:
Ditchfield 2007, xxxv.
10 The World of Disney

to Piddletown in Dorset, near the estate of Thomas Hollis (1720-74) of Corscombe.11

Hollis was himself known as a bibliophile and the promoter of liberty. It appears that
Lindsey and Hollis had become acquainted in Italy during the early 1750s.12 In the
autumn of 1763 Lindsey returned to Yorkshire to become vicar of Catterick, just over
5 miles from Richmond.13 He was instituted by Blackburne on 18 November 1763 and
gave his formal assent to the Thirty-Nine Articles.14
Hollis clearly developed a close friendship with Blackburne as well as Lindsey. In
March 1765 Lindsey wrote to William Harris about ‘Our common great friend in Pall-
Mall’ (i.e. Hollis) and his generosity to Lindsey and his step-father-in-law:15

I cannot mention this latter friend, without telling you of an instance of his
wonted generosity and public spirit, in presenting Mr. Archd. B. and your
humble servant lately each of us with copies of Wallis’s Grammar, and the
noble Letters on Toleration.

The two books were clearly new editions of John Wallis, Grammatica linguae anglicanae
(1653; repr. 1764, dated 1765), and John Locke, Letters concerning toleration (1689; repr.
1765). Lindsey’s close friendship for Hollis is reflected in another letter to Harris:16

a common friend … What a man is he; and what might not ten such men in
this nation effect! But no more: he loves not to be talked of: he loves and
endeavours to help each man to act his part, as he does his own.

Blackburne at this time was actively articulating his key doubts on the core
doctrines of the Church of England, and crystallised his views in Confessional, or, A
full and free inquiry into the right, utility, and success of establishing confessions of faith
and doctrine in protestant churches published in May 1766.17 The publication was
supported financially by Lindsey’s friend Thomas Hollis.18 It appears that Hollis had
come across the manuscript in 1763, and arranged for the London-based publisher
Andrew Millar, to visit Blackburne in Richmond.19 Hollis (under the pseudonym
Pierce Delver) wrote to Lindsey in October 1766:20

Piddletown is now spelt Puddletown. Ditchfield 2007, xxxi, suggesting 1754 rather than 1756. He was
presented with the vicarage in January 1755.
Robbins 1950, 443. Lindsey was on the Grand Tour from 1751–53 with Hugh Smithson. This predates the
suggestion that the friendship only started in Dorset: Ditchfield 2007, xli. See also Coutu 2015, 164.
Ditchfield 2007, xlii. The motivation seems to have been to be closer to Yorkshire and Blackburne’s
Ditchfield 2007, xlii–xliii.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 54 (5 March 1765, from Catterick). Hollis wrote under the pseudonym of Pierce
Delver: Belsham 1873, 105.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 59 (27 May 1766, from Catterick). See also Belsham 1873, 333 (letter of 18 October
See also Blackburne 1804, xviii.
Blackburne 1804, li.
Blackburne 1804, xxxii. Bond 1990, 85. For Millar: Amory 2004.
Belsham 1873, 333–34.
The Break with the Church of England 11

I fear he studies, labours too intensely, though to such noble purposes and
great effects; and the human machine though a very fine is yet a very delicate
one. Let us applaud his magnanimity, however, and wish him every good!

Hollis’ generosity to Blackburne was recognised in an extended acknowledgement,

where Hollis is described as the ‘Assertor of Liberty’.21 Hollis subsequently presented
a series of pamphlets linked to the Confessional to the British Museum.22
The friendship between Blackburne and Hollis was close. Blackburne was at this
same time a supporter of the emerging universities in North America.23

Mr. Blackburne repents now of the pains he took, and the success he had in
the collection for the colleges in America.

Such support is reflected by contemporary benefactions from Blackburne’s

associates such as Hollis. On Hollis’ death in January 1774 Blackburne was bequeathed
£500.24 Blackburne later prepared a two-volume memoir of Hollis, with the aid of his
executor Thomas Brand (Brand-Hollis), that was published in 1780.25

The Reverend John Disney

In 1764, John Disney, son of John Disney of Lincoln and Swinderby, was admitted at the
age of eighteen to Peterhouse, Cambridge where Edmund Law, Blackburne’s friend,
was the Master.26 Disney’s grandfather and father had both studied at Magdalene
College, and Peterhouse may have had a particular draw.27 In 1766 Blackburne
published his Confessional that created considerable controversy.28 At its heart lay a
discomfort with the necessity of ordained clergy in the Church of England to subscribe
to the Thirty-Nine Articles.29 In April 1768 Disney defended Blackburne’s position in
Animadversions upon the conduct of the Rev. Dr. Rutherforth, in the controversy which has
followed the publication of The Confessional (1768). This publication was an attack on
Thomas Rutherforth, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and served as a
defence of Blackburne’s Confessional. Shortly afterwards Disney was ordained by Law
who had just been consecrated as Bishop of Carlisle: Disney acted as Law’s honorary
Blackburne 1804, xci.
Bond 1990, 110.
Ditchfield 2007, no.51 (late 1763, Lindsey to William Harris).
Blackburne 1804, li.
Blackburne 1780; Blackburne 1804, lii-liii. Lindsey wrote to John Nichols, the eventual publisher of the
memoir, in 1779, noting that Blackburne was working on the text: Ditchfield 2007, no. 211 (before 6
October 1779). Blackburne had been planning to write a life of Martin Luther: Blackburne 1804, liii.
Young 2004b.
It has been observed that there is a close link between members of Peterhouse and Unitarianism:
Ditchfield 2007, lxiii.
Bond 1990, 86.
Discussed by Ditchfield 2005.
Thomas 2002, 3.
12 The World of Disney

Figure 5. The Reverend John Disney, engraved by

John Basire after Guy Head. National Portrait Gallery

In 1769 Disney became vicar of Swinderby in Lincolnshire, and also rector of

Panton, a living in the gift of his brother-in-law, Edmund Turnor, who was married
to his sister Mary. Swinderby was close to the family home of Norton Disney. Shortly
afterwards Disney was one of the Feathers Tavern Petitioners that met in 1771—
the year that Disney’s father had died—to call for clergy in the Church of England
to be released from the perceived constraints of the Thirty-Nine Articles.31 One of
the other key petitioners was Lindsey, now vicar of Catterick. This was the start of a
close friendship.32 Lindsey continued to have serious doubts about his place in the
Church of England not least after the petition was rejected in the House of Commons
in February 1772. In November 1773, after consulting Hollis, he resigned from the
living at Catterick.33
In 1773 Disney published a tract, Loose hints on Nonconformity, addressed to the Bishops
(1773). This was followed by The Rational Christian’s Assistant to the worthy receiving of
the Lord’s Supper (1774),34 and then A Short View of the Controversies occasioned by the

Ditchfield 2005. See Anon. 1818, 51. See also Belsham 1873, 81–82.
Disney may have been the recipient of a letter from Lindsey probably in March 1772: Ditchfield 2007, no.
83. The recipient was identified as ‘another friend, now living, who has since quitted the church upon
the same subject’.
Ditchfield 2007, xlix. See also Blackburne 1804, xlvii.
Turner 1843, 184–85.
The Break with the Church of England 13

Confessional and the Petition to Parliament (1775). It was in this unsettling period, in
November 1774, that Disney married Jane, Blackburne’s daughter and (half) sister-
in-law to Lindsey.

Essex Street Chapel

Lindsey resigned from his Yorkshire living in late November 1773. He was initially
considered as the minister of the Octagon at Liverpool,35 but in the following
year, Sunday 17 April 1774, he opened a small chapel in Essex House, Essex Street,
London, on the south side of the Strand, that used a revised form of liturgy based
on the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.36 Significantly it was Disney
who had helped Lindsey work on this new prayer book, the Book of Common Prayer
Reformed, at Swinderby in the winter of 1773-74.37
The chapel had a number of key supporters, among them Thomas Brand-Hollis.38
In late September 1774 Lindsey was invited to visit Brand-Hollis at his house in
Essex.39 By the spring of 1776 Brand-Hollis was one of the important benefactors of
the chapel along with Sir George Savile, of Rufford, Nottinghamshire, and MP for
Yorkshire, who had supported the petition in Parliament relating to those members
of the clergy, like Lindsey, who had wished to refrain from subscribing to the Thirty-
Nine Articles of the Church of England.40 Lindsey wrote to William Tayleur on 14
May 1776:41

Sr. G. Savile, who is a handsome annual subscriber, and comes to the chapel
sometimes, and Mr B. Hollis intimated that they shd. be ready to do more if
called for.

Savile was also a supporter of protestant dissenters as well as the Roman Catholic

Ditchfield 2007, no. 112 (Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield, 19 December 1773). The letter was
significantly sent from Swinderby where Lindsey had been staying with Disney. See also Belsham 1873,
Ditchfield 2007, lv.
Ditchfield 2007, lxviii. Lindsey’s presence is attested by his correspondence, e.g. Ditchfield 2007, no. 114
(5 January 1774, Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield). A letter of 19 December 1773 was also written
from Swinderby (no. 112).
A prominent member and strong advocate for Unitarianism was the 3rd Duke of Grafton, the former
Prime Minister, who had also studied at Peterhouse: Durrant 2004.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 137 (6 October 1774, Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield: ‘the truth is, the week
before last I was at Mr Brand Hollis’s in Essex (a friend (and) great admirer of the worthy families of the
[?Shores] and Milnses) …’
Cannon 2004. See also Ditchfield 2005.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 159 (14 May 1776, Lindsey to William Tayleur). Lindsey noted, ‘We have already
procured a promise of the following sums from some generous friends and Well-wishers’. Brand-Hollis
was subscribing £100.
14 The World of Disney

Brand-Hollis continued to support the chapel and in 1777 donated £100 ‘for the
purchase of Essex-house, and building a chapel’.42 Lindsey wrote to William Tayleur
about Brand-Hollis in December 1778:43

Mr. Brand Hollis is but just come to Town — and is leaving it again to morrow
till after the Christmas holidays. I mentioned your late most generous
proposal to him, when he said that he had the thing at heart and shd be
willing to concur in doing something more.

Tayleur, who came from Shropshire, had studied at Christ Church, Oxford. He
had intended to be ordained in the Church of England, but instead established a
Unitarian place of worship in Shrewsbury.44 Lindsey had reservations about Brand-
Hollis’s full support for the Unitarian cause. He shared his concerns with Tayleur in
January 1779:45

What B. Hollis will do farther I cannot tell. He is now in Town and the other
day I pressed the matter home to him. But tho’ he prefers and approves us,
and speaks zealously and heartily for the unitarian cause, yet he is, I may say
in confidence to you, Sir, parcus et infrequens cultor numinis — any little
impediment or excuse diverts from it. But such is the fashion.

The allusion is to one of Horace’s Odes (I.34), Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens, where
the poet has returned to the worship of the traditional Roman gods after being a
sparse and infrequent worshipper of the gods. Lindsey has replaced ‘deorum’ (of the
gods) with ‘numinis’ (of the spirit). There is a hint that while Brand-Hollis supported
the principle of supporting dissent, his personal convictions were not totally behind
the Unitarian cause.

Disney’s decision to leave the Church of England

Disney married Lindsey’s sister-in-law Jane Blackburne in November 1774, and the
couple lived at Swinderby. The couple had three daughters, Frances Mary, Elizabeth
Jane, and Catherine Dorothy, born in 1775, 1776, and 1777; Elizabeth died aged 11
days, and Catherine at seven months. A son, John, was born on 29 May 1779 at
Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire, the home of his paternal uncle, Lewis Disney. A
second son, Algernon, was born in June 1780.
The Blackburnes were visitors of the Disneys at Swinderby.46 Disney himself
was active in his writings, and in 1775 he was awarded a DD from the University of
Ditchfield 2007, no. 170 (20 May 1777, Lindsey to William Tayleur). Appendix I: List of Subscribers to
Essex Street Chapel, c. 1776-1785. T. Brand Hollis Esqr, £200. Essex Hall archive in Dr Williams’s Library.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 193 (3 December 1778, Lindsey to William Tayleur).
Ditchfield 2007, lxxxv.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 195 (12 January 1779, Lindsey to William Tayleur).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 172 (7 July 1777, Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield): ‘about 3 weeks ago the
The Break with the Church of England 15

Edinburgh with the support of Edmund Law, bishop of Carlisle and his father-in-
law’s Cambridge friend.47 Further works followed, Thoughts on the Great Circumspection
necessary in Licensing Public Ale-Houses (1776),48 A Visitation Sermon, addressed to the
Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Lincoln, on the Right of Private Judgment (1777),49 and
Remarks on Bishop Hurd’s Primary Charge to his Clergy (1777).50 Richard Hurd, the bishop
of Worcester, had been sympathetic to the dissenting clergy. In 1778 Disney was
elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, perhaps hinting at an interest in
history if not antiquity, although the Society at the time consisted of some 13 per
cent of clergy.51 In 1776 he had noted the discovery of a Roman pottery vessel:52

Found at Flintham, in Nottinghamshire, in the year 1776, by some workmen,

who were digging a ditch about three feet deep, upon the lands allotted to Mr
Richard Green, in the north field upon the enclosure of the lordship.

In April 1780 Disney and Brand-Hollis were among the 15 activists who helped to
found the Society for Constitutional Information, arguing for political reform.53 One
of the other leading members was John Cartwright, John Disney’s first cousin.54 In
1780 Disney further supported parliamentary reform through his membership of
Committee of Association for the county of Nottingham.55 In 1781 Disney published
Considerations on the Propriety and Expediency of the Clergy acting in the Commission of the
Peace (1781). He himself served as a justice of the peace for Nottinghamshire.
Lindsey and his wife, Jane’s half-sister, now resident in London, were frequent
visitors of the Disney family in Lincolnshire.56 The Reverend Disney continued to have
severe doubts about remaining in the Church of England, but the responsibilities of
family meant that he found it harder to make the break than Lindsey.57
On 8 February 1782 Disney preached a sermon in Swinderby on the day set aside
as a great fast to mark the crisis in America: A sermon preached in the Parish Church
of Swinderby ... on Friday, February the 8th, 1782, being the day appointed by His Majesty’s
proclamation for a General Fast.58 The text suggests that he took up the theme of liberty.
It needs to be remembered that his brother Frederick had served as an officer in the

ADn & Mrs Blackburne were at Dr Disney’s in Nottinghamshire’. Swinderby is just over 100 miles from
Thomas 2002, 4. The Peterhouse records: Walker 1912, 326. The award was made on 5 June 1775.
Turner 1843, 188.
Turner 1843, 182–83.
Turner 1843, 186.
Turner 1843, 186. Pearce 2007, 148, 167 n. 9 (specifically noting Disney).
Disney 1849b, 226, pl. xciii.
Dickinson 2007. See also Anon. 1818, 69. Brand-Hollis was appointed a Deputy of the Grand Committee
for Westminster in March 1780: English Chronicle 18–21 March 1780.
Cornish 2004. John’s mother, Frances, and John Cartwright’s mother Anne, were daughters of George
Cartwright of Ossington, Nottinghamshire.
Turner 1843, 188. See also Kilburn 2013.
E.g. Ditchfield 2007, no. 224 (1 August 1780, Lindsey to William Tayleur): ‘Mrs. Lindsey and myself are
here at her brother in law Dr Disney’s in our way to the North …’’. The visit was made to Flintham Hall
near Newark.
Ditchfield 2007, lxiii.
Disney 1782. See Thomas 2002, 6.
16 The World of Disney

War of Independence. The siege of Yorktown had concluded in October 1781 with
the surrender of the British force there. Later that same month the government was
defeated in parliament in the vote over whether or not to conclude the war.
During 1782 Lindsey made two visits to see Disney who was clearly giving serious
consideration to leaving the Church of England. On 23 June 1782 Lindsey wrote to
William Tayleur,59

… we are from You to make a long journey indeed into Lincolnshire about 9
miles from Newark, and this on some necessary business as well as to see a
most valuable man, Dr Disney, who married my wife’s half-sister, Archdeacon
Blackburne’s daughter.

This visit coincided with the death of their brother-in-law, and Blackburne’s son, Dr
Thomas Blackburne, who died in Durham in June 1782. Blackburne took the death

The effect produced by this melancholy event on the feelings of his father,
may be best conceived from the pious effusion of his sorrows …

In September Lindsey was back staying with Disney as he wrote to Russell Scott on
14 September 1782:61

I had the pleasure of receiving your letter the beginning of this week, near
140 miles from this place, at the house of a much respected and near relation
of my wife’s …

Disney clearly was moving towards a decision, and in November we went to see the
Bishop of Lincoln in London. Lindsey provided the detail:62

I have the satisfaction of acquainting You that Dr Disney, who married my

wife’s sister and Archdeacon Blackburne’s daughter has been this day with
the Bishop of Lincoln to acquaint him of his intended immediate resignation
of the Livings of Swinderby and Panton in Lincolnshire, who received him
courteously and properly, and to morrow the instruments are to be ready
to compleat it. And on Sunday he is to preach to our congregation, to some
of whom I have mentioned my choice of him for a collegue, and I hope he
will prove acceptable to them. I have never heard him preach, but I have
a good hope he will be useful in that capacity and by his private study and
application recommend himself more and more. He has been in Town a week,
but could not meet with his Diocesan before. His friends made opposition
to his quitting his preferment and prospects, and are far from approving

Ditchfield 2007, no. 246 (23 June 1782, Lindsey to William Tayleur).
Blackburne 1804, lix–lx. The death was reported in the Whitehall Evening Post 2–4 July 1782.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 251.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 254 (13 November 1782, Lindsey to William Tayleur). See also Belsham 1873, 99.
The Break with the Church of England 17

what he has done, but his convictions and state of self-condemnation in

which he lived was too great to let him continue any longer in his situation
when he had such a prospect of becoming useful in the way he desired, and
of finding something that might go towards the maintenance of a wife and
three children, which with what little remains of a younger brothers fortune,
he is not able to support.
After he has preached here, he goes back to Swinderby, and hopes to be able
to settle all his matters, and come up with his family abt the beginning of the
new year.
I trust he will come to us with the blessing of the gospel of peace as the
apostle speaks, and be successful in bringing many to the knowledge of the
true God, and to wisdom and virtue. Some little thing which he has projected
by way of farewel to his Parishioners, will I hope be of general use, by being
published and circulated.

Disney’s decision to resign his livings was made clear in a tract, Reasons for resigning
the rectory of Panton and vicarage of Swinderby, in Lincolnshire, and quitting the Church
of England.63 However it was not immediately clear that Disney would join Lindsey
in Essex Hall. In September, it seems that Lindsey was considering another man as
his co-minister. He confided to Joshua Toulmin, at the time a Baptist minister in
Taunton, on 28 November 1782:64

Dr Disney, who left us last week, was here somewhat more than a fortnight,
and during that interval resigned two livings to the Bishop of Lincoln,
preached afterwards with great acceptance both parts of the day to our
congregation, and the next day was approved as my colleague by as many
of the benefactors to our building as were in town. This you will believe has
made me very happy. I am the more so, because it was an event unlooked
for a few months ago. In the autumn, when I was at his house at Swinderby,
I was in treaty with another friend and very eminent person to become my
colleague. But I said not a syllable of it to Dr. Disney, for I knew how sore he
was; and for six years past have never by letter or in conversation touched
the subject of conformity.
They have a journey first to make to the good archdeacon who thinks that
the original sin lies with me in drawing his son-in-law out of the church.

The Disneys visited the Blackburnes in Richmond in early December before leaving
for London.65 The decision to resign was one that Francis Blackburne struggled to
understand, especially coming so soon after the death of his son Thomas.66 Disney’s
Disney 1783. Turner 1843, 189–92.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 256 (28 November 1782, Lindsey to Joshua Toulmin).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 257 (10 December 1782, Lindsey to William Tayleur): ‘They are all now at Richmond
in Yorkshire, taking leave of the Archdeacon and his family’.
Blackburne 1804, lxi. Blackburne 1804, lxi: ‘Mr Blackburne too had his objections to the liturgy and
articles of the church; but he was far from going the length of dissent which his friend Mr Lindsey had
avowed in the year 1774, and which Dr Disney now came forward to profess’.
18 The World of Disney

successor in the living, the Reverend Andrew Chambers, was instituted at the end
of December through the patronage of John’s brother, Lewis Disney-Ffytche.67
William Turner, a dissenting minister of Wakefield, responded to Disney’s Reasons
for Resigning that was reflected in a letter from Lindsey in January 1783:

I made your compts to Dr Disney and read him the pt of yr letter brought
by Mr s relating to himself & his Tract, with wch he thinks himself much
honoured …68

Disney at Essex Hall

Disney joined Lindsey as co-minister of the Unitarian congregation at Essex Hall in

London that had opened on 29 March 1778.69 The deed to establish the chapel as a
trust was signed on 7 February 1783, and on 19 February Disney formally became
the assistant minister.70 Disney’s life in London is recorded in a detailed diary from
January 1783 to May 1784.71 Jane Disney seems to have suffered from a fever in June
1783.72 Then in August Lindsey noted to Tayleur:73

Dr Disney, who desires his respectful compts. we found rather low in

consequence of a little fever that the great heats had brought upon him, but
to day he is about the streets as usually and tolerably well, as are also Mrs.
Disney and his family.

Disney’s illness continued into mid August as Lindsey noted that they had removed
themselves to Sunbury on the Thames: ‘One reason of our paying this visit so soon
was to forward Dr Disney’s perfect recovery, wch it was effected, our time being
much spent abroad in a wholesome dry air, and pleasant country’.74 This was
followed by a trip to Lincolnshire: ‘Dr Disney and his family are in Lincolnshire, and
will I hope receive benefit from the excursion.’75 Lindsey expanded on the situation:

My worthy Collegue and his family, are all gone into Lincolnshire for a few
weeks. As they had not been quite well any of them — we hope they will

Daily Advertiser Friday 3 January 1783.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 260 (Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield, 21 January 1783). For Turner: Ditchfield
2007, lxxxvii.
Belsham 1873, 88; Rowe 1959, 22-24; Ditchfield 2007, lxii, lxvi.
Ditchfield 2007, lxii. See also Belsham 1873, 87–88.
Thomas 2002.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 265 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 30 June 1783): ‘We should have set out this day
upon our journey into the North, had not we been delayed by Mrs Disney’s illness. She is now recovered
Ditchfield 2007, no. 266 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 8 August 1783).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 267. (Letter to William Tayleur, 16 August 1783).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 268. (Letter to William Tayleur, 1 September 1783).
The Break with the Church of England 19

be much recruited and recovd for winter work. He and his wife, your old
acquaintance, desired their respects when I wrote to You.76

These fevers may have been the result of the atmospheric pollution caused by the
eruption of the Laki Craters in Iceland in early June of that year.77 In particular,
fevers were particularly prevalent, and it has been estimated that there were some
20,000 additional deaths in England.
A third daughter, Elizabeth Collyer, was born at Essex Street on Sunday 18
January 1784.78 She was ‘christened’ on Sunday 15 February.79 Sadly Elizabeth died
on Wednesday 10 March, ‘of convulsions in her bowels’.80 Disney added to his diary,
‘May Almighty God make this Affliction subservient to our improvement and
advancement in his favor.’ Lindsey noted,81

During the past month my worthy colleague has lost his new-born infant,
about seven weeks old, by convulsions. My wife was called up in the night,
but nothing could be done for the poor little creature. And he has since had
a fever, which has confined him a fortnight to the house, and prevented of
course his being at chapel on Sunday last; but is now happily quite well.

This was a period when the country had been suffering from extreme cold
temperatures, again as a result of the volcanic eruption, and typhus appears to
have been prevalent. In addition, Frances (Fanny) Mary, the Disney’s only surviving
daughter, now aged eight, was struck by illness:82

My worthy colleague who with Mrs D. desires respects, is under much

concern for his eldest daughter, who has a complaint in her ancle, wch they
fear will oblige them to take her entirely from school.

The Disney family then took up residence in Sloane Street in Chelsea where a further
daughter, Jane, was born on 19 May 1785, and was baptised at Swinderby.83 She died
in March the following year; Lindsey noted, ‘Dr Disney has lost a sweet child of nine
months old.’84

Ditchfield 2007, no. 269. Letter to William Turner of Wakefield, 1 September 1783.
Witham and Oppenheimer 2005.
Thomas 2002, 111. The birth was registered in the Library, Red Cross Street, on Monday 23 February.
Thomas 2002, 115.
Thomas 2002, 119.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 287 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 3 April 1784).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 288 (Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield, 15 April 1784). Frances was born on 7
August 1775. ‘Ancle’ is the recorded spelling.
Lindsey referred to the Disney family as ‘all in Sloane’: Ditchfield 2012, no. 400 (2 January 1790); ‘all well
in Sloane-Street’, no. 428 (2 November 1790). Jane’s birth was registered on 5 August 1785. Lindsey had
noted the coming birth at the end of April: Ditchfield 2007, no. 316 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 30 April
1785): ‘daily expecting Mrs Disney to produce a new Stranger’. The Disney family were troubled by the
smoky atmosphere when they lived in central London: Anon. 1818, 52.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 329 (Lindsey to Russell Scott, 30 March 1786).
20 The World of Disney

One of Disney’s tasks of January 1784 was to adapt or alter some of the texts from
Isaac Watts’ Divine Songs (1715) no doubt for use at Essex Hall.85 These were clearly
intended as a book of hymns, Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of
Children, as in February he received page proofs.86 A further Unitarian edition of the
same collection was prepared in 1787, although this seems to have raised concern
with Disney.87
Also in 1784 Disney published a call for a return to what he perceived as a form
of worship that was loyal to his reading of the Bible: A friendly dialogue: between a
common Unitarian Christian, and an Athanasian: occasioned by the formers’s behavior
during some part of the public service. Or, An attempt to restore scripture forms of worship.
To which is now added, a second dialogue, between Eugenius and Theophilus, on the same
subject (1784). He revised the liturgy used in the chapel with the publication of the
Book of Common Prayer Reformed, for the use of Unitarian Congregations (1792) and Book of
Common Prayer Reformed, with a Book of Psalms, and a Collection of Hymns (1802). Disney
explained the purpose of the volume in the preface.

It has been the chief intention of his endeavours, to form the ordinary and
occasional services of public worship, upon the broad and general principles
of our common christianity. Obsolete words and redundant expressions
have been corrected; offensive and needless repetitions, have been without
distinction, expunged. All doctrinal opinions which have been superadded to
the plain and simple statements, that “there is one GOD, and one mediator
between GOD and men, the man Christ Jesus;” and that “Jesus is the Christ,”
have been studiously avoided. It appears, indeed, to be a position capable
of the clearest demonstration, how much soever the contrary practice has
prevailed in christian churches, that the introduction of any unnecessary
doctrinal opinions into public liturgies, is wholly foreign to the nature and
expediency of social worship.

Disney argued that he valued unity in the Christian community.

He knows, or thinks he knows, the value, as well as the nature, of unity, both
among the disciples of Christ, and among the brotherhood of mankind: but it
is an unity in charity, or love, for the whole human race, and not an unity in
doctrinal opinions, for which alone the christian should content.

Francis Blackburne’s health had been giving the Disneys concern. Lindsey had noted
in September 1783 after a trip to Yorkshire:88

Thomas 2002, 112. Noted in his diary for 29 January 1784.
Thomas 2002, 115 (Thursday 19 February 1784).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 353 (Lindsey to the Reverend Russell Scott, 25 September 1787).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 269 (Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield, 1 September 1783). See also Blackburne
1804, lxiii.
The Break with the Church of England 21

You will be pleased to learn that we found the Archdeacon and Mrs Blackburne
far better than we expected, the former still in vigour of mind and body, but
a little affected with almost a total loss of one eye by a long inflammation
upon it.

From 1784 Blackburne’s eyesight started to fail, and he was assisted by James Tate
(1771-1843) from the Free Grammar School in Richmond.89 Francis Blackburne died
at home on 7 August 1787. Lindsey had rushed to Richmond but was too late. He
wrote to William Tayleur:90

… but all was over abt 24 hours before we arrived. He died without a sigh,
imperceptibly in his sleep, having mentioned an hour before that we were on
the road, and told his Doctor that he would see us soon.
He has left behind him some MSS. Finished, on what subjects is not yet
known, and memorials of his life, which will be published in time.

The manuscript life, edited by his son Francis, was later published in 1804.91 This
paid tribute to Blackburne:92

a believer of Christianity from the deepest conviction of its truth; a protestant

on the genuine principles of the reformation from Popery; a strenuous
adversary of superstition and intolerance, and of every corruption of the
simplicity or the spirit of the gospel; a zealous promoter of civil liberty; a
close and perspicacious reasoner; a keen and energetic writer; an attentive,
benevolent, and venerable Archdeacon; an eloquent and persuasive Preacher;
a faithful Pastor and exemplary guide; of unblemished purity of life, of simple
dignity of manners; a sincere and cordial friend; an affectionate husband,
and an indulgent father; in short, a just, humane, pious, temperate and
independent man.

A memorial was erected in the parish church at Richmond, and it reads:

Beneath this marble sleeps Francis Blackburn, Archdeacon of Cleveland and

Rector of Richmond.
A rational and pious Christian, just, humane and benevolent.
A faithful pastor, a persuasive teacher, an acute, energetic, caustic writer,
a foe to the superstition of Rome and each exorbitant claim of Christian
A friend to civil liberty and the equal rights of men in every country.

Blackburne 1804, lxiii: ‘a young school boy, whose services performed with fidelity and diligence, won
him not only the esteem and affection, but the implicit confidence of his revered and venerable employer’.
For Tate: Wenham 1991.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 352 (1 September 1787, Lindsey to William Tayleur).
Blackburne 1804.
Blackburne 1804, lxxxi.
22 The World of Disney

The following year, John was faced with the death of his brother Major Frederick
Disney on 13 June 1788 in Lincoln. Lindsey commented:93

Dr Disney is very well himself, but has been absent now a week at Lincoln,
called thither by the death of his second brother, and I do not expect him to
return till it be quite convenient to him. His worthy mother who lives at the
place, will have the greatest loss.

The reference is to his mother, Frances (née Cartwright) Disney. Lindsey wrote to
William Tayleur on the same subject on 26 June 1788, but he expanded it to include
another of Disney’s activities:94

Dr Disney and one or two of our Cambridge friends have printed an Appendix
to Maty’s Sermons, containing his reasons for quitting the church of England,
which the Editors of his sermons had omitted. I hope some one will by and by
exhibit their injustice to the worthy man in a proper light for such omission.
Dr D. has been absent abt a fortnight on account of the death of his second
brother an officer, who had been long in a declining way. His mother will
have the greatest loss as he lived with her at Lincoln, and helped to relieve
her solitude at an advanced age.

Paul Henry Maty had been a scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in
1767.95 He acted as chaplain to the British ambassador to France, but in 1776 his
concerns over the Thirty-Nine Articles meant that he decided to leave the Church of
England. He followed his father into the position of Assistant Librarian at the British
Museum. His published sermons had been delivered in the Ambassador’s chapel in
The identity of Disney’s Cambridge friends is not certain. One is likely to have
been Robert Tyrwhitt (1735–1817) who graduated from Jesus College in 1757.96
He rejected the Thirty-Nine Articles around 1771. Tyrwhitt subsequently become
associated with the Society for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures. The
death of his brother Thomas in 1786 had provided him with a source of income that
allowed his to fund various projects and initiatives.97 The other was probably the
Reverend William Frend (1757–1841) who had started to attend Essex Street Chapel
in 1787 at the same time that he resigned from his Church of England livings of Long
Stanton and Madingley just outside Cambridge.98 Frend married Sara Blackburne,
the granddaughter of Archdeacon Blackburne in 1808.
Disney was also connected to other major unitarians, including John Jebb,
formerly a fellow of Peterhouse, Church of England clergyman (resigning in 1775),

Ditchfield 2007, no. 373 (Lindsey to William Frend, 20 June 1788).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 374 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 26 June 1788).
Seccombe and Mills 2004.
Gordon and Ruston 2004.
Caldwell 2004.
Roe 2004. See also Ditchfield 2007, lxxx.
The Break with the Church of England 23

and who had been closely involved with the foundation in September 1783 of the
Society for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures and linked to the Essex
Street chapel.99 Disney was the secretary to the Society.100 Jebb himself attended
the chapel. On Jebb’s death in 1786, Disney prepared a three volume memoir, The
works, theological, medical, political and miscellaneous of John Jebb (1787). Brand-Hollis
accompanied Disney to Cambridge to collect papers and other material to be used
in the work.101
Disney had been sympathetic to the situation in the American colonies. He
preached a sermon, ‘The Blessings of Peace’, on 29 July 1784 ‘being the day appointed
for a general thanksgiving for peace’.102 This followed the ratification of the Treaty of
Paris that created the formation of the United States of America after the conclusion
of the American War of Independence. In 1789 Disney welcomed news of the French
Revolution (as did his brother Lewis). His enthusiasm cooled when he recognised
the cruelty of the new regime as it emerged in 1793: ‘he detested tumult; he hated
disorder; he dreaded anarchy; he abominated persecution’.103 In 1786 Jane’s sister
Sarah Blackburne, married the Reverend John Hall, subsequently the vicar of Chew
Magna in Somerset.104
Frances Disney (née Cartwright), the wife of John Disney senior, died in Lincoln
on 5 January 1791.105 She was buried at Swinderby on 10 January, and her memorial
stands in the church. Her death seems to have coincided with some dispute between
Disney and his brother-in-law Dr William Blackburne who was at the time a physician
at the Westminster Hospital.106

We have indeed much agitated and made very uneasy for the space of between
two or three months past by the vindictive and very blameable behaviour of
Dr D. towards Dr Bl______ the particularly whereof there is no entering into
by letter; but it was such that I thought it my duty to patronize Dr B. to save
him from being wholly oppressed. The affair is now over, and all well: …107

The health of the Disneys continued to be of concern. Disney and his wife visited
Bath on account of Jane’s ‘bilious complaint’ though he also ‘bathes and drinks the
water, having a sort of gouty habit’.108

Gascoigne 2004a; Page 2003. Disney’s connection with the Society was noted by Lindsey in a letter to
William Tayleur, 4 December 1783: Ditchfield 2007, no. 282.
Belsham 1873, 113.
Anon. 1818, 63.
Disney 1793, 53.
Anon. 1818, 53.
Ditchfield 2012, no. 331. Noted by Lindsey in a letter to Russell Scott (6 May 1786).
The Gentleman’s Magazine 69 (1791) 92.
Ditchfield 2012, no. 434 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 22 January 1791). Blackburne was a regular
contributor to the London Medical Journal.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 434 (Lindsey to William Tayleur, 22 January 1791).
Ditchfield 2012, no. 475 (T. Lindsey to William Tayleur, 15 October 1791).
24 The World of Disney

The final years at Essex Street Chapel

In 1793 Lindsey resigned from Essex Hall when he reached the age of 70, although he
continued to live in the tied accommodation.109 He supported Disney as his successor
in his letter of resignation to the Trustees of Essex Street Chapel:110

I am happy in having a candidate as a successor in my colleague Dr. Disney,

whose zeal for the principle upon which the society was founded, and whose
abilities, assiduity, and acceptableness to you and the congregation, in the
discharge of his duty, have been for a long time ascertained.

Elsewhere Lindsey described Disney as his ‘worthy colleague’.111 Disney succeeded

him as the minister.
Among the Unitarians was the barrister Michael Dodson, a member of the
Middle Temple. He was the nephew of the judge Sir Michael Foster, and both came
from Marlborough in Wiltshire. He had been an original member of the Society
for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures founded in 1783. Dodson was a
subscriber to the Essex Street Chapel.112 Dodson, who died in 1799, made Disney
one of his executors, and also left him a bequest. Disney recorded his life in A short
memoir of M. Dodson (1800), and later contributed a preface for Dodson’s The life of Sir
Michael Foster, Knt. sometime one of the judges of the Court of King’s Bench and Recorder of
Bristol (1811).
Hannah Blackburne, Francis’s widow and Jane Disney’s mother, died on 23
August 1799.113 Around 1800 Disney’s portrait was painted by Guy Head. Head was
known to his brother Lewis in Rome in 1795, and he had painted the portrait of
his daughter Sophia (the future daughter-in-law of the Reverend Disney). Head
himself settled in London in 1799/1800. James Basire made line engravings of Head’s
portrait in 1810.114 Disney also maintained business interests. By August 1802 he
was an investor in the Thames & Severn Canal Company and took out a lease at
Sapperton Mill near Cirencester.115 Both Disneys as well as Lewis Disney-Ffytche
were on the canal board.116
Disney remained as minister at Essex Hall until March 1805 when he too resigned,
on grounds of ill health according to Lindsey.117 In September 1804 Thomas Brand-
Hollis, a benefactor of the chapel, died and bequeathed the bulk of his estate to
Disney, allowing the family to move to Essex in the summer of 1805. Disney was
succeeded by Thomas Belsham, who had come from a dissenting, as opposed to a
Church of England, background.118
Rowe 1959, 24. For the detailed arrangements including provision for Lindsey’s wife: Ditchfield 2012,
no. 528 (13 June 1793).
Ditchfield 2012, no. 525 (? May 1793). For the context: Belsham 1873, 226.
Ditchfield 2012, no. 528 (13 June 1793). See Turner 1843, 208.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 197 (30 January 1779). Letter to William Tayleur. See also Watt and Mercer 2004.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 684.
National Portrait Gallery D8486. The NPG entry suggests that the portrait was dated to 1800.
Gloucestershire Archives TS/212/2/6 (3 August 1802).
E.g. Jackson’s Oxford Journal 22 February 1812, 1.
Evans 1897, 150, although he suggests that Disney resigned in 1804. Ditchfield 2007, lxiv.
Webb 2004.
Chapter 3

Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and

Thomas Brand

One of the key events that led to the creation of the Disney Chair of Archaeology
was the writing of the will of Thomas Brand-Hollis (c. 1719-1804) in November 1792,
the year before Thomas Lindsey resigned from Essex Hall. This intended bequest
prepared the way for the transfer of properties, as well as the major collection of
classical antiquities, to the Reverend John Disney. There are two key issues: first,
what was the nature of the bequest, and second, why was this material bequeathed
specifically to Disney?
Hollis had known Lindsey since the mid 1750s, and Blackburne from the mid
1760s. Brand-Hollis was known to Lindsey from at least 1776 through the Essex
Street Chapel. Lewis Disney-Ffytche had acquired Danbury Place in Essex though
his marriage in 1775, and he seems to have become a close associate of Brand-Hollis
from at least 1780.
The earliest mention of a friendship between the Reverend Disney and Brand-
Hollis dates to August 1790 when Lindsey recorded:1

Dr. Disney is this week at Mr Brand Holliss in Essex …

However, it is likely that Disney was acquainted with Brand-Hollis from 1783 when
Disney moved to London. The Brand-Hollis bequest included art works as well as
other property that was derived from the friendship between two close individuals,
Thomas Brand and Thomas Hollis. It appears that Brand-Hollis had intended to
leave his wealth to another individual, but on their early death, had decided to write
his will in favour of Disney.2

Thomas Brand

Thomas Brand-Hollis, who made the bequest to the Reverend Disney, was born
around 1719 at the Brand family home of The Hyde near Ingatestone, and to the
west of Chelmsford, the county town of Essex.3 He was the son of Timothy Brand (d.
1734), a London mercer, and his wife Sarah (d. 1744), daughter of Thomas Michell of

Thomas Lindsey to William Frend, 25 August 1790: Ditchfield 2012, no. 424.
Anon. 1818, 54. One possible candidate was John Jebb who died in 1786.
Disney 1808. See also Robbins 1953, 240; Bonwick 2004.

26 The World of Disney

Rickling in Hertfordshire.4 Thomas had

two sisters, Sarah, who married Richard
Grindal, and Elizabeth. Timothy had
purchased The Hyde in 1718, and he also
served as Sheriff for the County of Essex.
Thomas Brand had been educated at
Felsted, Essex, and then matriculated at
the university of Glasgow in 1738 as the
family were not members of the Church
of England.5 He came under the influence
of Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746), who
held the Chair of Moral Philosophy
there.6 Brand completed his studies at
Glasgow in 1741, and was admitted to the
Inner Temple in the same year. (He had
earlier declined a place in 1735.) It was
in London that he met and befriended
Thomas Hollis.

Figure 6. Thomas Brand-Hollis. Memoirs

of Thomas Brand-Hollis.

Thomas Hollis

Thomas Hollis (1720-74) was a close friend of Brand.7 His great grandfather, Thomas
Hollis (d. 1718), was a Yorkshireman but had moved to London during the English Civil
Wars. The Hollis family was Baptist in denomination. His three sons, Thomas (d. 1730),
Nathaniel (d. 1738) and John, were benefactors of Harvard, where they established in
1722 a Chair in Divinity, and in 1726 one in mathematics and philosophy.8 Nathaniel’s
son Thomas (d. 1735) had a son Thomas who was born in London on 14 April 1720.9
His mother was the daughter of a Mr Scott of Wolverhampton.
Thomas was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Wolverhampton. He
was subsequently educated at the free-school at Newport in Shropshire and then
in St Albans.10 At the age of thirteen he was sent to Amsterdam where he stayed for
some 15 months. After his father’s death he was brought up by his cousin Timothy

Disney 1808, 2.
He matriculated in 1739: Disney 1808, 2. He later left a bequest of £100 to Glasgow for the purchase of
Moore 2004.
Blackburne 1780. See also Bond 1990; Bonwick 2008; Coutu 2015. Hollis’ diaries are in the Houghton
Library, Harvard.
Blackburne 1780, 1, 601. See also Bond 1990, 5.
Nathaniel’s wife was Sarah who died in 1703 and was buried in the Dissenter’s graveyard at Deptford.
Thomas Hollis restored the monument over her grave in 1755.
Blackburne 1780, 4.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 27

Figure 7. Thomas Hollis, by Joseph Wilton. National

Portrait Gallery 6946.

Hollis, though placed under the guardianship of John Hollister, the treasurer of Guy’s
Hospital in London.11 Although he was initially prepared to become a merchant, he
received education in Latin as well as logic, rhetoric and history from Dr John Ward
of Gresham College in London.12 Hollis valued Ward’s education and later presented
a portrait of him to the British Museum where Ward had been a Trustee. It appears
to be at this point that Hollis developed an interest in classical art.13
Hollis had rooms in Lincoln’s Inn from February 1740, and lived there until 1748.14
By this point he was a wealthy individual having inherited the fortunes of his father
(d. 1735) and great-uncle Thomas (d. 1730), and his grandfather Nathaniel (d. 1738).15
It was in this period that Brand and Hollis became friends, after Brand had moved
from Glasgow. Among Hollis’ purchases in this period was the extensive estate in
Dorset acquired from the Earl of Pomfret.16 He also purchased the Three Cups inn at
Lyme Regis; he stayed there when he was visiting the coast.17
In 1745 Hollis became a subscriber to the Veteran Scheme supporting those
English soldiers who had helped to suppress the ’45 Rebellion under Bonnie Prince

Bond 1990, 6.
Bond 1990, 7; McConnell 2004; Coutu 2015, 165. See Blackburne 1780, 4.
Bond 1990, 7.
Blackburne 1780, 5. See also Bond 1990, 8.
Bond 1990, 7.
Bond 1990, 10. Hollis was involved with the development of Lyme Regis as a resort: Roberts 1834, 292–94.
The Weekly Entertainer 15 January 1798, vol. 31, 41–43.
28 The World of Disney

Charlie in Scotland.18 He perceived the rebellion as a challenge to liberty and

protestant freedoms; he overlooked Cumberland’s nickname as the ‘butcher’. In
1766 Hollis appears to have donated five guineas towards the equestrian statue of
William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland (1721-65) and commander at Culloden,
that was erected in Cavendish Square in 1770. On Cumberland’s death in 1765, Hollis

October 31, 1765. This evening died his Royal Highness William Duke of
Cumberland, a worthy man, whose memory will be always respected by
the sons of liberty, for the great services he rendered to these nations in
suppressing the rebellion of 1745.

This active support for the defence of liberty served as the background for Hollis’
tours in continental Europe.

The Tours to Italy

On 17 July 1748 Hollis and Brand set off on their Grand Tour of continental Europe
sailing from Harwich in Essex.20 They travelled through Holland, Flanders, France
and Switzerland. At Amsterdam Hollis noted:21

Another circumstance which pleased us was, the seriousness and decency

of their behaviour in the churches. For some time past at Amsterdam, every
Wednesday afternoon was allotted as a time of prayer to the Almighty, to
avert from them the dreadful calamities of war. It was accounted unbecoming
to be absent, and every one present appeared to join in the service with
the greatest fervency. How different this, from our behaviour when at the
churches and on our days of humiliation and prayer!

They were struck by the absence of poverty in Switzerland, and placed the reason in
the hands of the government:22

… the wisdom of the government, that by sumptuary and other laws,

discourages and prevents all extravagant and unnecessary expenses and
diversions, (which ordinarily tend only to the ruin of mens private fortunes
and virtues,) so that none or but little of the income of the country goes out
of it for foreign luxuries, but rests in it.

Blackburne 1780, 5-6. See also Bond 1990, 9–10.
Blackburne 1780, 6. For Cumberland: Speck 2004.
Blackburne 1780, 6; Disney 1808, 3. For their tours: Ingamells 1997, 117–18, 512–13. See also Bond 1990,
Blackburne 1780, 12.
Blackburne 1780, 15.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 29

The positive impression left by the hospitality they received in Switzerland led
directly to Hollis’s generous gifts to the libraries in Berne and Zurich.23 They
returned to London on 3 December 1749.24
Brand left England in the autumn of 1750, and travelled through France, Italy
and Germany, returning in 1753.25 Hollis also travelled on the continent at the same
time, leaving via Harwich on 16 July 1750.26 The two friends met on an occasional
basis, and were in regular correspondence. Hollis travelled through Germany,
visiting Hamburg and Berlin, and commenting on the Lutheran churches. Hollis
passed through Hamburg specifically observing:27

The established religion is Lutheranism, which is adhered to so strictly, that

no other religion is allowed of except in the chapels of the residents. The
Lutheran churches are adorned much after the same manner as the Roman
catholic churches, that is, with crucifixions of Jesus Christ, images of the
virgin holding the Infant in her arms, images of saints, &c. and paintings.
So true is it, that the multitude, especially in religious changes, can (almost)
only be led to a change of opinion, by retaining to them their old forms,
fights, and manners.

In Berlin Hollis had hoped to visit ‘a curiosity chamber and a library’.28 But he was

But the person who shewed them sent me word, unless I chose to give a ducat
he should not chuse to shew them. As I thought this an impertinent answer,
and certainly the most unpolite that I ever received abroad, I determined not
to go, but to give up my curiosity, rather than gratify his avarice.

He then travelled to Dresden, Prague and Vienna, before heading to Trieste and
Venice where he stayed from 8 December 1750 to 28 February 1751.29 He praised the
quality of the roads and the safety.30

Another circumstance in honour of the Empress is, that a person may travel
through her dominions with the utmost safety from robbers, and almost
carry his money in his hat; a robbery or murder scarce ever being heard
of. Indeed it is pretty much the same in respect to security in travelling all
through Germany.

Blackburne 1780, 16.
Disney 1808, 3.
Disney 1808, 3.
Blackburne 1780, 26.
Blackburne 1780, 27
Blackburne 1780, 29–30.
Blackburne 1780, 30–32.
Blackburne 1780, 31.
30 The World of Disney

Brand and Hollis met in Rome (their first visit) and then went south to Naples.31
Hollis was struck by the Roman roads:32

Mr Hollis took occasion to examine the construction of the Roman roads,

which he observes were principally intended for the convenient marching
of the Roman army, and were made with a suitable grandeur and strength to
the Roman people.

As a result he acquired three stones from the Via Appia and presented them to
the British Museum.33 Brand made some purchases at Naples including a bronze
Bacchus.34 Hollis purchased a relief of Julius Caesar from a merchant in Venice about
1755, but it was subsequently realised to be of recent creation.35 Brand returned to
Rome on 22 May 1752, but Hollis remained in Naples until 8 September.36 Portraits
of Hollis and Brand were cut in ivory by Andrea Pozzi in April 1752.37 In Rome, Brand
also became a supporter of Thomas Jenkins (1722-1798) who dealt in antiquities and
who painted both Hollis and Brand.38 In Rome, Hollis’ portrait was painted in 1752
by Richard Wilson.39 Hollis later, on his return to England, purchased a painting of
Ariccia by Wilson that he later presented to the British Museum.40
Hollis took an English vessel, the Ruby, from Naples to Messina in Sicily.41 There
he met with a group of English gentlemen including Stanier Porten, the British
resident at Naples and the uncle of Edward Gibbon, the historian.42 Among the places
he visited was the site of Taormina. He then went on to Catania, viewed Mount
Etna, and went to Syracuse where he purchased an ancient statue of Flora. From
Syracuse he took a boat to Malta.43 He also travelled through southern Sicily, visiting
Agrigento with its series of well-preserved classical temples. Among the finds he
observed as ‘a fine Etruscan vase’, presumably an Athenian figured-decorated pot.44
He returned via Naples, ascending Vesuvius three times, and visiting the newly
opened excavations at Herculaneum.45 The first two times were with Brand, so they
must have been in the spring of 1752.
Blackburne 1780, 33.
Blackburne 1780, 33.
For other slabs from the Via Appia: Cambridge FM GR.2–3.1884. These were displayed in the main
portico of the Founder’s Building.
Disney 1849b, 165–66, pl. lxxiii.
Disney 1849b, 67, pl. xxxii.
Mentioned in a letter to Dr Mayhew of Boston, Blackburne 1780, 3.
Coutu 2015, 168–69, figs. 5.3 and 5.4.
Peach 2004. See also Ashby 1913; Pierce 1965. For Jenkins’ picture of Hollis: Disney 1808, 4–5. This had
received payment of £20–£30. The Jenkins portrait was sold in New York in 1977: Bond 1990, 12. For
Brand’s portrait: Ingamells 1997, 118. The Jenkins’ portrait was sold at Christie’s 18 June 1976.
This is now in Harvard inv. HNA98: Bond 1990, 12-13, fig. 1; Ingamells 1997, 512; Coutu 2015, 167, fig. 5.2.
The portrait had been displayed in the Hyde, and was disposed through Sotheby’s in 1950.
It is now in The Tate inv. N01097. It was transferred to the National Gallery in 1880, and to the Tate in
1919. The landscape is mentioned: Blackburne 1780, 222.
Blackburne 1780, 34.
Courtney and Archer 2004. See also Ingamells 1997, 783.
Blackburne 1780, 39.
Blackburne 1780, 39.
Blackburne 1780, 45. Hollis wrote to his tutor Ward about the recent discoveries at Pompeii and
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 31

Brand and Hollis met again in Rome in September and travelled in the Campagna.46
While in Rome Brand and Hollis started to acquire a series of sculptures that would
be brought home for display. It was in Rome that Hollis and Lindsey first met. A list
of individuals met by Hollis was written in a 1750 guidebook of Rome.47 Hollis made
the acquaintance of Piranesi in Rome.48
Brand and Hollis travelled northwards separating at Verona.49 Hollis continued
to Milan, and then on to Antibes. Brand travelled to Venice where he was engaged
as a tutor to the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth and Frederick, Lord North.50 He returned to
England in the summer of 1753. Hollis returned to England in the same year.

Brand and Hollis in London

On their return to London, Brand and Hollis started to mingle with the enlightened
society. Hollis himself settled in Bedford Street in Covent Garden.51 Hollis was in
correspondence with Camillo Paderni of the Herculaneum Museum, discussing
the newly excavated finds from the city. This was read to the Royal Society on the
12 December 1754.52 Hollis was elected a member of Society for the Promotion
of Arts, Manufactuers, and Commerce (SPAC; now known as the Royal Society of
Arts) in 1756.53 Brand was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1756, and a
Fellow of the Academy of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in May 1759.54 He was
also a governor of Guy’s Hospital (1754) and St Thomas’ Hospital (1755). Brand and
Hollis had been enthused by their Grand Tour and took an active interest in the
past: both were elected Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries in December 1757.55
Hollis supported Thomas Jenkins’ election that same year.56 At the same time, Hollis
commissioned Canaletto to paint a series of paintings including one of Old Walton
Bridge (over the river Thames) showing the pair of friends (1754).57
Hollis had hoped to be elected to Parliament but was unsuccessful.58 He followed
his predecessors’ benefactions to New England, and sent 10 guineas to Princeton,
New Jersey, along with a copy of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.59 He sent
Herculaneum: Bond 1990, 7. For Sir William Hamilton’s interest in Vesuvius from 1764: Thackray 1996.
Blackburne 1780, 46.
Coutu 2015, 165.
Blackburne 1780, 59.
Blackburne 1780, 49.
Ingamells 1997, 118.
Coutu 2015, 169.
Paderni 1754.
Bond 1990, 79. The RSA was founded in 1754. For the link between SPAC and the Antiquaries: Sweet
2007, 94 n. 10 (noting specifically Brand and Hollis).
Disney 1808, 5. Hollis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1757: Bond 1990, 79.
Bond 1990, 79.
In December 1753 Winckleman recorded that Hollis was Jenkins’ patron: Ashby 1913, 492. For Hollis’
support for Jenkins: Sweet 2007, 97.
The painting was inherited by the Disney family and is now in the Dulwich Picture Gallery DPG600. It
was acquired in 1917. See Coutu 2015, 170, fig. 5.8.
Blackburne 1780, 59.
Blackburne 1780, 59; Hanford 1959. The Locke volume was presented on 23 June 1764.
32 The World of Disney

books for Harvard in 1758.60 Many of these gifts were destroyed in the Harvard fire
of 1764. He became a friend of the literary editor, Richard Baron.61
In 1757 Hollis presented a series of antiquities to the newly-established British
Museum, including ‘a large collection of antique bronzes and Etruscan ware, &c.
which cost him upwards of fifty pounds’ and ‘a considerable number of Etruscan
vases, sacrificing vessels and lamps’.62 This gift included a series of small bronzes,
including more than ten representations of Herakles, that complemented the ones
that had been presented to the Museum in 1753 by Sir Hans Sloane. In addition,
there were twelve Latin inscriptions and a Roman cinerarium.63 It was even claimed
that one of the Latin inscriptions was found in Bloomsbury though this seems
unlikely. The gift includes several items that had formed part of the collection of Dr
Richard Mead that had been purchased in 1755.64 These donated objects formed part
of the displays in Montagu House on Great Russell Street. In 1758 Hollis presented
a red wax model of the Laocoon to the Museum.65 Such gifts preceded some of the
key collections of sculpture and figure-decorated pottery that would arrive with the
Townley and Hamilton collections.66

The Hyde Remodelled

Hollis was a great admirer of The Hyde, that had become Brand’s summer residence.
In October 1750, during his Grand Tour, he wrote to Brand in Paris that he had called
at The Hyde,

you make the environs look really handsome, and at an easy expense; but to
do it completely, I take it the garden and its wall must be remodelled.67

The house was remodelled in 1761 by the architect William Chambers (1722-96).68 It
is possible that Brand had met Chambers in Rome where Chambers had married.69
Two pen and ink drawings by Chambers, now in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of
Art, indicate that they were work for Hollis. Chambers designed a space at The Hyde
Blackburne 1780, 73. See also Bond 1990, 113.
Stephen and Carter 2013. Baron published an essay by Archdeacon Francis Blackburne in 1768.
Blackburne 1780, 82. Quoted in Wilson 2002, 32. The British Museum was established by Act of
Parliament in 1753.
Several of the inscriptions were from Misenum: e.g. London BM 1757.08–16.12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19,
20, 22 (Booms 2016, 68–69, no. 14). Some of the inscriptions are marked, ‘Presented by Tho. Hollis. 1757’.
For other inscriptions from Misenum: Fitzhardinge 1951. The cinerarium: London BM 1757.08–16.9. A
funerary inscription from Rome and previously in the collections of John Kemp and Dr Richard Mead:
London BM 1757.08–16.11.
E.g. the wall-painting fragment reported to be from Pompeii, London BM 1757.08–16.6.
London BM 1758.05–05.1. Sloan 2003, 24–25, fig. 11.
For classical material in the eighteenth century: Jenkins 2003. For other contemporary material that
was displayed in the British Museum: Cook 1985; Jenkins and Sloan 1996.
Quoted in Disney 1808, 5–6. Hollis was writing from Wittenberg in Saxony in a letter dated 3 October
Disney 1808, 5; Harris 1970, 55; Harris 2004.
For Chambers in Rome, 1750-52: Ingamells 1997, 194–95.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 33

to display the newly acquired sculptures.

The layout and display of the sculptures
can be gleaned from the Reverend John
Disney’s 1807 catalogue.70
At least five items were purchased
in 1761 by Hollis from William Lloyd
of The Gregories in Beaconsfield,
Buckinghamshire.71 In the seventeenth
century the house had been the home of
the poet Edmund Waller (1606-87). Lloyd
had developed his collection in Rome in
1754 through Cavaceppi.72 Lloyd died in
1768, and The Gregories and its remaining
collection was acquired by Edmund Burke
(1729/30-1797), the politician.73
One of the striking pieces was a marble
bust of Minerva, or to use the Greek name
Athena, purchased by Hollis in 1761 from
Figure 8. Athena from the William Lloyd Lloyd who had acquired it in Rome.74 Two
collection. Museum Disneianum. of the sarcophagi displayed in the hall at
the Hyde were also purchased by Hollis
from Lloyd in 1761; Lloyd had acquired at least one of them from Thomas Jenkins in
Rome. One was described as a ‘Greek sarcophagus’ (but now thought to be second
century AD) and had been purchased from the Marquis de Cavalieri.75 Jenkins in a
letter to Brand of July 1761 noted that ‘found so long time since that no intelligence
can be had of the exact place’ where it was found.76 It showed Achilles hiding among
the daughters of Lycomedes. The second sarcophagus, showing Dionysiac scenes,
probably dates to the third century AD.77 The sarcophagus was displayed in the hall,
surmounted by a Roman cinerarium, and a head, and is flanked by two pilasters by
two further heads.78 Vout has noted that the central scene of the sarcophagus in the
drawing has been replaced by a portrait head, perhaps that of Hollis. This second
sarcophagus was reported by Thomas Jenkins, in a letter to Hollis of 30 January
1762, to have been

Disney 1807.
Lloyd’s wife died at the age of 28 in 1761: St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, 17–19 September
1761; Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, 17–19 September 1761. The house name is given as
Gregory. Only four of the pieces are given the sale date of 1761.
Ingamells 1997, 607.
Langford 2004.
Disney 1846, pl. i. This sculpture was not presented to Cambridge. See also Vout 2012, 310-11. The head
was later published by Ernest Gardner when it formed part of the Philip Nelson collection: Gardner 1899.
Cambridge FM GR.45.1850. Disney 1808, vi; Disney 1846, pl. xlii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 102–03, pl. 56,
no. 162. For display at The Hyde: Vout 2012, 316–17.
Quoted in Disney 1808, vi.
Cambridge FM GR.26.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xli; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 123, no. 205.
Reproduced in Vout 2012, 318, fig. 9.
34 The World of Disney

Figure 9. Sarcophagus showing Achilles hiding among the daughters

of Lycomedes. Museum Disneianum.

Figure 10. Sarcophagus with Dionysiac scene. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.

Figure 11. Detail of sarcophagus with Dionysiac scene. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam

Museum. © David Gill.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 35

‘found about twenty years ago (i.e. c.

1742) in a vineyard of Count Caponi’s,
a little beyond the chapel of Vignola,
on the right hand side of the road from
Porto del Populo to Ponte Mola. On this
intelligence you may rely; for the person
that found it gives me the account’.79

Two further pieces were purchased

from Lloyd in 1761: a Roman marble
cinerarium for the imperial freedman,
Marcus Ulpius Fortunatus,80 and a
marble Silenus.81 The use of Carrara
marble suggests that it was not an
antique sculpture. These purchases
Figure 12. Sarcophagus and cinerarium seem to have been made specifically by
displayed at The Hyde. Catalogue of Hollis for display at The Hyde.
The Hyde.

In July 1761 Hollis wrote to Brand:82

Remember, however, that I am to deliver these marbles to you like a

gentleman and a friend, that is, free of all charges whatsoever; nor are you
to depart from your own disposition, from the scrubbinesses of the country,
and tamper with my under-strappers. Above is a list of the things sent you.
You will perceive they are a few fragments of antiquity, as such respectable,
added to the two Sarcophagi. Take them benevolently for what they are, nor
do I mean more by them. My designs are now all out. But I mean not to lay
you under any obligation whatsoever, only to shew you a small instance of
my regard and attention, in a matter, which upon the whole, I believed would
not prove unacceptable to you.

In 1761 Hollis sent Brand two Corinthian pilaster capitals said to have been found
in the Pantanello at Tivoli.83 Tivoli, the site of Hadrian’s extensive villa, was the
object of explorations during the eighteenth century. Hollis continued to add to
Brand’s collection. One of the most important pieces was a large marble portrait
of the emperor Marcus Aurelius that had formed part of the Palazzo Barberini
collection.84 It was handled by Thomas Jenkins in Rome in 1766, and then sold to

Quoted in Disney 1808, v.
Cambridge FM GR.55.1850. Disney 1846, pl. liii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 94, pl. 51, no. 153.
Cambridge FM GR.21.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xv; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 121-22, no. 200.
Quoted in Disney 1808, iv–v.
Cambridge FM GR.82-83.1850. Budde and Nicholls 1964, 107, pl. 58, nos. 169-170. See also Vout 2012, 314.
Cambridge FM GR.10.1850. Disney 1846, pl. iii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 71-72, pl. 38, no. 114.
36 The World of Disney

This is probably the point when a

red-figured hydria, showing women
working on textiles, was acquired for
the collection. The Museum Disneianum
recorded that it had been acquired in
1760 (‘or thereabouts’).85 The hydria was
noted as coming from Nola. An ‘Etruscan
vase’ from the Valetta collection had
been given to Brand by Hollis in March
1761, and two large ‘Etruscan vases’,
displayed in the drawing room, were
acquired by Hollis from the Lloyd
The Hyde’s collection contained
objects from older collections. Several
items had been purchased from the
1755 sale of the collection (Museum
Meadianum) of Dr Richard Mead (1673-
Figure 13. Cinerarium of Marcus Ulpius
Fortunatus from the William Lloyd 1754), physician to King George II.
collection. Museum Disneianum. Mead was a medical doctor, although
his interest in classical antiquity can be
detected at the turn of the century when
he studied in Utrecht. Among them is a
funerary inscription to two freedmen,
Caius Menanius Batyllus and Anthimus.87
The inscription, purchased by Hollis for
13 s, can be traced back to the collection
of Leonardus Augustinus in 1731. Other
pieces from this source included an
Egyptian bronze ibis,88 and a silver seated
figure of Vesta.89 Other objects from the
Mead collection were donated to the
British Museum.
Among the other acquisitions
displayed at The Hyde was the head of
‘Paris’ purchased at the Duke of Argyle’s
sale in 1771.90 This was part of the
Disney 1849b, 263–64, pls. cxv–cxvi.
Gill 1990a, 227.
Cambridge FM GR.79.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xlvi.
For Mead material at the Hyde: Vout 2012, 320–21.
Disney 1849b, 131–32, pl. lix.
Figure 14. ‘Atys’, Museum Disneianum. 89
Disney 1849b,189–90, pl. lxxxii.
Cambridge FM GR.13.1850. Budde and Nicholls
1964, 30, pl. 16, no. 54.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 37

collection dispersed on the death of John

Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyle who died
in 1770. The head wears a Phrygian cap
that resonates with Republican values.
Indeed, this type of headdress is shown
on the base of a bust of Thomas Hollis also
displayed in the house.91 The ‘Paris’ was
changed to ‘Atys’ at the suggestion of the
sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott (1775-
1856). Interestingly Disney also made
the connection with the head on the
base of the cameo glass Portland Vase,
noting the ‘very striking’ resemblance.92
This head of ‘Paris’ was displayed in The
Hyde on a Roman ossuarium of Marcus
Aurelius, of the fourth praetorian
Figure 15. Cinerarium of Marcus Aurelius, cohort, who came from Viminacium in
reported to have been found near the tomb the province of Moesia Superior on the
of Caecilia Metella. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam river Danube.93 This had formed part of
Museum. © David Gill. the collection of Leonardus Augustinus
in the early eighteenth century, and had
probably been acquired from the Mead
The extent of the classical collection
formed by Hollis and Brand in Italy, and
augmented by further acquisitions in
England, can be reconstructed from the
1807 catalogue prepared for The Hyde
by the Reverend John Disney, shortly
after he inherited the house.94 Among
the pieces purchased in Rome was a
marble head of Jupiter Serapis, acquired
from Abbate Clementi in 1752.95 A Latin
inscription for Paulus Aemilius, who
annexed Macedonia, was purchased by
Hollis from Abbate Bracci in 1752.96 This
Vout 2012, 317, fig. 8.
Disney 1846, 11.
Cambridge FM GR.51.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xlix;
Budde and Nicholls 1964, 94–95, pl. 50, no. 154.
Disney 1807.
Figure 16. Portrait of Marcus Aurelius 95
Cambridge FM GR.15.1850. Disney 1846, pl. viii;
once in the Palazzo Barberini. Cambridge, Budde and Nicholls 1964, 32–33, pl. 18, no. 57;
Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill. Vassilika 1998, 104–05, no. 50.
Cambridge FM GR.73.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xliii.
38 The World of Disney

Figure 17. Funerary inscription of Caius Menanius Batyllus and Anthimus.

Museum Disneianum.

turns out to have been created for the antiquities market. Hollis wrote to Brand
in December 1752: ‘He [the seller] says he paid dear for it; and no wonder, from its
singularity. If it does not come very high, perhaps I can take it myself ’. Hollis also
wrote to Professor John Ward (1678/9-1758) of Gresham College on 25 December
1752, noting ‘found very lately at, or near, Rome’.97 Ward was interested in Roman
antiquities, and became a Trustee of the British Museum at its creation in 1753.98
Hollis presented a portrait of Ward, by the artist Joseph Samuel Webster, to the
British Museum in 1759.99 Hollis also presented a bust of Sir Thomas More.100
Hollis acquired a bronze Bacchus in Naples probably during his stay in 1752.101
This statue was considered by Edward Hawkins (1780-1867) of the British Museum
to have been ‘cast from an antique original, which had been repaired and spoiled
before the copy was made; the arms and legs appear to have been supplied to
the original, which was only a fragment’.102 A marble cinerarium for the imperial
freedman Titus Flavius Verus was acquired at Pozzuoli: the piece is recorded as early
as 1755.103
Hollis purchased a marble medallion showing the face of Nero in Venice c. 1752.104
Although it was said to have been found in Athens, it was made of Carrara marble.
Its authenticity was enhanced by the story that the other half had been separated
and taken away by an Englishman. Another Hollis piece was the head of Hadrian
acquired in Naples c. 1755. It was displayed at The Hyde as the emperor Augustus.
The head is carved onto a fragment of a 11th–12th century medieval arch.105
One of the striking things about the sculptural collection is that there was a
clear display of figures from Rome’s Republican past in the main entrance hall of
For Ward: McConnell 2004.
Wilson 2002, 24.
Dawson 2003, 35. This is now in the National Portrait Gallery, inv. no. 590: Saywell and Simon 2004, 642
Dawson 2003, 34.
Disney 1846, pl. lxxiii.
For Hawkins: Blackburn 2004.
Cambridge FM GR.50.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xlviii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 95–96, pl. 50, no. 155.
Cambridge FM GR.63.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xxxiv; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 123, no. 207.
Cambridge FM GR.62.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xxxii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 109, pl. 59, no. 178. It was
identified in the Museum Disneianum as the head of Julius Caesar.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 39

Figure 19. Medallion of Nero acquired in

Venice c. 1752. Museum Disneianum.

Figure 18. Cinerarium of Titus Flavius

Verus, from Pozzuoli. Cambridge,
Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.

The Hyde. Clearly the intended impact was for the visitor to understand that they
were entering a house where republican values were prized. Hollis himself was a
benefactor of several American universities, including Harvard, during the 1760s.106
He was a donor of books, often pressed with images of Brutus or other republican
symbols.107 This was a period of increasing tension with the colonies of North
America and Hollis sought to be a champion for ‘liberty’ in an increasingly tense

The Hollis Bequest

In 1770 Hollis retired to his Corscombe estate in Dorset,108 and died suddenly in
January 1774.109 A contemporary account recorded:110

That friend of the British empire and of mankind was, early in the afternoon
of New Year’s Day, in a field, at some distance from his place of residence at
Corscombe, attended by only one workman, who was receiving his directions,
concerning a tree which had been lately felled. On a sudden, he put one of
his fingers to his forehead; saying, “Richard, I believe the weather is going
to change: I am extremely giddy.” These words were scarce off his lips, when
he dropped. He fell on his left side; and being near an hedge, his head was
received by the subjacent ditch. The man (I know not whether a carpenter, or a

Robbins 1950; Bond 1990, 31.
Bond 1990, 34. For donations to the Society of Antiquaries: Nurse 2007, 198–99, fig. 62, 201.
Bond 1990, 10
Bond 1990, 33.
The Weekly Entertainer 15 January 1798, vol. 31, 41–43.
40 The World of Disney

common labourer) sprung to his assistance;

and, raising him from that sad situation,
administered what little relief he could.
The expiring patriot was still sufficiently
himself, to say, “Lord, have mercy on me;
Lord, have mercy on me; receive my soul:”
which were the last words he was able to
pronounce. His lips move, afterwards; but
no sound was formed. In a few seconds
more, his spirit was disimprisoned.

Hollis was buried in one of the estate fields,

and the grave was ploughed over. Brand was
the major beneficiary and thus inherited
his estates at Corscombe in Dorset, as well
as his London house in Pall Mall.111 The will,
dated 7 November 1767, stated:112

… to my dear friend and fellow traveller

Thomas Brand of the Hide in Essex, esq.
Figure 20. Head of ‘Augustus’ carved on a from whom a severe plan of life had kept
medieval arch, acquired in Naples c. 1755. me much more separate for some years past
Museum Disneianum.
than otherwise I wished to have been …

It was at this point that Brand added Hollis to his name. One of the earliest recorded
instances of its use was in April 1774 when he became a member of Council of
the Antiquaries.113 Brand-Hollis also adapted his family crest to incorporate and
acknowledge the inheritance.114 Brand-Hollis was aware that some had thought that
Hollis had not intended to leave him the money and was planning to change his will.
However, Brand-Hollis decided that the inheritance would not change his lifestyle
‘but endeavoured to follow the example of my friend’.115
Brand-Hollis had aspirations to enter parliament, and in the general election of
1774, in the wake of the ‘Boston tea party’, he purchased the rotten borough of Hindon
in Wiltshire. It appears that his agents, and those of Richard Smith, attempted to
bribe the voters of the borough.116 Brand-Hollis was subsequently prosecuted over
Ditchfield 2007, xli. Hollis’ will had been written on 7 November 1767: Disney 1808, 7. For Hollis’ house
in Pall Mall: Bond 1990, 31, 78–79.
Blackburne 1780, 504.
Public Advertiser 26 April 1774. He was a committee member with Sir William Chambers in 1780:
Whitehall Evening Post 22–25 April 1780.
Disney 1808, 8.
Letter of 8 August 1775, quoted in Disney 1808, 8.
‘London’, London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post 14–16 February 1775; London Evening Post 14–16
February 1775. See Disney 1808, 11. Ditchfield 2007, no. 147, to William Turner of Wakefield, 28 February
1775: ‘We are all grieved at Mr. B. hollis’s rejection. He did not know it seems what a Borough he was
engaged for till he had gone too far to treat. And he had no idea of the low work that his agent was to go
through. I am sure a disinterested zeal to serve ye public was his only motive.’ See also Robbins 1953, 241.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 41

the alleged bribery.117 Smith and Brand-Hollis were found guilty in March 1776,118
and were fined 1000 marks each, and a prison sentence of six months.119 Thomas
Lindsey recorded Brand-Hollis’s interest in American affairs.120

Mr B. Hollis who called just now and gave me this frank, says that the cause
of the Americans was nobly supported on Monday in the house, especially
by Coll. Barré, who laid open the whole of the ministerial conduct towards
America, exposed their pretended contempt of the Americans as soldiers,
which he could do well, as having served amongst them …

Barré was the member for Calne in Wiltshire.121 He had served in Canada and had
lost an eye during the action at Quebec in 1759.
Brand-Hollis continued to support the American revolution after Hollis’ death
in 1774, and donated a substantial sum to the Distresses of the American Prisoners
in 1778;122 in 1787 he received an honorary doctorate from Harvard.123 In 1783 he
was elected a member of the Society of Arts and Sciences in New England.124 Brand-
Hollis supported John Adams, the first United States ambassador to Great Britain
from 1785 to 1788, and he and his wife were guests at The Hyde.125 Adams is reported
to have told Brand-Hollis that King George III had said the he

was the last to consent to the separation being made; but that having been
inevitable, I have already said, and I say now, that I will always be the last to
disturb the independence of the United-States, or in any way infringe their

Alongside these American interests, Brand-Hollis was eager to see constitutional

reform at home. Brand-Hollis and his fellow Essex landowner, Lewis Disney-Ffytche,
supported the Society for Constitutional Information in 1780 that argued for
parliamentary reform.127 From 1780 Brand-Hollis also campaigned with the Reverend
Christopher Wyvill, one of the Feathers Tavern petitioners of 1771 that had included
the Reverend John Disney.128 Wyvill was rector of Black Notley, near Braintree, in

‘House of Commons’, London Evening Post 6–9 May 1775.
General Evening Post 8–11 June 1776.
Disney 1808, 12. See also Bond 1990, 9. They were discharged in November 1776: Gazeteer and New Daily
Advertiser 26 November 1776.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 141 (7 December 1774, Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield).
Brooke 1964.
Public Advertiser 7 January 1778.
Disney 1808, 12. See also Robbins 1953, 239.
Disney 1808, 12. See also Robbins 1953, 239.
Disney 1808, 12. Adams was later president of the United States (1797–1801).
Disney 1808, 12.
Disney 1808, 13. See London Courant and Westminster Chronicle 17 January 1780; Whitehall Evening Post 20
January 1780.
Disney 1808, 14. See also Dickinson 2004. Wyvill was also a friend of Brand-Hollis: Robbins 1953, 239.
42 The World of Disney

Figure 21. Thomas Hollis,

by Giovanni Battista
Cipriani. National Portrait
Gallery D46107.

Essex Hall Chapel

Brand-Hollis, like Hollis, had developed a friendship with a number of Anglicans,

including Archdeacon Francis Blackburne, the father-in-law of Disney and Lindsey.
Blackburne had a received a legacy of £500 from Hollis.129 In 1780 Blackburne
published his memoir of Thomas Hollis.130 Brand-Hollis was so delighted with the
volume that he presented Blackburne with £1000.131
These influences led Brand-Hollis to support Theophilus Lindsey and the creation
of the Essex Hall chapel in London. Within months of arriving at Essex Street Chapel
Lindsey had visited Brand-Hollis in Essex.132 Brand-Hollis was a member of the

Disney 1808, 10. For a likely response to the publication by James Boswell: Bond 1990, 1.
Bond 1990, 86.
Disney 1808, 10.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 137 (6 October 1774, Lindsey to William Turner of Wakefield: ‘the truth is, the week
before last I was at Mr Brand Hollis’s in Essex (a friend (and) great admirer of the worthy families of the
[?Shores] and Milnses) …’
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 43

congregation at Essex Hall,133 and by the spring of 1776 he was subscribing £100 to
support the work of the chapel.134 This continued in subsequent years.135
Lindsey was joined at Essex Hall by the Reverend Disney in February 1783. It
appears that Brand-Hollis and Disney became friends during the 1780s, possibly by
the end of 1782.136 In Disney’s words, this ‘acquaintance proceeded to friendship, and
that friendship continued to improve and was uninterrupted as long as he lived’.137
One of the mutual friends of Brand-Hollis and Disney was John Jebb a founder,
in September 1783, of the Society for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures.138
Jebb’s mother, Ann Gansel, came from Donyland Hall, near Colchester in Essex.
Jebb had studied at Peterhouse in Cambridge, followed by a fellowship; Disney
just overlapped with him. Jebb subsequently lectured in Cambridge, notoriously
questioning the doctrine of the Trinity. He was one of the Feathers Tavern Petitioners,
along with Lindsey and Disney, who questioned the Church of England’s position on
the Thirty-Nine Articles. Lindsey subsequently invited him to be a minister at the
Essex Street Chapel but Jebb declined and trained as a medical practitioner. He then
helped to establish the Society for Constitutional Information. After his death in
March 1786, Disney and Brand-Hollis were influential in the publication of the three
volume memoir of Jebb (1787), working together on his papers in Cambridge.139
Brand-Hollis recognised that those who were not members of the Church
of England deserved to have access to higher education. In 1786 he supported
the creation of a college at Hackney to train non-conformist ministers.140 This
establishment was dissolved in 1796.
In April 1786 Brand-Hollis socialised with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams,
the first United States Minister to Great Britain and the future president of the
United States, in London,141 and in 1787 Brand-Hollis was awarded an honorary LLD
from Harvard.142 In 1788 Brand-Hollis joined the Revolution Society that took
advantage of the centenary of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.143 The meeting
made a declaration of the following principles:144

1. That all civil and political authority is derived from the people.
2. That the abuse of power justifies resistance.
3. That the right of private judgement, liberty of conscience, trial by jury, the
freedom of the press, and the freedom of election, ought ever to be held
sacred and inviolable.
Turner 1843, 208–09.
Ditchfield 2007, no. 159 (15 May 1776, Lindsey to William Tayleur).
Ditchfield 2007, no. 170 (20 May 1777, Lindsey to William Tayleur): ‘‘Benefactions recd. For the purchase
of Essex-house, and building a chapel’. Brand-Hollis donated £100.
Disney 1808, 20 (who suggests possibly the end of 1782).
Disney 1808, 20.
Gascoigne 2004a. See Disney 1808, 20.
Disney 1808, 20.
Disney 1808, 15.
Robbins 1953, 239. Adams visited the Hyde in July of the same year.
Disney 1808, 13.
Disney 1808, 16.
Disney 1808, 16.
44 The World of Disney

Figure 22. ‘Jupiter Column’ found at Great Chesterford in 1803, and presented to the British
Museum by Thomas Brand-Hollis. © David Gill.

This coincided with the French Revolution and the removal and execution of the
French king. The timing was unfortunate and presented a negative picture of those
involved in the celebrations.
Brand-Hollis contributed to the fund to help Joseph Priestley whose house
in Birmingham had been destroyed in rioting as he had been linked to a dinner
held on 14 July 1791 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille in France.145 He
maintained a close interest in republicanism in France.146
Brand-Hollis was linked to the publication of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (1791
and 1792) though he distanced himself from the affair.147 Paine asked Brand-Hollis to
present the key of the Bastille to George Washington.148 In 1792 Brand-Hollis joined
the “Friends of the People” to press for parliamentary reform.149
Disney and Brand-Hollis met at Salisbury in August 1791, and were able to
visit Southampton and Winchester together.150 Brand-Hollis prepared his will on 2
November 1792.151 The main beneficiary (and his executor) was named as ‘the Rev.
Dr. John Disney of Sloane-Street, Knightsbridge, near London, his heirs, executors
and administrators, to his and their sole use and benefit’.

Disney 1808, 18.
Robbins 1953, 239.
Disney 1808, 18–19.
Robbins 1953, 239.
Disney 1808, 19.
Disney 1808, 20; Anon. 1818, 63–64.
Disney 1808, 23. It is tempting to speculate that John Jebb who died in 1786 had been intended to be the
initial beneficiary.
Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand 45

Brand-Hollis also acquired

local antiquities that were found
in Essex. One of the notable pieces
was the stone base of from a so-
called Jupiter Column. This had
been recut and reused as a water
tank for a blacksmith at Great
Chesterford in Essex. The place
was the site of a small Roman
town. The sculpture was presented
to the British Museum in 1803, the
year before his death.152 One of the
later acquisitions by Brand-Hollis
was a marble Apollo purchased in
Rome in 1796. It had earlier been
restored by Flaxman in 1793.153
In 1799 Joseph Noellekens wrote
a memorandum on the six finest
pieces at The Hyde. They included
the portrait head of Marcus
Aurelius and the two sarcophagi,
as well as the figure of Minerva
and the portrait of Domitian.154
Brand-Hollis’ health
deteriorated after ‘a fit of
apoplexy’ in a bookseller’s in
Piccadilly in February 1795.155 He
Figure 23. Apollo. Museum Disneianum. retired to Essex in 1801, and in
1803 relinquished his house on
Chesterfield Street.156 He died on 9
September 1804 at The Hyde, ‘whilst sitting in his drawing-room, without a groan
or a sigh’.157 He was buried next to his father in Ingatestone parish church.158 The
plaque records the role of Disney.

London BM PRB 1803.4–2.1. British Museum 1964, 55, pl. 19, no. 4; Huskinson 1994, 2–3, pls. 2–3, no. 5;
Medlycott 2011, 88–89, pl. 5.1. A drawing of the sculpture is in the Chelmsford Museum.
Cambridge GR.2.1885. Disney 1849b, pl. xxiv; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 19–20, pl. 10, no. 39.
Coltman 2009, 256.
Disney 1808, 20–21.
Disney 1808, 21.
Disney 1808, 21. See Bury and Norwich Post 19 September 1804.
Disney 1808, 23.
46 The World of Disney

Figure 24. Memorial for Thomas Brand-Hollis,

Ingatestone Parish Church.


F.R.S. and S.A.

The Reverend Disney was a beneficiary of the will, and was soon to move to Essex.
Chapter 4

The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex

Thomas Brand-Hollis died at The Hyde on 9 September 1804. His friend, the
Reverend Disney, who had visited him during his last illness,1 inherited the house
and moved there in June 1805.2 The bequest was substantial and included the Dorset
estates of Brand Hollis’ friend Thomas Hollis (d. 1774), and together with the Essex
estate, Disney was provided with a joint annual income of some £5000. The terms
of the will suggested that the funds be used for ‘the benefit of his country and of
human society’.3 Yet the move to Essex strengthened the Disney family’s links with
the county that had started some thirty years earlier with the Reverend Disney’s
elder brother, Lewis.

Danbury Place

The Hyde was not the only Essex link for the Disney family. Some thirty years earlier,
in September 1775, Lewis Disney (1738-1822) had married Elizabeth Ffytche (1749-
1787) of Danbury Place in Essex, and the couple took the name Disney-Ffytche.4 Lewis,
who was the Reverend Disney’s older brother, had previously lived at Flintham Hall
in Nottinghamshire that had been inherited from his father in 1771.
Danbury Place lies some six miles to the east of Chelmsford. The house had
been constructed in the late 16th century, and had been acquired by Elizabeth’s
grandfather, William Fytche (c. 1671-1728), Member of Parliament for Maldon (1701-
08, 1711-12), on his marriage to Mary Corey.5 The family had originally been settled
at Woodham Walter in Essex, some 2 miles away from Danbury. Fytche had three
sons, Robert, William and Thomas, and at least three sisters Frances, Anne (Nanny),
and Mary. William died in Bath on 21 September 1728.6

Ditchfield 2012, no. 762 (6 August 1804): ‘Mr Brand Hollis lives on, the weather infeebles him, but the
viscera is perfect: Dr D: is just come from thence’.
Turner 1843, 209. For the book crest used in the library: Bond 1990, 45, fig. 11.
Quoted in The Bury and Norwich Post 19 September 1804.
Announcement in Gazeteer and New Daily Advertiser 21 September 1775. She is described as the niece of
Thomas Ffytche of Danbury Place. They took the name Ffytche (and in effect Disney-Ffytche) from 30
September 1775: London Gazette 26–30 September, 1775; London Chronicle 30 September – 3 October 1775.
Lewis’ younger brother John had married Jane Blackburne the year before.
Election to Maldon (with John Comyns): Daily Courant 8 May 1705. A pair of portraits of William Ffytche
and his wife Ann were auctioned at Sotheby’s, British Paintings 1500–1850, London 12 November 1997,
lot 44.
London Evening Post 26–28 September 1728; Daily Journal 27 September 1728; Daily Post 2 January 1729.

48 The World of Disney

Figure 25. Danbury Place, Essex.

Thomas Fytche, Elizabeth’s paternal uncle, seems to have joined the East India
Company in September 1730.7 He appears in correspondence over the loading of
the Grafton in June 1733.8 In 1735-36 he was based in Canton (Guanzhou), the main
trading post into southern China.9 Thomas also served in India.10 His brother Robert,
a captain in the Royal Navy, died unmarried in 1740.11
Thomas’ brother William also went east and became governor of Bengal. He
married Lucia Beard in Madras on 25 February 1745. In 1746 he was appointed a
member of the council of merchants at Calcutta.12 Their daughter Elizabeth was
born at Madras on 5 September 1749. In the same year Fytche was put in charge
of the English factory at Cossimbazaar, near Murshidabad in West Bengal. William
was appointed as president of Bengal and governor of Fort William (the present
Calcutta) on 5 July 1752, a short-lived appointment. He died from dysentery on 8

London Evening Post 10–12 September 1730; Daily Post 12 September 1730.
BL Asia, Pacific and Africa coll. E/3/106/ ff 46–53.
BL Asia, Pacific and Africa coll. E/3/106/ ff 273v–78. This related to the cargos of the Walpole and the
Princess of Wales.
Public Advertiser 4 March 1777. Thomas Ffytche is listed with Thomas Brand in the London Chronicle 7
March 1769.
He had served on the Sheerness.
Fytche 1878, 15.
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex 49

August 1752 and was buried in the cemetery of St John’s Church, Calcutta.13 In his
will he described himself as Chief for Affairs for the United Company of Merchants
of England Trading to the East Indies.14 His widow Lucia and daughter Elizabeth were
the main beneficiaries. Elizabeth could not inherit until she was 21, i.e. in 1770. Her
uncle Thomas was the executor. The will itself was not proven until October 1754,
when Lucia Fytche was still alive.
Thomas Ffytche, on his return to England, had taken up residence at Danbury
Place. He served as Sheriff of Essex in 1767.15 His sister, and Elizabeth’s aunt, Nanny
(Ann) married Robert Clarke of Blake Hall, near Chipping Ongar, Essex in July 1750.16

Disney-Ffytche and Danbury Place

On 16 September 1775 Elizabeth, Thomas Ffytche’s niece who was now aged 28,
married Lewis Disney of Flintham Hall. Lewis and Elizabeth made Essex their main
residence and settled at Danbury Place.17 They had four daughters, Frances Elizabeth
in 1776, Sophia in 1777, Diana in 1779 (who died in 1782) and Anna Maria in 1780 (and
who died in 1787). Elizabeth’s uncle, Thomas, died at Sandon, between Chelmsford
and Danbury, on 10 February 1777, and Elizabeth inherited a significant part of his
fortune.18 Other beneficiaries were Thomas’ two surviving sisters, Frances Ffytche
and Ann Clarke, and his two nieces, the daughters of Ann and Robert Clarke. Thomas’
will specifically recorded that the bequest should ‘be employed in the repairing or
rebuilding Danbury Place in such manner as [Elizabeth and her husband Lewis] will
think proper’. This suggests that the Elizabethan house was in need of some repair
and modernising.19 Elizabeth and Lewis were nominated executrix and executor of
Thomas’ will. It should be noted that this bequest coincided with the rebuilding of
parts of Flintham Hall.20
Life at Danbury was not without its challenges apart from the maintenance
of the hall. In the summer of 1778 Lewis suffered from the rustling of 41 Norfolk
wether sheep, one Lincolnshire ram, and one Lincolnshire wether.21 Lewis also
started to disperse the holdings of the Disney family. In 1778 he leased a cottage at
Elston, part of the estate of Flintham Hall, in Nottinghamshire to William Bramley.22

The date of death is provided on the monument to the presidents of Bengal in St John’s church.
The will was written in June 1752.
Public Advertiser 16 February 1767.
General Advertiser 3 August 1750; London Evening Post 31 July–2 August 1750.
The Town and Country Magazine (Sept. 1775) 503.
Public Advertiser 4 March 1777. Thomas Ffytche died at Sandon, Essex. Thomas Ffytche was buried in the
parish church of Woodham Walter.
It was subsequently rebuilt in 1830.
Historic England, entry 1001080. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001080
(accessed on 22 May 2019).
Notice of 11 July 1778, in St James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post 21–23 July 1778.
Nottinghamshire Record Office M/5538. Dated 4 April 1778.
50 The World of Disney

Lewis was involved with Essex society and served as one of the two stewards for
the Chelmsford Races, held at Galleywood Common, of 1779.23 Lewis was considered
as a parliamentary candidate for Essex in the 1779 by-election although Thomas
Berney Bramston was elected unopposed.24 In late 1779 Lewis was nominated as
Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.25 Lewis appears to have known Thomas Brand, a near
neighbour, as their names appear in a petition submitted to Parliament in 1780.26
Disney-Ffytche and Brand-Hollis were signatories for an application to the Sheriff
of Essex to hold a meeting in Chelmsford

to consider a Petition to Parliament to inquire into, and effectually correct

any abuses in the expenditure of public Money; to reduce all exorbitant
emoluments; to reseind and abolish all sinecure places and umerited pensions,
and for co-operating with other Counties in procuring, by constitutional
means, such relief to this distressed Country as the necessities of the times

These petitions predate the resignation of the Reverend Disney from his living in
Lincolnshire, and the move to Essex Street Chapel, suggesting that the links with
Brand-Hollis long predated the move to London.
The American War of Independence had been fought since 1775, and Lewis’ brother
Frederick had been part of the British army, part of which that had surrendered at
the battle of Saratoga in 1778. Lewis seems to have shared republican ideas, and in
1778 supported the relief of American Prisoners in the War of Independence.28 In
1780 Lewis also sat on the Nottinghamshire Committee opposed to the American
War; his brother John was also a signatory.29
Frances Fytche, sister of Thomas and aunt to Elizabeth, died in Chelsea on 12
October 1779.30 During the preparation for her grave in the north aisle of the church
at Danbury, a body was discovered in a lead coffin that was opened by Dr Gower from
In 1781 Lewis Disney-Ffytche was in dispute with the Bishop of London, Robert
Lowth (1710-87), over the institution of the evangelical Reverend John Eyre (1754–
1803) in the parish of Woodham Green.32 Thomas Ffytche had the patronage for the
living that had been passed down, on his death, to his niece Elizabeth. He had given
the living to Foote Gower in 1769. The issue came to prominence in May 1780 when
Racing Calendar 5 May 1779.
General Evening Post 4–6 May 1779. The other candidates were Thomas Berney Bramston (1733–1813) and
Jacob Houblon. Bramston was elected. The Bramstons were cousins of the Ffytche family.
General Evening Post 11–13 November 1779; London Evening Post 11–13 November 1779.
Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser 17 January 1780.
Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser 17 January 1780; January 20, 1780.
Public Advertiser 26 January 1778.
St James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post 4–7 March 1780.
Morning Post and Daily Advertiser 13 October 1779.
Suckling 1845, 87–90.
Aikin, et al. 1807, 359. For Lowth: Mandelbrote 2004.For Eyre: Courtney and Brown 2004. Lambeth Palace
Library: 109.ff.28–101. The case is discussed in The Law of Simony (London, 1784), 59–66. Universal Magazine
of Knowledge and Pleasure June 1747–Dec.1803, 72(504), 422–425.
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex 51

Gower died. Eyre had been ordained deacon by Lowth in 1779, and by the bishop of
Lincoln later that same year. The dispute related to ‘bonds of resignation’, linking
the clerical livings to the patrons; Disney-Ffytche had demanded £3000 from Eyre
to secure his presentation to the parish. The Bishop of London had claimed that the
living fell under his diocese. The extended dispute lasted until 1783 (the year when
the Reverend Disney moved to Essex Hall in London). There was an extended debate
relating to the issue in the House of Lords on 9 May 1783.33

France and Italy

Lewis and Elizabeth continued to live in Essex, while his brother John and his
family were based in London. However, the lives of the Disney-Ffytche family were
disrupted in 1787. In March of that year their youngest daughter, Anna Maria, died,
aged 6, at Swinderby in Lincolnshire.34 Then in November, Elizabeth, aged 38, died in
childbirth at Swinderby leaving two surviving daughters, Frances and Sophia.35 In
June 1788 Lewis’ younger brother Frederick died in Lincoln.
The following year, in 1789, the Disney family was rocked with scandal. In July
of that year Lewis was tried for assault at the Chelmsford assizes ‘with intent to
commit an unnatural crime’, on William Ford, a waiter at the Cock and Bell hotel in
Romford, Essex.36 The euphemism suggests a homosexual act. Lewis’ brother John
was concerned. Thomas Lindsey wrote to William Frend in August of the same year:37

I find Dr Disney very well, though he has been much disturbed with the affair
you know of relating to his brother, which has turned out most favourably
respecting the judges and the whole court, but they jury unaccountably, tho
they acquitted him of the accusation brought in their verdict, guilty of an
assault in general; which in such a business is a most unpleasant thing.

The report in The Times stated that the first count of assault included ‘an intent
to commit the detestable crime of S—y’.38 The case was then heard at the Court
of King’s Bench at Westminster Hall, in November 1789. It was noted that the
evidence from the trial should not be read out, ‘as it would be a violation of all the
rules of decency’. Lewis was subsequently fined £100.39
The legal expenses surrounding the case may have caused Lewis to start realising
his assets. In the same year, 1789, he sold Flintham Hall and the estate to Colonel
Thomas Thoroton (1752–1814) for £18,000. Thoroton had served in America and
had married Anne Bowes in 1787; he had retired from the army in 1791. Thoroton’s
Parliamentary Register 9 May 1783.
Announcement in World and Fashionable Advertiser 14 March 1787; Bath Chronicle 15 March 1787. She died
on 10 March 1787.
Announcement in World and Fashionable Advertiser 19 November 1787.
‘Chelmsford’, World Monday 27 July 1789. See also World Tuesday 20 October 1789.
Thomas Lindsey to William Frend, 10 August 1789: Ditchfield 2012, no. 390.
‘Law intelligence’, The Times 20 November 1789, 3.
‘Law Report’, Oracle Bell’s New World Friday 20 November 1789.
52 The World of Disney

father, Thomas, had served as MP for several constituencies including Newark

(1761–68), and Thoroton was himself elected MP for Newark in 1802.
In 1790 Lewis seems to have transferred his lease on North Eggerdon, near
Bridport in Dorset to the Reverend Isaac Gulliver.40 This seems to have been a shared
lease with the Reverend John Disney that dated back to 1788.41 The property would
appear to have been part of the estate of Thomas Hollis, either bequeathed to
Archdeacon Blackburne, or passed to the Disneys by Thomas Brand-Hollis.
Lewis, meanwhile, did not appear to have found Essex to be the safest of places. In
December 1790, he wrote to The Times about his encounter with a highwayman in the
county.42 His recommendation was that anyone placed in the same position should
first shoot the highwayman’s horse. Lewis decided to look for somewhere more
congenial to live and moved to Paris in 1791.43 In 1792 he sold the Nottinghamshire
manorial estate of Syerston adjacent to Flintham Hall to William Fillingham (1734–
95),44 as well as the estate at Kirkstead to the south-east of Lincoln to Richard Ellison
of Lincoln.45
Lewis’ sympathies had lain with republicanism, and since his high profile legal
case, he started to look to France that was at this time in the grip of a republican
revolution. The Bastille had fallen in July 1789,46 and in June 1791 the Royal family had
been captured as they tried to flee to Luxembourg.47 Yet it may have been this
republican nation, separate from the England under the reign of an increasingly
ill George III, that may have appealed to Lewis. On 20-21 July 1792 Lewis purchased
the pleasure gardens, Le Désert de Retz near Chambourcy for 108,000 livres from
François Racine de Monville.48 The gardens, close to Paris, had been created from
1774. The gardens incorporated specific allusions to Africa, Asia and America. Lewis
himself adopted the French form of his name, Louis.
The timing of the purchase was poor. Louis XVI was executed in January 1793,49
and in February France declared war on England as part of a European alliance.
Lewis, his two daughters Frances and Sophia, along with their governess, Amélie
Launnens, and other staff sought to leave France.50 Lewis and his two daughters
‘escaped from Paris a few days before the cruel decree of the National Convention
passed against the English’.51 He was allowed to leave for Switzerland in March
1793 as he had equipped two volunteers and provided four horses for a cavalry
Dorset Record Office D-2705/T/8–9. Dated 4–5 July 1790.
Dorset Record Office D-2705/T/11. Dated 19 September 1788.
The Times 3 December 1790, 4.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 78. See also Bennett 1890, 330.
Nottinghamshire Archives DD/FM/60/8. Syerston had been purchased in 1775, on Lewis’ marriage to
Allen 1834, 79.
McPhee 2017, 72–73.
McPhee 2017, 132.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 77; Ketchman 1994. See also Rice 1976, 123.
McPhee 2017, 173.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 79.
St James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post 14–16 November 1793. Disney-Ffytche was said to have been
one of a small handful of Englishmen still resident in Paris: St James’s Chronicle 31 October–2 November
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex 53

regiment.52 His property at Le Désert de Retz was seized by a decree of 10 October

1793.53 Among Lewis’s possessions that are known to have been seized in Paris was
a 1637 harpsichord made by Ruckers of Antwerp.54 Lewis petitioned the Convention
Nationale in 1794 about the confiscation of his property.55
Lewis was now stranded in Switzerland and unable to return to England. In 1794
he tried to let Danbury Place.56 He succeeded in gaining Le Désert de Retz in 26
March 1795,57 but the property was returned to the Republic the following year. He
repurchased it in February 1816 for 85,015 francs.58

Italy and William Hillary

Lewis and his family left Switzerland for Italy, knowing that he had regained, albeit
temporarily, some of his property in France. Lewis (identified as Mr Dusney) was
in Bergamo in northern Italy by 25 April 1795, travelling with ‘his wife’ (sic.) and
two daughters from Milan to Rome.59 They arrived in Rome; by 26 June 1795 he was
making purchases with the British painter Guy Head. It is probably at this time that
Sophia Disney-Ffytche was painted by Head.60 Sophia was also painted by Angelica
Kauffman who had a studio in Rome.61
In September 1795 Lewis Disney-Ffytche carried a torch in the funeral of the
artist James Durno in Rome.62 One of the other torch bearers was Prince Augustus
Frederick, son of George III (and known, from 1801, as the Duke of Sussex). The
sculptor Christopher Hewetson (1737-98) wrote about the event.63

All his Brother Artists, I mean British Artists, attended, and his funeral had
the peculiar honour of having the presence of PRINCE AUGUSTUS, who carried a
torch, as did his two Gentlemen, and Lord WYCOMBE, Mr. AMHERST and Mr.

Lewis’ fellow torch-bearers were John Henry Petty Wycombe (1765-1809), Earl of
Wycombe.64 He had arrived in Italy in 1793, and in Rome in the autumn of 1795.
William Pitt Amherst (1773–185) had been in Italy since the autumn of 1794 and had
Bennett 1890, 330; Henri-Deligny 1932, 79. Disney-Ffytche’s presence in Switzerland was noted in The
World 9 October 1793.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 79. Marie-Antoinette was guillotined days later.
Bennett 1890, 331.
L. D. Ffytche à la Convention Nationale (Paris, 1794). There is a copy in the British Library.
Morning Chronicle Saturday 8 November 1794; Thursday 12 March 1795.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 87.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 91.
Noted in Archivio di Stato di Venezi, Inqusitorial di Stato, 227.
Whitley 1928, 15–16. This is a reference to the portrait of ‘Mrs Disney, wife of the inheritor of Thomas
Hollis’s Canalettos’. For Head: Ingamells 2004.
Roworth 2004. The painting was sold at Sotheby’s 8 March 1950.
Gleeson 2014, 41. Durno died on 13 September 1795.
Ingamells 1997, 494–95. ‘Extract of a letter received from Christopher Hewetson, Esq. dated Rome, 26th
Sept. 1795’, True Briton 27 January 1796.
Ingamells 1997, 1025.
54 The World of Disney

arrived in Rome in the August of 1795.65 He had previously studied at Christ Church,
Oxford 1789.
This event seems to be the moment that Lewis came into contact with (Sir)
William Hillary (1770-1847). Hillary came from a Quaker family who had settled in
Liverpool. His father, Richard Hillary, owned plantations in Jamaica, and his elder
brother Richard was a member of the House of Assembly in Jamaica.66 William had
served as equerry to Prince Augustus Frederick. Hillary had served the prince in Italy
for two years. By September 1796 William Artaud (1763–1823) had painted Hillary’s
portrait in Rome.67 Artaud held strong republican values that were in keeping with
those adopted by Lewis.
It is probably at this time that Lewis met the sculptor Richard Westmacott who
had been studying in Rome in this period.68 They travelled together in Abruzzo, in
November 1795 along with the architect Joseph Michael Gandy, and the painter, G.A.
Wallis.69 They returned to Rome via Pontecorvo early in 1796. In March 1796 he was
purchasing cameos from Thomas Jenkins (as ‘Disneyfitch’).
In April 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded northern Italy and besieged
Mantua.70 This seems to have prompted Lewis and Gandy to visit Naples from March
to May 1796.71 Naples itself obtained an armistice with France in June of that same
year. Lewis returned to Rome by 16 May 1796, residing there, apparently with
Westmacott in the Palazzo Zuccari on the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, until 1797. In
1797 Lewis and his daughters were in Rome.72 It was probably at this time that he
purchased some copies from the Italian sculptor Vincenzo Pacetti.73 Mantua fell to
the French in February 1797, and the threat from the French forces was such that
they moved, with many of the English community, to Naples.74 This was a sensible
move as in February 1798 Napoleon occupied the city of Rome. However, Napoleon’s
ambitions were thwarted when his fleet was destroyed by Lord Nelson in the Battle
of the Nile in August 1798. The returning British fleet arrived at Naples towards
the end of September. However, the French advanced on Naples, and the city
was evacuated (many to Palermo) before it was occupied by the French forces in
December 1798. Naples itself was reoccupied in the summer of 1799 with British

Ingamells 1997, 18. For Amherst: Peers 2004.
Information from Debrett’s Baronetage.
Ingamells 1997, 28.
Busco 1994, esp. 173 n. 39 referring to Essex Archives D/DD5 F5, 14.
For Gandy: Lukacher 2004.
Constantine 2001, 212–13.
Sir William Hamilton was ambassador to the court: Constantine 2001.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 88.
Honour 1963, 373. Westamcott was close to Pacetti.
Hillary was in Naples in May 1797: Ingamells 1997, 150. He returned to England via Berlin. For the
general context: Sloan 1996, 35.
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex 55

Return to England

In late 1799 the Disney-Ffytche party returned to England. On 21 February 1800

Lewis’ elder daughter, Frances Elizabeth (b. 1776), married Hillary at St George’s,
Hanover Square.75 Danbury Place became their home, and William filled it with
classical sculptures and paintings.76 Twins, Elizabeth Mary and Augustus William,
were born on 19 November 1800, and baptised in St Nicholas, Liverpool on 19
December 1800. Prince Augustus stood as godfather for the son.77 Lewis meanwhile
resided at his London house on Dover Street, off Piccadilly.78 By 1808 he had moved
to Jermyn Street, parallel to Piccadilly.
Hostilities with France erupted in 1803. Danbury became a camp for two
Lancashire regiments of the militia.79 This was one of three main camps in Essex, and
Danbury came under the command of Major-General Beckwith.80 Hillary used some
£20,000 of the Ffytche fortunes to subsidise the raising of the First East Essex Legion
of infantry and cavalry, some 1400 men, in 1803 to meet the threat of a possible
French invasion.81 During a ceremony in June 1804, Frances presented the colours of
the newly formed legion to her husband who held the rank of colonel:

“With the greatest satisfaction, Sir, I present, through you, these Colours and
Standard to the First Essex Legion. I have the fullest confidence that they
will be received by that Corps as a bond of their union, and at all times be
gallantly defended by their honour.”

Colonel HILLARY replied—“Madam, I return you the best acknowledgements,

in the name of the Legion, for the honour you have conferred upon us. From
the experience that I have had of their zeal and attachment to the cause in
which they have embarked, I rest assured, that you will not be disappointed
in the expectations which you have formed of their exemplary conduct.”

Danbury Place was the venue for a review of troops in October the same year by His
Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex.82 In addition, a redoubt had been constructed at
Danbury under the supervision of the former American general, Benedict Arnold,

Seccombe and Agnew 2004; Gleeson 2014. Announcement in True Briton 24 February 1800; The Ipswich
Journal 1 March 1800.
Gleeson 2014, 53.
Gleeson 2014, 49.
His brother, John, moved to the Hyde in the early summer of 1805.
‘Army’, The Observer 24 July 1803, 4.
‘Army’, The Observer 9 October 1803, 4.
‘Presentation of colours’, The Morning Post 6 June 1804. See also ‘Death of Sir William Hillary, Bart.’, The
Morning Post Monday 11 January 1847.
‘Chelmsford’, Ipswich Journal 27 October 1804.
56 The World of Disney

who had served in the War of Independence.83 In October 1805 Hillary was made a
baronet in recognition of his endeavours.84 The following year his mother died.85
In November 1803 William inherited the Jamaican sugar plantation belonging
to his brother Richard.86 However, in 1807 the British Parliament passed the Act
for the Abolition of the Slave Trade that disrupted British involvement in moving
slaves from Africa to the West Indies. The Hillary holdings in Jamaica faced financial
difficulty and in July 1808 Hillary offered the contents of Danbury Place for auction
at Squibb’s Room.87 Among the contents of the house were ‘rare antique busts’
suggesting that he displayed classical sculptures in the house.88 This dispersal
appears to have been due to losses in his investments in the West Indies.
On 2 July 1810 Frances gave birth to a daughter, Wilhelmina, a name that
acknowledged the stated father, William.89 However it seems that Frances and
William had been living separate lives for a period of time. William confided to
Thomas Scott, brother of Sir Walter Scott, that she had ‘dubbed him a cuckold’.90
Frances also faced liability for her husband’s debts, standing in the region of
Hillary then seemed to have moved to the Isle of Man.92 He had deserted Frances
and taken up residence on the island. It was there that he became friends with Caesar
Tobin and fell in love with his sister Amelia.93 However William was still legally married
to Frances. The solution seems to have been to create the ground for a divorce.94
William was ‘discovered’ in Edinburgh with the assumed name of Hastings with a
Mrs Wilson. The couple were recognised in an Edinburgh hotel in March 1811. They
subsequently moved to Holyrood house. In 1812 Frances proceeded with successful
divorce proceedings against William in an Edinburgh court that found him ‘guilty of
adultery’.95 Frances and William were granted a divorce, and Lewis Disney-Ffytche
agreed to clear William’s debts.96
On 30 August 1813 Hillary married Amelia (Emma) Tobin, daughter of the
late Patrick Tobin of Kirkbradden in the Isle of Man.97 The wedding took place at
Whithorn in Scotland. Hillary settled on the Isle of Man and helped to establish
For Arnold: Shy 2004.
Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle Monday 7 October 1805. It was noted that he also had a property
at Rigg House, Yorkshire: The Morning Chronicle Monday 7 October 1805. Gleeson 2014, 56.
The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser Saturday 15 February 1806.
Gleeson 2014, 53.
The Morning Post Tuesday 26 July 1808; The Morning Chronicle Saturday 6 August 1808. Gleeson 2014, 57.
Hillary was owner of the Adelphi Estate on Jamaica.
The Morning Chronicle 20 June 1808. The Morning Post 21 June 1808: ‘the sale of the beautiful antique busts
and bronzes, capital paintings, and magnificent inlaid tortoiseshell table and pedestal …’
Gleeson 2014, 60.
Quoted in Gleeson 2014, 68.
Gleeson 2014, 60–61.
‘Death of Sir William Hillary, Bart.’, The Morning Post Monday 11 January 1847.
Gleeson 2014, 66.
Gleeson 2014, 66–67.
The Ipswich Journal 15 August 1812; ‘Consistorial Commissary Court, Edinburgh’, The Times 20 August
1820, 3.
Gleeson 2014, 67, 110.
Caledonian Mercury Saturday 18 September 1813.
The Disney-Ffytche Family and Essex 57

what subsequently became the RNLI. Frances, the twins, and Wilhelmina moved to

John Disney: Cambridge, Law and Marriage

By the 1790s the family of the Reverend John Disney were settled in London; his
brother Lewis had moved to France and would then leave for Italy. The Reverend
Disney succeeded Thomas Lindsey as senior minister at Essex Hall in 1793. In April
1796, aged sixteen, John, the oldest surviving child of the Reverend Disney, was
admitted as a pensioner to Peterhouse, Cambridge.99 Peterhouse had also been his
father’s college, and in October that year John’s younger brother Algernon (1780–
1848) was to join him there.100 After two years, in April 1798, John was admitted to
the Inner Temple. Such a move is not so surprising given that his father had aspired
to follow a legal path before deciding to be ordained in the Church of England.
John was called to the bar in May 1803. There is evidence from this period of him
dealing with legal matters.101 John’s brother Algernon was commissioned as a Sub
Lieutenant in the 1st Life Guards in 1801after completing his studies at Cambridge.102
He was promoted Lieutenant on 28 April 1803. During this time his unit was based
in Hyde Park Barracks in London. He then transferred to the Yorkshire Hussars and
was placed on half-pay as Captain in February 1805.103
Lewis and his two daughters, Frances and Sophia, had returned from Italy in
1799. Frances had married Hillary in February 1800, and in September 1802 Disney
married his cousin Sophia, the youngest daughter of Lewis Disney-ffytche, also at
St George’s, Hanover Square.104 He addressed a poem, ‘To Sophia’ (and subtitled, ‘On
receiving a Gold Watch Chain the day before our Marriage’), to her:105

What! to chain me does Sophy aspire,

Does ambition her bosom pervade,
Is a captive her only desire,
And to “slavery” her lover degrade!

Gleeson 2014, 68.
Walker 1912, 367–68.
Walker 1912, 368.
E.g. Family and estate matters, executorship of T. Hallet Hodges’ will: Kent History and Library Centre
U49/C13/31-34. Hodges was married to Dorothy Cartwright, and thus a cousin of the Disneys.
NRA Kew WO 25/756/111. He was awarded a BA in 1801, and MA in 1804.
Walker 1912, 368.
Announcement in The Morning Post and Gazeteer 24 September 1802; 27 September 1802; Bury and
Norwich Post 29 September 1802; Jackson’s Oxford Journal 2 October 1802. Disney-Ffytche lived within the
parish on Brook Street. Sophia’s brother-in-law, William Hillary, was one of the witnesses.
Disney 1856, 49–50.
58 The World of Disney

The gold was an emblem—how pure

Was the love she bestowed, and how strong;
And the chain was a gift to ensure,
That her love should be constant and long.

In 1804 the Reverend Disney inherited the Hyde from Thomas Brand-Hollis, and
moved into the house in June 1805. Both parts of the Disney family now had strong
associations with Essex, through Danbury Place and the Hyde.
Chapter 5

Life at The Hyde and its Collection

The Reverend Disney settled into the Hyde during the early summer of 1805 and in
the autumn of 1806 commissioned the artist George Cuit (1743-1818), of Richmond,
Yorkshire, to paint the house.1 Disney clearly knew Cuit from Richmond and
commented that he had previously commissioned him some 30 years previously,
presumably to undertake portraits; the date would suggest it was either around the
time of his wedding to Jane or at the point when he left the Church of England
and moved to Essex Street Chapel. The pictures were engraved by James Basire
who also undertook engravings for the Society of Antiquaries.2 In addition, Disney
commissioned a monument to Brand-Hollis, designed by himself, from Mr King of
Bath; the memorial was placed in Ingatestone parish church.3
At The Hyde, the Reverend Disney worked on a catalogue of the sculpture
collection that was published in 1807.4 He was assisted by a Mrs Howard of Pinner,
Middlesex, ‘whose erudition is exceeded only by her diffidence, modesty and
benevolence’.5 In May 1807 the Reverend James Tate (1771-1843), at the time
Master of Richmond School in Yorkshire (and later, from 1833, Canon of St Paul’s
Cathedral), came to study the Latin funerary inscriptions.6 His manuscript catalogue
and commentary appear in Disney’s 1807 catalogue, and a printed version formed
an appendix in the revised catalogue of the Hyde (1809); this text was then
reproduced in the Museum Disneianum (1846). Tate’s appearance is significant in that
he was educated in Richmond and as a boy had served as the private secretary to
Francis Blackburne, Disney’s father-in-law. Disney describes Tate in the manuscript
catalogue as ‘my excellent & learned friend’,7 but was fuller in the mention in his
memoir of Brand Hollis, ‘a gentleman whose learning, diligence, and zeal, eminently
distinguish him in conducting his scholars through the highest departments of a
classical education’.8 The catalogues themselves are significant and extensive. Both
volumes of The Hyde were bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum by John Avery of
Croft Lodge, Woodford Green in 1936.9
The Reverend Disney remained interested in political reform and worked
closely with the Reverend Christopher Wyvill (1738-1822), rector of Black Notley,
Disney 1808, vi. For Cuit: Cust and Stewart 2004.
See under Peltz 2004; Myrone 2007, 111. Basire also engraved other paintings by the Disney family.
Disney 1808, vi.
Disney 1807.
Disney 1808, vi.
Disney 1849b, v. Disney records a further visit in August 1809. For Tate: Wenham 1991.
Disney 1807.
Disney 1808, vi.
Avery was a member of the Kent Archaeological Society from 1917.

60 The World of Disney

Figure 26. The Hyde, near Ingatestone, Essex.

near Braintree, in Essex.10 Wyvill, Lindsey and Disney had been among the Feathers
Tavern Petitioners of 1772. In 1808 Disney published a memoir of his friend Thomas
Brand-Hollis.11 Some of Disney’s final years were spent in Bath as he sought respite
from growing infirmity.12 Jane, his wife, died on 2 October 1809.13 Disney, like Hollis
and Brand Hollis, took a keen interest in American affairs, and was a member of
the Massachusetts Historical Society.14 He prepared A short memoir of the late William
Hopkins, BA, vicar of Bolney, Sussex (1815) who had also opposed subscription to the
Thirty-Nine Articles.15

John Disney, Recorder of Bridport

With his father settled at The Hyde, John Disney pursued his own legal career. In
September 1807 Disney was appointed Recorder of Bridport in Dorset. He resided
at Corscombe, part of the Hollis estate bequeathed to his father in 1804 that lay to
the north-east of Bridport. The Disneys had a daughter, Sophia (1806), and two sons,
John (1808) and Edgar (1810), all born in London. The family received income from

Dickinson 2004. For the link between the two: Turner 1843, 209.
Disney 1808. The Preface is dated 28 September 1808.
Turner 1843, 212.
The Morning Chronicle Thursday 5 October 1809; The Bury and Norwich Post Wednesday 11 October 1809.
His death was noted in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 1 (1791–1835) xlvi.
Goodwin and Levin 2004.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 61

an annuity of £180 from Sir William Ingelby of Albany, Middlesex, from the manor
of North Deighton, to the north of Wetherby in Yorkshire.16
Disney clearly felt a link to his Unitarian roots. All three children were registered
under those terms: Sophia on 25 February 1808,17 John on 21 May 1811,18 and Edgar
on 1 April 1817. Yet Sophia, John and Edgar were also baptised as members of the
Church of England at their parish church of St Giles, Bloomsbury.
John Disney pursued a legal career in Dorset, while periodically returning to
London and Essex. There is a hint at his movements when in March 1810 Disney
provided evidence against George Plyall, a chaise driver, for drunkenness in
Somerset.19 Disney started to take an active interest in politics, and in 1811
published, in two parts, A Collection of Acts of Parliament, Relative to County and Borough
Elections, with References to Several Reported Cases, Containing the Determinations of the
House of Commons (1811). He described himself in the book as barrister at law of the
Inner Temple. Disney clearly intended his publication to be used for prospective
candidates in the forthcoming general election of 1812.
Disney was admitted as a Freemason in Abingdon, Berkshire on 21 October
1812. Although the Berkshire association is not clear, Disney’s grandson Edgar John
became Lord of the Manor of Sunningwell and Kennington, just north of Abingdon,
in 1884.

The Death of the Reverend John Disney

The Reverend Disney died at The Hyde on 26 December 1816 and was buried in the
churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at Fryerning. The funeral sermon was preached by
the Reverend Thomas Jervis (1748-1833), the Unitarian minister at Mill Hill in Leeds,
and a fellow trustee of Dr Williams’ foundation.20 In his funeral oration he recalled
how the Reverend Disney:21

He sustained a painful and lingering illness with a fortitude and dignified

composure, founded on the principles of that system of Christianity which
he had adopted upon deliberate investigation and mature conviction,
with the manly decision and disinterestedness which strongly marked his
character. Of those principles he was an able, strenuous, powerful advocate,
as his writings, various, useful, and important, abundantly testify. A native
energy of sentiment and vivacity of manner, gave an unusual interest and
spirit to his conversation, which animated all around him. Distinguished by
his rank in society, and adorned by the nobler distinction of his virtues, he
was justly eminent in the several departments of Theology and Literature,
Leeds, West Yorkshire Archive Service WYL230/865 and 866.
Register in Dr Williams’ Library, entry 1451.
Register in Dr Williams’ Library, entry 3640.
Somerset Heritage Centre Q/SR/378/2/9.
Gordon and Mercer 2004. See also Anon. 1818, 70.
Quoted in Nichols 1831, 212–13.
62 The World of Disney

and highly esteemed and respected in the neighbourhood in which he was

resident, in the circle of his numerous and respectable friends, and by all
who were competent to judge of the strict honour, purity, consistency, and
integrity, which governed all his actions; who knew how to appreciate the
ingenuousness, the dignity, and elevation of his mind, the characteristic
candour, sincerity, and benevolence of his heart.

Thomas was the son of William Jervis, the minister of the Presbyterian congregation
that met in St Nicholas Street in Ipswich. A poem in Disney’s memory appeared in
The Bury and Norwich Post in February 1817.22

If knowledge, learning, energy of thought,

Combin’d with manly sense, and judgment sound,
Sincerity and singleness of heart,
Integrity unmov’d, and truth unaw’d,
And virtue stern—
If rectitude, benevolence, and candour
Clear as the day, and pure as driven snow—
If these the meed of honest fame demand,
That meed, O Disney, dear, departed Friend!
Is thine—this is the wreath that decks the brow
Of such pre-eminence and worth.—
Since, dear to honour, and to virtue dear,
Thy name’s distinguish’d in renown—shall not
The good and wise thy virtues emulate?
And, when this world’s delusions charm no more,
When all it’s vain distinctions, overthrown,
Are in oblivion lost; when nought remains
But moral worth and mental excellence—
Then talents and endowments such as thine
Their generous influence widely shall extend
To ages yet unborn: remembrance sweet
Shall round the ashes of the just diffuse
A sacred fragrance; and shall ever live
Still blest, lamented, honour’d, and belov’d—
Cherish’d by Friendship’s bright and hallowed flame,
Bedew’d with Virtue’s consecrated tear.

Among the bequests of the Reverend Disney was a bust of John Milton that was
presented to Christ’s College in Cambridge (where Milton had been admitted as a
By April 1817 John Disney had sold off the libraries formed by Hollis, Brand
Hollis as well as his father.23 He also disposed of Disney’s collection of coins, medals,
‘Sacred to the memory of the Rev. John Disney, D.D. F.S.A.’, The Bury and Norwich Post 19 February 1817.
Noticed in The Morning Chronicle 22 April 1817. The combined Hollis and Brand-Hollis library, along with
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 63

Figure 27. Memorial for the Reverend John Disney, and his grandson John, on the Disney
family tomb. © David Gill.

bronzes and terracottas; a 50 shilling coin of Oliver Cromwell (‘Oliver’s Broad’) was
sold for £109.24 His sister Frances Mary, now in her 40s, married Thomas Jervis on
29 May 1818. Jervis resigned his ministry and the couple moved to London. In late
1817 Disney seconded the address of condolence on the death of Princess Charlotte,
daughter of George IV and wife of King Leopold I of Belgium.25

Prospective MP for Harwich and Magistrate

Following the death of his father, John Disney, who was still based at Corscombe, was
appointed Sheriff of Dorset in 1818,26 and he continued as Recorder in Bridport until
1823. Disney voted against Henry Bankes (1756–1834) of Kingston Lacy when he was
elected MP for Dorset in 1823.27
In December 1819 Disney’s eldest son, John, died aged 11, and he was buried with
his grandfather at Fryerning.28 In 1820 Disney decided to sell part of the Halstock
political and theological books of the Reverend John Disney was sold by Sotheby’s on 22 April 1817. For a
discussion of the library: Bond 1990, 35. For some of Disney’s volumes: Witherspoon 1945. For other Hollis
material sold at Sotheby’s on 14 May 1817: London BM R.12991 (lot 39).
The Morning Post 28 May 1817. For details of the sale: The Gentleman’s Magazine February 1817, 190.
‘Essex County Meeting’, The Morning Chronicle 8 December 1817. The proposal was made by Sir John
Noted in The Morning Post 17 November 1817; Royal Cornwall Gazette 31 January 1818.
Dorset Record Office D-BKL/D/B/2/45. Disney’s record dates to 19 February 1823. For Bankes: Farrell
The Bury and Norwich Post 29 December 1819. The Peterhouse records suggest that he was admitted to
the college in 1828 and that he died in 1829: Walker 1912, 435. This notes that the age provided was that
of his brother Edgar. The gravestone clearly gives the date as 1819 (MDCCCXIX).
64 The World of Disney

estate in Dorset, and in 1822 Sophia inherited part of her father’s estate.29 Disney
retained some of the Corscombe estate as well as the patronage of the living at
The inheritance from Lewis Disney-Ffytche in 1822 allowed the Disneys to settle
at The Hyde. John also became the head of both sides of the Disney family as the
sole male heir. The return to The Hyde allowed him to serve as a magistrate in Essex.
One of the earliest references is to January 1818, where he is referred to as ‘lately a
practicing barrister on the Western Circuit, but now a magistrate for this county’.31
The case related to the Reverend Bloomfield who had been invited to lecture in
Chelmsford on the subject of ‘The Philosophy of History’. The application was
rejected under the terms of the Seditious Meetings Act. He was soon involved with
investigating the murder of a surgeon in the county.32
In 1824 Disney supported the use of constables to attend horserace meetings:

horse-racing … was a perfectly legal amusement, and therefore it was

right to employ constables to prevent disorder. Indeed, he considered the
employment of constables in this way a saving, inasmuch as they prevented
the commission of many crimes, the prosecution of which would, otherwise,
fall very heavy upon the county.33

Disney’s views on legal matters were expressed in Outlines of a Penal Code on the Basis
of the Law of England: Together with a Commentary Thereon (1826). In January 1828 he
proposed the motion for the creation of a county lunatic asylum.34 The motion was
defeated by the casting vote of the chair. Disney also sought prison reform. In 1831
he proposed

the propriety of breaking up the Gaol establishment at Chelmsford, and

removing the prisoners to the Convict Gaol at Springfield. He thought that
the measure he proposed would effect a saving of between 400l. and 500l. to
the county.35

In 1843 Disney was openly attacked by an individual writing as ‘Cautus’ for ‘the
course you adopted at the recent Quarter Session, which must have given infinite

Lewis Disney-Ffytche died at the age of 84 in September 1822: The Morning Chronicle 24 September 1822;
The Observer 29 September 1822, 4. He also had a house in Jermyn Street. His daughter Frances Elizabeth
Hillary inherited Le Désert de Retz.
The appointment of the Reverend William Thompson as the vicar of Halstock: Jackson’s Oxford Journal 6
May 1826.
‘Essex Epiphany Sessions—Chelmsford’, The Times 19 January 1818.
The Morning Post 25 August 1819; The Times 26 August 1819, 2.
‘Chelmsford Quarter Sessions’, The Morning Chronicle October 20, 1824.
Ipswich Journal January 19, 1828.
‘Essex Quarter Sessions’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 22 October 1831. For
other instances of Disney as a magistrate in this decade: The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser
28 November 1834. The fellow magistrate was J. Martin Leake. For 1835: The Essex Standard, and Colchester,
Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General County Advertiser 26 June 1835.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 65

pain to your friends’.36 Disney retired from the chair of the Quarter Sessions in
October 1843.37

While practising the amenities and courtesies of private life, it must ever
be a pleasing reflection to him that he had devoted so large a portion of his
life, so assiduously as he had done, for the public benefit, and that without
fame and profit to himself. It was gratifying to think that in that retirement
he would have full opportunity for pursuing those philosophical studies, and
cultivating those elegant tastes, for which he was distinguished.

He was still a magistrate in 1853, when the magistrates of Essex petitioned Viscount
Palmerston to present their objections to the County Financial Board Bill.38
Disney was now well known in Essex and had expressed his views on political
reform. In 1826 Disney seconded Charles Callis Western (1767-1844) as one of the
MPs for Essex, and spoke at the hustings.39 At around the same time Disney was
involved with the Maldon Independent Club.40 We also get a sense of Disney’s
humour. In 1829 he proposed a toast, noting, ‘The text was certainly very short;
but as for the Sermon, whether that was long or short depended entirely on the
preacher’.41 The Club also met in 1831 to discuss the Reform Bill.42 Disney was one of
the speakers at the Essex County Reform Meeting at Chelmsford in December 1831:43

JOHN DISNEY, Esq., in a very able and argumentative speech, proposed

several Resolutions, expressive of the necessity of such a Reform of the
Commons’ House of Parliament, as would insure to the people a full and free
Representation, and declaratory of continued confidence in his Majesty’s
These were carried, and an Address to the King, and Petitions to both Houses
of Parliament, founded on the Resolutions, were unanimously adopted.

Some thirty years later Disney was remembered as one of the key members in what
had become the Maldon Independent Liberal Club.44
Disney had become involved in the political scene in Ipswich as early as 1822.45 In
August 1830 Disney stood unsuccessfully for election as MP for Ipswich, coming third

‘To John Disney, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A., a Chairman of the Essex Quarter Session, and President of the
Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 13
January 1843. Disney’s response was published on 20 January 1843.
‘Address from the Bar to John Disney, Esq.’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 20 October 1843.
John Bull 16 April 1853, 256.
‘County of Essex’, The Morning Post 15 June 1826; 16 June 1826.
‘Maldon Independent Club’, The Morning Chronicle 2 August 1828.
‘Maldon Independent Club’, The Morning Chronicle 22 July 1829.
‘Maldon Independent Club’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 26 November 1831.
‘Essex County Reform Meeting’, The Observer 12 December 1831, 4.
‘Maldon Independent Liberal Club’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 31
August 1860.
‘Suffolk Fox dinner: reform’, The Morning Chronicle 24 August 1822.
66 The World of Disney

with just 150 votes.46 In November 1831 he recalled, for the Maldon Independent Club,
his ‘electioneering reminiscences’ and how ‘he had coqueted with those beauties,
called Boroughs’.47 He also indicated how he intended to stand as MP for Harwich,
where he ‘meant to devote all his insinuating powers to preserve her smiles’. The
1832 Reform Act removed Rotten Boroughs, and later that same year Disney stood as
a candidate for Harwich.48 In 1833 he petitioned the House of Commons against the
successful candidate, John Charles Herries (1778-1855), on the grounds that some of
his ‘votes were improperly rejected by the Revising Barristers’.49
Disney stood again in the 1835 elections. During this campaign he had to defend
himself against the accusation, made by Sir John Tyrell of Boreham House (1762-
1832), Deputy Lieutenant for Essex,50 that he supported whipping as ‘a fit punishment
for females’.51 Disney also had to suffer the re-airing of the celebrated 1815 scandal
between his younger brother Algernon and Lady Cranstoun.52 In February 1815
Algernon was shot at Staines by Lord Cranstoun ‘under circumstances which excited
the suspicion of his Lordship’.53 Algernon Disney was wounded in the arm, and Lady
Cranstoun’s favourite dog was killed by the ricocheting shot. This was not the only
incident involving Algernon, a Captain in the Dragoon Guards and one-time Equerry
to the Duke of Kent.54 He was arrested in November 1820 after it was alleged that
he had beaten his servant, Ann Banting: ‘On various occasions he returned home,
and placing her upon the kitchen table, would whip her in a shocking manner with a
postillion’s whip until her screams alarmed the neighbourhood’.55 Shortly afterwards
Banting died after giving birth to a dead child.56 Algernon was indicted for murder
but was acquitted.57 Evidence was provided by four medical men who suggested that
Banting died from ‘a common epidemic disease, and totally unconnected with any
external violence’.58 However, F.H. wrote a letter to the Morning Post suggesting , ‘but

Letter, ‘To the Free and Independent Burgesses of the Borough of Ipswich’, Ipswich Journal 7 August 1830.
Disney was known as ‘Dismal Disney’; see A History of Parliament.
‘Maldon Independent Club’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 26 November 1831.
‘Representation of Harwich’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 16 June 1832. The
constituency is discussed in The History of Parliament.
The Times 1 January 1833, 3. See also The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 12 January
1833; Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle 6 January 1833; The Observer 25 February 1833, 1. For Herries:
Jupp 2004.
‘Death of Sir John Tyrell’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 11 August 1832; ‘Funeral
of Sir John Tyrell, Bart.’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 18 August 1832.
The Times 9 May 1835, 4.
The Times 1 May 1835. The original report: The Times 17 February 1815, 3.
The Bury and Norwich Post 15 February 1815. For further details: The Examiner 19 February 1815. Lady
Cranstoun was born on St Kitts, and her maiden name was Macnamara.
The Morning Post 18 February 1815. Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, was the father of Queen Victoria.
By 1817 Algernon had the rank of major: Walker 1912, 368.
‘Marlborough-Street’, Jackson’s Oxford Journal 4 November 1820.
‘Atrocious case’, Caledonian Mercury 2 December 1820; ‘Mysterious case’, The Leeds Mercury 2 December
‘Law intelligence’, The Morning Post 9 June 1821; Caledonian Mercury 11 June 1821. Algernon was described
as: ‘a respectable looking man: he appeared about 45 years of age, and wore powder’: Morning Post 9 June
‘Surrender of Mr Disney’, The Morning Post 14 June 1821. ‘Mr Disney’s trial’, The Morning Post 30 June 1821;
The Morning Chronicle 13 July 1821.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 67
68 The World of Disney

not one witness was asked for, not a word of defence required; there was nothing to
sum up, and he was instantly acquitted’.59
A report in the Essex Standard celebrated Disney’s defeat in the Harwich election:60

North Essex has again done its duty, and the vanity of Mr Disney has received
another rebuke, which we should imagine will induce him to make no more
attempts on the good sense and loyalty of the electors of Essex. Thank Heaven
they are yet untainted by the revolutionary poison which is so prevalent
in some part of the kingdom, and we are surprised that Mr Disney could
have supposed himself so popular in the county that he should be elected
to represent one of its Divisions, despite of his declared determination to
destroy the Church of England by the commission of the grossest robbery
and injustice against the Irish Church.

The expenses for these elections, as well as the upkeep of The Hyde, may have led
Disney to dispose of the Corscombe estate in 1836.

The Hillary Family: Divorce, Deaths and Legal Disputes

Standing for parliament in three elections did not come without a cost to Disney.
However, the Disney-Ffytche side of the family started to cause major problems.
In 1812, Sophia Disney’s sister, Frances and her husband Sir William Hillary were
granted a divorce; Sir William remarried in September 1813.61 This did not bring any
respite to the family relations, and he continued to press for further money to cover
his substantial debts.
This marked the start of a series of legal cases that involved both sides of the
Disney family.62 They appear to relate to the resolution of financial matters. Danbury
Place (‘peculiarly adapted for a family of distinction’) was placed on the market in
In 1818 there was a major legal dispute between John Goslin of Colchester, Disney-
Ffytche and Hillary.64 Goslin was elected an officer of the Borough of Colchester in
September 1813.65 He appears to have been a solicitor involved with the sales of
estates. The contents of Goslin’s own house, Beverly Lodge, Colchester, had been
sold in September 1813.66
Hillary’s daughter, Elizabeth Mary Hillary, aged 17, married Christopher Richard
Preston (1790–1867) at St James’ Piccadilly in April 1818.67 Lewis provided his grand-
‘Surrender of Mr Disney’, The Morning Post 14 June 1821.
‘North Essex election’, The Essex Standard 1 May 1835.
Gleeson 2014, 68.
Kew NRA C 101/66. The legal disputes covered the period from 1835 to 1852.
The Times 9 October 1815, 4.
Kew NRA C 13/223/43.
The Ipswich Journal 4 September 1813.
The Ipswich Journal 25 April 1812; The Ipswich Journal 28 August 1813.
The marriage was witnessed by her uncle John Disney. Gleeson 2014, 112.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 69

Figure 28. Memorial for

Dame Frances Hillary at
Danbury. © David Gill.

daughter with a settlement of £14,000.68 The Prestons lived at Great Jericho at

Blackmore, not far from the Hyde, in Essex. In 1823 Preston was appointed a Captain
in the East Essex militia.69 By 1825 the family was living in Boulogne where their son
was born.70 They later settled on the island of Jersey.
Lewis died at his London home in Jermyn Street in London on Saturday 21
September 1822.71 Among his bequest to his daughter Frances was Le Désert de
Retz that he had repurchased from the French government in 1816 following the
conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. His death seems to have precipitated a further
series of legal actions.
In 1824 James Hudson, who possibly was a banker, took action against the
families.72 Essentially the defendants were Charles George Parker, a solicitor in
Chelmsford who lived at Springfield Place, and Disney’s family (including his wife,
Sophia, and children Edgar and Sophia), Sir William Hillary, and his estranged wife
Frances, and Sir Moore Disney (1765/6–1846), an army officer from Waterford who
had served in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and a distant cousin on the Irish side
of the family.73 Both Hillary and Sir Moore Disney are described as being ‘abroad’.
In turn, in 1825, Parker took action against the Disney-Ffytche and Disney
families. Essentially this was against John and Sophia Disney, and their two children,
Edgar and Sophia; the Hillary family including Christopher Richard and Elizabeth
Mary Preston; and Sir Moore Disney. Hillary, his estranged wife and son, and Sir
Gleeson 2014, 112.
The Morning Post 16 June 1823.
The Morning Chronicle 18 August 1847.
The Morning Chronicle 24 September 1822.
Kew NA C 13/816/20, C 13/814/37.
Stephens and Stearn 2004. For Moore’s military career, e.g. ‘The British army’, Oracle and Public Advertiser
24 June 1795. He had served in the American War of Independence, then in Flanders, Sicily, and Spain.
70 The World of Disney

Moore were all listed as being abroad. In 1827 Parker took further legal action
against John and Sophia Disney and their children, Edgar and Sophia; infants by
Thomas Brooksby their guardian; Christopher Richard Preston and Elizabeth
Mary Preston his wife and Sir Moore Disney bart and Sir William Hillary, Frances
Elizabeth Hillary, Augustus Hillary and Wilhemina Sophia Mary Hillary (abroad).74
The Reverend Thomas Brooksby was a magistrate in Essex, and Rector of West and
south Hanningfield, to the south of Chelmsford.75 This action continued to 1835. It
related to the estates of Lewis:

real and personal estate of Lewis Disney Ffytche in Buglawton, Cheshire and
Southwark, Bermondsey and Camberwell Surrey, Piccadilly and Portman
Square, Middlesex, Latchingdon, Ingatestone, Bradwell, Fryerning and
Writtle, Essex and Bedfordshire.

Le Désert de Retz, owned by Lewis’ daughter Frances, was sold in 1827.76 This may
have been linked to the legal dispute between Disney and Hillary in the same year.77
Frances died on 9 August 1828 at her daughter’s home, Jericho House, Blackmore,
and was buried at Danbury.78 She left much of her collection as well as a trust fund
worth £10,000 to her daughter Wilhelmina, but one of the beneficiaries of Frances’s
will was her former husband, Sir William Hillary. She left him £15,000, and this
required the sale of Danbury Place.79 Parker’s son, Charles, Frances’ godson, was
also included in the will, but Frances’ son, Augustus, was not. Disney and Parker
were named as the executors, and Disney and his Sophia his wife were appointed
guardians for Wilhelmina. John Disney hoped to buy Danbury Place for his wife
Sophia offering £9,000 for the property but this was declined.80 He wrote to Rankin
his solicitor in December 1828 (when Frances’ will was proven):

You know perhaps that there is a place in this country belonging to Lady
Hillary’s family [the Disney-Ffytches] called Danbury Park, on which stands
a mansion quite in ruin … In the confused state of the affairs of that part of
the family this place must be sold; and my wife, who has been attached to it
ever since she was born is very desirous it should be preserved from falling
into the hands of strangers.

Danbury Place and its estate was offered for auction in July 1829.81 It was purchased
in September 1829 by John Round (1783–1860), the future MP for Maldon, but it
Kew NA C 101/357.
He died 4 November 1842: John Bull 12 November 1842.
Henri-Deligny 1932, 92.
Kew NA C 13/1789/20.
The Bury and Norwich Post Wednesday 20 August 1828.
Gleeson 2014, 112. The Will is in Kew NA PROB 11/1749/90.
Gleeson 2014, 113. The quotation is in a letter from Disney to his solicitor Rankin, 11 December 1828:
Essex Archives D/DQC/2/3.
Notices for the auction: The Bury and Norwich Post Wednesday 13 May 1829; The Times 16 May 1829, 8.
Parker was one of the solicitors listed in the notice. In fact, the initial sale was unsuccessful and the
property continued to be offered: The Times 14 August 1829, 4.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 71

was in such a damaged state that it had to be dismantled and a new house was
constructed in 1834.82 It was sold as a residence for the Bishop of Rochester in 1845.
Frances’s youngest daughter Wilhelmina was married to William Porter of
Gower Street at All Souls, Langham Place, on 22 September 1831; the marriage was
witnessed by John and Sophia Disney, and their daughter Sophia. The notice in
The Standard merely noted that Wilhelmina came from Witham in Essex.83 By 1839
Disney had a London residence in Berkeley Square.
There continued to be an on-going dispute with Parker over the estate of Lewis
Disney-Ffytche from 1835 to 1852; it ceased with the death of Sir William Hillary.84
The dispute involved the Disneys (John and Sophia, and their two children Edgar
and Sophia), the children of Frances (Elizabeth Mary, and her husband Christopher
Richard Preston; Augustus William Hillary and Wilhelmina Sophia Mary Hillary),
and a cousin, Sir Moore Disney. It involved property in Cheshire, and the parish of
St George the Martyr, as well as in Southwark, Camberwell, Piccadilly, and Portman
Square. Sir Moore Disney died in Upper Brooke Street, London, in 1846.85 Parker died
on 1 October 1847.86

The Eastern Counties Railway

The Disneys had originally invested in canals, but this mode of transport was
superseded by railways. The route that would affect the Disney family was designed
to link East Anglia with London. In August 1834 a decision was made to create the
Eastern Counties Railway.87 The line would run from London to Norwich and Great
Yarmouth via Romford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Woodbridge, Debenham
and Eye, then onwards via Diss, Harleston and Bungay. The expected cost was £1.5
million, to be raised by £50 shares. This elicited a response from ‘Verax’ (‘truthful’) in
the Essex Standard.88 There was a perceived threat to the shipping and coastal towns
of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Messrs Dimes and Boyman responded to ‘Verax’.89
Details of the costing and the name of the engineers were revealed: John Braithwaite
and Charles Vignoles.90

Coller 1861, 238. See also Gleeson 2014, 114. For the sale: Bury and Norwich Post 2 September 1829.
The Standard 23 September 1831. Wilhelmina Porter died on 12 November 1878.
Kew NA C101/66.
Obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine July 1846, 94; The Illustrated London News 2 May 1846, 8. For details
of his will: The Observer 31 May 1846.
For details of his will: The Essex Standard 29 October 1847. For his funeral, attended by Disney: ‘Funeral
of C.G. Parker, Esq.’, Essex Standard 3 September 1847.
The Chelmsford Chronicle 29 August 1834, 1; The Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette 30 August 1834, 1. The
advert was placed by Messrs Dimes and Boyman, of Austin Friars, London. A slightly more detailed advert
appeared in the Chelmsford Chronicle 26 September 1834, 1; The Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette 27
September 1834, 1.
‘Grand Eastern Counties Railway from London to Norwich’, The Essex Standard 5 September 1834.
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Essex Standard 3 October 1834, 1.
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Essex Standard 3 October 1834, 1.
72 The World of Disney

Disney was elected to the committee at a meeting held in Chelmsford in November

1835.91 He served as president of the Chelmsford committee.92 He proposed that the
committee serve to ensure the maximum benefit for the people of Chelmsford. The
line between Devonshire Street in Mile End and Romford was opened on Tuesday 18
June 1839, the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.93 The length of the line was 10.5
miles. By November 1839 it was anticipated that they would be opening the London
end.94 The Shoreditch extension was opened in 1840. There were, however, some
setbacks. In August 1840 an accident on the line in which a driver was killed and
several passengers were injured.95 In September 1840 a train ran into the coaches of
the preceding train.96
Progress on the actual line was rapid, in spite of the outcry that building work
had taken place on Sundays. By December 1842 the first train entered Chelmsford
although the station was still under construction, and in March 1843 the railway
reached Colchester.97 Disney became embroiled in the dispute over a lack of a railway
station at Ingatestone; residents of the town were particularly affected as the former
coach service from Chelmsford had ceased to function, further inconveniencing
them.98 Disney still felt able to attend the dinner to mark the arrival of the railway
at Chelmsford in May 1843.99 In January 1844 a decision was made to extend the
railway.100 One of the issues raised was the need to standardise the gauge as the line
connected to other destinations such as Bury St Edmunds. This was done in the
autumn of that year.101

Essex Agricultural Society

The Essex Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture and Industry was founded
in 1793. It is unclear if Brand-Hollis or Disney were involved in the society. However
in 1822 a meeting in Chelmsford raised the issue of agriculture in Essex, and sought
to petition Parliament; Disney seconded the motion.102 Disney spoke at length
and pointed out the problem of ‘excessive taxation’ and ‘a defective state of the
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General
County Advertiser 27 November 1835.
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General
County Advertiser 11 December 1835.
‘Opening of the Eastern Counties Railway’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 21 June 1839,
‘Eastern counties Railway’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 1 November
‘Accident on the Eastern Counties’ Railway’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 21 August 1840.
‘Another accident on the Eastern Counties Railway’, Morning Post 15 September 1840.
‘Opening of the Eastern Counties Railway to Colchester’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the
Eastern Counties 31 March 1843.
‘Railway station at Ingatestone’, Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July 1843.
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Morning Post 10 May 1843, 5.
‘Eastern Counties’ Railway’, Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 12 January 1844.
‘Eastern Counties Railway’, The Morning Post 10 January 1845.
The Morning Post 9 May 1822.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 73

Figure 29. Inscription

from Colchester. Museum

currency’.103 Disney spoke again at length on agriculture at the county meeting in

March 1823.104 Later in the year he spoke in Nottinghamshire on the same topic.105
Disney contributed to a letter to be read at the debate about the Corn Bill at a
meeting of landowners in Chelmsford in April 1828.106
However, in 1833 Disney was the president of the Chelmsford and Essex Floral
and Horticultural Society.107 The autumn show was held in the Shire Hall in
Chelmsford, and Edgar Disney represented his father at the subsequent dinner at
the Saracen’s Head. Disney himself won the best celery in the show!108 A summer
meeting was held in July the following year, with over 1,000 visitors.109 Disney won
a prize for his apples. There was an autumn show in 1834.110 Disney won a prize for
the best dessert. The President was Disney. July 1835.111 Disney won in the categories
of cherries and red and white currants. Disney’s display of geraniums was noted in
the June show of 1836, as well as his strawberries, cauliflowers, and cabbages, and
lettuce, and potatoes.112 He continued as president in 1835.
Disney was well known for his interest in the cultivation of the strawberry, and
lectured on the subject for the London Horticultural Society.113 He had been elected
a Fellow of the Horticultural Society in 1834. In 1835 his gardener, W. Davis, won a
prize for apples at the exhibition of Society in London.114 The Society became the

‘Agricultural distress’, The Times 8 May 1822, 4; ‘Agricultural distress’, Morning Chronicle 8 May 1822.
‘Essex County Meeting’, The Morning Post 21 March 1823; ‘Essex County Meeting’, The Times 21 March
1823, 3.
‘Nottingham election dinner’, The Derby Mercury 1 October 1823.
‘Agriculture’, The Standard 30 April 1828.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 21 September 1833.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 28 September 1833.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 26 July 1834.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 12 September 1834; 19 September 1834.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 7 August 1835.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 1 July 1836.
’Cultivation of the strawberry’, Essex Literary Journal 1 (15 June 1838) 10.
‘Horticultural Society of London’, The Observer 5 July 1835, 3.
74 The World of Disney

Royal Horticultural Society in 1861. In 1833 he created a chain bridge in the grounds
of the Hyde, and published the details in the Architectural Magazine.115
Disney was closely involved with other aspects of Essex society. By 1833 he
was President of the renamed Chelmsford and Essex Agricultural Society,116 and
subsequently became a Vice-President.117 In 1836 he represented the Society on the
Central Agricultural Association of Great Britain and Ireland.118
The Disney Family

Edgar Disney followed his father and grandfather to Peterhouse, matriculating in

March 1830 at the age of 19.119 He served as a steward for the first Essex County Ball
at Chelmsford in 1831.120 By 1833 he was a Commissioner for Essex,121 and then a JP
and Deputy Lieutenant for Essex in 1832.122 Edgar heard cases in Chelmsford.123
On 23 October 1834 Edgar married Barbara Brouncker, daughter of the late Lewis
William Brouncker, of Boveridge, Dorset, at St Mary’s in Marylebone.124 Barbara had
been presented to Queen Victoria in 1831. Her brother Henry had died in Ceylon
in April 1824; she also had another brother, Richard. The couple lived in Ongar in
Essex, although three of their children were born in France and Germany. Edgar
John Disney was born in 1835, and Lambert emigrated to Canada and then the USA.125
Edgar’s sister Sofia married William Jesse of the 46th (South Devonshire)
Regiment of Foot in August 1836.126 He was the son of the Reverend William Jesse
of Margaretting, Essex.127 The wider Jesse family were closely involved in the
abolitionist movement. Jesse appears to have written a biography of the dandy Beau
Brummell (1778–1840).128 It includes an autobiographical moment when the two
meet: ‘I know your name, Sir; your name is Jesse; you are in the army; you live at
Brighton; and your age is thirty-two’.129

Disney 1835.
The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General County Advertiser 20 November
1835; The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General County Advertiser 27
November 1835.
The Essex Standard, Colchester and County Advertiser 19 June 1835. As Vice-President: The Essex Standard,
and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General County Advertiser 24 June 1836.
The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General County Advertiser 15 January
1836; The Ipswich Journal 16 January 1836.
Walker 1912, 439.
The Essex Standard 17 December 1831.
‘Chelmsford Appeal Court’, The Essex Standard 9 March 1833.
Deputy Lieutenant: The Essex Standard 24 March 1832.
‘Chelmsford Petty Session’, The Essex Standard 19 August 1836.
The Standard 24 October 1834.
Lambert married Flora Georgiana O’Flahertie: The Daily Telegraph 29 November 1864, 6. Their daughters
Charlotte Frances Barbara Denys lived to the age of 89, and Maud Barbara Bradney lived to the age of
101: The Daily Telegraph 27 May 1931, 1, and 29 December 1945, 4. The second daughter was Ana Geraldine
Barbara Phellps: The Daily Telegraph 9 January 1867, 6. Another daughter, the Hon. Mrs Barbara Sophia
Harbord lived in Suffolk: The Daily Telegraph 31 May 1894, 3.
The Observer 14 August 1836, 4.
The wills for William Jesse and Sophia Disney (1836): Somerset Heritage Centre DD\X\EX\2.
Carter 2004. For Jesse’s biography: Jesse 1844.
Jesse 1844, 340.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 75

Figure 30. Funerary sphinx from Colchester. Colchester Castle Museum

© David Gill

Developing the Hyde’s collection

Disney continued to add to the collection that he had inherited from his father.
Some of the classical material was derived from Roman sites in Essex. Disney’s
collection contained a Roman inscription allegedly found at Colchester in 1713,
although it may have been found in Rome.130 This recorded the names of the mother
and daughter, Considia Veneria and Considia Natalis, one died 3 years and 30 days,
and the mother 35 years. It is not clear how this entered the collection at The Hyde.
In 1819 work started on the foundations of the Essex and Colchester Hospital
on the south side of the Lexden Road. This was located to the south-east of the
Roman road that emerged from the Balkerne Gate on the west side of the Roman
colony. This was lined with a series of burials.131 Disney was presented with a
pottery funerary urn by George Saville in that same year; Saville claimed to have
been present when it was found.132 Disney and Saville were both patrons of the
hospital.133 In March 1821, a further deposit of funerary material was found during
the hospital’s construction. They included a Latin funerary inscription of Mucianus
Cambridge FM GR.76.1850. RIB no. 2327.
They include the monumental tombs of the centurion Marcus Favonius Facilis, found in 1868, the
duplicarius Longinus Spapeze, found in 1928.
Disney 1846, 223, pl. xcii, 1.
‘Colchester’, The Morning Post 10 August 1827.
76 The World of Disney

given to Disney by Drummond Hay (1785-1845) who later became British Consul-
General of Morocco at Tangier.134 Hay was the son of the Dean of Barking. The text

To the spirits of the departed.

In the mound (tumulus) lie [the bones] of a young man much regretted …
everyone … Muc[ianus] …

Drummond Hay was reported to have been present at the discovery.135 The discovery
coincided with the appointment in 1821 of Dr Allan Maclean as hospital Physician.136
Another inscription, cut on Purbeck marble, found at the same time was from a
former centurion from Nicaea in Bithynia who had served in the XX legion (based
at Chester).137 A further piece found at the same site, and apparently at the same
time, was the stone sphinx with a human head between its front paws.138 Drummond
Hay wrote a short paper on the piece and was elected a Fellow of the Society of
Antiquaries.139 Disney also had a small collection of Roman terra sigillata pottery
found at Colchester in 1827.
Disney visited Rome in 1826 and 1827, and made a number of acquisitions. The
antiquities include the inscribed cinerary urn of Lucius Sentius Coccetus purchased
from the dealer Vescovalli in 1825.140 It was said to have been found in a tomb close
to the tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia. However, the inscription is known
from another piece, and it appears that the Latin text was transferred onto the urn.
Disney purchased a marble statue of Juno in Rome in 1826.141 It had been restored
by Pigiani, an employee of Vescovalli. It was said to have been found in Tivoli in
1825. He purchased a bust of ‘Lucius Corbulo’ in Rome in January 1827, that was
said to have been found at Torre Sapienza just outside Rome in May 1824.142 He was
given a marble bust of a satyr by Raimondo Trentanove in February 1827.143 It had
apparently been found outside the Porta Pia in 1826, but it appears to have been
of more recent creation. He purchased a marble relief of Agamemnon and Chryses
from Vescovalli in Rome, that had reportedly been found in Perugia in 1826.144 This
seemed to be a modern work. The piece was identified as Pericleian by Robert Finch,
the antiquarian who was in Rome.145 During this trip to Italy Disney saw the tomb

Cambridge FM GR.81.1850. RIB no. 204. For Drummond Hay: ‘Death of Drummond Hay, Esq., British
Consul-General in Morrocco’, The Morning Post 13 March 1845.
Disney 1846, 102–3.
The Bury and Norwich Post: Or Suffolk, Essex, Cambridge, Ely, and Norfolk Telegraph 6 June 1821.
Colchester and Essex Museum 2014.75. RIB no. 203.
Colchester and Essex Museum PC.900: RIB no. 211; Toynbee 1962, 147–48, fig. 50, no. 46; Crummy 2001,
Hay 1821.
Cambridge FM GR.53.1850. Disney 1849b, pl. lii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 117–18, pl. 62, no. 191.
Cambridge FM 5.1850. Disney 1849b, pl. xxx; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 64–65, pl. 34, no. 101.
Cambridge FM GR.34.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xviii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 70, pl. 38, no. 111.
Cambridge FM GR.24.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xix; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 122–23, no. 204. The portrait
of Disney by Trentanove is also dated to 1827.
Cambridge FM GR.35.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xxxix; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 125, no. 215.
Bell 2004.
Life at The Hyde and its Collection 77

of Erasmus in Florence.146 However Disney seems to have been disappointed by his

visit. In December 1826 he wrote to his agent, C. Rankin, from Rome: ‘the country
round the Eternal City is … as dreary and desolate as Hounslow heath was 30 years
One of the pieces he acquired in March 1824 was a bronze figure of Jupiter.148 This
had formed part of the collection of Dr Mead, part of which had been purchased
by Hollis and Brand. The figure had been purchased at the 1755 Mead sale by Lord
Tylney, and then by Mr Young in 1822 at the sale of the William Wellesley Pole
collection of Wanstead House in Essex.149
Disney clearly made at least eight trips to the continent. He captured the
experience in a poem, of August 1843, entitled ‘Reflections’, and subtitled, ‘After
having made Eight Visits to the Continent—in Italy, France, Belgium, &c.’150

Of charming pictures, statues bold;

Of palaces, with dingy gold;
Of bouillon’s nasty, nastier soup;
Of courier-thieves, a blackguard troop;
Of dear hotels, and ill-paved roads;
Of frogs in fricassée (perhaps of toads);
Of carnivals, with clay sweetmeats;
Of being pelted in the streets;
Of lofty mountains, valley flats;
Of “Grand!” “Majestic!” and all that!
Of such insipid common stuff,
I’ve had, and heard, and seen enough.

‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society Dinner’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 6 December 1839.
Disney to Rankin, 17 Dec 1826, Chelmsford, Essex RO, MSD/DQC 211.
Disney 1849b, 157, pl. lxx.
Wellesley-Pole was the nephew of the Duke of Wellington.
Disney 1856, 151.
Chapter 6

Disney and Learned Societies

Disney had a public role in Essex society through his work as a magistrate and his
support for agricultural activities. However, he also took a keen interest in a range
of learned societies both in London as well as in Essex. These undoubtedly had some
influence on his decision to make his major gift to education and the arts.
Disney moved in educated circles. In 1827 he was elected a Fellow of the Zoological
Society of London, a year after its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles (1781–1826).
Charles Darwin (1809–1882) became a member in 1837 after his voyage on the
Beagle. Disney recorded (in the context of the Chelmsford Philosophical Society) in
November 1839 that he had recently visited the Zoological Society’s premises:

The Chairman [Disney] said he had been several years trying to obtain the
skull of a kangaroo, the lower incision of that animal’s jaw being of a very
singular formation, opening horizontally like a pair of scissors. He mentioned
that circumstance to a gentleman, who did not believe it. They, therefore,
went to the Surrey Zoological Gardens to determine the fact. By giving one
of the keepers 2s 6d. he let them go into where the kangaroo was kept. These
animals have great strength in their tail, which is of much use in enabling
them to leap a considerable distance. Their mode of fighting is to sit in their
tail, and strike with their hind legs, and are then very formidable. It was
therefore necessary that the keeper should get the kangaroo into a corner,
and then Mr. Disney and his friend stood upon the animal’s hind legs to
render him harmless. In that situation they examined his mouth, and found
that the teeth did open like a pair of scissors.1

On 9 June 1832, the year that he was standing as MP for Harwich, Disney was elected
a Fellow of the Royal Society. This was a period when non-scientists were elected
to the Society. The nomination paper records that Disney was ‘one of the Chairmen
of the Quarter Sessions of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for that County a
Gentleman versed in various Branches of Natural Knowledge, and particularly of
Mechanics’.2 He was nominated by:

W M Leake; Geo Tho Staunton; J Guillemard; Ashhurst Majendie; John Ayrton

Paris; S R Solly; W Wood; Wm Buckland; G Townley; Ralph Watson; Thomas
Amyot; Tho Murdoch; Chas Hatchett.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society Dinner’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties
6 December 1839.
Royal Society archive EC/1832/17.

Disney and Learned Societies 79

The first name on the list is significant: Colonel William M. Leake (1777-1860), the
great topographer of Greece, whose three volume Travels in the Morea was published
in 1830.3 He had been elected to the Society in January 1831. The Leake family had an
estate at Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex, and it is perhaps noteworthy that Leake’s brother
John Martin Leake (d. 1862), of Thorpe Hall, served as a magistrate with Disney.4
William Leake’s collection of coins, gems, Greek figure-decorated pottery and other
antiquities were purchased by the Fitzwilliam Museum after his death and were to
be displayed alongside Disney’s sculptures.5 Two years later, Leake nominated John
Gardner Wilkinson, the Egyptologist, as a Fellow of the Royal Society.6
Disney’s other nominators included Sir George Thomas Staunton (1781-1859),
sinologist and parliamentarian; John Ayrton Paris (bap. 1785-1856), physician, who
had also studied geology at Cambridge under E.D. Clarke (whose classical collections
were donated to the university); Charles Hatchett (1765-1847), chemist; William
Buckland (1784-1856), geologist, canon of Christ Church, Oxford and later Dean of
Westminster, and founder member of ZSL: he also excavated the Upper Palaeolithic
cave with the so-called ‘Red Lady of Paviland’ on the Gower in south Wales;7 and
Thomas Amyot (1775-1850), from Norfolk, treasurer of the Antiquaries from 1823.8
Disney followed in his father’s footsteps and was elected a Fellow of the Society
of Antiquaries of London on 20 June 1839.9 The Society had received its royal charter
in 1751. One of his supporters was John Gage Rokewode (1786–1842), director of
the Antiquaries, and Suffolk antiquarian. In addition, Disney was a member of the
Camden Society, founded in 1838.
Archaeology was changing in the 1840s. In 1843 the Archaeological Association
was founded.10 One of the individuals who was showing material from Essex at their
meetings, was Thomas Clarkson Neale.11 Neale was the Governor of Springfield
Gaol on the edge of Chelmsford, and had previously served in the Old House of
Correction at Chelmsford.12 Disney had been the visiting magistrate at the Gaol
and would have known Neale well.13 They were also acquainted with each other
through the Chelmsford Philosophical Society where Neale was Secretary.14 In 1845
there was a division in the Archaeological Association that led to the creation of the
Wagstaff 2012.
For obituary: The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 16 May 1862. Leake had
studied at St John’s College, Cambridge.
Wagstaff 2012.
Royal Society archive EC/1834/47. For Gardner Wilkinson: Thompson 1992.
Whittle 1992 , 4–5, no. 1; Wakelin and Griffiths 2008, 46–47, no. 6.
Blatchly 2004a.
Gill 2004c. Disney’s certificate of election does not survive, and only the first three signatories were
recorded in the minutes: Davies Gilbert, DCL, MP, PRS; John Gage Rokewode; Thomas Amyot. John Gage
Rokewode (1786–1842) was from Hengrave Hall, Suffolk and Director of the Antiquaries from 1829.
Levine 1986, 48.
‘Proceedings of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Association’, Archaeological Journal 1 (1844)
E.g. The Essex Standard 2 August 1839; 15 March 1844. He retired in 1861 after 36 years (i.e. 1825):
‘Governorship of the County Gaol’, The Essex Standard 29 March 1861. He died on 15 December 1862: The
Essex Standard 17 December 1862.
‘Essex Epiphany Sessions’, The Essex Standard 7 January 1832.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard 10 November 1837.
80 The World of Disney

British Archaeological Association and the Archaeological Institute. Disney was a

member of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland by 1845, and, at
the March 1846 meeting, exhibited an image of Lucretia.15 He was also a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Literature and was elected a member of council in 1848.16

The Chelmsford Philosophical Society

Disney was also active in local societies in Essex. The Chelmsford Philosophical
Society was founded in October 1828.17 In May 1832 a series of lectures on
‘Ecclesiastical History’ were delivered by Mr Penny.18 In April 1833 T.C. Neale, the
secretary of the society, established a library and encouraged each member to
donate ‘a book, a medal, or a specimen of some article in natural history’.19 A small
room for the display of these objects was opened on 7 October 1835: ‘on that day the
Chelmsford Museum was opened for the use of the members of the society and their
friends’.20 This display encouraged further donations and the collection started to
Disney was President of the Society by 1836,21 and Thomas William Bramston
(1796-1871), Conservative MP for South Essex (1835-65), the Patron.22 At a meeting of
the Society on November that year Disney made ‘some very able remarks upon the
sciences, and the great benefits that would result from the more general diffusion
of useful knowledge, based upon sound moral principles’. By 1837 it was noted that:

The great object of the Society is the promotion and extension of

philosophical and literary knowledge, principally by the means of meetings,
lectures, and the formation of a library and Museum.—At the present the
fossils, coins, anatomical preparations, philosophical apparatus, &c., are
placed in a temporary room, but it is intended that so soon as the funds
are sufficient a more convenient place of exhibition shall be provided. The
articles are sufficiently numerous to require a printed catalogue, and they
are classed under the following heads:—Anatomical preparations, plaster
casts, &c., natural curiosities, icthyological specimens, insects, corals, shells,
fossils, geological specimens, botanical specimens, antiquities, armour and

‘Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland’, The Morning Post 10 March 1846, 6. For the wider
context at this time: Evans 2007.
‘General intelligence’, John Bull 6 May 1848.
Noted in The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 13 February 1835. For an overview: Gill
The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser 12 May 1832.
‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July
‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General county Advertiser 4 November 1836.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General County Advertiser 10 November 1837.
Disney and Learned Societies 81

various instruments, medals and coins, memorials of the battle of Waterloo,

curiosities, and philosophical apparatus.23

Both John Disney and his son Edgar were listed as contributors to the museum
collection. The range of lectures covered in 1836 included ‘On the construction and
mechanism of the horse’s foot’, ‘On the temperature of the earth’, and ‘On Etruscan
and Roman antiquities’. By 1837 there was a proposal to map the Roman antiquities
of Essex: ‘one of our honorary members, a fellow of the Antiquarian Society, had
undertaken to make a map of the Roman roads, villas, and camps authenticated to
have been in the County of Essex’.24 The map was presented to the Society by John
Adey Repton (1775-1860), son of Humphry Repton, in 1838.25 In April 1839 there
was a demonstration by Neale of the new technique of photography (or ‘Photogenic
Drawings’) developed by William Henry Fox Talbot and presented to the Royal
Society.26 This was followed up by a further demonstration using ‘a beautiful solar
microscope, which had been presented by J. Disney, Esq., F.R.S., President of the
Society’.27 The solar microscope, an invention of the 18th century, had been used by
Fox Talbot to create his images. This is all the more remarkable as Talbot had only
presented his findings to the Royal Society in London on 31 January of that same
In June 1835 the Chelmsford Philosophical Society resolved to establish a
museum.28 It was reported that ‘several donations’ had already been received to
develop the plan. By November 1836 it was reported that ‘the Museum and Library
were in a flourishing condition, many valuable additions having been recently made
to their stores—particularly by the President and his son, and by Mr. Bramston, the
Patron’.29 It was particularly noted, ‘a room, capable of containing the Museum,
and for the delivery of Lectures, and other purposes, would be an acquisition in
the town, and Mr. Disney stated his readiness at any time to contribute 20 guineas
towards such an object’. At the 1837 meeting the Secretary, T.C. Neale, spoke about
the need for the museum:30

‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General County Advertiser 10 November 1837.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General County Advertiser 10 November 1837.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 23
February 1838.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 12
April 1839.
‘Photogeneic, or sun Drawing’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 3 May
1839. This meeting took place on 23 April.
The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and General Advertiser 26 June 1835. Also
noted ‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties
21 July 1843.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General County Advertiser 4 November 1836.
‘The Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich,
and General County Advertiser 10 November 1837.
82 The World of Disney

Our museum is established and gradually filling … The history, the statistics,
the natural history, geology, and other branches of study, especially relating
to Essex, will be greatly facilitated by our museum, and we are anxious to
obtain antique specimens of animals, botanical specimens, fossils and
minerals, found in Essex. In fact we wish to make an Essex museum. We
are therefore entitled to look for the co-operation of the friends of science
residing in or at all concerned in the welfare of Essex. If we should not
obtain such co-operation to the extent the subject deserves, we shall still
persevere—we shall go on collecting and arranging, and there is no doubt
but in time, and that not a very long time, it will be decided that there must
henceforth be a museum in Chelmsford. I have lately had an opportunity of
examining some of the most splendid museums in London, with a view of
forming the Chelmsford museum on the best model, so that it may be worthy
the inspection of scientific men who may occasionally visit Chelmsford.

Neale himself had formed a large collection that was displayed in Chelmsford Gaol.
In 1838 the Society received a number of geological samples as a gift from the
Swansea Philosophical and Literary Institution (a body founded in 1835) including
copper ores from Valparaiso and Cuba.31 Donations were presented on a regular basis.
In February 1838 it was reported that the Reverend Arthur Pearson had presented a
shot fired at Fort Sainte-Lazare, Cartagena (in modern Colombia) in 1741.32 This had
been acquired in 1821 by George Richard Brooke Pechell, while undertaking anti-
piracy operations in the frigate Tamar. Other gifts to the Institution were geological
specimens, such as a rock from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. In 1838 a decision was
made to raise the money of £2000 for the new museum by the selling of £10 shares.33
In 1839 it was reported that recent acquisitions for the museum included ‘a
curious dagger, set with sharks’ teeth, taken in an affray with the natives of New
Zealand’ as well as ‘a skull, found within the precincts of the ancient cathedral at Old
Sarum’.34 Dr Badeley presented ‘two cases containing tarantula and other curious
foreign insects’. In April 1839 part of the tusk from a mammoth found at Walton Crag
was presented.35 In November 1839 gifts included a snuff box said to have belonged
to Sir Francis Drake.36 Disney addressed the Society in his capacity as chairman:

What then can be a greater or nobler pursuit, than the enquiry into the facts
of physical truth, as divided into the sciences, of which we have so ample
a list in this and other counties—such as astronomy, anatomy, chemistry,
geology, and others? All these are tangible objects, which become the
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 12
January 1838. For Swansea in this period: Dykes 1992, 33.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and Colchester, Chelmsford, Maldon, Harwich, and
General County Advertiser 23 February 1838.
’Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, Essex Literary Journal 1 (15 June 1838) 10.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 22
February 1839.
‘Photogenic, or Sun Drawing’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 3 May 1839.
‘Chelmsford Philosophical Society Dinner’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 6 December 1839.
Disney and Learned Societies 83

subjects of our enquiry, as parts of physical philosophy. How much greater is

our pursuit, when we address our minds to the contemplation of the higher
subject of moral philosophy. That is not excluded from us; and though we are
assembled here with specimens of physical science before us, we ought to
join the two together, that we may have every means of improving the whole,
and may look forward to see, as I hope we shall, this Society in a state to look
to both. I am principally known to you as a public man, but I feel warmly
for the prosperity of this Society, for the objects of it were the pursuit of my
youth, such as I could find time for, though it was a laborious one. I always
had a desire to pursue the search for facts, for the improvement of human
knowledge for the great and glorious Bacon has told us that experimental
knowledge, founded on facts, is the basis of all sound knowledge.

He then reflected on the creation of the museum.

See what this humble town and the small mile around me have done, in
collecting tangible specimens in illustration of these truths—these admirable
conformations which it has pleased the Creator of all things to give to every
thing touched by his hand. In contributing articles to form a museum, we are
giving a visible lesson to every one, who sees what we are doing.

In 1842 Queen Victoria presented twenty Anglo-Saxon coins, ‘part of the treasure
trove at Cuerdale, in Lancashire’.37 This hoard had been found in May 1840 on the
banks of the River Ribble. It seems to have been part of the booty from Viking raids,
and is thought to be one of the largest assemblages from northern Europe.38 The
hoard itself was widely dispersed among a number of museums as well as to private
The Chelmsford and Essex Museum finally opened on 11 July 1843 presided
over by Disney.39 The building as located on New Road (also known as New Bridge
Street) and was built by George Meggy. His design ensured that ‘if the public should
require more room for the museum, or library, or other offices, it may easily be
obtained’.40 Meggy also lived in Museum Terrace. By the time of the opening the
museum contained around 600 volumes. The arrangement was that subscribers, of a
half a guinea annually, should have across to the museum on Tuesdays and Fridays,
‘and may introduce any of the members of their own families, and persons who
reside at a distance from Chelmsford’.
Disney himself gave an address at the opening, outlining the work of the society
and the purpose of the museum.
‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 18
November 1842.
Ghey 2015, 89–92. Much of the hoard is now in the British Museum.
‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July
1843. See also ‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern
Counties 14 July 1843.
‘Chelmsford and Essex Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July
84 The World of Disney

It is the object of the Society to pay attention to what is called, in one word,
philosophy; the strict meaning of which is tritely laid down in the original
translation by Scapula as the love or study of wisdom—amor seu studium
sapientiae. Now the study of wisdom, or the love of wisdom, as such, does not
confine itself to any one particular subject, but it includes every object in
the material world. It includes also every contemplation which in the duty of
an intelligent being, can come within the reach of his intellect. In this view,
in the popular sense, philosophy has come to be divided into two separate
classes: that which addresses itself to the material world has been termed
natural philosophy, and that which addresses itself to the duties more
connected with the intellectual powers is called moral philosophy.

Disney reflected his own theological position:

I shall have the honour and the pleasure of uniting them [sc. the two
disciplines of philosophy] again, to show you what is the great object of
human life, with regard to our duty to the great Author of the world—the
power which endued us with these great intellectual capacities.

He expanded on natural philosophy:

You will find arranged under that head almost all the practical sciences,
particularly as used amongst mankind, and you will fund that experiments
on the materialness of this world will be the means of opening to you a source
of more information than all the speculations of the ancient philosophers;
and you will find the foundation of this is laid down by our own great and
eminent natural philosopher—the admirable Bacon.

Within this area he identified the areas of ‘mechanics, chemistry, optics, navigation,
and so forth’. He then explored the ‘evils’ of mechanics: ‘it has created a dense
population in some places, thereby creating disease and vice’. He turned to the
report by Lord Ashley on mining and the problems faced by miners: ‘they are far
under ground, they become sick, they are decrepit, and a vast number of evils attend
it’. He then turned to chemistry that could provide ‘purer medicines and articles for
the food of man’ as well as producing ‘new poisons, and that worst and most cruel of
poisons—ardent spirits’. His next topic was optics that allowed the discovery of ‘the
smallest created beings’ and through the telescope, ‘facts and measurements of time
and objects at what might be considered an almost immeasurable distance’. He then
relayed the story of William of Malmesbury and his attempts to fly. He reflected on
Fulton’s design for a submarine, ‘a boat by which he could keep under water with
a number of persons a long time, and go about like a fish, and make discoveries in
the deep’. Disney now came to a key point, ‘how to connect the natural objects of
the creation with the benevolence of the Creator’. He pointed back to the Venerable
Bede and his works De Natura Rerum and de Temporibus. He then traced engagement
Disney and Learned Societies 85

with Bede through The Evidence of God manifested in the works of the Creation (1682)
by John Ray, rector of Black Notley in Essex; and then William Derham, rector of
Upminster, through his Physico-Theology; a demonstration of the being and attributes of
God from the works of the Creation (1720).
Disney then addressed moral philosophy and considered aspects such as ‘the
Scriptures and human happiness’, ‘divine benevolence’, ‘the obligation of speaking
the truth’, ‘charity, gratitude’, and ‘the duties of parents to their children, and the
duties of children to their parents’. He explained the following:

It teaches us what the world is—it teaches us how we are obliged to the
Creator for so creating us, and it teaches us to come to the conclusion that
it is our duty to make use of that knowledge for the purpose of eliciting the

He suggested that these ideas should have an impact on his audience:

It is therefore the duty of members of a society like ours to occupy their

minds with the study of that which is generally good; it is their duty to make
themselves informed of certain data and certain facts, that they may come to
the conclusion of what is good and true.

After the conclusion of the formal speech Disney gave a public thanks to ‘the friends
of the Museum at Saffron Walden, who have been great contributors to ours, and
from whom we have received the kindest offers of assistance’. Dr Bird responded to
Disney’s words with a reflection on the place of the museum in Chelmsford:

Who is there amongst us who is not convinced, as I am, that by studiously

bearing out and putting into practice the great principles of philosophy so
eloquently propounded to us this day, will be yielding sound and extended
knowledge to the rising generation of the neighbourhood? And in the same
proportion as we diffuse information and a love of harmony against the mass,
so far shall we tend to improve and emeliorate the social condition, which
should be the first and ultimate aim of every sound political economist.

He continued:

This day ought to be written in letters of gold in the annals of our county,
or, perhaps, far better be engraven in indelible characters on the tablets of
each and every one of our memories. Chelmsford, after years of inaction,
has at length awakened from her slumbers, slowly, it must needs be allowed,
but yet under encouraging circumstances indeed; for the same protecting
angel that sighed over the sepulture of science in this town now rejoices
at her resurrection: Disney, the lofty halo of whose genius shed a mantle
of resuscitation over her dreams, stands here this day to baptize her in the
name of Philosophy, with the goddess of literature as his fair partner at the
86 The World of Disney

font. Who, then can despair for the ultimate success of our society? The bark
once launched on the waters of popular emulation, with Disney at the helm,
will assuredly arrive safe at the destined harbour of practical utility.

Bird had a vision for the benefits of the museum for all society:

What a store of useful knowledge will not the poor artizan and mechanic be
able to bring home to the fire-side of his family, if he avails himself of the
advantages of the Museum. What a stimulus will be held out to the youth
fond of study and improvement in the many rewards awaiting his career, by
making this society the stepping-stone to his future fame and fortune; and
what a grand and heavenly reflection will it not be to the rich and influential
man that by his countenance and support he has given an onward movement
to this great and popular machine!

His final thought was for Disney:

… let me add that our noble-minded and generous Chairman may long live
to contribute to the prosperity of the institution by the great and sterling
talents vested in him, and that each succeeding year may bring its progressive
improvement, is my greatest and most heart-felt wish.

This was followed by a vote of thanks to the chair in recognition of ‘the support he
has given to the Museum and for the great efforts he has made to carry it forward’.
After the speeches,

The company then adjourned to the Museum to inspect the collection,

which was very gratifying, and we were much surprised to see so great a
number of articles suddenly brought before the public out of obscurity. We
heartily congratulate the inhabitants of Chelmsford on the establishment of
this depository for antiquities and the rare productions of nature, art, and
science, as such an institution, in communicating knowledge and improving
taste, emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.

The quotation is from Ovid.41

In 1845, two years after the opening of the Chelmsford Museum, legislation
was passed through the Museums Act to allow local corporations to establish civic
art museums. This saw the opening of other county museums such as the Dorset
Museum in Dorchester, and the Ipswich Museum in 1846. The Society’s museum
was presented to the Corporation of Chelmsford around this time.42 Many of the
activities of the Society were recorded in the Essex Literary Journal. Disney resigned

Ovid Pont. 2.9.48.
Benton 1927, 283.
Disney and Learned Societies 87

as President of the Chelmsford Literary Institution in May 1847.43 Around 1851 the
Society became the Essex and Chelmsford Philosophical and Natural History Society.

‘Chelmsford Literary Institution’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 14 May

Chapter 7

The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge

Museum Disneianum

With the opening of the Chelmsford and Essex Museum in 1843, Disney turned his
energy to the collection of classical sculptures displayed in The Hyde. An earlier
catalogue had been prepared by his father,1 and Disney stated that he had started
the notes for his catalogue of the Hyde in 1818, the year that he was appointed
Sheriff of Dorset.2 The catalogue of the sculptural collection was finished in 1827.
Disney explicitly stated that his model (‘the size and manner and style of getting
up and printing the book’) was the volume prepared for the British Museum by
Taylor Combe, A Description of the Collection of Ancient Marbles in the British Museum
(1812).3 Combe (1774–1826) had joined the staff of the museum in 1803, and was
appointed keeper of the department of antiquities in 1807.4 He was responsible for
the acquisition of the architectural sculptures from the fifth century BC temple of
Apollo at Bassai, Greece in 1814.5 Combe visited the Hyde in 1818 and discussed the
authenticity of a number of pieces.6
Disney’s catalogue notes other visitors to the Hyde including John Flaxman
(1755-1826), and James Christie (1773-1831), the auctioneer. Flaxman, for example,
explained the iconography of the ‘Greek sarcophagus’ to Disney prior to September
1808, presumably during the preparation of the Reverend Disney’s earlier catalogue.7
Christie commented on two herms in a letter of 22 December 1797, written while
the Hyde was still the residence of Thomas Brand-Hollis.8 Christie presented Disney
with an Attic black-figured lekythos.9
Sir Richard Westmacott (1775-1856), professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy,
restored some of the sculptures in the summer of 1834.10 This provides a terminus
for the writing of the catalogue. Westmacott also commented on other pieces in the
collection.11 Westmacott had visited the Hyde in 1827, and also presented Disney
Disney 1807.
Disney 1849b, vi–vii.
For further discussion: Cook 1985, 60; Vout 2012, 322. For Taylor Combe and the Townley collection:
Wilson 2002, 66; Jenkins 1992,16, 18.
Wroth and Banerji 2004.
Jenkins 2006, 130–50.
Disney 1846, 3, 13, 27, 40, 47, 53, 59, 73, 75,77; Disney 1849b, Part II, x–xi, 159, 164, 189, 190, 206–07.
Disney 1808, v–vi.
Disney 1846, 24, 25; see also 27, 31, 45, 55, 64, 75, 82; Disney 1849b, Part II, 163. Yet Christie calls this the
‘Disney bust’. For Christie: Tedder and Russell 2004.
Disney 1849b, pls. cv–cvi, 245–46. The present location is unknown: Beazley Archive (BAPD) no. 390048.
Disney 1846, 40. See also Busco 2004.
Disney 1846, iv, 11, 19, 21, 53, 55, 64 (acquired in 1825), 75.

The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 89

Figure 31. Attic black-figured lekythos. Museum Disneianum.

with a terracotta figure in in 1835.12 It is important to remember that Westmacott

had travelled with Sophia Disney’s father, Lewis Disney-Ffytche, in Italy in the mid
1790s. Westmacott’s son, Richard Westmacott (1799–1872), used Disney’s statue of
the ibis in a lecture at the Royal Institution in March 1845.13
The citations in the Museum Disneianum are important as they give us a terminus
of 1834 for its preparation. Disney also took advice from Sir Richard Westmacott
(1799-1872), the sculptor, Sir Henry Ellis (1777-1869), librarian of the British Museum,
and Edward Hawkins (1780-1867), keeper at the British Museum. Sir Charles Newton
of the British Museum also encouraged the study of the collection.
A decade after the completion of the catalogue, Disney issued the first edition
of the Museum Disneianum which was published by J. Rodwell on New Bond Street in
1846.14 The volume was expanded three years later to include sections on bronzes
and ancient Greek pottery.15 The title of the catalogue itself echoes the publications
of earlier collections such as Museum Meadianum (1755), for Richard Mead (1673–
1754), and Museum Worsleyanum (1798 [1794]; part 2, 1802), for Sir Richard Worsley
(1751–1805).16 Worsley lived at Appuldurcombe House on the Isle of Wight. He had
formed his collection during an extended tour of the Mediterranean from 1783 to
1788, that took in Italy, Greece, and Anatolia.

Disney 1849b, pl. lxxxiv, 197.
Disney 1849b, 132. See also Dodgson and Busco 2004.
Disney 1846. Rodwell specialised in lithography.
Disney 1849b.
Guerrini 2004; Aston 2004.
90 The World of Disney

The publication draws attention to

Disney’s additions to the collection.17
Some of the items were purchased
during trips to Italy such as an Etruscan
tufa cinerarium purchased from Cinci
at Volterra in October 1829,18 and two
more found at Chiusi in 1809, and
purchased from Carlo Lasinio in Pisa
in December 1829.19 Lasinio also sold
him a votive foot that was said to have
been found near Volterra in 1793,20
and some pottery said to have been
found at Grosseto in 1800.21 Lasinio sold
Disney an Attic amphora.22 He acquired
two black-figured amphorae and an
oinochoe found at Vulci, and purchased
from C. Campanari in 1838.23 Another
item is a glass four sided jug acquired in
Figure 32. ‘Hermarchus’. Museum Disneianum.
1825 from the architect W. Clarke who
had reported to have discovered it in
the amphitheatre at Verona.24
Apart from material added during his travels in Italy, the objects included
a Roman marble copy of the head of a philosopher that Disney had purchased
in London in 1823.25 He identified it as the portrait of Hermarchus based on the
inscribed sculpture found at Tivoli in 1780, although it is now recognised as the
portrait of Plato.26 The portrait of ‘Julia Sabina’ was also purchased in London in
1823.27 It is now thought to be a representation of Faustina the Younger. Disney
recalls that ‘the person of whom I had it told me that the gentleman who sold it to
him offered him £25 to have it back again’.28 Disney purchased a bronze athlete and
a bronze horse’s head from Perrot in April 1827 that had been found near to the
Maison Carée at Nîmes in Provence.29
Disney 1849b, iii–iv.
Cambridge FM GR.49.1850. Disney 1849b, 199–201, pl. lxxxv; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 42–43, pl. 22, nos.
73–74. The cinerarium and lid were acquired together but do not fit.
Disney 1849b, 203–07, pl. lxxxvi.
Disney 1849b, 213, pl. lxxxix.
Disney 1849b, 233, pl. xcvii.
Disney 1849b, 265, pls. cxvii–cxviii. This is now Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek inv. 2783: Fischer-
Hansen and Nielsen 2004, 68–70, pls. 51–52 (503–504). BAPD 217166. Beazley attributed the amphora to
the Disney painter.
Disney 1849b, 237–40, pls. xcix–c, 241–42, pls. ci–cii, 251–52, pls. cix–cx.
Disney 1849b, 210, pl. lxxxvii.
Cambridge FM GR.23.1850. Disney 1849b, pl. xvii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 29–30, pl. 15, no. 53.
Richter 1984, 182, 184–85, fig. 146. For portraits identified as Hermarchus: Richter 1984, 129–31.
Cambridge FM GR.27.1850. Disney 1849b, pl. xxii; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 72–73, pl. 39, no. 116.
Disney 1849b, 43.
Disney 1849b, 167, pl. lxxiv, 181–82, pl. lxxix.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 91

Figure 33. Portrait probably of Faustina the

Younger. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum.
© David Gill.

Figure 34. Etruscan funerary cinerarium lid. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam

Museum. © David Gill.
92 The World of Disney

In January 1835 Henry Tufnell gave Disney a janiform female herm that had been
found by Tufnell at Cumae in 1828.30 Tufnell had gone to Italy after studies at Christ
Church, Oxford, and admission to Lincoln’s Inn.31 He seems to have given the herm
to Disney on his return from Ceylon where he had been acting as secretary to his
father-in-law Sir Robert John Wilmot-Horton. Tufnell had indicated that he wanted
to stand as Liberal MP for the borough of Colchester but failed to be elected.32 He was
successful at Ipswich in 1837 but lost the seat in 1838. Disney and Tufnell were both
members of the Maldon Independent Club.33
Several pieces from Herculaneum were among the items displayed in The Hyde.
They include a head of Medusa found at Pompeii in 1790,34 a lamp with bull’s heads
found at Herculaneum around 1795,35 a hanging bronze lamp with three nozzles
and another with six burners found at the same time at Pompeii and purchased
at Naples in 1796,36 a lamp in the form of an African slave standing on a tortoise
apparently found around 1796, and purchased in that year at Naples,37 a hanging
lamp in the shape of a shoe found at Herculaneum in 1790, and purchased at Naples
in 1796,38 and a patera found at Herculaneum in 1790.39 A red-figured column-krater
was purchased in Naples in 1799 or 1801.40 A bronze statue in the form of Antinuous
in Egyptian dress was said to have been found at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli in 1790.41
Disney describes the acquisition of the pieces:42

During a residence, in Italy, of three years, from 1795 to 1798, a relative

of mine was enabled to acquire many specimens, taken at the time from
Herculaneum and Pompeii, at much less cost and trouble than they can
be procured for now. In those days the state of the country was such, and
the indolence of the Court of Naples in these matters so great, as almost to
amount to indifference, and consequently the people had more facilities of
selling objects which they found there.

The dates coincide with those when Lewis Disney-Ffytche and his daughter Sophia
were in Italy and spent some time in Naples. This means that they had either been
inherited by Sophia on the death of her father, or that they had formed part of her
collection for more than half a century.

Cambridge FM GR.7.1850. Disney 1846, pl. xxix; Budde and Nicholls 1964, 61, pl. 32, no. 96.
Carlyle and Matthew 2004. Obituary: The Times 17 June 1854, 10.
‘Colchester’, Ipswich Journal 27 December 1834; ‘Colchester’, Ipswich Journal 10 January 1835.
‘Maldon Independent Club’, The Morning Chronicle 2 August 1828.
Disney 1849b, 133–34, pl. lx.
Disney 1849b, 135–36, pl. lxi.
Disney 1849b, 137–38, pls. lxii–lxiii.
Disney 1849b, 139, pl. lxiv.
Disney 1849b, 145, pl. lxv.
Disney 1849b, 151–52, pl. lxvii.
Disney 1849b, 259, pls. cxiii–cxiv. Disney-Ffytche had returned to England from Italy in 1799. This is now
in the Manchester Museum inv. 40099. It passed through the Sharp Ogden collection.
Disney 1849b, 193–95, pl. lxxxiii.
Disney 1849b, Part 2, iii.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 93

The Museum Disneianum was reviewed

in The Athenaeum in December 1848.43 It
was complimentary: ‘for the elaborate
pains which he has taken, and much
curious information and speculation,
he serves great praise’. There were,
however, criticisms of the quality of
the woodcuts. An extended review
appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in
January 1849.44 There was a link between
benefactions of Hollis and Brand-Hollis
and Disney’s ‘generosity of spirit worthy
of his predecessors’. It acknowledged
that Disney had expanded the Hyde’s
collection during his visits to Italy,
‘that emporium of art’. Another review
appeared in the Archaeological Journal.45
It acknowledged Disney’s contribution
towards ‘stimulating the popular taste
Figure 35. Janiform sculpture, displayed as in this direction’. Two extensive reviews
the gift of Disney. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam were written by a member of Trinity
Museum. © David Gill. College, Cambridge in 1848 and then
January 1849.46 The reviewer suggested
that the volumes reflect ‘the industry,
elegance, and acumen of the author’
as well as give ‘ample evidence of the
learning and elegance of mind of their
accomplished author’.

The Establishment of the

Disney Chair

The reasons for Disney’s support for

archaeology are not immediately
apparent. He was elected a Fellow of the
Society of Antiquaries in 1839, though

The Athenaeum 1105 (30 December 1848), 1336.
The Gentleman’s Magazine 31 (January 1849) 37–44.
‘Notices of archaeological publications’,
Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland /
Figure 36. Attic red-figured column- Archaeological Journal 6 (1849) 83–86.
krater acquired in Naples in 1799 or 1801.
W 1848; W 1850. The author is identified by the
initials, C.K.W. The reviews were responding to the
Museum Disneianum.
expansion of the volume.
94 The World of Disney

long after some of his other fellowships: Zoological Society of London (1827), the
Royal Society (1832), Royal Society of Literature (1848). Archaeology had not featured
prominently in the Chelmsford Philosophical Society, though Disney was a member
of the newly established Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland by
1845; the Institute seceded from the British Archaeological Association in that year.
One of the key members of the Archaeological Institute was the Cambridge academic
Robert Willis, Jacksonian professor of natural and experimental philosophy.47 His
emphasis on the contribution of archaeology for the understanding of the past
could have been a reason to secure a chair in this new discipline for Cambridge.
The key reason for the benefaction may, perhaps, lie within the family. In January
1847 Disney’s estranged brother-in-law, Sir William Hillary, died at his home,
Woodville, on the Isle of Man.48 This brought closure to an extended series of legal
disputes with the wider family. Then in January 1848 Disney’s brother Algernon died
at the age of 68,49 and the following year John himself reached his 70th birthday.
He was mindful that Brand-Hollis’ bequest to his father had been intended for ‘the
benefit of his country and of human society’ and so he sought to make an appropriate
gift. Disney, his father and his brother had been educated at Peterhouse, and so he
considered the University of Cambridge to be an appropriate recipient. It should be
remembered that the Cambridge Antiquarian Society had been created in 1840, and
therefore provided an appropriate context for the collection.50
Preparations for the gift were put in place and the Museum Disneianum was
republished as the Fitzwilliam Museum (1849).51 Disney’s intentions were made public
on 16 April 1850 when a series of Graces were presented to the Congregation of the
University of Cambridge.52 They read as follows:

1. John Disney, of the Hyde, in the county of Essex, Esq., having offered to present
to the University a valuable collection of ancient marbles and statuary, with
a view of its being placed in one of the public buildings of the University, and
being kept together as an archaeological collection bearing his name.
2. To accept Mr Disney’s munificient offer on the condition above specified.
3. To authorise the syndicate appointed for the management of the Fitzwilliam
Museum to receive the collection into the museum, and to make the necessary
arrangements with Mr Disney for its removal.
4. To affix the University seal to a letter of thanks (written by the public orator)
to Mr Disney.

Marsden 2004.
‘Death of Sir William Hillary, Bart.’, The Morning Post Monday 11 January 1847; ‘Sir William Hillary, Bart’,
Illustrated London News 10 (16 January 1847), 43.
The Standard 1 February 1848. Colonel Algernon Disney died at Twickenham on 23 January 1848.
For the emphasis of the Society at this time: Evans 2007, 291.
Disney 1849a. The volume, which predates the gift to Cambridge, may have served as a prospectus for
the gift to the university.
The Morning Chronicle 17 April 1850.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 95

Figure 37. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © David Gill

The Disney collection was accepted.53 The Graces had specified that the collection
be placed in the university’s Fitzwilliam Museum.54 The Founder’s Building of the
Fitzwilliam Museum had opened to the public in 1848, and the collection was placed
on display there on the ground floor in what was known as the Disney Room.55 The
donation of the collection, valued at £2000, anticipated the study of archaeology:56

We understand the object of the public-spirited donor in thus disposing of

his very valuable collection is to found in the University a basis for the study
of Archæology, a science which has not yet received there the attention its
interest and importance demands.

A year after the gift of the sculptures, in 1851, Disney proposed to establish an
archaeological chair at Cambridge.57

John Disney, Esquire, to whose munificence the university is indebted for the
collection of ancient marbles lately deposited in the Fitzwilliam museum,
and known by the name of “The Museum Disneianum,” offers to transfer to
the chancellor, masters and scholars of the University of Cambridge, 1,000l.
three per centum per annum consolidated bank annuities, for the purpose

‘University intelligence’, John Bull 13 April 1850, 230.
Burn 2016.
For the background: Fitzwilliam Museum 1989; Burn 2016, 68.
‘Munificent donation of antiquities to Cambridge University’, Essex Standard 19 April 1850. A description
of the donation can be found in The Ipswich Journal 20 April 1850. The reports Disney’s gift as an aspect of
‘his sense of public duty’.
The Morning Post 15 March 1851; The Standard 15 March 1851.
96 The World of Disney

of founding and endowing a professorship of classical antiquities, to be

called “The Disney Professorship of Archæology,” subject to the following
conditions, viz. :—
That the professor be a member of the University of Cambridge, and of the
degree of Master of Arts, or some higher degree.
That the professor be required to deliver six lectures, at least, during each
academical year, on subjects of antiquarian research and the fine arts.
That the appointment to the professorship remain with Mr. Disney during
his life-time; and that after Mr. Disney’s decease the appointment be vested
in the Vice-Chancellor and heads of colleges.
That the professorship be tenable for five years, and that the professor be
capable of being re-elected.
A grace, to authorise the acceptance of Mr. Disney’s proposal, will be offered
to the Senate, on Wednesday next, March 19, when a draft of the proposed
endowment deed will be laid upon the registrary’s table.

The offer was accepted on 4 April despite some opposition.58

Disney’s choice as the first Disney Professor was John Howard Marsden (1803-
91), the Rector of Great Oakley, near Harwich, in Essex.59 Marsden had been a student
at Manchester Grammar School and studied at St John’s College in Cambridge,
gaining a MA in 1829. He had married Caroline Moore in 1840 and had then moved
to Great Oakley. He interest was more theological than archaeological and he had
been the Hulsean lecturer in divinity in 1843 and 1844. While at Great Oakley he
joined the Colchester Castle Book Society, and he published on the 17th century
antiquary Sir Simonds d’Ewes.60 However there was an important association with
archaeology. His cousin, William Marsden (1754-1836), had left a widow, Elizabeth
(née Wilkins), who had married Colonel William Martin Leake, the Hellenic traveller,
in 1838. Leake’s brother John was a fellow magistrate with Disney. The Reverend
Marsden subsequently wrote a biography of Leake in 1864.61 As Levine has noted,
‘It is inconceivable that the first Disney Professor of Archaeology, the Reverend J.H.
Marsden, doyen of the Essex Archaeological Society, could have filled that or any
other academic post in archaeology at the end of the century’.62
Marsden was also a member of the Colchester Archaeological Association, and
later the Essex Archaeological Society. His two introductory Cambridge lectures
‘upon archaeology’, given in November 1851, were published in 1852.63 The published

The Standard 5 April 1851; Bury and Norwich Post 16 April 1851.
Clark 1989, 29; Cooper 2004; Leach 2007. For obituary: ‘The late Canon Marsden’, The Essex Standard West
Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties’ Advertiser 7 February 1891; ‘Rev. John H. Marsden BD’, The Manchester
Guardian 27 January 1891, 12. The appointment was made in May 1851: The Times 23 May 1851, 7. The
Chair is described as one of ‘Classical Antiquities’. The context for Marsden’s appointment is noted by
Wilson 2002, 153.
Leach 2007, 37. See also Blatchly 2004b.
Marsden 1864. For Leake: Wagstaff 2012.
Levine 1986, 36.
Marsden 1852. The lectures were announced in The Times 14 November 1851, 5.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 97

version contained a catalogue of the Disney collection as an appendix. Notes and

Queries commented:

We have received, and read with great pleasure, Two Introductory Lectures upon
Archaeology, delivered in the University of Cambridge, by the Rev. J. H. Marsden.
We are not sure that these lectures are not privately printed; and in that
doubt should have passed them without notice, had not their merits, as the
production of a scholar and a man of taste, seemed to us such as to make
it desirable that they should be placed within the reach of all whom they
are calculated to interest. They are the first-fruits of Mr. Disney’s munificent
donation to the University of Cambridge.64

Marsden’s second set of lectures, delivered in May 1852, were on the theme of the
Palaeography of Greece, and the third in the Michaelmas term of 1853 on Grecian
art.65 A further series of six lectures were delivered in May 1854 on the theme of
the Palaeography, Sculpture and Coinage of Greece.66 These were followed by six
lectures on Ancient Coinage, particularly as connected with sacred history in May
1855.67 Marsden was re-appointed to the Chair by Disney, in 1856, and then once
more, after Disney’s death, in 1861. Marsden resigned from the Disney Chair and
the living at Great Oakley in 1865.68 He retired to Grey Friars in Colchester where he
died in January 1891.

Essex Archaeological Society

The Chelmsford Philosophical Society had taken an interest in archaeology and had
commissioned a map of Roman Essex by Repton. However, in the 1840s there was a
rise in the number of county societies taking an active interest in the recording of
archaeological remains. These county societies emerged from the growing interest
in archaeology heralded by the foundation of the Archaeological Association in
December 1843, ‘for the encouragement and prosecution of researches into the arts
and monuments of the early and middle ages’.69 The Archaeological Association
subsequently split into the British Archaeological Association and the Archaeological
By early 1846 the importance of the archaeology of Colchester was recognised.71
A member of the ‘British Archaeological Society’ wrote a description of the remains:

‘Miscellaneous’, Notes and Queries 131 (1852) 430.
The Times 11 May 1852, 8; 17 October 1853, 7.
The Times 8 May 1854, 11.
The Times 30 April 1855, 12.
The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald 24 January 1865.
Levine 1986, 48. See also Cowell 2008, 56.
Levine 1986, 48. See also Cowell 2008, 83.
‘The Antiquities of Colchester’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 2 January
98 The World of Disney

There are, perhaps, but few towns in England which exhibit more interesting
monuments of former times than Colchester, and but few whose ancient
remains have been less examined and studied. The inhabitants themselves
appear to be but little aware either of their existence or of their usefulness in
furnishing correct notions on the habits, customs, and arts of our forefathers,
and in throwing a light upon their social condition. The study of antiquities is
dry and barren when it does not involve these considerations, but enlivening
and fertile when it has this grand object in view.

There was a reflection on the lack of action by the British government ‘towards
the preservation of the national antiquities, and they are daily at the mercy of
the ignorant’. The writer drew attention to the discovery of a number of Roman
cinerary urns during the construction of the railway to the east of the main station
to the north of the town in October 1844 by William Wire.72 Wire’s diary 12 October
1844 records: ‘Several Roman funeral urns containing calcined bones were found
opposite the barn, in a grave or pit apparently dug for the purpose but they were
broken to pieces by the weight of the superincumbent earth ... The workmen
informed me that in the pit was a great quantity of charcoal’.
This letter was a precursor to a fuller investigation to the Roman colony. In
October 1846 the British Archaeological Association visited Colchester to see the
extant remains.73 This included a tour of the Castle, St Botolph’s Priory, ‘the Roman
Guard-house on Balkerne Hill’, and various churches. An evening meeting took
place in the Red Lion Inn chaired by Charles Roach Smith, secretary and co-founder
of the Association.74

As to Colchester, the deputation had been completely taken by surprise: they

supposed it would probably afford them interesting occupation for a day or
two, but they had found that a week or more might be spent with advantage
among its antiquities. There was no town in the kingdom which presented
more interesting remains than Colchester, although they had hitherto been
but imperfectly known.

Specific note was made about the lack of inscriptions.

One circumstance for remark was the almost entire absence of inscriptions
among the remains hitherto discovered. This was an important branch of
archaeology: opinions differing from each other would be formed of many
remains of ancient buildings and other works; but where inscriptions were
found there could be no mistake; although only one or two of a sepulchral
kind had been yet discovered in this important Roman colony, it was probable
that many more yet existed, and if sought after might be readily found.
Colchester Heritage Explorer MCC1895: Roman cremation burial, Colchester North Station, Colchester.
‘The Antiquities of Colchester’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 16 October
For Roach Smith: Rhodes 2004.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 99

There are indeed a limited number of inscriptions from the colony.75 Those known
by the middle of the century include an altar in Purbeck marble found in 1764 to
the south-west of the town dedicated to the imperial deities, and two fragmentary
funerary inscriptions found in 1821 from the grounds of the Essex and Colchester
Hospital, one to a centurion from Bithynia who had served in the 20th Legion, and
the other recording a burial mound (tumulus).76
A plan was devised for excavation in the Roman colony.

Excavations properly directed would, no doubt, bring to light many

monuments which still lie buried under an accumulation of soil, averaging
throughout the two about six feet in depth above the Roman surface; and he
would recommend the removal of the soil which had accumulated against the
inner wall of that most interesting Roman remain, the guard-room adjoining
the Balkerne entrance.

Roach Smith suggested the creation of a museum to store and display the finds:

the desireableness of forming a local museum as a receptacle for such objects,

which were now being dispersed and dissociated from the locality whose
history they would so well illustrate.

He even suggested that there were benefits of public engagement in archaeology:

by pleasurable and innocent excitement, often diverted the youthful energies

of the middle and higher classes from the frivolous and criminal pursuits to
which they were too often unhappily directed by bad associations.

There was a discussion of the Roman remains embedded within the keep. These are
now recognised as the foundations of the temple of the Divine Claudius, a structure
destroyed during the Boudiccan revolt.77
This was a period that saw a growing interest in archaeology across the region.
Across the county border into Suffolk, the Bury and West Suffolk Archaeological
Institute was founded in 1840, and the Suffolk Institute of Natural History and
Archaeology in 1848. The Ipswich Museum opened in December 1847.78
William Wire had proposed in 1841–43 the creation of a Colchester Museum to
receive finds from the town.79 In October 1846 Colchester Borough Council passed to
a resolution asking the Estate and Finance Committee ‘whether any accommodation
could be afforded in the Town Hall, or any other place, for the deposit of any articles

RIB 191–212.
RIB 193, 203, 204.
Drury, et al. 1984. See also Fishwick 1995.
‘Opening of Ipswich Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 17
December 1847.
Benton 1927, 283.
100 The World of Disney

of antiquity or curiosity, intended for a Museum to be erected in the town’.80 In July

1848 the Estate and Finance Committee resolved:

That the room at the East end of the Town Hall, on the same floor as the
Great Room, and one of the upper apartments, shall be appropriated for the
deposit, by any person having articles in their possession intended to be
given for a Public Museum, until a suitable and permanent building can be
provided for their reception.

The Town Hall had been completed in 1844, replacing the 12th century Moot Hall.
A list of contributors was provided with a broad range of material from fossils to
Roman coins, books to Chinese baskets. There was even a ‘Chinese compass and
sun-dial combined: taken from the pocket of a Chinese solider killed in the late
war’. There were additionally a number of fossils found in various railway cuttings
around Essex and Suffolk. A number of local Roman finds were presented: a Roman
triple lamp, found at Colchester; Roman coins found near the Colchester Union
house; Roman urns found on the Lexden Road; Roman urns, brick, tile, and elegant
amphora, two heads of spears, three human skulls and parts of human skeletons,
from the garden of Mr J.A. Tabor, Crouch Street, Colchester (1845-46); a Roman urn,
found while digging the foundation of a house in Essex Street (1845); and a Roman
ear-ring, found in Colchester. In 1847 J.A. Tabor, at the suggestion of William Wire,
managed to secure some coins from the Viking Cuerdale hoard found 1840.81
A Colchester Archaeological Society was established around 1850 as a ‘section’
of the Literary Society. The Colchester Archaeological Association was active by the
autumn of 1850.82 Its aims were:83

(I.) That the objects of this Society be: to obtain an record faithful accounts of
the antiquities discovered in this Town and county; and that the Committee
meet at stated periods for the discussion of any subject connected with
(II.) To collect and preserve any heraldic or genealogical notices which may
be discovered.
(III.) To investigate the ecclesiastical, castellated, and domestic architecture
of this town and county; and to use its exertions to preserve from threatened
destruction any interesting monuments of past time.
(IV.) To collect coins and antiquities of any country, more particularly those
discovered in this town and neighbourhood.

‘Colchester Museum and Library’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 30
October 1846.
‘Colchester Museum’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 14 May 1847. For
the hoard and its dispersal: Ghey 2015, 89–92.
For one of the earliest mentions: The Morning Post October 6, 1851. The Reverend Montagu Benton noted
that a meeting at the Literary Institution in August 1850 had the intention of forming an archaeological
association: Benton 1927, 276.
Benton 1927, 277.
The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge 101

On the 25 September 1850 the first lecture of the Association was on the topic of
‘Archaeology’ presented by P.M. Duncan.84 Duncan was the physician for the Essex
and Colchester Hospital.85 The Colchester Archaeological Association met in October
1851 to hear a paper by Dr Duncan on ‘Ancient fortifications of Colchester’.86 He
noted that the walls stood ‘in Protestant times of peace, form boundaries of gardens,
foundations of homes, and studies for the archaeologist’. There was a response
by William Wire, the secretary of the association, suggesting that the walls had
been constructed in the third century AD.87 Another of the lectures was given by
Reverend Henry Jenkins, Rector of Stanway, Essex and president of the association,
who subsequently published his lecture on ‘Colchester Castle’.88 The initial pattern
for such meetings seems to have been monthly, but in the autumn of 1851 it was
changed to quarterly.89 Numbers also started to grow from seven in the first year to
fifteen by 1852.90
At the April 1852 meeting of the Association it was noted:

it has long been very desirable that Colchester, so rich in antiquities, should
have a good antiquarian society to preserve and illustrate them; and we trust
that, when the section gains a little more strength, it will establish itself upon
an independent basis, and be not a mere section of the Literary Institution,
but “The Colchester and Essex Archaeological Society.”

In June that same year Duncan noted that the association had funded excavations
in Colchester.91 The Colchester Archaeological Society quickly evolved into an Essex
Archaeological Society ‘with a more extended sphere of operations’.92 This also
meant a break from the Literary Institution. The aims of this new society included
‘To collect, and ultimately deposit within a Museum in the Town of Colchester,
such objects of ancient arts and industry as the society may be able to obtain’.
In addition, ‘It is hoped that the Society will be able to unite its Museum with
the valuable Collection of Antiquities left by the late Henry Vint to the Town of
Colchester, and thus to procure to its Members at once the important advantage of
a good Museum’.93 A further aim of the Society was ‘To promote a general taste and
knowledge of Archaeology, by the diffusion of popular information on the subject’.
John Disney was listed as a member and part of the provisional committee, along
with John H. Marsden, the Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge. By the
end of November 1852, the new society had a membership of 67.94

Benton 1927, 277.
The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 5 September 1851.
‘Colchester Archaeological Association’, The Morning Post 6 October 1851.
The Essex Standard 31 October 1851.
Advert, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 7 January 1853. For Jenkins in the
association: Benton 1927, 277.
Benton 1927, 279.
Benton 1927, 280.
Benton 1927, 280.
Benton 1927, 281.
This remained an issue in 1855: ‘Shall Colchester have a museum?’, Essex Standard, and General Advertiser
for the Eastern Counties 9 May 1855.
Benton 1927, 281.
102 The World of Disney

Marsden was a member of the Colchester Archaeological Association, and

in 1852, in his new capacity as Disney Professor, helped to reform it as the Essex
Archaeological Society. Marsden gave the inaugural address for the Society in
December 1852, and Disney was elected as the Society’s new president.95 Marsden
explained the role of archaeology:96

Archaeology has been called the handmaid of history; but this term does not
assign to her a position sufficiently dignified. She is the corrector and verifier
of history. She is even more than this. Of the written history of Greece and
Rome a great proportion, amounting to two-thirds of the whole, has been
lost, and nothing has been available to supply the loss but the materials
supplied by Archæology.

At the Cambridge meeting of the British Association in July 1854 he clarified the
definition of archaeology as ‘the study of history from monuments in contradistinction
to literary records’.97 Marsden published a pamphlet on the classical collection in
Felix Hall, Kelvedon, Essex.98 This was the paper that he read at Felix Hall at the
meeting of the Essex Archaeological Society. The collection had been formed by Lord
Western, who had served as MP for Maldon, in 1825.99 By April 1853 Disney was able
to state that he considered the society ‘now firmly and permanently established’.100
By 1854 plans were afoot to create a museum in Colchester Castle.101 This eventually
opened on 27 September 1860.102 The aim of the museum was

For the collection and preservation of the antiquities of the county. The
council have the satisfaction of announcing that at length it has secured a
most appropriate home for the Society, and for its collections, in a building
which is itself one of the chief antiquities of the county, and of great historic
interest …

The early influences of Disney and Marsden eventually bore fruit for promoting the
preservation of archaeological remains in Essex.

Levine 1986, 12. The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 17 December 1852. See
also Benton 1927, 281.
Marsden 1855.
‘The Archaeological Institute of Great Britain’, Bury and Norwich Post 12 July 1854.
Marsden 1863.
Western was a friend of Disney, and he served as Vice-President of the Essex Archaeological Society.
Disney had an oinochoe from Western’s collection at The Hyde. For Western: Fell-Smith and Matthew
Benton 1927, 282.
Benton 1927, 282.
Benton 1927, 287. See also Hodgson and Wise 2015, 69.
Chapter 8

Going for Gold

Disney and the Gold Rush

The Great Exhibition of 1851 had sparked much public interest through the display
of British manufacturing. Disney was now in his early 70s, but he joined the group
of men who tried to continue the values of the exhibition through the creation of
the Cosmos Institute, Leicester Square.1 This was located in the Great Globe. One of
the aims was to allow ‘working men’ to understand the complexity of the British
empire.2 It contained the concept of the museum as an improving influence on
society, much in the way that the museum in Chelmsford had tried to make its mark
on the county town of Essex.

For an institution of the kind here described there is ample room, and the
Cosmos Institute may prove an important medium for the diffusion of
popular knowledge on geography and the allied sciences. The collection of
books, maps, and charts, easily accessible for consultation or study, will be a
valuable privilege to the general community, as well as to the members of the
Institute. While the learned societies extend the boundaries of the sciences
to which they are devoted, a popular institution like that now projected
may communicate information, and diffuse an interest in geographical and
kindred studies. In a maritime and commercial country like Great Britain,
whose colonies are in every climate, and whose people visit every region
of the earth, the knowledge of foreign countries, with their inhabitants,
productions, climates, and other physical or ethnological details, ought to
form a prominent part in popular education. For promoting this object the
Cosmos Institute, if ably and judiciously managed, may supply valuable aid.3

One of his initiatives was the proposal to create the Disneian School of navigation,
hydrography, and nautical astronomy as part of the Cosmos Institute.4 This public
engagement with manufacturing led directly into his next major commitment.
By November 1851 Disney had joined the ‘Commission of Supervision in London’
for ‘The Nouveau Monde, Mining Company’, to work gold mines in the Mariposa
district of California.5 The President of the Company was Prince Louis Lucien
The Times 7 December 1853, 9.
‘Cosmos Institute’, Daily News 27 January 1854.
‘The Cosmos Institute’, The Literary Gazette 1911 (3 September 1853), 865.
‘The Cosmos Institute, Great Globe, Leicester-Square’, Morning Post 27 January 1854, 6.
John Bull November 15, 1851, 726; The Morning Post 10 November 1851; The Standard 10 November 1851;
Daily News 11 November 1851; Daily News 12 November 1851; The Examiner 15 November 1851; The Morning

104 The World of Disney

Bonaparte (1813-91) who at this period was pursuing a political career in Paris.6
Contemporary accounts noted that the London council consisted of ‘seven gentlemen
… of the greatest respectability, some of them too well known in the mining world to
need any comment from us’.7 Apart from Disney the other six commissioners were
Sir William de Bathe (1793–1870), John Addis, John Dudin Brown (1795–1855), G.B.
Carr, G.P. Irvine, and Disney’s son-in-law Captain William Jesse. De Bathe had served
in the army, including the Peninsula War as well as campaigns in north America, and
reached the rank of Lt.-Colonel.8 Dudin Brown was a wharfinger or wharf owner on
the Thames.
In 1849 it had been reported that ‘oceans of gold’ had been discovered by Colonel
John Charles Fremont in the Mariposa river and this has led to a rush to the gold
fields of California.9 In August 1850 a gold-bearing quartz rock was taken to New
York with a weight of 193 pounds.10 The news from Mariposa was reported widely.11
The Nouveau Monde Mining Company, had been founded in Paris in 1850 and had
obtained four sites to mine from Fremont through his representative the Hon. David
Hoffmann. In addition, they acquired the lease on Baldwin’s Mine. In October 1851
it was noted that the Nouveau Monde ‘is only in working since the formation of the
company; and, although most favourable specimens have been already received, no
returns can as yet be expected’.12 The company was listed in another report that
suggested that there had been samples assayed by Messrs Johnson and Co. of Hatton
Garden: ‘one giving a value of £13,400, and the other £24,500 per ton, though, by the
naked eye, scarcely any gold can be seen’.13 Small rises were seen in the share values
in November 1851.14 In late November 1851 the share price started to fall.15 There
were clearly concerns about what was happening in California, and Fremont issued
a statement through Hoffman:

I, the said John Charles Fremont, do hereby distinctly warn and advise
all persons whomsoever against entering into any kind whatsoever in
reference to my said estates in California, except with my only authorised
representative in Europe, David Hoffman, Esq., of London.16

Chronicle 15 November 1851; The Standard 15 November 1851; 19 November 1851; The Observer 16 November
1851, 1. For a detailed account of the French and the Gold Rush: Rohrbough 2013.
West 2008.
‘The Nouveau Monde Mining company’, The Morning Chronicle 15 November 1851.
‘The late Sir William de Bathe’, The Times 14 March 1870.
‘United States and, Canada, and California’, The Standard 29 November 1849.
‘Important from California and Oregon—Extraordinary new discoveries’, Freeman’s Journal and Daily
Commercial Advertiser 6 September 1850.
‘Foreign news’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 25 October 1850.
‘Mines’, Daily News 25 October 1851; ‘Mines’, 10 November 1851 (noting the advantages of the French
‘Money markets and city news’, The Morning Chronicle 27 October 1851.
‘Mines’, Daily News November 11, 1851; ‘Mines’, Daily News 14 November 1851; ‘Mines’, Daily News 17
November 1851; ‘Mines’, Daily News 18 November 1851; ‘Mines’, Daily News 20 November 1851; ‘Mines’,
Daily News 24 November 1851.
‘Gold Mining Shares’, The Morning Chronicle 25 November 1851.
The Morning Post 25 November 1851.
Going for Gold 105

There was a short note attached: ‘I desire it to be expressly understood that the
foregoing applies in no respect to the Nouveau Monde… or any other company
formed under my auspices’. This seems to have had a positive effect on share
prices.17 However Fremont’s statement continued to cause concern and John Taylor
was obliged to issue a further statement, and Captain Rickard from Cornwall was
sent to inspect the mines.18 The shares then started to rise again.19
Disney’s son-in-law, Captain William Jesse, seems to have been responsible for
representing Disney’s interests in the company. On 23 November 1851 he took an
apartment at no. 3, Boulevard Montmartre, while engaged ‘on business’.20 The
address is perhaps significant as this was where in February 1851, at no. 10, a gold
ingot worth 400,000 francs was displayed to attract possible investors.21 Jesse and his
wife Sofia, Disney’s daughter, were present in Paris on 2 December when a coup in
the city took place.22 Jesse wrote an extended report for The Times and described the
events of Thursday 4 December, some time after 3 pm:

… I went to the balcony at which my wife was standing, and remained there
watching the troops. The whole Boulevard, as far as the eye could reach,
was crowded with them, principally infantry, in sub-divisions at quarter
distances, with here and there a batch of 20-pounders and howitzers, some
of which occupied the rising ground on the Boulevard Poissonière. The
windows were crowded with people, principally women, tradesmen, servants,
and children, or, like ourselves, the occupants of apartments. The mounted
officers were smoking their cigars—a custom introduced into the army, as I
have understood, by the Princes of the Orleans family—not a very soldier-
like one, but, at such a moment, particularly reassuring, as it forbad the idea
that their services were likely to be called into immediate requisition. …
Suddenly, and while I was intently looking with my glass at the troops in the
distance eastward, a few musket shots were fired at the head of the column,
which consisted of about 3,000 men. In a few moments it spread, and after
hanging a little came down the Boulevard in a waving sheet of flame. So
regular, however was the fire that at first I thought it was a feu-de-joie for
some barricade taken in advance, or to signal their position to some other
division, and it was not till it came within 50 yards of me that I recognized the
sharp ringing report of ball cartridge; but even then I could scarcely believe
the evidence of my ears, for as to my eyes, I could not discover any enemy
to fire at, and I continued looking at the men until the company below me
were actually raising their firelocks, and one vagabond, sharper than the
rest—a mere lad, without either whisker or moustache—had covered me.
In an instant I dashed my wife, who had just stepped back, against the pier
‘Mines’, Daily News 26 November 1851.
The Examiner 29 November 1851.
‘Mines’, Daily News 4 December 1851.
Jesse 1851.
Rohrbough 2013, fig. 3. ‘Latest from Paris’, The Morning Post 14 February 1851, 6.
Jesse 1851. See also ‘The late scenes in Paris’, The Essex Standard 19 December 1851. See also: Bresler
1999, 235–51.
106 The World of Disney

between the windows, when a shot struck the ceiling immediately over our
heads, and covered us with dust and broken plaster. In a second after I placed
her upon the floor, and in another minute a volley came against the whole
front of the house, the balcony, and windows; one shot broke the mirror over
the chimney piece, another the shade of the clock; every pane of glass but
one was smashed, the curtains and window frames cut; the room, in short,
was riddled. The iron balcony, though rather low, was a great protection; still
five balls entered the room, and in the pause for re-loading I drew my wife
to the door, and took refuge in the back rooms of the house. The rattle of
musketry was incessant for more than a quarter of an hour after this, and
in a few minutes the guns were unlimbered and pointed at the magasin of M.
Salandrouze, five houses on our right.

Jesse speculated on what had caused this sustained firefight. He was shocked when
he went onto the Boulevard.

… they shot down many of the unhappy individuals who remained on the
Boulevard and could not obtain an entrance into any house—some persons
were killed close to our door, and their blood lay in the hollows round the trees
the next morning when we passed, at twelve o’clock. The loss of innocent life
must have been great—very great—more than ever will be known, for the
press is more free in Russia than in France.

Another British officer described the scene in the Boulevard when he went to assist
a friend who had been wounded in the firing there.23

The Boulevard was a ghastly sight. There were no wounded, but the dead
were lying in dozens, most of them just as they fell; and the pavements were
slippery with blood. They were almost all bourgeois, and not ouvriers. Two
or three women were arranging some of the corpses, and placing candles at
their heads that their friends might recognize them.

Perhaps up to 400 people were killed in the fighting. These events brought Napoleon
III, previously the president of the Second Republic of France, to power in the
following year.
The shares in the company continued to rise longer term.24 The company was
still trading in May 1854.25 By March 1857 shareholders were expressing concern
with the shares selling at one shilling,26 and a General Meeting for shareholders was

‘The late scenes in Paris’, The Essex Standard 19 December 1851.
‘Mines’, Daily News 10 March 1853.
‘Mines’, Daily News 1 May 1854.
‘Nouveau Monde Mining company’, Daily News 24 March 1857.
Going for Gold 107

called for May 1857.27 The company started to shift to its main focus of operations to
Guatemala where it mined silver.28 Nouveau Monde was still trading in 1887.29

Railway and Other Interests

Alongside his interest in gold, Disney had a long-standing interest in the railways.
His son-in-law, William Jesse, was the honorary secretary of the Calais, Dunkirk, and
West Flanders Junction Railway, that was intended to link Calais with the railway
network in Belgium.30 The railway employed George and Robert Stephenson. The
West Flanders Railway Company produced a 3 per cent dividend.31
Disney was also involved with the creation of the Harwich Railway that opened
in August 1854.32 This ran from the main line at Manningtree in Essex to Harwich, a
distance of 11 miles. Disney’s connection with the port went back to the time when
he stood unsuccessfully as a MP. He saw the importance of the port for connecting
London with continental Europe.
Disney himself served as foreman of the jury to hear the inquest for an engine-
driver of the Eastern Counties Railway who had been crushed between two
trains.33 They found the stoker of a goods train involved in the accident guilty of
He continued as a Trustee of the East of England Mutual Life Assurance
Company.34 His son-in-law Captain William Jesse was a director of the company. He
also attended events at the Royal Society.35 He remained active as a magistrate and
formed part of a deputation from Essex to raise objections to the County Financial
Board Bill.36


Disney was elected to the Linnean Society in January 1854, the same year as Charles
Darwin.37 This was the year when the society moved to Burlington House, becoming
a neighbour of the Society of Antiquaries. Darwin and Disney both had shared

Daily News 27 April 1857.
‘Mines’, Daily News 16 June 1857.
‘Mines’ Daily News 21 March 1887.
Notice in Morning Chronicle 12 June 1845; The Times 27 September 1845, 9; 1 October 1845, 5; 28 October
1845, 2. Jesse was still in this role in 1847.
Notice in The Times 11 January 1847, 2.
‘Opening of the Harwich Railway’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 18
August 1854.
‘Another fatal accident on the Eastern Counties Railway’, The Times 17 January 1851, 3.
The Times 14 April 1851, 3; 26 November 1851, 2; The Manchester Guardian 3 April 1852, 5.
‘The Royal Society’, The Times 19 May 1851, 5.
The Times 16 April 1853, 6.
‘Linnean Society’, The Morning Chronicle 26 January 1854. Linnean Society archive: CR/67.
108 The World of Disney

Unitarian values. This election coincided with Disney’s honorary degree from
Disney, now in his 70s, was recognised for his contribution to learning and
awarded the honorary degree of DCL at Oxford on Wednesday 28 June 1854 at the
same ceremony as Prince Louis Bonaparte.38 Further public recognition was made
on Wednesday 5 July 1854 when the Archaeological Institute visited Cambridge and
met in the Senate House.39 The meeting was attended by Prince Albert in his role as
Chancellor of the university. Professor Robert Willis played a key part in presenting
the medieval architecture of the city. At the general meeting, held on the Tuesday,
Lord Talbot de Malahide, the president of the Institute, and commented on Disney’s

He would add but one word on another topic of high academic interest. The
feeling of the present day was in favour of enlarging the circle which bounded
the domain of academic studies. He did not wish to enter into questions
which might excite a difference of opinion, but he thought there could be no
doubt that the University had done quite right in recognising the claims of
archæology to a distinct professorship [cheers]. It would be truly ungrateful
in them not to pay a tribute to the disinterestedness of liberality displayed
by Mr. Disney, in presenting to the University his valuable and unequalled
museum of antiquities, and at the same time founding a professorship for
the promotion of classical archæology, and the exposition of its principles
[cheers]. He was sure that the value of the bequest and the importance of its
ends were duly appreciated by the University, and it would be a stigma on
the Archæological Institute if its members did not gratefully acknowledge it

The meeting itself concluded with a paper read by Marsden, described as the
Disneian Professor of Archæology, on ‘the objects and principles of the science’. He
specifically noted,

The study of archæology was the study of history from monuments, in

contradistinction to literary records. … The monuments of ancient art were
found wherever man existed on the globe, and wherever they were found
there was a field for the archæologist. Life was not long enough to study them
thoroughly; it would scarcely suffice for those of a single nation or class.
Hence it might be inferred that Mr. Disney had acted wisely, both from this
consideration, and from a desire more especially to promote classical studies,
in restricting the field of his professorship to Greek and Roman archæology.

‘University intelligence’, The Morning Post 26 June 1854; ‘University intelligence’, The Times 26 June 1857.
Disney appears in the following list: ‘University intelligence’, The Standard 27 June 1854; ‘University
intelligence’, The Morning Post 29 June 1854.
‘Archaeological Institute’, The Morning Chronicle 6 July 1854.
For Talbot: Seccombe and Smail 2004. Talbot was responsible for introducing the parliamentary bill on
Treasure Trove in 1858.
Going for Gold 109

Figure 38. Portrait of Dr John Disney presented to the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum. © David Gill.
110 The World of Disney

Figure 39. The Disney tomb in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Fryerning,
Essex. © David Gill.

Marsden had delivered three series of lectures in Cambridge on the theme of Greece.
Disney was incorporated with the degree of LL.D. at Cambridge at the same time.41
Disney marked the award of the degree by presenting a marble bust of himself to
the Fitzwilliam Museum.42 It is similar to a plaster bust in the Chelmsford Museum
inscribed with the signature of Raimondo Trentanove (1792-1832), dated to 1827 in

Final Years

Sophia’s niece and daughter of Sir William Hillary, Elizabeth Mary Preston died in
Brompton on 8 September 1853.44 Her husband, Christopher Richard, died on 25
February 1867.45 He had served as a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Essex.
The following year, in October 1854, Sophia Disney had an operation for a
cataract.46 She died on 26 January 1856, and Disney himself died at The Hyde just
over a year later on 6 May 1857; they were buried under the same monument in the
‘University intelligence’, John Bull 8 July 1854, 420.
Cambridge FM M.2–1854.
Chelmsford inv. 2008–197.
The Times 21 September 1853; The Observer 26 September 1853, 8.
Essex Standard 6 March 1867.
Disney 1856, 163.
Going for Gold 111

Figure 40. Inscription for Sophia Disney on the Disney tomb. © David Gill.

Figure 41. Inscription for Dr John Disney on the Disney tomb. © David Gill.

churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at Fryerning, Essex. This tomb also contained the
remains of the Reverend Disney, and the Disneys’ son, John.
Disney’s death was noted by the Royal Archaeological Institute that commented
on his ‘the generous founder of an Archaeological Professorship at Cambridge’.47
Among Disney’s bequests he bequeathed £2500 ‘as an augmentation of the Disney
Professorship of Archaeology for ever’.48 Disney’s son Edgar inherited The Hyde, and
on his death in 1881, his son Edgar John.
Archaeological Journal 15 (1858) 388.
‘University intelligence’, John Bull and Britannia 17 October 1857, 662; ‘University intelligence’, Morning
Post 13 October 1857, 5 (‘Munificent bequest’).
Chapter 9

The Disney Legacy

Essex and continuing links with the Disney Family

The Hyde continued to be the Essex home for the Disney family for another century.
However, there does not seem to have been the same intensity of family interest in
antiquity. Disney’s son Edgar was elected Captain of the Essex Yeomanry in 1860,1
and served as Deputy-Lieutenant for Essex in 1861, and then High Sheriff for the
county in 1864.2 In addition, he served as a JP for the Chelmsford Petty Sessions.3
Among the issues he had to address was the 1865 great Cattle Plague and its impact
on the herds in Essex. Edgar died on 8 December 1881.4 Adolf Michaelis noted that
much of the collection was still displayed at The Hyde at this date.5
Edgar’s widow started to disperse the collection, and part was sold at Christie’s
on 1 May 1884 as a Catalogue of a Valuable Collection of Antique Roman and Italian Cinque
Cento Bronzes, Marbles, Porcelain, and Decorative Objects.6 A further anonymous sale took
place at Christie’s on 28 January 1886 as Catalogue of the Service of Plate, and Brilliant
Ornaments, the Property of a Lady, also, Greek Painted Vases, Marbles, Coins, Decorative
Furniture, &c, Removed from a Mansion in the Country.7 Parts of the collection were
dispersed including a Paestan krater that found its way to the Fitzwilliam Museum
through Mrs Constance Goetze,8 and an Attic red-figured amphora now in the
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen.9 The amphora, that subsequently passed
through the collection of Sir Hermann Weber, was attributed by Beazley to the
Disney painter in his honour; there are more than twenty other pots attributed
to this same anonymous pot decorator. A red-figured column-krater from the

‘Dinner to Captain Disney’, The Essex Standard 17 February 1860.
‘County officers’, The Essex Standard 1 January 1864. See also Walker 1912, 439.
‘Chelmsford Petty Session’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 17 May 1865;
‘Chelmsford Petty Session’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 19 July 1865;
‘Chelmsford Petty Session’, The Essex Standard, and General Advertiser for the Eastern Counties 21 July 1865; 4
August 1865; 11 August 1865; 4 October 1865; 6 October 1865; 11 October 1865; 13 October 1865; 18 October
‘Ingatestone’, Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties’ Advertiser 10 Dec. 1881; ‘Death of Mr.
Edgar Disney’, The Bury and Norwich Post 13 December 1881; ‘Mr Disney, of The Hyde’, Illustrated London
News 79 (17 December 1881), 610.
Michaelis 1882, 333.
Gill 1990a, 229.
Gill 1990a, 229.
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum inv. GR.7.1943. Disney 1849b, pls. cxix–cxx; Gill 1990a. It was noted by
Trendall 1936, 120, no. 123.
Copenhagen inv. 2783. Disney 1849b, pls. cxvii–cxviii. BAPD 217166.

The Disney Legacy 113

Figure 42. Edgar

Disney, by Camille
Silvy, 1860. National
Portrait Gallery
collection passed through the hands of Sharp Ogden, the architect, and is now in
the Manchester Museum.10
Edgar’s eldest son, Captain Edgar John Disney (1835–1903), 24th Regiment,
married Lilias Charlotte Buckley at Hartshorne, Derbyshire, in 1859.11 He had earlier
served in the Crimean War as a lieutenant in the 7th Fusiliers.12 He was appointed
honorary Lt.-Colonel in the Essex Rifles Militia in 1881,13 and stepped down as
Colonel of the 3rd Battalion of the Essex Regiment in 1890.14 He also served as a JP
in Essex. One of his brothers, Lambert Brouncker Disney migrated to Canada and
then settled in America. In March 1884 Edgar John Disney disposed of a portrait of

Disney 1849b, 259, pls. cxiii–cxiv. This is now in the Manchester Museum inv. 40099. Sharp Ogden, who
died in 1926: ‘An architect’s pictures’, The Times 7 December 1926, 13.
John Bull and Britannia 23 July 1859, 480. Edgar John Disney had been commissioned an ensign in the
Royal Fusiliers on 25 August 1854. He was promoted Captain in 1858: Daily Telegraph 27 January 1858, 2.
Obituary: Daily Telegraph 21 January 1903, 11. He left £12,000 gross: The Daily Telegraph 4 February 1903, 11.
He was robbed on his return: ‘Law intelligence’, Daily Telegraph 8 October 1855, 4.
‘Essex Rifles Militia’, The Bury and Norwich Post 24 May 1881; ‘Colchester Garrison’, The Essex Standard 21
May 1881.
‘Essex Regiment’, The Essex Standard 1 March 1890.
Brockwell 1909.
114 The World of Disney

Figure 43. Detail of Paestan bell-krater (now in Cambridge).

Museum Disneianum.

Figure 44. Detail of Attic red-figured amphora (now in Copenhagen). Museum Disneianum.
The Disney Legacy 115

One of his sons was Edgar Norton Disney (1863–1949) who was the last Disney to
live at the Hyde. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the West Essex Militia
in 1879.16 He married Lilian Lee Townsend of Wickham Hall in Cheshire, in 1895.17
Edgar Norton Disney died, aged 87, at the Hyde on 9 December 1949.18 His trustees
dispersed the contents at a series of sales in April 1950.19 Edgar Norton Disney’s half-
brother, Gervase, served in the Essex Regiment in World War One, with the rank of
Major.20 He died in 1951. The house was then offered for sale as a school.21 The Hyde
continued in its educational role until it was destroyed by fire on 6 May 1965.

Suffolk and the Disney chair

One of the main legacies of Dr John Disney was the establishment of the Cambridge
Chair of Archaeology. In 1865 the Reverend John H. Marsden, the inaugural
Disney Professor, resigned from the Disney Chair. His successor was the Reverend
Churchill Babington (1821-99), also a fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.22
Churchill Babington had been elected a Scholar of St John’s College in 1840.23 In
1842 he contributed studies on the botany and ornithology to The History and
Antiquities of Charnwood Forest (1842). He appeared in the list of the Mathematical
Tripos for 1843,24 and then the Theological Tripos for 1844.25 He was elected a
Fellow of St John’s in 1846,26 the year he was awarded the Hulsean Prize for his essay
on ‘The influence of Christianity in promoting the abolition of slavery in Europe’. In
December of the same year he was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Ely.27 In 1848
he was appointed to the perpetual curacy of Horningsea, near Cambridge.28 In 1849
he published Mr. Macaulay’s Character of the Clergy in the Latter Part of the Seventeenth
Century Considered (Cambridge, 1849), followed by his The Oration of Hyperides against
Demosthenes, respecting the Treasure of Harpalus (London, 1850) based on a papyrus
found at Thebes in Egypt. He lectured on the subject to the Royal Society of
Literature (RSL).29 He served on the Council of the RSL, where William M. Leake was

Essex Standard 27 December 1879, 8; Bury and Norwich Post 30 December 1879, 6.
Essex Standard 17 August 1895, 6.
The Times 10 December 1949, 1. His son Francis Norton Disney continued to live at Bracken Cottage,
Ingatestone: The Times 20 November 1971, 24.
The Times 4 April 1950, 10.
He was lieutenant in the Essex Regiment in 1911: The Times 16 December 1911. He rose to the rank of
Major, and lived at 22 Queen’s Gate Gardens, SW7: The Times 12 December 1944, 6.
The Times 15 May 1950, 15. The Hyde School.
Leach 2007, 37. He was elected on 4 April 1865: ‘University intelligence’, The Standard 5 April 1865, 6. For
his obituary: ‘Churchill Babington, D.D.’, The Athenaeum 3195 (19 January 1889), 84.
‘University intelligence’, The Morning Post November 9, 1840.
‘University and Clerical Intelligence’, The Standard 21 January 1843.
‘Cambridge’, The Ipswich Journal 2 November 1844.
‘Cambridge’, The Ipswich Journal 4 April 1846.
‘The Church’, The Morning Post 22 December 1846.
‘Ecclesiastical and religious intelligence’, The Hull Packet and East Riding Times 21 April 1848.
‘Royal Society of Literature’, The Morning Chronicle 4 February 1853.
116 The World of Disney

a Vice-President.30 He was awarded BD in 1853.31 In 1854, he gave a lecture on ancient

Cambridgeshire as part of the visit to Cambridge by the Archaeological Institute.32
His inaugural lecture as Disney Professor was entitled, An Introductory Lecture on
Archaeology (1865).33 He described how:34

The field of archaeology is vast, and almost boundless; the eye, even the most
experienced eye, can hardly take in the whole prospect; and those who have
most assiduously laboured in its exploration will be most ready to admit that
there are portions, and those large portions, which are to them either almost
or altogether unknown.

It was noted how Babington differed in emphasis from his predecessor Marsden.

Prof. Babington differs from the opinion of his predecessor, Canon Marsden,
in his interpretation of Mr Disney’s intention with respect to these University
lectures. He cites the document, and claims the widest latitude with regard
to the subjects which may be treated upon. In the declaration and agreement
between Mr Disney and the University we find it stated, “That it shall be the
duty of the professor to deliver, in the course of each academecal year, at
such days and hours as the Vice-Chancellor shall appoint, six lectures at least
on the subject of Classical, Mediæval and other Antiquities, the Fine Arts, and
all matters and things connected therewith.” Mr Babington rejoins that “the
Disney Professor is not obliged to confine himself to classical archæology,
sorry as he would be if he were wholly unable to give lectures on one or more
branches of that most interesting department, which has, moreover, a special
connexion with the classical studies of the University.

He emphasised the recent discoveries at Périgord in the Dordogne,35 as well as the

lake dwellings discovered in Switzerland in 1853–54.36 He finished with the botanical
identification of the flower—a rose—on the Greek coins of the city of Rhodes.
Babington subsequently made a study of Leake’s collection that had been acquired
by the Fitzwilliam Museum.37 His lectures were illustrated by coins and objects
from his personal collection. Some of this material was presented to the Fitzwilliam
Museum in 1865.38 It is clear that his professorial lectures made a wider impact. The
Athenaeum in its commentary on his inaugural lecture noted:

‘Royal Society of Literature’, The Morning Post 28 April 1853.
Daily News 13 June 1853.
‘Archaeological Institute’, The Morning Chronicle 6 July 1854.
Babington 1865.
Quoted in The Athenaeum 1975 (2 September 1865), 308–09.
See also Bahn 1996, 119.
See Bahn 1996, 94–95.
Babington 1867. See also Wagstaff 2012.
E.g. an Early Corinthian plate (GR.43.1865), an Attic red-figured oinochoe (GR.45.1865), and an Apulian
pelike (GR.47.1865). An Attic black-figured neck-amphora was purchased from his estate on his death
(GR.1.1889: Lamb 1930, pl. 14 [252] 1).
The Disney Legacy 117

Archæology is beginning to take that place in England which it has long held in
France and Germany. The race of sound archæologists is on the increase, and
that of the antiquaries, whom Walter Scott at once slew and immortalized,
is fast becoming matter of tradition, unless some ancient representatives till
haunt a melancholy room in Somerset House. This better state of things is
due to several causes; in no small part to the influence of those continental
scholars who have brought the antiquities of the Greeks and Romans to the
illustration of their literature; perhaps even more to the service archæology
has rendered to natural science in the great contemporary question of the
antiquity of man. We may venture to hope that at no distant time the value of
archæology will be recognised even at our universities, and a reality be thus
given to classical studies, as well as a fitting training offered for that course
of travel so usual during, or immediately after, the college days.

It is clear that the establishment of foreign archaeological institutes in Athens were

being noted in Britain; but it would be another twenty years before the British
School at Athens was founded.39 The commentator then assessed Babington’s own

Professor Babington’s introductory lecture shows that he understands his

position, and means to make it understood by the university, and we have
little doubt that it will be afterwards remembered as the first upward step in
a new direction.

In 1866 Babington was installed as Rector of Cockfield in Suffolk, and in 1869 married
Mathilda Wilson.40 He developed an interest in the material culture of ‘Bible Lands’
and lectured on ‘Archaeological illustrations of the New Testament’ to the Bury
Athenaeum in 1869.41 He continued in the Disney Chair until he resigned in 1880.42
Among his Cambridge allies was Sidney Colvin, the Slade Professor and Director of
the Fitzwilliam Museum.43 Babington’s obituary in The Athenaeum described him as

The conclusions of a man with such varied learning and culture must always
be of great worth, and particularly so in this age of narrow specialism. … He
was remarkable for his simple and childlike character, and much loved by all
who knew him. He never went to a public school, but was educated by his
father, who also was a very learned man.

Waterhouse 1986; Gill 2011. For the spread of foreign institutes: Whitling 2019.
Bury and Norwich Post 2 February 1869.
‘The Bury Athenaeum’, The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald 6 April 1869.
The Bury and Norwich Post 19 October 1880, 5 and 7. The note restated that the holder of the Chair should
be a Cambridge MA, and that the holder must deliver six lectures a year. At this point the Chair was worth
£96 per year.
Mehew 2004.
‘Churchill Babington, D.D.’, The Athenaeum 3195 (19 January 1889), 84.
118 The World of Disney

The obituary in the Classical Review noted that ‘Cambridge has lost a son in
whom classical learning was combined with a great variety of other tastes and
accomplishments’.45 It added, ‘Never was any man more thoroughly kind-hearted,
more natural, more genial’. A memorial window was erected in the parish church
at Cockfield.46

Archaeological developments

Archaeology in Cambridge started to develop quickly. By the 1880s there was

a strong interest in the material culture of the classical world, in part driven by
the activities of the French and Germans in Greece with their major excavations
on Delos and at Olympia.47 In Cambridge Percy Gardner (1846–1937) was the newly
elected Disney Professor in 1880; from 1887 he was also held the Lincoln and Merton
Chair in Classical Archaeology at Oxford.48 Gardner had been appointed an assistant
keeper in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum in 1871.49
Among his tasks was the preparation of a series of monographs on the Greek coin
collections.50 Gardner had travelled to Greece in 1877 with Charles Newton, Keeper
of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, and he had been closely
involved with the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies that was founded
in 1879. Gardner initially held the Disney Chair alongside his position at the British
Museum that he held until 1887 with his appointment to Oxford. His Cambridge
lectures included ones on the subject of Greek numismatics.51 He helped to introduce
the Diploma in Classical Archaeology at Oxford in 1909.
In 1886 the British School at Athens was founded, largely at the agitation of
Cambridge academics, and with a Cambridge graduate, Francis Cranmer Penrose
(1817-1903), as the first director.52 The BSA was soon engaged with archaeological
work on Cyprus, under the direction of another Cambridge graduate, Ernest
A. Gardner (1862–1939), Percy’s brother.53 Greece, and the lands in the eastern
Mediterranean, became an important training ground for British archaeologists,
some of whom returned to Britain to uncover the remains of Roman occupation;
among them was the Cambridge educated Robert Carr Bosanquet who had served
as Director of the British School at Athens and later excavated at Housesteads on

‘The Rev. Churchill Babington, D.D., F.L.S., &c.’, Classical Review 3,3 (1889), 134–35.
For a list of subscribers: Suffolk Record Office (Bury St Edmunds) FL552/5/4/7.
Marchand 1996; Duchêne and Straboni 1996; Étienne 1996. See also Whitling 2019.
Gardner 1933. See also Gardner 1887. For classical archaeology in Oxford: Boardman 1985.
Wilson 2002, 385.
E.g. Poole, et al. 1876.
Gardner 1883 (based on 12 lectures delivered in 1882).
Waterhouse 1986; Clogg 2000; Huxley 2000; Gill 2011.
Gill 2004d. See also Gill 2011. For Ernest Gardner’s work on Cyprus: e.g. Gardner, et al. 1888.
The Disney Legacy 119

Hadrian’s Wall.54 Ernest himself had worked on the excavation of the Greek emporion
at Naukratis in the Nile Delta as part of the Egypt Exploration Fund.55
Percy Gardner was succeeded in the Disney Chair in 1887 by the Reverend
George Forrest Browne whose interest lay in the area of early Christianity in Britain,
especially in the areas of the monastic sites of Whitby and Jarrow, and later in the
Rothwell Cross in Dumfriesshire.56 Browne was a fellow of St Catharine’s College,
Cambridge until 1865 when he married. He acted as the editor of the Cambridge
University Reporter. He delivered four series of lectures as Disney professor: The
Sculptured Stones of Pre-Norman type in the British Islands (1888); The Anglian
Sculptured Stones of Pre-Norman Type (1889); The Sculptured Stones of Scotland.
Runes (1890); The Sculptured Stones of Cornwall, Wales, and Mann (1891).57 It was
noted at the time that

There was some doubt whether he should have received the last appointment
[as Disney professor], as his knowledge of archaeology was certainly more wide
than deep. But at least he succeeded in rendering the subject more popular
in the University, and he will always be remembered as having secured the
Brough stone, found at Brough, in Westmorland, for the Fitzwilliam Museum,
and as being the first man to decipher its inscription.58

He was installed as a canon of St Paul’s cathedral in London in 1892 when he

resigned the Disney Chair after his statutory five-year appointment; in 1895 he
was appointed Bishop of Stepney, and in 1897 Bishop of Bristol. The University of
Cambridge conferred a DD on him in 1896. Browne continued to lecture on early
Christian monuments and buildings.
Browne’s resignation in 1892 opened an opportunity for (Sir) William Ridgeway
(1853–1926) who had been keen to return to Cambridge.59 The Chair was held
concurrently with a fellowship at Caius, as well as, from 1906, the Brereton Readership
in Classics.60 The Chair still only required six lectures a year, but Ridgeway used the
position to influence the development of classical archaeology within the classical
tripos.61 Ridgeway was strongly opposed to Gardner’s views on prehistoric Greece.62
Ridgeway’s tenure of the Chair was renewed in 1898, 1903, 1908, 1913, and 1923
E.g. Bosanquet 1904; Bosanquet and Myres 1909; Hopkinson 1906; Hopkinson 1909; Hopkinson 1911;
Cheesman 1914; Bishop 1994. For the training of archaeologists in Britain at this period: Freeman 2007.
For Cambridge links with Greece: Gill 2012. For Housesteads: Bosanquet 1904; see also Crow 2012, 46 (ill.).
Petrie and Gardner 1886; Gardner 1888. For some of the Greek material from Naukratis: Möller 2000.
Clewlow 2004. Consecration: The Times 22 April 1895, 12. For his departure from Cambridge: ‘University
intelligence’, The Manchester Guardian 2 May 1893, 4. Obituary: ‘The Right Rev. G. F. Browne’, The Manchester
Guardian 2 June 1930, 3.
Browne 1891.
‘Editorial’, The Manchester Guardian 4 August 1897, 5. The funerary inscription known as the Brough
Stone, for Hermes of Commagene (Syria), was found in 1879 near the Roman fort of Brough: Cambridge,
Fitzwilliam Museum GR.1.1884 (RIB 758).
Conway and Snodgrass 2004. See also Stray 2005; Smith 2009, 28–32. For the wider Cambridge context
in this period: Johnson 1994.
For the Readership: The Manchester Guardian 14 December 1906, 8.
Beard 1999.
Ridgeway 1902.
120 The World of Disney

and he remained in post until 1926.63 He also served as a syndic of the Fitzwilliam
Museum.64 Ridgeway’s influence on a generation of classical archaeologists, and
particularly prehistorians can be seen through the number of his former students
who were admitted to the British School at Athens on either side of the First World
War.65 The students included Robert Carr Bosanquet and Alan J.B. Wace, who both
served as directors of the British School at Athens.66 Ridgeway’s students were also
contributors of finds from excavations and fieldwork to the Fitzwilliam Museum,
objects that were to form the basis of the prehistoric gallery formed by Winifred
Lamb after the First World War.67 Lamb herself had studied classical archaeology
as part of her study of Classics. However, she had been excluded from Ridgeway’s
lectures during the First World War, as she was a member of the Union of Democratic
Control. Prehistory was to become a characteristic of archaeology at Cambridge.68
During the inter-war period the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia was established
and took a key role in the development of the discipline.69
Archaeology was also undergoing a major transformation towards a scientific
discipline. It was in Britain, with the fieldwork of Augustus Lane Fox (1827-1900)
that started in the 1860s that we can detect the approaches that have continued
to today.70 In Egypt, Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) pioneered new techniques and
methods of recording, and was exemplary in his publication.71 These were echoed in
J.P. Droop’s Cambridge University Press handbook, Archaeological Excavation, derived
from his experiences with the British excavations in the Aegean and especially on
the island of Melos.72 And in Oxford, J.H. Parker of the Ashmolean Museum could ask
in a public lecture of 1870:73

What is archaeology? It is History in detail, and the details are tenfold more
interesting than the dry skeletons called School histories. Details give life
and interest to any subject. Archaeology is also history taught by the eye,
by showing a series of tangible objects; and what we have once seen we can
remember far better than anything of which we have only heard or read …

When Archaeology is made part of the system of Education in Oxford …

any educated man will feel it a disgrace to be ignorant of it. The subject in

For the development of classical archaeology at Cambridge: Cook 1931. Renewal: ‘University
intelligence’, The Manchester Guardian 21 January 1903, 5.
Burn 2016, 125.
Gill 2011; Gill 2012; Gill 2018.
Richard M. Dawkins who also served as director of the British School had linguistics as his main focus
for research. However, he also worked on key prehistoric sites in the Aegean. See Gill 2004b.
Lamb published some of Ridgeway’s objects presented to the Fitzwilliam: Lamb 1936/37. For a discussion
of the material acquired in this period: Gill 2012.
Clark 1989; Smith 2009.
Phillips 1987, 51–52. For the development of prehistory during the inter-war period: Gill 2000.
Bowden 1991.
Drower 1995. For the development of archaeology as a discipline in Egypt: James 1982.
Droop 1915. Droop’s handbook was remembered for discouraging women to take an active part on
Parker 1870. Quoted in Daniel 1967, 140–41.
The Disney Legacy 121

itself, in its general outline, is so simple and easy, and when that outline is
once understood is so easily followed up in one branch or another, and so
useful for assisting to understand other branches of history, that it seems
impossible that it should not be taken up in earnest.

It was such visionary statements such as this that helped to transform the
discipline. This growth of archaeology as a discipline is reflected in the creation
of archaeological lectureships in the period up to the outbreak of the First World
War. This included positions in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham,
frequently held by former students of the British School at Athens, and thus giving
a Mediterranean slant to the study of the past.74
Ridgeway was succeeded in 1927 by (Sir) George Ellis Minns (1874–1953),
university lecturer in palaeography, who had worked in Russia gaining first-hand
experience of archaeology there including studies on the Scythians.75 This move
away from classical archaeology was noted:76

His appointment to the Disney Chair carried on the tradition so nobly

maintained by his immediate predecessor Ridgeway that the Disney
Professor should be more or less omniscient. It is true that he was less strong
than Ridgeway on purely classical archaeology, though he knew more about
it than many professed classical archaeologists, but on the Middle Ages and
on the whole vast range of Central and Northern Europe and Asia he was a
leading authority. His knowledge of languages was extraordinary.

It was at this point that the Disney Chair moved from being an occasional lectureship
to a full-time role. The Chair was formally assigned to the Faculty of Archaeology
and Anthropology and ‘the duties of the professor are to give instruction in and to
promote the progress of archaeological studies within that Faculty’.77 His inaugural
lecture reviewed the ‘typology’ of archaeologists.78 He saw E.D. Clarke, who gave
a collection of sculptures to Cambridge, as one his predecessors. The lecture also
described the Russian Academy for the History of Material Culture. One of the projects
that Minns supported was the creation of a Folk Museum for Cambridgeshire.79
Minns retired in 1939 and was succeeded by Dorothy Garrod (1892–1968).80 She
For the growth in archaeology lectureships staffed by former students of the British School at Athens:
Gill 2011.
Minns 1913; Minns 1942. For Minns: Anon. 2004. Announcement: ‘Sir William Ridgeway’s successor’, The
Manchester Guardian 31 July 1927, 13. Obituary: ‘Sir Ellis Minns’, The Manchester Guardian 16 June 1953, 9.
‘Sir Ellis Minns’, The Manchester Guardian 16 June 1953, 9. There had been anticipation that the Chair
would move away from classical archaeology: ‘The May Term at Cambridge’, The Manchester Guardian 14
June 1927, 20. See also Clark 1989, 30.
‘University news’, The Manchester Guardian 1 August 1927, 11.
‘Art of the steppes’, The Times 28 November 1927, 11.
‘Cambridge’, The Observer 3 November 1935, 29. It was suggested that objects from the Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology could be offered to the new institution.
Bar-Yosef and Callander 2004; Callander 2004; Smith 2009, 69–102. C.A. Ralegh Radford, director of the
British School at Rome and former Inspector of Ancient Monuments in Wales, had also applied for
the Chair: Todd 2004. For Garrod: Smith, et al. 1997; Pope 2011, 67–68. See also ‘Woman professor at
Cambridge’, Daily Telegraph 2 October 1939, 9; ‘Cambridge’s first woman professor’, Daily Telegraph 19
122 The World of Disney

had studied history at Newnham College, but her research interests lay initially in
the British Palaeolithic, and she had then excavated in Gibraltar and the Near East
including Mount Carmel. Her appointment drew comment:81

The choice which aroused most general interest was that of Miss Dorothy
Garrod, of Newnham, as Disney Professor of Archaeology, the first woman
professor in either Oxford or Cambridge. This election surprised the women’s
colleges much more than it surprised the rest of the University, for all the
men in close touch with modern feeling knew that any body of professorial
electors would regard sex as irrelevant, while the women could not shake off
the ingrained feeling that the dice would always be loaded against them. Miss
Garrod’s distinction is quite beyond dispute, and her personality admirably
fits her for the work of the head of a department.

Her inaugural lecture emphasised humans in the wider landscape.82 In many ways
her career, including fieldwork in the Mediterranean, mirrored that of her Newnham
contemporary, Winifred Lamb, who was honorary keeper of Greek antiquities at the
Fitzwilliam Museum.83 Lamb, by the time that war had broken out, had directed her
own excavations on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios and in mainland Turkey.84
During the inter-war period Cambridge established the Laurence Chair of
Classical Archaeology, that was first held by Arthur B. Cook (1868–1952) in 1931.85
Cook’s research interests lay in the development of Greek religion, and in particular
his study of Zeus. He was followed in 1934 by Alan J.B. Wace, a former director of the
British School at Athens, who had excavated at Mycenae immediately after the First
World War.86 His inaugural lecture took the theme, ‘An Approach to Greek Sculpture’,
a topic that had interested him from his early days as a student in Greece.87 He spent
much of the war years in Greece and then in Egypt, and resigned the Cambridge
Chair in 1944.
Landscape archaeology was developed from Cambridge through the work
of Charles W. Phillips, the librarian of Selwyn College.88 His work focussed on
the Fens. He was notably involved with the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon ship-
burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, along with William Francis Grimes who had gained
archaeological experience through his work with the National Museum in Cardiff,
and subsequently with the archaeological team within the Ordnance Survey.89 Such
developments in Cambridge found a parallel in the foundation of the Institute of
December 1968, 14; ‘Woman professor at Cambridge’, The Observer 7 May 1939, 15; ‘First woman professor’,
The Manchester Guardian 8 May 1939, 12.
‘The May Term at Cambridge’, The Manchester Guardian 21 June 1939, 7. See also Pope 2011, 63.
Garrod 1946.
Gill 2018. Both Lamb and Garrod were Roman Catholics.
Lamb 1930/31; Lamb 1934/35; Lamb 1936b; Lamb 1936a; Lamb 1937.
Gill 2004a.
Gill 2004f.
Wace 1935. For Wace’s earlier interest in sculpture: Wace 1902/03; Wace 1905; Wace 1906. Wace had
published the controversial ‘Fitzwilliam Goddess’: Wace 1927.
Phillips 1987.
For Grimes: Gill 2004e. For the Ordnance Survey and archaeology: Ordnance Survey 1973.
The Disney Legacy 123

Archaeology in London by (Sir) Mortimer Wheeler,90 as well as the prehistoric work

of V. Gordon Childe in Edinburgh.91 Wheeler had been involved in Roman projects at
Colchester, Brecon (Y Gaer) and Caerleon before he moved to London. He had then
worked on the major Iron Age hillfort at Maiden Castle.
Returning to Cambridge, Wace was followed in the Laurence Chair by Arnold
W. Lawrence (brother of T.E. Lawrence) whose interest lay in Greek architecture,92
and in 1951 by Jocelyn M.C. Toynbee who worked on the material culture of
Roman Britain.93 Elsewhere in Britain there was an emphasis on the recovery of
archaeological remains in war-damaged cities.94 Toynbee was invited to publish the
sculptures from the Mithraeum excavated at Walbrook in London by Grimes and
Audrey Williams that had so captured the public imagination.95 Subsequent holders
of the Laurence Chair included two Greek archaeologists, Robert M. Cook and
Anthony M. Snodgrass, and the Romanist Martin Millett.96 Snodgrass in particular
was a pioneer in the use of intensive field-surveys to understand changing
landscapes in the Greek world.97 In this he shared an interest with two holders of the
Disney Chair who have conducted field-surveys in Greece: Colin Renfrew on Melos,98
and Cyprian Broodbank on Kythera.99 Graeme Barker has also used this approach in
Italy and elsewhere.100
In the post-war period the holders of the Disney Chair helped to form
archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge: Grahame Clark (1952–1974), Glyn
Daniel (1974–1981), Colin Renfrew (1981–2004), and Graeme Barker (2004–2014).101
Clark’s research interests lay in the Mesolithic, and he directed the excavations at
Star Carr in Yorkshire.102 Daniel had a strong interest in the history of archaeology,
and also engaged with television raising the public perception of archaeology.103
This included his involvement in ‘Animal, vegetable, mineral?’ through the 1950s,
through which he received the award of ‘TV Personality of the Year’. Barker had
been a former Director of the British School at Rome, and directed regional projects
in Italy.104 The present holder of the Chair, Cyprian Broodbank, has his research

Hawkes 1982. See also Carr 2012. For the list of supporters: Peers, et al. 1932.
Green 1981; Gathercole 2004.
Lawrence 1957.
Toynbee 1962. See also Pope 2011, 68.
E.g. the work of William Francis Grimes: Shepherd 1998. See also Gill 2000; Gill 2004e. For a wider view
of archaeological work in wartime: Richmond 1943.
Toynbee 1986. The Mithraeum can now be viewed in the basement of the Bloomberg building.
Cook 1972; Snodgrass 1987; Millett 1995.
Bintliff and Snodgrass 1988.
Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982.
Broodbank 1999.
E.g. Barker and Lloyd 1991.
See the observations on the changing nature of the Chair: Hoffmann 1983. For the wider intellectual
setting: Trigger 1989. For archaeology after the Second World War: Barker 2007.
Appointment: ‘University news’, The Manchester Guardian 13 October 1952, 2.
Daniel 1967; Daniel 1992. For his obituary: Hammond 1989.
Barker and Lloyd 1991.
124 The World of Disney

interest rooted in the prehistoric Aegean including intensive field-surveys.105 Both

Renfrew and Broodbank have strong fieldwork links with the Cyclades.106
Archaeology is now a key area of study at Cambridge, based in the McDonald
Institute of Archaeology adjacent to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
off Downing Street. More recently the ground floor of the Founder’s Building of
the Fitzwilliam Museum received a major refurbishment with a redisplay of the
Greek and Roman antiquities.107 The galleries developed by Winifred Lamb and her
successor Richard V. Nicholls were transformed,108 and a special display relating
to Disney and his sculpture collection was installed in the central gallery where
they were first placed more than a century and a half ago.109 The cast gallery, once
a sub-department of the Fitzwilliam and located on Little St Mary’s Lane, is now
integrated as the Museum of Classical Archaeology as part of the Faculty of Classics
in the Sedgwick site.110 Cambridge archaeology has moved from the study of classical
artefacts, to a holistic study of material culture from around the globe.


The reasons behind the gift of the Disney collection and the establishment of the
Disney Chair of Archaeology cast light on the multi-faceted activities by landed
families in the first half of the nineteenth century. The benefactions have their
origin in the eighteenth-century Grand Tour, but the transfer of the collection is
due to the dissenting spirit generated by the enlightenment. It was fed by a spirit
of republicanism that was moderated by the realities of the horror of the French
Revolution. But Disney’s world also shows the transformation of English culture and
society through the activities of the Royal Society, and then the creation of local
intellectual groups at a county level. Perhaps more significantly was the desire for
local landed families to engage with the heritage of their counties, and to explore it
through the medium of archaeology.
Scholarship has not always been kind to Disney. Adolf Michaelis in his 1882 study
of ancient sculptures in public and private collections in Great Britain described
the Disney collection as trash rather than treasure.111 While it is true that many
of the pieces acquired by Disney himself were of modern creation, there are some
outstandingly important pieces derived from the Hyde’s collection. There can be
little doubt that Disney’s gift to the University of Cambridge has made a sustained
international impact on the study of the past through the discipline of archaeology.
But it is the route to this gift that is the wonderful world of Disney.
E.g. Broodbank 2000.
Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982; Renfrew 1991; Renfrew 2007; Renfrew, et al. 2008; Broodbank 2013.
For developments in the museum: Burn 2016.
For Nicholls at the Fitzwilliam: Nicholls 1961/2; Nicholls 1965/6; Nicholls 1970/1.
For Lamb’s creation of the original prehistoric gallery at the Fitzwilliam, now the gallery displaying
Cypriot antiquities: Gill 2018.
Beard 1993.
Michaelis 1882, 159. This view is countered by Vout 2012.

BAPD Beazley Archive Pottery Database

BL British Library
Cambridge FM Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum
Kew NA Kew, National Archives
London BM London, British Museum
ODNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
RIB Roman Inscriptions of Britain


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Adams, John 41, 43 Browne, Reverend George Forrest 119
All Souls, Langham Place 70 Brown, John Dudin 50, 104
Amherst, William Pitt 53, 54 Buckinghamshire 33
Amyot, Thomas 78, 79 Buckland, William 78, 79
Argyle, Duke of 36, 37 Burgogyne, General 6
Artaud, William 54 Burke, Edmund 1, 33
Askew, Sir William 1 Calais, Dunkirk, and West Flanders
Augustinus, Leonardus 36, 37 Junction Railway 107
Babington, Reverend Churchill 115, 116, Cambridge v, vi, vii, viii, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
117, 118 11, 15, 22, 23, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38,
Bankes, Henry 63 39, 43, 45, 57, 62, 74, 75, 76, 79, 88, 90,
Banting, Ann 66 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 101, 102, 108,
Barker, Graeme 123 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116, 117,
Baron, Richard 32 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125
Basire, James 12, 24, 59, 135 Cambridgeshire 116, 121
Bathe, Sir William de 104 Canada 6, 41, 73, 104, 113
Beard, Lucia 48, 119, 124, 126 Cartwright, Frances 5, 8, 15, 22, 23, 57
Belsham, Thomas 10, 12, 13, 16, 18, 23, Cartwright, John 15
24 Cavalieri, Marquis de 33
Berkshire 61 Chambers, Reverend Andrew 18, 32, 40
Blackburne, Archdeacon Francis vii, 7, Chambers, William 18, 32, 40
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, Cheshire 68, 70, 115
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, Childe, V. Gordon 123
32, 40, 42, 47, 52, 59 China 48
Blackburne, Sara 22, 23, 24, 25 Christie, James 30, 88, 112
Blackburne, Dr Thomas 16 Clark, Grahame 123
Blackburne, Dr William 23 Clarke, E.D. 79, 121
Bonham, Major G.W. 77 Clarke, Reverend John 7
Bosanquet, Robert Carr 118, 120 Clementi, Abbate 37
Bracci, Abbate 37 Colvin, Sidney 117
Bramston, Thomas William 50, 80, 81 Combe, Taylor 88
Brand, Thomas See Brand-Hollis, Cook, Arthur B. 119, 122
Thomas Cook, Robert M. 123
Brand-Hollis, Thomas vi, vii, 11, 13, 14, Cranstoun, Lady 66
15, 23, 24, 25, 26, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, Cuit, George 59
46, 47, 50, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 71, 88, 93, Cumberland, William Augustus, the
94 Duke of 28
Broke, Elizabeth 5, 106 Daniel, Glyn 123
Broodbank, Cyprian 123 Darwin, Charles 78, 107
Brooke, Reverend Thomas 8, 41, 70, 82 De Isney, Lambert 1
Brooksby, Thomas 68 De Leddred, Gilbert 1
Brouncker, Barbara 73, 113 Delver, Pierce See Hollis, Thomas

140 The World of Disney

Disneian School of navigation, Elsworth, Joshua 9

hydrography, and nautical Essex vi, vii, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20,
astronomy 103 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45,
Disney, Algernon 14, 57, 66, 94 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57, 58,
Disney, Daniel 3, 4 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70,
Disney, Edgar 60, 61, 63, 68, 70, 72, 73, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82,
81, 111, 112, 113 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99,
Disney, Edgar John 61, 73, 111, 113 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107,
Disney, Frederick 5, 6, 7, 22, 31, 50, 51 110, 111, 112, 113, 115
D’Isney, Sir Henry 1, 2 Eyre, Reverend John 50, 51
Disney, Jane 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 23, 24, 31, Ffytche, Elizabeth vi, vii, 3, 6, 18, 24, 25,
50, 51 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57,
Disney, Dr John vi, vii, 1, 7, 44, 45, 46, 47, 64, 67, 68, 70, 89, 92
49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, Fillingham, William 52
61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, Finch, Robert 76
72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, Flaxman, John 45, 88
84, 85, 86, 88, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, Foster, Sir Michael 24
97, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108, Fox, Augustus Lane 120
109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, France vi, vii, 5, 22, 28, 29, 44, 51, 52, 53,
118, 119, 121, 122, 123, 124 54, 55, 57, 73, 76, 106, 116
Disney, Reverend John vi, vii, 15, 24, 25, Fremont, Colonel John Charles 104, 105
26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, Frend, Reverend William 21, 22, 26, 48
40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 22, 25, 51
52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 111 Fynes-Clinton, Catherine 3
Disney, Molyneux 2 Fytche, Thomas 47, 48, 49, 50
Disney, Sir Moore 68, 70 Fytche, William 47, 48, 49, 50
Disney, Richard 1, 3 Gandy, Joseph Michael 54
Disney, Sophia vi, vii, 49, 51, 52, 53, 57, Gardner, Ernest A. 33, 79, 118, 119
60, 61, 62, 64, 67, 68, 69, 70, 73, 89, 92, Gardner, Percy 118, 119
110, 111 Garrod, Dorothy 121, 122
D’Isney, Sir William 1, 2 Germany 29, 73, 116
Disney-Ffytche, Lewis vi, vii, 3, 18, 24, Glasgow, University of 26, 27
25, 41, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, Goetze, Mrs Constance 112
64, 67, 68, 70, 89, 92 Goslin, John 67
Dodson, Michael 24 Greece 79, 88, 89, 97, 102, 110, 118, 119,
Dorset vi, vii, 10, 27, 39, 40, 47, 52, 60, 122, 123
61, 63, 64, 73, 86, 88 Grey, Eleanor 2
Droop, J.P. 120 Grimes, William Francis 122, 123
Dumfriesshire 119 Hall, Reverend John 23
Duncan, P.M. 101 Harris, William 10, 11, 32
Durno, James 53 Hatchett, Charles 78, 79
Edinburgh, University of 15, 123 Hawkins, Edward 38, 89
Egypt 115, 118, 120, 122 Hay, Drummond 74, 75
Ellis, Sir Henry 121 Hayward, Abraham 5
Elsworth, Hannah 9 Head, Guy 12, 24, 53
Index 141

Herries, John Charles 66 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 31, 41, 42,
Hewetson, Christopher 53 43, 51, 57, 60
Hillary, Frances vii, ix, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, Lloyd, William iii, 33, 35, 36, 123
53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, Locke, John 10, 31
70, 94, 110 London vi, vii, 2, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17,
Hillary, Wilhelmina 56, 57, 69, 70 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33,
Hillary, Sir William vii, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51,
67, 68, 69, 70, 94, 110 55, 57, 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 70, 71, 72, 78,
Hollister, John 27 79, 81, 82, 90, 94, 103, 104, 107, 112,
Hollis, Thomas 10, 11, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 115, 119, 121, 122, 123, 125
33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 52, Lowth, Robert 50, 51
53 Maclean, Dr Allan 74
Howson, Thomas 5 Malahide, Lord Talbot de 108
Hudson, James 6, 68 Marsden, Reverend John Howard 96, 97,
Hurd, Richard 15 101, 102, 108, 110, 115, 116
Hussey, Thomas 1 Marsden, William 96
Hussey, William 1 Maty, Paul Henry 22
Hutcheson, Francis 26 Mead, Dr Richard 32, 36, 37, 76, 89
Iceland 19 Meggy, George 83
India vi, 48, 77 Michaelis, Adolf 112, 124
Italy vi, vii, 5, 10, 28, 29, 37, 51, 53, 54, 57, Millar, Andrew 10
76, 89, 90, 92, 93, 123 Millett, Martin 123
Jebb, John 22, 23, 25, 43, 44 Minns, Sir George Ellis 121
Jenkins, Reverend Henry 101 Monmouth, Duke of 2
Jenkins, Thomas 31, 33, 35, 54 Neale, Thomas Clarkson 79, 80, 81, 82
Jervis, Reverend Thomas 61, 62, 63 Newton, Sir Charles 89, 118
Jesse, Captain William 73, 74, 104, 105, New York 6, 30, 32, 104
106, 107 Nicholls, Richard V. 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 45,
Jesse, Reverend William 73 75, 76, 90, 92, 124
Kauffman, Angelica 53 Noellekens, Joseph 45
Lamb, Winifred vi, 120, 122, 124 Normandy 1
Lancashire 55, 83 Northumberland 127
Lasinio, Carlo 90 Nottinghamshire vii, 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14,
Law, Edmund 7, 8, 11, 15 15, 47, 49, 50, 52, 72
Lawrence, Arnold W. 123 Nouveau Monde, Mining Company 99,
Leake, Colonel William M. 78, 79, 96, 100, 101, 103 103, 104, 105, 106, 107
115, 116 Oxford 14, 54, 79, 92, 108, 118, 120, 122
Leake, John Martin 79, 96 Pacetti, Vincenzo 54, 132
Lincolnshire vii, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 15, 16, Paris, John Ayrton 78, 79
17, 18, 49, 50, 51 Parker, Charles George 68, 69, 70
Lindsey, Reverend Theophilus 8, 9, 10, Parker, J.H. 120
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, Penrose, Francis Cranmer 118
22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 39, 40, 41, 48, 54, Petrie, Flinders 118, 120
57 iii, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, Phillips, Charles W. 120, 122
Porten, Stanier 30
142 The World of Disney

Pozzi, Andrea 30 Turnor, Edmund 5, 7, 12

Preston, Christopher Richard 67, 68, 70, Tyrell, Sir John 63, 66
110 Tyrwhitt, Robert 22
Preston, Richard Christopher 77, 110 Unitarian vii, 8, 14, 18, 20, 61, 108
Priestley, Joseph 44 Victoria, Queen 66, 73, 83
Rankin, C. 69, 76 Wace, Alan J.B. 120, 122, 123
Renfrew, Lord (Colin) 123 Wales 48, 79, 119, 121
Ridgeway, Sir William 119, 120, 121 Waller, Edmund 33
Rokewode, John Gage 79 Wallis, G.A. 54
Rutherforth, Thomas 7, 11 Wallis, John 10
Savile, Sir George 13 Ward, Dr John 27, 38
Saville, George 74 Washington, George 44
Scoffin, Reverend William 3 Watts, Isaac 20
Scotland 6, 28, 56, 119 Weber, Sir Hermann 112
Scott, Thomas 56 Webster, Joseph Samuel 38
Shropshire 14, 26 Western, Charles Callis 65, 102
Sicily 30, 68 Westmacott, Richard 37, 54, 88, 89
Sloane, Sir Hans 32 Westmacott, Sir Richard 37, 54, 88, 89
Smith, Charles Roach 98, 99 Wheeler, Sir Mortimer 122, 123
Snodgrass, Anthony M. 119, 123 Williams, Audrey 123
Society for the Promotion of Arts, Willis, Robert 94, 108
Manufactuers, and Commerce 31 Wilson, Richard 30
Staunton, Sir George Thomas 78, 79 Wiltshire 24, 40, 41
St George’s, Hanover Square 55, 57 Wire, William 98, 99, 100, 101
St Giles, Bloomsbury 61 Woolhouse, William 3
St Mary’s, Marylebone 73 Worsley, Sir Richard 89
St Mary’s, Nottingham 4 Wycombe, John Henry Petty 53
St Poll, George 1 Wyvill, Reverend Christopher 41, 59, 60
Suffolk 2, 5, 65, 70, 73, 74, 79, 96, 97, 99, Yorke, John 9
100, 112, 115, 117, 118, 122 Yorkshire 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 56, 57,
Sussex, Duke of 53, 55 59, 61, 123
Switzerland 5, 28, 29, 52, 53, 116
Talbot, Fox 81, 108
Tate, James 59
Tayleur, William 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19,
21, 22, 23, 24, 43
Taylor, John 3, 88, 105
Thoroton, Colonel Thomas 51, 52
Tobin, Caesar 56
Toulmin, Joshua 17
Toynbee, Jocelyn M.C. 74, 123
Trentanove, Raimondo 75, 110
Tufnell, Henry 92
Turner, William 13, 18, 19, 20, 39, 40, 41,
42, 43, 47, 60

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