Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ownership and readership?

I spent part of yesterday morning in the Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies at Senate House, consulting the useful collection of sale catalogue facsimiles in the multi-volume Sale catalogues of libraries of eminent persons (1973). In order to understand the circulation and likely influence of Macintosh’s book, it is necessary to reconstruct (as far as is possible) the book’s ownership and readership. 19th-century sales catalogues are a useful first step in determining who owned a copy of Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa (although not, necessarily, who read it). Such catalogues are one means by which to select those individuals who warrant further attention.

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke (1729–1797), the enthusiastic antagonist of Warren Hastings. National Portrait Gallery, 655.

A far from systematic trawl of some of these catalogues indicates that owners of Travels included Edmund Burke, the principal antagonist of Warren Hastings (see page 21 of the Catalogue of the library of of the late Right Hon. Edmund Burke (1833)). Burke’s copy of Travels was purchased for 9 s. by one “Mr Bohn”—most likely one of the bookseller brothers Henry Bohn (1796–1884) and James Bohn (1803–1880).

George Hibbert (1757–1837)

George Hibbert (1757–1837).

The book collector, merchant, and slave owner George Hibbert (1757–1837) was another eminent figure who owned Macintosh’s book (see page 442 of A catalogue of the library of George Hibbert, Esq. of Portland Place (1829)). At the time of the publication of Travels, Hibbert had recently begun work in London at the Jamaica trading house of Hibbert, Purrier and Horton (a firm which he later headed). Hibbert subsequently assumed a central role in the pro-slavery Society of West India Planters and Merchants, and it is probable that his interest in Macintosh’s book related to that author’s experience as a Caribbean planter and merchant. Thus the list of potential readers grows longer.

A family rift

Jean-Frédéric Perregaux, Macintosh's "old friend", trustee, and attorney

Jean-Frédéric Perregaux (1744–1808), Macintosh’s “old friend”, trustee, and attorney

In November 1791, The Gentleman’s Magazine recorded the recent marriage at Ostend of William Macintosh’s daughter, Maria (or Mary), to Alexander Augustus, “the Chevalier le Sieur de Colleville, son to the present Marchioness de Colleville, of Normandy, a French officer in the infantry”. Maria, who had been born in Grenada in 1770, was then aged 21. The marriage was a fruitful (and, initially, happy) one. The couple had four children.

In his 1807 will, Macintosh appointed Alexander trustee and attorney together with the Swiss banker, and “old friend”, Jean-Frédéric Perregaux (1744–1808). The trust Macintosh placed in his son in law was, however, misplaced. In 1810 (or possibly 1816) Macintosh was forced to supply a codicil to his will, “revoking and annulling” Alexander’s claim and role. Alexander, it seems, had “abandoned his wife and family and Country in a manner highly disreputable and offensive without having had the least provocation”. With four children to raise alone, Macintosh appointed his daughter “sole heiress of all and whatsoever I may die possessed of in the first place for her own subsistence and the maintenance and education of her four Children”. Macintosh’s will and codicil were proved at London on 13 April 1816. Maria died in 1853.