Anna Maria Willoughby

Anna Maria Willoughby

b: 1 SEP 1776
d: 18 NOV 1857
Nursery Chronicles by Mrs Anna Maria Harding: June 11th, 1815

Before she married, Mrs Harding was Anna Maria Willoughby. Only the most obvious mistakes in the previous typed version have been corrected below, and capitalisation and spelling have been retained. To make reading easier some very long sentences with phrases separated by dashes have been broken up somewhat, and modern punctuation added, but without changing the order of words.

Nursery Chronicles by Mrs Anna Maria Harding: June 11th, 1815

It has frequently occurred to me that many of the observations made by children and other trifling circumstances that marked their character in infancy and the development of their faculties would, if written down, probably be read by Parents and children with interest hereafter. Still I have hitherto deferred beginning this maternal chronicle, and now and then regretted I had not begun it long ago.

This to persons unacquainted with the first years of childhood would excite much wonder and probably a smile of contempt, as my Boy, if it please God to spare him to his parents, will complete his sixth year on the 13th day of this month, being born the 13th June 1809. He was baptised that day by the name of John Dorney Harding and Christened the 14th day of August 1810. His Godfathers were Samuel Kosser Esquire of Mathern (who was the second husband of his great Grandmother Harding, who was the eldest daughter of Wyndham Esquire), and Thomas Wyndham Esquire of Dunraven Castle, the relation and most valuable friend of his father and Grandfather. They were both present, as well as his kind cousin Elizabeth Dorney, his Grandmother Frances Harding, her mother Frances Probyn, his two aunts Louisa and Catherine Harding, and some other persons. And he may hereafter be amused by hearing that he was brought in after dinner by his nurse and another servant in a very large China family Christening bowl and placed in the middle of the table -- where I think I can see him now, with a bowl in one hand and a little whip in the other. He behaved himself with much propriety, [and] was as may be guessed exceedingly admired by many of the guests, particularly as he was a very blooming intelligent looking child.

His eldest sister Anna Elizabeth was born the fourth of October 1810 and christened at Bream chapel in the Forest of Dean the July following 1811, her Grandmother Harding and Mrs Wyndham were her Godmothers, Mr Quinn stood for Mr Probyn of Newland, her father's Godfather. We were then on a visit to Mr and Mrs Wyndham at Clearwell Court, where we all dined. The young lady too behaved herself very well, and was justly much admired, as she was a very thriving infant and the most beautiful one I ever saw.

My second daughter was born October 22nd 1812, and Christened at Dunraven Castle in December 1814, her name Caroline Emily, her Godmothers are her relation Mrs Wyndham Quinn formerly Miss Wyndham and my friend Emily Leslie, who was my kind companion and friend during my confinement. Mr Quinn was her Godfather.

Thus the ages of my three children are -- just 6 -- between 4 and 5 -- and between 2 and 3 -- and yet I am convinced this [chronicle] is begun much too late, but for my own satisfaction I shall endeavour to remember what ever struck me as remarkable from the first dawn of intellect which appeared early and brilliant, particularly in my Boy -- by no means more so than is common with many children, though perhaps more noticed from his living a great deal with very partial parents, whose favourite society he has formed even before he could speak - which he did not do fluently till he was two years of age. But we at least did not think him the less interesting, for as he was quite as intelligent as children at that age usually are, he supplied the use of speech by the most graceful, animated and appropriate action. Everything around him attracted his attention very young, and I well remember at seven years old his resenting a whole evening my taking something from him which he did not like to part with. This showed me the necessity of very great attention being paid to the development of a mind where such quick perception was united to such strong passions -- for as a very young child he was extremely violent. This however has long passed away, and he very rarely indeed needs any reproof and never now any punishment or continuance of displeasure. Indeed so acute is his sense of shame and so strong his affections, that I know nothing that would be so distressing as to be obliged to continue displeased with him. I do not think that his affections appeared by any means as strong whilst his temper was violent as they do now, that is quite conquered and almost forgotten in the family.

Like most children the Moon early attracted his notice, and I recollect walking rather later than usual with him in August 1811, - he was struck with amazement and sorrow at first noticing the half moon, stopping short and looking at it with his eyes full of tears he exclaimed "Oh Mama, somebody broke the peety moon." Though heartily enjoying play he was very thoughtful and at this time noticed clouds, the stars, and was always asking -- I had almost said -- rational questions about them; but the moon and the rainbow were his favourites. He persevered in asking so many questions about rain that he almost succeeded in gaining a clear idea of its cause but as -- though very healthy -- he was rather nervous, we did not encourage this turn to deep thought.

He however, by no means liked being told he was too young to understand anything he was desirous of gaining information about. Upon asking "who made the ground?" at two years and quarter old, I told him "God Almighty." "Where does he live?" "In Heaven." (pointing upwards). "But we must not talk about him." And this idea of power and respect constituted for some time his whole stock of divinity, for hearing his Aunt soon after saying something concerning God, he cried "Hush Aunt Louise, him up in sky, mustn't talk ‘bout him."

Hearing about some children that have no Father and Mother, and being told they were dead, occupied him much, but in spite of all his efforts he could only comprehend that they were buried, and wondered with a voice swelled with grief that their little children did not go and "scrat, scrat" the ground till they got them up again. The Old Clarke died about this time, and finding he never came back seemed to assist him in comprehend thing that the dead return no more, for on all occasions of the kind he always reverted to " Old Clarke dead too." In the drawing room there was amongst the books a copy of Chambers Dictionary with prints of which he would amuse himself for hours; - but at last the diving bell occupied and puzzled him so much that I thought it right to conceal the book, a child of about three years old being incapable of comprehending it could only stretch his little faculties to no purpose on such a subject.

About this time he was beginning to spell words of two syllables and I was much amused when on coming to Sandal -- "Mama, what are sandals?" "Things my dear, that people used to wear upon their feet" and I pointed in vain to the next word, he was deeply ruminating upon Sandals and the cross examination to which almost every word subjected me began. "Are they oos (shoes)?" "No my dear." " are they ocks (socks)?" "No my dear." "are they boots?" "No….." After some thought his face lighted up with the pride and pleasure of discovery and he exclaimed "then I know what they are, they are corns" -- with which I suppose his nurse had the misfortune to be plagued. This is however an explanation of the manner in which a thinking child may become confused in his ideas if not attended to. At this stage he showed a great dislike to everything belonging to a dead animal. He would shrink from a hare’s foot or the wing of a bird. But this was quite conquered in a few months by encouragement and attention, though he screamed at the sight of the whole animal at first.

Just before he attained his third year, he had I trust his last fit of obstinacy, for he withstood severity and kindness from ten o'clock in the morning till eight at night, about a trifle which he perfectly comprehended, though he slept two hours in the middle of the day. His sensibility was frightfully excited by the story of the children in the wood told him by a friend on a visit. He sobbed and screamed with agony and confounding the past and present, wanted to set out to their rescue instantly -- but upon being told that it happened long ago, he could not believe that they had no friends, but beginning with "had they no nurse” -- he went through every servant in the house, and ended sobbing violently "then had they no Jenny or Judy?" -- two women who frequently weeded in his papa's garden. I have ever since endeavoured to keep the story out of his recollection.

Upon being shown the picture of the Emperor Paul he said "he is very ugly -- was he good?" "No." "What did he do naughty?" "He was a King and he used his people very ill." By his constant enquiries he had gained some idea of the meaning of this, but it is plain they were very English ideas for he answered "Why did they not beat him then?" He was answered they could not, he would have had then killed. Upon this he asked very angrily "Why did they not kill him then?" Upon being told they did, he went to play quite satisfied.

He early began to notice property and its tenure, and asked me if he "should not have all the fields when Papa died?" I said no, his sister must have some, to which he replied "what use are fields to girls, they can't plough or mow."

In October 1812 his little sister was born, and in the December following we went for a short time to Cheltenham, where he was interested in the regular coming in and going out of the Mail, and always attended when he could and soon knew the different bags by their sizes. Sedan chairs struck him with much surprise, and he derived much amusement from looking at Pictures in the Libraries, where he generally met persons kind enough to answer his numerous questions. He now (1816) retains a grateful recollection of Colonel Williamson’s attentions and very lately asked me for him, though he has never seen or heard of him since his having lost a leg assisted in exciting much pity and a deeper interest.

Someone at this time (Spring 1813) asked me when his father would come home. I answered, merely to see what he would say, that I believed I should not let him come at all. I was quite alarmed at his indignation and agitation. Scarcely articulate and with every muscle stretched he exclaimed "papa is very good and shall come home." In the course of the next Summer a lady made a similar ill-judged experiment upon his sensibility. Some person inquiring for his Papa, she answered that "he was gone to be hanged." He was at play, but immediately flew at her in a frightful rage exclaiming "I wish I had a knife," though upon no other occasion did he ever show any desire to injure.

Guns now began to occupy his attention so much that he called his words of two syllables "double-barrelled" words. Being often with us and hearing the progress of the Peninsula War mentioned [1813, aged four years in June] he was interested, but like a true Englishman the memory of Nelson and our naval greatness was his greatest delight. General Wolfe too was a favourite. These feelings, which will probably cling to him for life, were excited by some songs, though like everyone who has lived in our eventful times, he has been somewhat drawn away by present events. I was quite shocked one day when on seeing his whole person exhibit symptoms of fury and vengeance, as he stood in an attitude for a sculptor, stabbing a sofa cushion with a stick. I enquired the reason. He quietly answered "only killing a Frenchman." Which I had some difficulty in persuading him could ever be a sin.

I always flatter myself with his being a true little Englishman, though I know I should be told that all this must arise from what he saw and heard; and truly told. Yet as he lived much with us and was a constant object of attention, I could not but fancy that English feelings seemed to thrive as if they found in his mind a very congenial soil. Before this he had seen the bustle of Chairing a member, and a very noisy meeting at opening a Tram road in October 1812. He was delighted, and in such a state of intoxication as to lose his usual timidity and dislike of sudden noise - as he was then a very thinking and rather a nervous child, though extremely blooming active and healthy. In August 1814 he was present at a meeting of his kind Godfather’s Tenantry, where he was quite wild with the interest he felt and the delight he experienced. He led the repeated cheers with which the Tenantry for the last time testified their respect and affection for their excellent landlord. He sat all day holding a pole decorated with Mr Wyndham’s colours on the table with the Musicians, and even displayed them triumphantly from the leads of Dunraven Castle.

To return however to the regular course of my tale, for which we must go back a year. In the ninth of November 1813 some friends assembled at the same Castle to celebrate Mrs Wyndham’s birthday. The door opened after dinner to the sound of soft music and a Bower illuminated within moved slowly in and approaching Mrs Wyndham, the two fairies within waved their wands, the Bower ceased moving and the fairies thus addressed her:

First fairy, John:
“Good fairies oft in ancient times
on birthdays we are told
would come with gifts from various climes
of gems and pearls and gold."

Second fairy, Anna:
“We offer not such paltry things
to grace this happy day
But honest love which warmly springs
in this our infant lay."

“ In health and peace long may you live
each year be crowned with bliss
and for their pains Oh please to give
Your little fays a kiss."

Unmoved by the strong exclamations of wonder and admiration, the little fairies again waved their wands, and the car moved out again. John had completed his fourth year the June preceding, and Anna (aged three years and one month) her third on the fourth day of October. They learnt the little verses with much delight. Anna knew the whole, though only the second verse was intended for her. (I should have added to the story of the fairies that they came in afterwards and threaded around the dancers hand in hand with great delight; taking good care to keep out of the way of the couple coming down and upon the time arriving when it was necessary they should go to bed. Johnny cast such a longing look at the dancers as he viewed them from the bottom of the Stairs that I told him to go to the door and look at them. He went, but turned back instantly and upon asking the reason, he told me that he was afraid it if he staid, he should run in amongst them again and he knew I wished him to go to bed).

Receiving many kind attentions from our neighbours Mr and Mrs Picton, induced him to interest himself much in their brother Sir Thomas Picton, and by sometimes hearing the papers read and asking many questions, became sufficiently acquainted with his life and actions to take a deeper interest in him - as well as in my lamented friend General Robert Ross (and at that early age he felt both their deaths as an Englishman should do, reading at his own request the Gazettes). Lord Wellington's letter on the subject of Sir T.P.’s fall did not please him, he said he did not think he seemed sorry enough, to which his sister remarked "you know he was not his papa or his brother, why should he be so sorry? John "but he was one of his soldiers that helped to gain the battle for him, and he ought to be sorry for him." He could not however understand the merit of Sir T.P.’s siege of Badajos, as he remarked "what is the use of beating a town to pieces, what good is taking such a place -- it can be of no use?" Would nations were as blind to the use of destroying each other. Mr Picton ever afterward was on object of particular interest to him, he always left his play on seeing him, and was satisfied by remaining in silence close to him. He made careful enquiries if his friend was to inherit Sir T..P.'s property.

To return to the winter preceding. In that same winter – 1813-14 -- being confined to the house by the whooping cough after sitting one day some time in deep thought, he asked me "Mama, how did the first people come into the world, I mean the first first people, before there were any other people?" "God created -- made -- the man and woman -- quite grown up." Another long rumination and then "To be sure he must have made them a grown up Man and Woman." "Why?" "Because there was no one to take care of a baby and it could not take care of itself." Then, heaving a long breath "I wonder he does not make them all grown up. Little Babies are so troublesome." His youngest sister was then very delicate. She however as well as the other two, got over the whooping cough very well and in less than three weeks. They were kept as much as possible in one atmosphere, fed often with light diet that they might never eat a heavy meal. They took several slight emetics, two or three doses of calomel. Their feet were put in warm water every night. They wore Burgundy pitch plasters on their chests, with a good deal of Laudanum and a little blistering ointment in them. They took every now and then a tablespoon of the following mixture: 10gr Ipecacuanha, 10 drops laudanum, teaspoonful Assefoetida – to about ½ pint water. See Reece’s medical guide. Not one of the three suffered any illness except the mere effects of coughing, no fever or headache in spite of the severity of the season and many other inconveniences.

The house we inhabited was ill built and was rendered almost inaccessible from the snows. Papa’s arrival at this time was no small event. He had been from home on business and it was feared could not have made his way back - which however he continued to do.

In March 1814 they accompany me to Monmouth, and were there when the mail came in every evening dressed with ribbons and laurels, in honour of the repeated victories, which ended in the destruction of military Despotism. They seized the popular enthusiasm with great warmth, paraded the streets with white flags, attended the bonfires, and shouted themselves hoarse - and soon after at Gloucester seeing a great number of sheets out drying on lines, Johnny exclaimed "See Mama, see how those people honour the Bourbons, look at all the white flags." On our journey home in May 1814 John asked me what has become of King George. I told him poor King George was blind and had lost his senses. He answered "Then I think they had better get someone else to King and send him away." I said "Why, poor man?" "Because Mama if he is blind and has not got his senses, how can he tell the people what to do, and what use is he?"

Anna about the same time asked something concerning the creation, and I said it was done by the power of God, to which of course succeeded - "How?" "Why" answered her brother "He needed only to say anything should be, and it would come directly." Soon after I gave him the History of the Creation to read, and on finding "Let there be light" etc., he exclaimed with much pleasure "That was just the way I thought." On proceeding to the account of Eve’s formation, he inquired how that could be known, as there was no one in the world but Adam, and he was asleep. I could not persuade him that the worshippers of the golden calf were foolish, he thought them wicked, but made use of the phrase "They must have been ingenious people - fools could not have made a thing like a calf out of gold." They were both much shocked at Jacobs deceiving his father, and on reading the account of Vashti’s disobedience, John was much puzzled by the King's taking another wife, and enquired if that would make Vashti not his wife, as some time before they had asked "What’s being married?" And it was explained to them, that two people made a promise at Church before God, to live together and be kind to each other. Anna immediately enquired for two gentlemen whom she had never seen with their wives, and said "they must be very naughty men."

She remarked too at this time (1815) "how lucky it was those Scriptures were written -- as those things happened so long ago -- we should not have known them." She took a great interest in everything relating to religion, and often expressed her interest in the Almighty in a way at which it was difficult to refrain from laughing. In a fall of snow, early in 1814, she was quite unhappy about God Almighty, remarking how could he keep his feet warm in that cold place? She wondered how he could reach the naughty people and thought he must have very long arms. She asked me in the summer of 1814, on seeing a fly running on the window, "Mama, does a fly know it is a fly?" I asked her to explain. "Why you know you are woman and I know I am a little girl, and does the fly know it is a fly?" The answer not having, as may well be supposed, explained the difficulty, she'd some time after asked the same question about sheep.

John took much interest in Mechanics, and I recollect on going down first into Glamorganshire in 1813 his watching the top of the carriages and judging from them whether the ground rose or fell. When the inclination was so slight as not to attract our attention he would exclaim, "now we're going uphill, the fore part of the carriage is highest." On proceeding in the Scripture History he thought the persons who attempted to build the tower of Babel very silly. I inquired "Why?" "Because, Mama, men could never build long enough to build up to the heavens, (looking up) look how high they are -- houses on houses and Churches on Churches would never reach them" I was surprised at this intuitive comprehension of the brevity of the life of man compared with the immensity of space, as they are two ideas not generally seized by children.

He was much shocked, when in the spring of 1815 being made a present of a short history of England in verse, to find that England had been so often conquered, and would scarcely believe it. He asked much about Buonaparte, and I well remember his running breathless to meet to communicate the intelligence of Buonaparte's second Abdication. He inquired if the French were sorry for Buonaparte? How he came to be an Emperor? And thought it would have saved a great deal of trouble if the Prussians had cut off his head. He enquired as many others have done - "how came he not to be killed?" "I suppose he keeps out of away -- not like our generals." At this time French politics were much talked of, and he observed one day that he did not hear of such wicked things being done in England. I asked by whom. "By the Prince Regent and his Ministers, they don't do such wicked things as Buonaparte and his people. I explained to him that we had wholesome laws in England to prevent them even were they so inclined, to which he answered "but the people that made better laws must have been better people." He thought the saying "happy as a King" very silly, “for our King is old mad and blind.”

Another song too describing a "little gentleman who had nothing to do,” was very silly, as he supposed if his parents were not poor people who have to work for their bread, they would give him some lessons to learn. On first reading the history of our Saviour in the Summer of 1815, the effect was very different on the other two -- for on being asked whose son he was John for a long time persevered in calling him "Joseph the Carpenter’s," but Anna answered with much solemnity "the Son of God." I remember in August 1815, hearing them dispute the point. Anna adduced as proof of his divinity his Ascension into Heaven, to which her brother immediately replied "so did Enoch and Elisha" -- and then wondered if “God had not taken up Noah too, for he was a very good man." Anna then enquired "where God lived before the heavens were made?" and "how the Blessed got to Heaven?" And a few months later, "what became of people during the three days our Saviour was dead, as there was no redeemer then?" Upon reading the History of Daniel in the Lions’ Den, September 1815, I asked Anna if she would have been very much frightened. She said "no, if I was as good as Daniel was."

In April 1815 John enquired who a gentleman was of whom he heard me speaking. I answered he was a relation of his. "What, and keep a shop?" I said he is a very good and sensible man for whom your father and I have a great respect, besides it is much more useful than if he were idle. He looked a little abashed but asked - "is he as useful a man as Judge Hale was?" He left our own house late in 1812, and in our room he had seen the picture and always called him "the good Ha-e," before he could articulate Hale -- and had heard that his family had some connection with that of the Judge, - but I never recollect the subject having been mentioned, till he remembered it so opportunely. Upon first seeing a picture of St. Stephen, and as usual requiring an explanation, he was shocked at the Jew’s wickedness, he was however told that the Jews did not believe he spoke the truth, they did not know it was the truth. He answered "they knew their own law and that's says "Thou shalt do no murder."

In October 1815 he hurt his foot, and was confined nearly a month, during which he amused himself much by reading Mrs Trimmer’s Roman History - it was a great source of delight. He read some part of the first Volume of Scientific Dialogues and when I asked him if he understood it answered "I suppose I did, for I liked it," but I put by the book. Some parts of "Evenings at Home" were read, as they always were, with improvement and pleasure -- but it was difficult to rescue Julius Caesar from the contempt he incurred by the assertion that he would have been frightened if he had been a few days out of sight of land. He was declared to be "a pretty fellow for an Emperor." Shops and seamen attracted great interest, he even made a tolerable attempt at drawing them. Long before this he had seen a steam engine which delighted and occupied him very much, and upon going afterwards to see the Manufactory at Bridgend, he treated it with great contempt and said it was not worth looking at as there was no Steam Engine. I could not however persuade him to agree to being held a Clothier, though I showed him a very handsome House built by the gentleman who owned the Engine. He certainly was inclined to pride, though I think it is much subdued, but his sister was not, and yet they both took great notice of the difference of rank and situation, and asked many questions on the subject.

Upon my telling them, that a gentleman they knew had a son, Johnny asked "who borned it for him? Did his sister?" Anna was particularly interested upon all religious subjects, and always very uneasy lest prayers should be omitted Sunday evening, as we accustomed them to this some time before they went to Church, to familiarise them with the liturgy and accustom them to make the responses. The service of the church by this means became an object of great interest. At Christmas 1815 I gave them the history of the Birth of our Saviour to read in the Testament, and I never saw them more delighted with anything. They were before acquainted with the story, but they now began to read Mrs. Trimmer’s Abridgement of the New Testament -- only however on Sundays, as I found it preserved the interest better than by making it an every-day book. The Virgin Mary was the object of many questions not easy to be answered, but ending by an observation that they wondered why women had to be married for children to be borne, for they never heard of a man's borning a child. How where they men's children?

About this time Johnny asked with great simplicity "what sort of thing a soul was?” And upon my asking Anna one day what God was, she answered "a mind." Having forgotten the usual answer "a Spirit." Proceeding to the Massacre of the Innocents they were astonished at God’s permitting such crimes, but observed that "God could not love the people that did such wicked things." And upon hearing people swear, he asked if they were not very wicked. I said perhaps they had never been taught better. He said "but they might have gone to Church and they would have heard the commandments read;" and two years ago, upon looking into the yard of a prison when the prisoners were walking out, he wondered people who had been so wicked could be so merry.

Anna was endeavouring to understand the meaning of easy as applied to Temper, and then turning to me she said "you are very easy," to which I truly answered "no indeed my dear." "Then I know you are very easy to us." I asked her one day if she knew the meaning of being redeemed -- she answered "it is having yours sins repented of." On reading on Good Friday, which they wondered should be called Good 1816 - the History of the Crucifixion - Anna burst into tears, and begged I might not go on as it was "so shocking to read of the Jews treating him as if he was Common Man and not the Son of God." Indeed this child's extraordinary facility devotion and love of application have sometimes half inclined to me to the superstitious fear, that such a spirit was not made for the rough everyday work of this world. Her great anxiety to perform everything that she thought her duty, sometimes interrupted the gaiety of her walks and pastimes, and upon my endeavouring to explain to her that the day was quite long enough for the little she had to do, and plenty of play which I thought good for little children, - and that it was best when at her lessons to think of them -- and when at play to think only of that -- she whispered to me "oh yes, one thing we must always think of, Christ's death." Upon urging at another time the same doctrine she answered me - "but Mama, if I don't think of my lessons I can't learn them and I shall know nothing." I endeavoured to explain to her that thinking too much of them might hurt her health, and that nothing in the world was of so much Consequence as health. She seemed to hesitate and consider -- she was lying on the carpet and turned her eyes upwards - she replied "yes, perhaps than anything in the world, for he is not a body nor a thing but a Spirit." She was at this time five years old and a half. The things of this world too occupied her a little, for she enquired whether she should be a lady when she grew up, and was answered yes, provided no extraordinary misfortunes befell her family, and "then you might be obliged to go to service has so many others have been." I think it would be best to go to a rich person as I should get more clothes and more money."

She seemed to have a pleasure in the art of learning even the rudiments of music, which she acquired without ever finding out they were difficult. I never saw in her one instance of selfishness, but a constant attention to the convenience and comforts of others, particularly to her brother’s who on his part was far from being selfish or troublesome. The temptation of a room full of many children and the persuasion of all the company, failed to induce my sweet Anna (then just past five years old) to go into a room, because in the morning I had forbidden her. She said "no, I am sure Mama has some good reason."

As they had now made some progress in French they began to notice the relation of words to each other. Johnny in the autumn of 1815 supposed the word lever was taken from the French word lever as they both meant something alike, and Anna translating c’est dommage was quite satisfied by that's a pity, saying it means a damage -- and many other observations to the same effect. John soon knew the difference between a literal translation and the usual one, calling the former the English of the French, and the other the proper English.

He began at this time (Spring 1816) to show some symptoms of good taste. He was very anxious that the trees on a woody hill opposite our house should come out, to hide the red tops of the houses, as then he observed "we should see nothing but the green trees and the smoke." He spent an hour in the garden noticing the constant curl of the smoke proceeding from some weeds that were burning. He was struck by the bad taste of carrying the border in one of the rooms round the end of the beam -- which he said made it only more seen. He read on a Sunday a small portion of Scripture history in Mme Bonne, but disliked her expression of "beau petit pigeon" and upon being asked why, said he did not like it for a small thing -- it seemed to mean something large -- sounded like handsome -- pretty was more like a little pigeon. He often made attempts to draw, but found he could not raise things, and asked why. Upon being told it was for want of understanding perspective he often expressed the wish to understand that, and one day threw down his pencil in despair exclaiming "I cannot get on without this perspective." He heard someone mentioned Herculaneum and being informed what it was he exclaimed "how nice it would be to go and see it as we should know what sort of things they used for everything in those days, very likely they were not like the things we use now."

Continuing Mme Bonne's Sacred History he was asked how Abraham could think of sacrificing his son, and how he was to have the family promised to him if he killed him. He said "to be sure he would do as God ordered him, as he knew God could make his son alive again or give him the family some other way;" and on proceeding to Rebecca's drawing water for the Steward, he enquired when pumps were invented as those people had none -- but however they knew how to make earthenware, for she had a Pitcher. “I wonder how they got gold and silver -- had they tools to dig deep down into the Earth as they do now?” On reading a Hymn describing the Oxen in the Manger where the holy infant was born he expressed some wonder that they did not hurt the Child, but was immediately reproved by his Sister, who told him he must forget who the Child was. He thought Nebuchadnezzar “must have an odd sort of a heart to use the Israelites so -- one should have thought he had liked them by taking them away with them.” It was a favourite expression of his -- he really could not understand such conduct -- for hearing a poor woman reproached for idleness and neglect of her family he thought “she must have an odd sort of a heart for she did not care whether her Husband was comfortable or no.” Asking why Abraham lived in the Tent and Sarah made bread, as they were rich -- and being told that in those times they had no idea of the use of anything but what was wanted to eat or wear, he thought some time and said "I don't think that anything else is really useful at any time."

He met with a volume of Captain Cook's voyages and was much pleased, but remembering what he had heard of the superiority of the moderns in Navigation, and knowing that Asia was the first part of the world peopled, he enquired "how people came to America -- it was so far off the rest of the world?" And "why people were of different colours, did the sun make them so?" He remembered and detailed in May 1816 many circumstances concerning the wheat Harvest in 1812, which we recalled, on his naming them. For we could not mistake as we have not had any farm since that time. A Gentleman asked Anna if her brother had got tipsy at an election at which he had been present. She answered "my Brother never saw how people get tipsy," and she wished me very much to explain to her how she was able to move her hands up and down when she chose.

John inquired why nurses always rubbed childrens’ heads when they heard them, as rubbing made things warm, he thought that was not good for hurts. The illness of the Princess Charlotte at this time gave him some uneasiness, as he thought "her dying would be a bad thing, as we wanted her to be Queen." I asked him (after his having read something on the subject) if he knew what Horse Julius Caesar rode when he came to England? He saw I meant to take him in, and instantly answered "a wooden one," and proceeded to compose a history of this horse not coming out over water etc.

I have said but little of Caroline, for though she was considered in the family a very agreeable witty personage, her wit was rather too evanescent for repetition. I recollect some instances of great sharpness, and a thousand that marked a most affectionate disposition and a sweet playful lively but gentle temper. She has a great desire to be noticed and never fails to be so, and generally gets credit with strangers for surpassing both her brother and sister in person and mind -- though this is by no means the case. She was a plain infant, and very delicate in her Constitution for the first year of her life. I saw her at 17 months old find the means of raising herself to get at the bolt of a gate, which was put up to prevent the children from coming downstairs. After many ineffectual efforts, and some rumination, she walked to a room that was near and brought out with some exultation a stool upon which she got up and affected her purpose. She was never at a loss for subjects of conversation, and always could turn it dexterously to whatever suited her present little purposes or wants. She shewed much sensibility at three years old upon her Nurse’s quitting the family. For some time she expected she would come back for her, and I asked her "if she would go with her and leave us?" She insisted upon our going also -- but upon being asked "suppose we cannot go, will you go with Ann and leave us, or stay with us and let Ann go by herself?" After admitting with much difficulty the possibility of such a supposition, she sobbed deeply, threw herself on my neck saying "then then I’ll be sorry for Ann."

I should have used the word "suspose," - always at this time used instead of suppose in our Nursery, and a most useful word it was. Johnny composed it or rather caught it imperfectly when very young, but comprehended it in a very wide sense, as he used to so suspose everything he wanted and then shew me Rivers, Hills, Armies, Navies and whatever occupied his mind in any subject he happened to be occupied with. He frequently said Stories were suspose or real stories. Fictitious personage or beings he distinguished in the same way.

But to return to Caroline. A friend of mind gave her a little work bag, but missing it shortly she reproached [her] with having lost it. Caroline defended herself by saying the bag was only playing hide and go seek. The Lady answered “it is hid -- but I see no one seeking.” "Oh, I am going to seek." She was just three years old, and the following month a very respectable young woman was engaged to take charge of them in the station of Nursery Governess. The morning after her arrival Caroline asked her "what are you? You are not maid and you are not a Lady. What are you? You are a Lady-maid I suspose;" and a few days ago her Sister had kept her hands longer than I thought right in cold water. I desired her to take them out as the cold water might chill them. Car told me it was not cold. I maintained it was, but she rejoined "to be sure not, Sister's hands were warm and they must have made the water warm this long-time.”

In August 1814 another little girl was added to the family, for whom they all showed the kindest affection, though John wished she had been a boy, as he wanted a playfellow -- girls were "such timid things." And Anna expressed some regret that Mama had another little girl, as it could not be expected she said "that she could have three little girls as well as one little boy." But she doted on the baby, and would sit motionless for any time if she could be allowed to have the infant across her knees. Nothing could exceed her consideration and attention to her during a long decline - which deprived us of a most lovely infant in the seventh month of her age - nor her anxiety about her future welfare. Only about a week ago, June 1816, Johnny and she came to me, in some uneasiness, to be informed what became of our souls immediately after Death, as they had heard someone speaking of the last Judgement, which gave them great anxiety about her fate. Till then they had always thought, as they were told, that she was gone to God Almighty. Caroline frequently mentions "poor little Louisa Katherine."

I shall conclude the first part of my nursery chronicle by a short account of the progress made in the different branches of education. The two eldest read and write well, and are very fond of both. John has a great thirst for information, but does not particularly love learning the things usually called lessons. Some trouble was requisite to teach him to read, and some afterwards in his acquiring daily a few words to spell by heart. I therefore left this off, and made it a practice to ask him some words out of the book he had been reading. This turned his attention to the orthography of the words, and neither he nor Anna have for a long time learnt nor required to learn a Spelling lesson. They can both parse any common sentence with ease in French or English. They have seldom learnt out of either grammar by heart, but have had the rules pointed out as they read or spoke, or occasionally read or learnt a little passage out of Mrs. Lovechild's books - always taking care to make them apply any rule they acquired - but with grammar we have found no difficulty.

John does sums in the first four and Anna in the first two rules of arithmetic, with ease. They both read and translate French and English well, and English into French a little tolerably, and at their own particular request. John does exercises on the noun articles or verbs very well. The French verbs they are well acquainted with - no masters have been employed, but once for about two months - and very little time spent in gaining these acquirements. "Short, easy, frequent and perfect lessons – Dr. Bell’s excellent receipt for instruction we have never found fail. John, as a great favor, reads to me sometimes a very short passage out of the Newtonian Philosophy by Tom Telescope, or the first volume of the Scientific Dialogues; and has acquired a very correct idea of the nature of Matter and some of the laws of motion. When all his little business is over I am generally asked "shall we have time today to write out some of the Angles?” He has written out very well a few very short geometrical definitions, and made some angles etc very neatly.

I know but very little on these last two subjects, but consider this last as a necessary preparation to the proper acquirement of Geography, of which he knows only the form and lines of the Globe, and what he has acquired from the Geographical Companion to Mrs. Trimmer’s Histories. His small stock of Historical knowledge has been acquired from these excellent little books, in which he takes much delight -- but this has been an object of instruction only as connected with the knowledge of their religion. We began by her “Sacred History” and when we advanced so far as to the giving the Commandments to Moses, we began to learn the Commandments -- and did not attempt the first part of the Church Catechism till we had read the institution of Baptism in the History of the New Testament. Before this, however, they went through Mrs. Trimmer’s Ancient History, and they were made acquainted with the names and order of the four empires -- as I thought, Johnny would be distracted by constant enquiries about -- who were the Romans, etc?

As soon as we came to Augustus Caesar, we proceeded in the new Testament -- all however at first in the Old Short edition of Mrs. Trimmer’s Histories, as I would not burden their memories with more than an outline of History, but this I wished to be perfectly traced in their memories. They have since gone through the last edition of Mrs. Trimmer’s Histories, and he is looking forward with much pleasure to reading the English History (as soon as he has concluded the Roman which he has not yet regularly done, but in which he takes the deepest interest). The Roman History has afforded him great delight. He began his latin grammar with his father at seven years old, about two months ago.

Anna knows her gamut etc, and can play a few trifling things, and this even she has learnt with pleasure, but she really loves the art of learning. John only loves having the knowledge, which however he is now fully sensible he must work to acquire. May he continue to think so, or his good abilities will be useless. He dances a little -- Anna dances well. I could have advanced their education much further, but I did not wish it, they are never long at a time employed -- an hour, till lately in the course of the day, and now John about an hour and a half, we find quite time enough, - and that never at once, but with long intervals of recreation, and always yielding to the uncertainties of our climate, so as to insure of their being much in the air at all seasons. Indeed for this reason they have never yet had any regular hours for lessons.

Caroline's progress is easily told, not yet amounting to the art of reading; she is likely to acquire this later than either of them. John read well at four years old and Anna at three. She (Caroline) says they liked learning, but she thinks five years old time enough. She will however I hope change her mind, and profit by their good example before that great age creeps upon her.

This was written at intervals from June 11th 1815 to June 13th 1816, when John completed his seventh year.

Tessa Kennedy wrote, 25 January 2008: "I used to think Glan Ogwr was the name of a hamlet outside Coity but now I believe it is the name of a house. Coity was a significant centre of population before the coming of the railway and Bridgend station was built. In 1824 Coity National School was built with the support of 'the gentlemen of the neighbourhood'. Perhaps Rev John Harding was one of them.".
  • 1 SEP 1776 - Birth -
  • 18 NOV 1857 - Death - ; Glan Ogwr, Lower Coity, Glamorganshire
  • 1781 - Fact -
Anna Maria Willoughby
1 SEP 1776 - 18 NOV 1857
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) ? Willoughby
Marriageto ?
Marriageto ? Willoughby
Marriageto ? Savage
FAnna Maria Willoughby
Birth1 SEP 1776
Death18 NOV 1857Glan Ogwr, Lower Coity, Glamorganshire
Marriage1 SEP 1808to John Harding , MA, Rev at St. Georges, Dublin, Ireland
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) John Harding , MA, Rev
Birth5 MAY 1779
Death10 MAY 1861 Glan Ogwr House in the Parish of Coity in the County of Glamorgan
Marriage1 SEP 1808to Anna Maria Willoughby at St. Georges, Dublin, Ireland
FatherJohn Harding , (3)
MotherFrances Probyn
PARENT (F) Anna Maria Willoughby
Birth1 SEP 1776
Death18 NOV 1857 Glan Ogwr, Lower Coity, Glamorganshire
Marriage1 SEP 1808to John Harding , MA, Rev at St. Georges, Dublin, Ireland
Father? Willoughby
FCaroline Emily Harding
Birth22 OCT 1812Rockfield, Monmouthshire, christened at Dunraven Castle December 1814
Death12 JAN 1901Abbotsham, Devonshire.
Marriage20 DEC 1837to Allan Maclean Skinner , Q.C. at Nolton Chapel, Bridgend, Glamorganshire
MJohn Dorney Harding , Kt.
Birth13 JUN 1809
Death24 NOV 1868Rockfield
Marriageto Isabella Wyld
FAnna Elizabeth Harding
Birth14 OCT 1810
Death25 AUG 1826
MWyndham Harding , F.R.S.
Birth9 AUG 1817
Death1 APR 1855Rockfield
Marriageto Eleanor Bayly
Picture Gallery
[S5592] Pedigree of Hardings, handwritten (source unknown)
[S33465] Tessa Kennedy, descendant of JEH Skinner, by email etc 22 March 2006 & after; including info on historical figures compiled by Hilary John Bickford-Smith as shown in her copy of the Skinner 'Great Pedigree'.
Descendancy Chart
Anna Maria Willoughby b: 1 SEP 1776 d: 18 NOV 1857
John Harding , MA, Rev b: 5 MAY 1779 d: 10 MAY 1861
Caroline Emily Harding b: 22 OCT 1812 d: 12 JAN 1901
Allan Maclean Skinner , Q.C. b: 14 JUL 1809 d: 23 MAY 1885
Euphemia Isabella Skinner b: 7 JUN 1847 d: 10 SEP 1939
Holroyd Chaplin b: 17 MAR 1840 d: 23 DEC 1917
Irene Kate Chaplin b: 1 MAR 1873 d: 22 JUN 1962
John William Ernest Pearce b: 4 APR 1864 d: 25 JAN 1951
Edward Holroyd Pearce , Lord b: 9 FEB 1901 d: 27 NOV 1990
Erica Priestman b: 1906 d: DEC 1985
Richard Bruce Holroyd Pearce b: 12 MAY 1930 d: 1987
James Edward Holroyd Pearce b: 18 MAR 1934 d: 11 JUN 1985
Phyllis Margaret Pearce b: 8 FEB 1910 d: 6 JUN 1973
Edward Douglas Eade b: 7 FEB 1911 d: 24 DEC 1984
John Allan Chaplin Pearce b: 21 OCT 1912 d: 15 SEP 2006
Helen Nugent Pearce b: 22 NOV 1917 d: 6 APR 1920
Effie Irene Pearce b: 18 AUG 1899 d: 26 JAN 1996
Raymond Ray-Jones b: 31 AUG 1886 d: 26 FEB 1942
Holroyd Anthony Ray-Jones b: 7 JUN 1941 d: 13 MAR 1972
Allan Nugent Chaplin b: 8 JUN 1871 d: 1917
Son Chaplin b: 29 NOV 1900 d: ABT 29 NOV 1900
Matilda Effie Chaplin b: 20 JUN 1874 d: 20 DEC 1874
Phyllis Chaplin b: 7 JUN 1879 d: 27 JUL 1924
Philip Herbert Cowell b: 1870 d: 1949
Theodoric Chaplin b: 14 FEB 1881 d: 29 OCT 1906
Daphne Grace Chaplin b: 6 SEP 1884 d: 16 FEB 1964
Daphne Grace Chaplin b: 6 SEP 1884 d: 16 FEB 1964
Cecil Arbuthnot Gould b: 1883 d: 1917
John Edwin Hilary Skinner b: 11 JAN 1839 d: 20 NOV 1894
Louisa Sarah Chaplin b: 23 APR 1838 d: 9 JUL 1897
John Allan Cleveland Skinner b: 19 SEP 1865 d: 8 SEP 1925
Hilary Francis Cleveland Skinner b: 10 OCT 1889 d: 25 JUL 1916
John Adrian Dudley Skinner b: 2 SEP 1891 d: 30 MAY 1965
Bruce Allan Maclean Skinner b: 29 AUG 1927 d: 2002
Caroline Louisa Marianne Skinner b: 22 FEB 1873 d: 20 JUN 1936
Roandeu Albert Henry Bickford-Smith b: 3 MAY 1859 d: 13 DEC 1916
William Nugent Venning Bickford-Smith b: 14 MAY 1892 d: 3 SEP 1975
Amy Evelyn Holme b: 6 SEP 1906 d: 21 JUL 1979
Leslie Evelyn Bickford-Smith b: 1928 d: 1990
Leonard James Jacob b: 1928 d: 1989
John Allan Bickford-Smith b: 23 APR 1895 d: 8 MAY 1970
Joan Angel Allsebrook Simon b: 8 AUG 1901 d: 13 APR 1991
Norman Kennedy d: 1926
Hilary John Bickford-Smith Cdr RN b: 8 FEB 1926 d: 25 MAY 1988
Aubrey Louis Bickford-Smith b: 4 FEB 1902 d: 9 JUL 1975
Roger Bickford-Smith b: 1939 d: 1997
Clifton Wyndham Hilary Skinner , R.F.A. b: 26 MAR 1880 d: 17 FEB 1908
Caroline Rachel Skinner b: 14 JUL 1840
Anna Cordelia Skinner b: 14 JUL 1840
Parkes Willy , Rev b: ABT 1827
Bertie Willy b: 1870
Alexander Cavendish Willy b: 19 JUL 1864
Marion Caroline Willy b: 7 APR 1866
Ada Arabella Willy b: 15 NOV 1869
Catherine Anna Willy b: 15 NOV 1869 d: 16 NOV 1869
Florance Marion Skinner b: 13 AUG 1842 d: 12 APR 1918
Walter Holden Steward b: 1832 d: 1913
Henry Allan Holden Steward b: 18 MAY 1865
Georgiana Rosalind Steward b: 15 JUL 1896
Florance May Steward b: 10 SEP 1866 d: 29 MAR 1917
Lilian Grace Caroline Steward b: 7 APR 1870 d: 1940
Adolfo Arturo Burlamacchi b: 18 FEB 1869 d: 7 JUN 1905
Francesco Adolfo Gualtiero Burlamacchi b: 25 OCT 1892 d: 1939
Maria Fede Burlamacchi b: 25 OCT 1892
Gualtiero Arturo Burlamacchi , Marchese b: 4 OCT 1896 d: 12 SEP 1947
Giulia Bevilacqua b: 1902 d: 1990
Adolfo Burlamacchi b: DEC 1925 d: 1933
Maurizio Burlamacchi b: 14 MAY 1930 d: November 2016
Gualtiero Burlamacchi b: 11 MAR 1954 d: 1957
Gwendoline Maud Catherine Steward b: 3 APR 1871 d: 1956
Gerio Massimiliano Strozzi b: 29 JAN 1898 d: 5 APR 1976
Uberto Georgio Alessandro Strozzi b: 4 JAN 1900 d: 13 NOV 1982
Katherine Louisa Skinner b: 17 OCT 1843 d: 1920
Ashley George Westby b: ABT 1835
Mary Florance Westby b: 2 NOV 1877
Ashley Thomas Westby , R.N.R. b: 21 JUL 1879 d: 14 JAN 1900
Wilfred George Westby b: 5 MAY 1881
Edwin John Westby b: 21 JAN 1883
Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir b: 6 JAN 1916 d: 10 FEB 1999
Edwin Noel Westby Bramall b: 18 DEC 1923 d: 12 NOV 2019
Maud Elizabeth Skinner b: 25 OCT 1844 d: 24 JUN 1904
Allan Chaplin , Col b: 20 JUN 1844 d: 19 AUG 1910
Wyndham Allan Chaplin , Mus. Bac. Oxon., Rev b: 12 NOV 1872 d: 29 AUG 1914
Evelyn Dorothea Williamson b: 1873 d: 1945
Mabel Florance Ida Chaplin b: 7 OCT 1875 d: 1970
Charles Nugent Hope-Wallace b: 3 FEB 1877 d: 15 OCT 1953
Philip Hope-Wallace b: NOV 1911 d: 1979
Nina Mary Hope-Wallace b: 14 DEC 1905 d: 1995
BART, Sir Edward O Hoare b: 29 APR 1898 d: 1969
Maud Dorothea Fanny Chaplin b: 23 JUL 1880 d: 6 NOV 1899
Allan Maclean Skinner , C.M.G. b: 20 MAR 1846 d: 14 JUN 1901
John Harding Skinner b: 16 SEP 1876
Caroline Emily Skinner b: 8 SEP 1877
? T Isaac Boggis b: 16 JUN 1908
Cecilia F E Boggis b: 26 OCT 1910
Alan T Boggis b: 18 NOV 1912 d: 1973
Clifton Maclean Skinner b: 19 FEB 1879 d: 20 NOV 1918
Allan Leonard Dorney Skinner b: 2 NOV 1880 d: 1961
Ellen Florance Skinner b: 13 JUL 1884
William Shelford Skinner b: 19 DEC 1886
Mildred Skinner b: 10 SEP 1890
John Dorney Harding , Kt. b: 13 JUN 1809 d: 24 NOV 1868
Isabella Wyld d: 28 NOV 1888
Anna Elizabeth Harding b: 14 OCT 1810 d: 25 AUG 1826
Wyndham Harding , F.R.S. b: 9 AUG 1817 d: 1 APR 1855
Eleanor Bayly d: 11 MAY 1898
John Harding b: 23 SEP 1851 d: 29 APR 1890
Wyndham John Dorney Harding b: 29 SEP 1877
Isabella Caroline Harding b: 14 FEB 1854 d: 9 JAN 1902
Arthur Wyndham Carter b: 9 APR 1890
Eleanor Isabel Carter b: 15 AUG 1891