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Volume XXXVI Cover

Volume XXXVI, The Third Earl Cowper and his Florentine Household, 1760–90, edited by Philip Sheail

George Nassau Clavering-Cowper left England in January 1757 to undertake his Grand Tour of Europe. Styled Viscount Fordwich, he was 18 years old and heir to an earldom. All went well till the summer of 1759 when he arrived in Florence and fell passionately in love with a beautiful Florentine lady. He declined to return home at the end of his tour, but instead headed back to Florence and was still living there when he succeeded to the earldom in 1764. By then he was thoroughly embedded in the cultural and social life of Florence and, apart from one short visit to England in 1786, he remained in Italy until his death in 1789. A translation of the journal describing his Grand Tour, written by his Swiss tutor, has been published as vol. XXXI, Lord Fordwich’s Grand Tour 1756–60.

Also surviving are his stewards’ journal accounts, which record household expenses for the whole period from 1760-90. From these accounts it is possible to obtain a record of household expenditure, to break down the overall figure into different categories, to identify the growth in the size of the household over the years and to track the different properties in which the earl resided. Another important record in his archive is the summary household accounts, which commence in 1779, a time when the earl’s affairs had become somewhat chaotic and he had been obliged to call upon the services of a wealthy merchant friend, Antonio Menchi, to help him rectify the situation. Menchi’s reports contain valuable information not only on the state of the household at that time but also on how such a household was run. Further information on the nature of the household is contained in an inventory of the earl’s effects taken at the time of his death in December 1789.

This information has been brought together in vol. XXXVI. As the amount of material contained in 30 years’ worth of records is immense, especially in the stewards’ journal accounts, the volume contains transcripts from these accounts for just 7 sample years, beginning in 1760 and then at 5-yearly intervals up to 1789. It also contains key extracts from the summary household accounts and a complete transcript of the inventory of the earl’s effects. The Introduction comprises an account of the earl’s life, taken from the published sources and from some of the collections of correspondence in the Panshanger archive, and an overview of the earl’s financial and household affairs, as revealed in the household accounts.

Volume XXXVI is a substantial piece of work and so it has been necessary to divide it into two books to make its publication and distribution more manageable.

This is the Hertfordshire Record Society’s volume for 2020/21.

  • Edited and with an Introduction by Philip Sheail, translations by Philip Sheail, Sheila White and Maria Porter
  • Part 1 & Part 2: x+614pp
  • 27 illustrations, 4 maps, plus illustrated jackets
  • ISBN for Part 1: 978-0-9565111-6-4
  • ISBN for Part 2: 978-0-9565111-8-8
  • ISBN for 2-part set : 978-0-9565111-9-5

(+£4 p&p)

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