Mansfield Park and the Victoria Cross
In this post I am exploring the provenance of the Groombridge Illustrated edition of Mansfield Park that I discussed in my last post, Price and Provenance 10. The book cover is shown below, with its engraved title page and frontispiece (Figure 1.)
My copy of this rare book has a hand-written dedication on the verso of the free front end paper. It is shown in Figure 2 below. It reads To | Lillie Bazley |With Emily’s love | July 1st 1876.
As a starting point, I searched on Ancestry.com for a Lillie Bazley whose birthday was 1st July, and who had been born between 1840 and 1860 in England. This search found a preexisting tree which contained an Elizabeth Mary (Lillie) Bazley born on 1st July 1857 in Eccles in Lancashire. Presumably Lillie had been a family nickname. On closer examination of that preexisting family tree, I was interested to see that Elizabeth Mary (Lillie) Bazley had married a military hero, General Sir Edward Pemberton Leach, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.V.O. Lillie Bazley was a member of a fairly distinguished family in her own right, as her father, Sir Thomas Sebastian Bazley, 2nd Baronet, was part of the minor nobility. I spent a few hours researching this family, and I have summarised my findings below. I have taken advantage of the fact that when a book is associated with a notable family, there is generally no shortage of available information about them.
The origins of the Bazley family
Elizabeth Mary (Lillie) Bazley, whom I shall call Lillie for short, was born on 1st July 1857 in Eccles, Lancashire to Thomas Sebastian Bazley (1829-1919) and Elizabeth Gardner (1828- 1890). At the time of her birth, her father had not yet inherited the baronetcy, so he was not yet Sir Thomas. His father, Sir Thomas Bazley, M.P. (1797-1885), Lillie’s grandfather, had been created the 1st Baronet Bazley of Hatherop in Gloucestershire, in 1869, on the advice of the Prime Minister William Gladstone, mainly for his services to the cotton industry. Sir Thomas had been born at Gilnow, near Bolton in Lancashire, the son of a sucessful cotton mill owner, another Thomas Bazley (1744-1845). In 1826 Sir Thomas had formed a partnership with another Lancastrian industrialist, Robert Gardner (1781-1866). Between them they took over a number of cotton mills in Lancashire, and developed the Barrow Bridge mill in Halliwell, which became famous as a model mill, and was the largest producer of fine cotton and lace in the world. On 1st November 1855, Robert Gardner’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Sebastian Bazley, the only son of Sir Thomas the 1st Baronet. Their first child was Lillie Bazley, the owner of my Mansfield Park.
Sir Thomas Bazley, who was named the 1st Baronet of Hatherop, after an estate that the family had purchased in Gloucestershire in 1867, had become sufficiently well known by 1875 that he was the subject of a Vanity Fair caricature by “Ape”, Carlo Pelligrini. The caricature is shown below in Figure 3, next to the more ordinary photograph of his erstwhile partner Robert Gardner. These two men are the grandfathers of Lillie Bazley.
Lillie Bazley was the first-born child of Thomas Sebastian Bazley and Elizabeth Gardner. She eventually had five other siblings:
- Annie Caroline Bazley, born in 1862
- Gardner Sebastian Bazley, born in 1863
- Frances Annette Ellen Bazley, born in 1866
- Jessie Marion Atkinson Bazley, born in 1868
- Lucy Maud Mary Bazley, born in 1869
I have found this picture of the family, which is said to be from about 1900. I do not know exactly who the four ladies are. If the picture is from around 1900, my guess would be that the picture shows Sir Thomas Sebastian Bazley and his four daughters. Alternatively it could show Sir Thomas Sebastian and Lady Bazley with their three unmarried younger daughters. For this to be true, the picture must have been taken no later than 1890, when Lady Bazley died. I suspect that Lillie would not then have been in such a family picture, as she had married in 1883, the only one of the four sisters to marry before the death of Lady Bazley. The style of dress, the informality of the outdoor setting and the quality of the photograph suggest an Edwardian photograph rather than a late Victorian one. This makes me confident that one of these four ladies will be Lillie Bazley.
The Bazley Baronetcy
When Sir Thomas Bazley, the 1st Baronet, died in 1885, the title passed to his only son who then became Sir Thomas Sebastian Bazley, the 2nd Baronet Bazley of Hatherop. Sadly, Lillie’s brother, Gardner Sebastian Bazley, died in 1911, eight years before his father, the 2nd Baronet, so it was his son who eventually became Sir Thomas Stafford Bazley, the 3rd Baronet of Hatherop, in 1919 at the age of 12. The title is currently held by Sir Thomas Stafford Bazley’s eldest son, Sir Thomas John Sebastian Bazley, who became the 4th Baronet in 1997. Figure 5 below shows Lillie’s brother Gardner Sebastian Bazley as a young man, and his son Thomas Stafford Bazley as a boy.
The family seat, Hatherop Castle, had been purchased by the Bazley family in 1867.After the Second World War it was first leased and then sold, along with its surrounding estates, as the family wanted to see the property survive intact. It currently operates as a private school, and is shown below. Lillie Bazley is known to have lived here during several periods of her life.
Edward Pemberton Leach (1847-1913)
On 31st January 1883 Lillie Bazley married the then Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Pemberton Leach, VC, at Hatherop. Edward Pemberton Leach was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on 2nd April 1847. After finishing his education at Highgate School in London and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, , he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1866, the same regiment as his father, Sir George Archibald Leach (1820-1913). He was sent out to India in 1868, and in 1879, as a 31 year old captain in the Royal Engineers attached to the Bengal Sappers and Miners of the British Indian Army, he fought in the Second Afghan War, in which on 17th March 1879 he won a Victoria Cross. This event earned him a return to England to recuperate from his wounds and to receive his Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 9th December 1879. He returned to active service in India, and gained rapid promotion, so that less than four years later, when he returned to England to marry he was already a Lieutenant-Colonel. He later saw active service in Egypt and Sudan, before returning to senior commands in the UK. Other promotions followed and he was knighted in 1909 by King Edward VII. Lillie Bazley had now become Lady Leach.
Sir George Archibald Leach had a career in the public service after the army, and so was in the public eye, becoming the subject of a Vanity Fair caricature by FTD in 1896. Figure 6 below shows the caricature, and a photograph of his son Edward Pemberton Leach, V.C. around the time of his marriage.
Bazley-Leach marriage and beyond.
Lillie Bazley and Edward Pemberton Leach had three children. They were:
- Lilian Vera Pemberton Leach born on 15 November 1883 at Hatherop Castle
- Gordon Pemberton Leach, born on 2nd Aug 1885 at Hatherop Castle
- Elsie Pemberton Leach, born in 30th June 1888 at Plymouth, Devon.
After their marriage in January 1883, Edward Leach served overseas on several occasions before his final return to the UK in 1887. The family lived in Plymouth until the mid 1890s, when Edward was promoted to Major-General and then appointed to a senior command in Northern Ireland, where the family lived in Antrim from about 1898 to 1905. Their son, Gordon Pemberton Leach, was at boarding school from around 1900 and joined the army in 1905. The rest of the family moved to Scotland later in 1905 when Edward was appointed to be the General Officer Commanding for the Scottish Command, remaining in that post until 1909. Lillie and Edward then returned to London where they lived until Edward’s retirement.
Edward Leach eventually retired from the army in 1912 as General Sir Edward Pemberton Leach, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.V.O. Sadly, he died on 27th April 1913 at Caddenabbia on Lake Como in Italy, where he and Lillie had decided to live following his retirement. He died just six weeks before his father, Sir George Archibald Leach, in June 1913. After her husband’s death, Lillie returned to England and was living at 29 Palace Gate, London W8.
Her son, Gordon Pemberton Leach, had risen to the rank of Captain in the Royal Field Artillery by the start of World War One. He was killed in action on 19th August 1915 at Hellas in Gallipoli, and is buried there at the Pink Farm military cemetery. Neither of Lillie’s daughters married, and the youngest, Elsie, lived with her mother, until Lillie Bazley, as Lady Elizabeth Leach, died in Bournemouth in Hampshire on 9th January 1940.
After her mother’s death, Elsie Leach became quite a famous ornithologist in her later years. She eventually died in Kensington in 1968. Lilian Vera Leach lived in mostly London,where she too died in Kensington in 1973. None of the three children of Elizabeth Mary (Lillie) Bazley married or had children.
Who gave Mansfield Park to Lillie Bazley?
The inscription shown in Figure 2 reads To | Lillie Bazley |With Emily’s love | July 1st 1876. We know that the Groombridge Mansfield Park was published in October 1875, so who was the Emily who gave the book to Lillie for her 19th birthday?
I will never be able to prove this, but I do have a possible theory. I think that the answer can be found on the census document for the Bazley family from April 1871, where the 13 year old Lillie Bazley is reported to be living with her family in the Alexander Hotel in Knightsbridge, London. Among their servants is a 24 year old Under-Nurse called Emily Westmacott from Leckhampton, Gloucestershire. Her job would have been to look after the children. In the April 1881 census, the Bazley family is living back at Hatherop Castle in Gloucestershire, but Emily Westmacott is no longer with the family. In fact, there are no nurses listed among the servants, as the children are all older now. There is instead a “Resident Governess” and a “Young Ladies Maid”.
On 7th October 1975, Emily Westmacott had married Charles Cornock at St. Luke’s Church, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, and by April 1881, she and Charles were living in Leckhampton in Gloucestershire with their three young children. One can presume that in the 1870s, the Bazley family would have moved back and forth between London and Hatherop, following the social customs of the day. In July 1st 1876, Emily would probably have already have been living in Leckhampton, which is within 15 km of Hatherop. She could have bought Mansfield Park in nearby Cheltenham, where there were several bookshops in the 1870s, and sent the book from Leckhampton to Hatherop by post or by coach. We don’t know how long Emily worked for the Bazley family, but the informal tone of the inscription suggests to me the sort of close relationship that a dedicated nursemaid may well have developed with one of the children in her care.
I have no information on when or how the Groombridge Mansfield Park left the possession of the Bazley-Leach family. Lillie may have passed the book on to one of her two daughters, or to one of her surviving siblings or their families. There are no other ownership marks or inscriptions to give me any clues. I bought the book quite recently from an English book dealer who specialises in old and unusual editions of Jane Austen.