Sir Joseph Banks’ fishing trips in Lincolnshire

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt by Joshua Reynolds
Sir Joseph Banks, Bt by Joshua Reynolds; National Portrait Gallery, London

Just in case you weren’t aware of Sir Joseph Banks, he was born in London, but when he was 21 he inherited the impressive estate of Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire from his father.  After leaving university, minus a degree, he became a renowned British naturalist, patron of the natural sciences, travelling the globe, ultimately he became president of the Royal Society from 1778 until his death in 1820.

Weighing the fish after a haul. The tall gentleman in the foreground of the people is Sir Joseph Banks with a net full of fish. Boston Stump in the background. Yale Center for British Art.
Weighing the fish after a haul. The tall gentleman in the foreground of the people is Sir Joseph Banks with a net full of fish. Boston Stump in the background. Yale Center for British Art.

In March 1779, Banks finally settled down and married Dorothea Hugessen. The couple spent most of their time in  London, however, each autumn they made a trip back to Banks’ ancestral Lincolnshire.

Cookery near Langrick Ferry, Lincolnshire. Yale Centre for British Art
Cookery near Langrick Ferry. Yale Centre for British Art

During these visits, apart from numerous other things that he had to attend to on his estate, Banks, his wife Dorothea and his younger sister, Sarah Sophia, who lived with them, made several fishing trips to survey the fish in the river Witham.

A page from the journal detailing Sir Joseph Banks' fishing trip in Lincolnshire. Yale Center for British Art
A page from the journal showing that they set off from Kyme Eau at 9.15.  Yale Center for British Art

A record of these trips was brought to my attention so, naturally, I had to find out more. A copy of the book itself is available via the Yale Centre for British Art, ‘Sir Joseph Banks’s fishery book of the River Witham in Lincolnshire, 1784-1800’.

The book itself contains records of the number of fish in the river along with their measurements, which unless you’re interested in fishing it isn’t terribly exciting, but it also contains information about the weather and any unusual events, such as the eclipse of 5th September 1795.

Pike

Sadly, there’s only enough space here, to include some of the sketches in this post, so for more information, I would recommend checking out the book itself on the Yale website (it has been scanned page by page, so it’s not the easiest of books to navigate, so a little patience is required).

The windmills at Chapel Hill, Lincolnshire. Yale Center for British Art.
The windmills at Chapel Hill. Yale Center for British Art.

By far the most fascinating aspect of this book are the sketches, although I doubt they were meant for public viewing, but simply a reminder and a way of describing their trip to friends and family – very much the way we do today with our mobile phones and cameras, but for historians, they provide a fascinating snapshot of life during that period.

T. Wilsons house, near the Witham, Lincolnshire taken during an eclipse of the sun. You can just make the woman looking up towards the sky. Yale Centre for British Art
T. Wilsons house, near the Witham, taken during an eclipse of the sun. You can just make the woman looking up towards the sky. Yale Centre for British Art

On their travels, they took along a large number of friends who ate with them on the river bank or on the boat. Note the canopy in this next image, which was used to shelter under when it rained, which it often did!

Going to dinner near Coppin Sike (Copping Syke, Lincolnshire). Yale Centre for British Art. Note the formality of the occasion, the lady, quite possibly Lady Banks, on the right being escorted onto the boat.
Going to dinner near Coppin Sike (Copping Syke). Yale Centre for British Art. Note the formality of the occasion, the lady, quite possibly Lady Banks, on the right being escorted onto the boat.

They also took along some ‘would be’ artists who drew sketches along the route they were travelling, which ran from the Kyme Eau, which runs through the centre of the tiny village of South Kyme, and is a few miles from the town of Sleaford), when it became the Witham, for a distance of around 15 miles through neighbouring villages of Dogdyke, Langrick Bridge, Anton’s Gowt until it reached the outskirts of the port of Boston.

The Kyme Eau, at South Kyme, Lincolnshire as it looks today meandering through the countryside to where it joins the Witham at Chapel Hill. ©Sarah Murden
The Kyme Eau, at South Kyme, as it looks today meandering through the countryside to where it joins the Witham at Chapel Hill. ©Sarah Murden

A scramble for fish. Yale Centre for British Art
A scramble for fish. Yale Centre for British Art

The book contains sketches of the routes taken on each occasion plus 26 colour illustrations of places and people.

One name kept recurring in the sketches, ‘Eno’s House’. At first, I thought perhaps it was a reference to an acquaintance until I tracked it down to being the name of the landlord, Edward Eno, who, with his wife Rosamond, was the landlord of The Monson Arms, near Anton’s Gowt, on the bank of the river. His son, Hildred Eno, took over as the landlord in the 1850s. The pub no longer exists as such, but there is a house on the bank of the river which could just possibly be it.

Eno's house on Frith Bank. Yale Centre for British Art
Eno’s House on Frith Bank. Yale Centre for British Art

Frith Bank, Lincolnshire.
Frith Bank, Lincolnshire. Google Maps

The book is well worth taking a look at to give you an idea of how rural Lincolnshire looked back in the late 1700s.

List of pictures and their respective artist from the journal of Sir Joseph Banks' fishing trip in Lincolnshire.
List of pictures and their respective artist

Featured Image

Tattershall from the Witham September 1794

Hay Harvest at Stamford, Lincolnshire Nathan Fielding (1747–c.1814)

How George III’s Golden Jubilee, 1809, was celebrated in Lincolnshire

Following on from our previous post, the heroine of our new book, A Georgian Heroine, was a Mrs Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, and one of the many fascinating things she achieved in her life was that she virtually single-handedly and anonymously instigated the national celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of King George III which took place on 25th October 1809, the beginning of his 50th year on the throne. This was something which she was immensely proud of, but for which until now, she has remained largely unknown for. To find out more about this achievement you will need to read our book. The event was celebrated across the country and with this in mind, we thought we would take a look at how some parts of just one county celebrated –  Lincolnshire.

These examples are just a few that were typical of events held throughout Lincolnshire, with the exception of one town; according to a local newspaper

the good people of Gainsboro’, owing to the pressure of business forgot’!

Boston Church c.1821. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
Boston Church c.1821. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

In Boston, the bells were rung in the morning of the Jubilee itself and the vessels in the harbour displayed their colours and throughout the day fired their guns in succession. Twenty pounds worth of flour was given by a gentleman to the poor; a handsome subscription was also raised and distributed in ale. All ranks of people partook of the festivities throughout the day. A sumptuous dinner at the Town Hall was numerously attended, and the evening concluded with the largest bonfire ever witnessed in the town.

Folkingham held a ball and supper at the Greyhound Inn with dancing commencing at seven o’clock; Gentleman – ten shillings and 6 pence, Ladies – ten shillings.

Mr Booth regaled a few small tenants and his poor neighbours with beef and ale and their children with cake and tea at Hull bridge.

In the village of Little Ponton, near Grantham, Mrs Dorothy Pennyman regaled the whole of her tenantry with a handsome dinner in the true style of English hospitality; she also sent a plentiful supply of meat and beer to all the poor of the parish.

Louth by William Radclyffe. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
Louth by William Radclyffe. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

According to the Stamford Mercury of October 27th, 1809:

In Louth, an elegant transparency was exhibited at West-gate house, the seat of John Simpson Esq to commemorate the jubilee. In the centre of the piece is the figure of Justice, most correctly and classically painted: she seems to be pronouncing the words of the wise man, “by Justice King’s reign” – a fiery sword extended, denotes the entire destruction of his Majesty’s naval enemies; whilst where rich and poor at under the protection of wise and equal laws. The regalia in front of the transparency are evidently guarded by the sword of the Goddess, and the whole has a majestic and appropriate effect.

Market Deeping raised enough funds from the more opulent inhabitants in order that a donation of a pound of meat and a shilling loaf was delivered to every man in the parish who chose to accept it; and the like quantity of meat and bread and a pint of ale to every woman and child; and such a quantity of ale was allotted for free distribution in the evening, that two barrels remained over and above what could be consumed. A very pleasant and respectable ball took place at the New Inn, about 60 persons present; and the lodge of Odd Fellows in the town and the Post-office were illuminated.

The villagers of Pinchbeck, near Spalding, dined together at the Bull Inn owned by Mr Richard Sharman and regaled 50 poor people at the Bell, with roast beef and plum-pudding. The very musical peal of bells also gladdened the whole village throughout the day.

George III (1738-1820) by Edward Bird, c.1810-1815
George III (1738-1820) by Edward Bird, c.1810-1815; Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives.

The Jubilee was observed at Spalding with the demonstrations of loyalty for which that town was on all occasion truly conspicuous – a liberal contribution, amounting to £120 having been made two or three days before, the jubilee commenced with the early distribution of meat, a twelve-penny loaf, and a shilling, to every poor family in the town; by which upwards of 700 families were richly enabled to partake of the festivities of the day. At eleven o’clock the Yeomanry Cavalry, the principal inhabitants and the benefit societies of the town, preceded by bands of music, marched to the church where a sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr Johnson. God Save the King, with additions for the occasion, was sung by the congregation. After the service at church, the troop of cavalry fired a feu de joie in the marketplace. The cavalry then dined at the George Inn, where every delicacy of the season was provided. In the evening, there was a bonfire in the marketplace, with the firing of cannons, squibs and crackers. One gentleman (Mr Dawson, surgeon) prepared a small balloon for the occasion which went off in very good style.

Stamford c1819. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
Stamford c1819. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

A subscription of £130 was raised in the six parishes of Stamford which enabled the committee appointed for its distribution to give one shilling to every poor person (man, woman or child) who chose to accept it.

Featured Image:

Hay Harvest at Stamford by Nathan Fielding (Peterborough Museums)