Album of Laetitia Clephane

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Album belonging to Laetitia Clephane. The album is bound in red leather and inscribed on the front with her name and on the reverse "Sacred to Friendship and Memory". It has a matching sleeve case which is also inscribed with her name and the date "March 1st 1805", although it seems that the 5 was once a 0 giving the date 1800. 1805 predates Laetitia's marriage so presumably her married name was inscribed at a later date.

The album includes verses and poems, some are by well-known poets such as Byron or Cowper but the majority seem to be penned by Letitia or her friends and refer to current affairs, noted figures, and themes of love and friendship. The album also includes artworks including watercolours, pen and wash drawings and pencil sketches. These are often signed by women again implying that they are by Laetitia's friends. Subjects include a woman and dog seated by a lake, a girl huddled against a cold wind, Cupid attended by doves, studies of flowers and butterflies, a green grocer with baskets of wares, ships and sea and in a bay, a boy on ice skates, and Jupiter in the form of an eagle with his cup-bearer, although the cup-bearer is a woman. The album also includes pasted-in engravings or prints of notable buildings or townscapes, riddles and jokes, religious mottos and Biblical quotes, and fashion plates. One poem mocks Napoleon's flight from Russia while other pages includes the pasted-in signatures of Admiral Lord Nelson and William Pitt with celebratory verses.

Administrative / Biographical History

Laetitia Bold was born around 1778, the daughter of Jonas Bold of Liverpool, a noted slave trader, sugar merchant and banker, who was Mayor of Liverpool in 1802. Bold Street in Liverpool is named for him. She married David Clephane in January 1806. David was a Brigadier-General (retired 1808) and also the Member of Parliament for Kinross-shire from 1803-1806 and 1807-1811. He died around 1828. Laetitia and David had 2 children, George, born around 1808 and Laetitia, born around 1810. Laetitia appears as living with George and Laetitia in the 1851 Census, aged 74, but does not appear in the 1861 Census implying that she died some time between 1851 and 1861. George and Laetitia are noted in further censuses living together, neither seems to have had children.

The front cover of the volume is inscribed "Laetitia Clephane" and internal evidence suggests a connection to this particular Laetitia Clephane - the dates are correct, and the album includes a poem "To Mrs Douglas Maclean Clephane" by "Lady N". "Lady N" was Margaret Compton, wife of the 2nd Marquess of Northampton, daughter of Major General William Douglas Maclean Clephane who was David Clephane's elder brother. Lady Northampton was therefore Laetitia's niece. She moved in literary circles - a good friend and correspondent of Sir Walter Scott - and some of her poems were published after her death. Her sister Anna was a noted writer of hymns.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for general access. External researchers are advised to make an appointment with the Archivist.

Acquisition Information

The sum "£15" is noted on the front inside cover of the album implying it was purchased. It is stamped City of Leicester Polytechnic Art Library and may have been purchased for the sketches and watercolours in the album. There was a prominent Leicester family by the name of Clephan with a close association to the School of Art and it may also have been purchased on the assumption that there was a family connection.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Katharine Short, Archivist, April 2013.

Related Material

Liverpool Record Office holds papers of the Bold family, reference 920 BOL.