The Literary Life of Thomas Pennant, etc.,

Scope and Content

A folio volume lettered on the spine 'Pennant's Literary Life', and containing transcripts or printed copies of miscellaneous compositions mainly by, or relating to, Thomas Pennant. The first and main item is a variant manuscript version (62 pp.) of The Literary Life of the Late Thomas Pennant, Esq., by himself (London, 1793), with printed title-page and advertisement inlaid. The text of this manuscript version is substantially the same as that of the published edition, with certain variations in wording and phrasing, and minor omissions or additions. Occasionally, however, the manuscript text contains passages which do not occur in the printed work, e.g., (a) the additional information (p. 41) relating to the author's pamphlet entitled American Annals . . ., viz., that some one hundred copies had been printed, and sent by post to members of parliament, and that 'the friends of the Howes endeavored all they could to suppress them, by borrowing them . . ., and never returning them again', (b) the comments (pp. 42-3) relating to the trial [1783-1784] of the Reverend- William [Davies] Shipley, dean of St. Asaph, for seditious libel, (c) references (pp. 46-7) to the critical review of the author's book on London [Of London (London, 1790)], which appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine [vol. 60, part 1, 1790], 'a paper too subservient to the malice of its principal manager, Mr. Richard Gough', and to the Dublin 'pirated edition', and the German translation of the said book, (d) the comments (pp. 49-50) on the financial difficulties of John Reinhold Forster [naturalist], during his stay in England, his lack of gratitude towards his benefactors, and his ultimate return to the continent, (e) the information (p. 56) that Thomas Roden of Denbigh, 'a most admirable binder, and so extremely elegant in his trade', had been responsible for binding the [manuscript] volumes of the author's Outlines of the Globe, which had already been written, etc. Other manuscript items, in the order in which they occur, intermixed with printed material, include a copy of a letter addressed by ? Thomas Pennant, under the pseudonym 'Laicus', to the editor of an unspecified newspaper, undated (comments on the acceptance into Holy Orders of persons totally unsuited to such a calling, occasioned by seeing a satirical print entitled 'The Church Militant', a copy of which is reproduced); an unsigned, draft copy of a letter, in the hand of Thomas Pennant [and possibly from Thomas Pennant, to Sir Roger Mostyn, 5th bart., of Mostyn, co. Flint, and Leighton, co. Chester], April 1784 (political differences between the writer and recipient) (inlaid); an incomplete, draft copy, in the hand of Thomas Pennant, of a request to the sheriff of co. Flint, to summon a meeting of the gentlemen, clergy, and freeholders of the county, to meet at Mold, ? 1780, with a view to petitioning Parliament to make a scrutiny of 'useless places, sinecures and pensions', etc. (mounted); a draft copy of a petition to be presented by the gentlemen, clergy, and freeholders of co. Flint, to the House of Commons [1780], calling for the elimination of wasteful expenditure, and the application of the money saved to a more vigorous prosecution of the war against the Bourbons (mounted); an autograph letter from R. Kenyon, from Cefn, to ? Thomas Pennant, February 1780 (suggested alterations in the aforementioned draft petition) (inlaid); a copy of the oration delivered by Samuel Forster, in Convocation at Oxford [University], 11 May 1771, when presenting Thomas Pennant for the honorary degree of LL.D. (Latin); a ? holograph letter from J. P. Andrews, from Brompton, [co.] Midd[lese]x, to T[homas] Pennant, 1791 (the recipient's book on the 'history of the Capital' [Of London (London, 1790)], observations on opinions expressed by recipient in connection with mail coaches) (mounted); a copy of a memorial inscription to John Norman, attorney at law, in Newmarket church; a note of the death at Bychton, parish of Whiteford, ?13 November 1796, of Mr. Williams, tidewaiter; and occasional marginal and other annotations in the hand of Thomas Pennant. The remaining items in the volume, apart from the illustrations, consist entirely of inlaid or mounted printed material. Under a running title Miscellanies, and paginated [1]-25, though intermixed with other items, are found copies of two poems [composed by Thomas Pennant] entitled 'Ode occasioned by a lady professing an attachment to Indifference' (Chester, 1769), and 'On a lady chosen on the same day patroness of a book society and hunting meeting' (Chester, 1771) (for a reference to both see Literary Life, p. 32); two letters written by [Thomas Pennant, under the pseudonym] 'Camber', from Hawd y lam [sic] and Old Bond Street, 1781 (the first, published in the Chester Courant, dealing with the fashion amongst ladies of wearing riding apparel, even when not intending to ride, and the second with the possible dangers resulting from flirtatious behaviour on the part of married women. See Literary Life, p. 32); and two pamphlets [by Thomas Pennant] entitled American Annals or Hints and Queries for Parlement Men, and Flintshire Petition. Other printed items, in the order in which they occur, include copies of pamphlets, etc., by Thomas Pennant called Of the Patagonians. Formed from the relation of Father. Falkener, a Jesuit, who had resided among them thirty eight years. And from the different voyagers, who had met with this tall race (Darlington, 1788), A Letter from a Welsh Freeholder to his Representative (Chester, 1784), Free Thoughts on the Militia Laws . . . addressed to the Poor Inhabitants of North Wales (London, 1781), To the Poor concerned in Mineral Counties (1773), A Letter to a Member of Parliament on Mail-Coaches (London, 1792) (some pages misplaced), Flintshire Association, and Catalogue of My Works (1786); a Navy Office certificate of exemption from the attentions of the press gang, with personal details filled in by Thomas Pennant, 1755; copies of two Latin poems, 1786 and undated, by Richard Williams, in praise of Thomas Pennant; an English translation of the second of the aforesaid poems, by the author; newspaper cuttings containing poems headed 'Verses to Mr. Pennant on the writer's being apprized of his intention to make a visit into Cornwall', and 'To the memory of Thomas Pennant, Esq., ob. 1798'; a copy of the advertisement or preface contributed by David Pennant, son of Thomas Pennant, to vols. III and IV (two in one) of his father's work Outlines of the Globe, published posthumously, 1800; and a copy of a short biography of Thomas Pennant, with a bibliography of some of his works, listing the plates in each work. The volume has some sixty-seven illustrations (some duplicated). A few of these consist of miscellaneous original drawings, chiefly in water-colour, but the majority are engravings, mostly portraits in line. To the former group belong two self-portraits (the second, 1811), by Moses Griffith. The first of these faces p. 12, at the foot of which page is a short, biographical note relating to the birth, baptism, and early schooling of the painter. This, according to an additional, pencilled note, in another hand, is in 'M. G's own hand'. To this first group also belong a water-colour sketch of the 'Approach to Pont St. Maurice' [Switzerland], and sketches for, or copies of, satirical prints relating to the trial of Dean William Davies Shipley (see above). To the second category belong the prints called 'The Church Militant' (see above), and 'The Triumph of Turbulence, or Mother Cambria possessed' (the Shipley trial), and the portraits (in the order in which they appear in the text) of Thomas Pennant, Mrs. [Hester Lynch] Piozzi [authoress], Sir Cha[rles] Linneus [botanist], G[eorge] Edwards [naturalist], John Ray [naturalist], [Francois Marie Arouet] de Voltaire, Solomon Gessner [Swiss poet and engraver], Conrad Gesner [naturalist], Christoph Jac[ob] Trew [German naturalist], Albrecht v[on] Haller [Swiss physiologist], Christoph Gottlieb von Murr [German scholar], [Daniel Charles] Solander [botanist], Sir Joseph Banks, George Allan [antiquary and topographer], and William Hutchinson [topographer] (together), Francis Grose [antiquary and draughtsman ], Benfamin] Stillingfleet [naturalist and dilettante] (with ? autograph), the Rev[erend] John Lloyd [ rector of Caerwys, and Thomas Pennant's companion], [the Honourable] Daines Barrington [lawyer and antiquary], the Reverend W[illiam] D[avies] Shipley, dean of St. Asaph, Charles I, William Seward [biographer], [the Reverend] W[illia]m Coxe [archdeacon of Wilts.], Sir Roger Mostyn [5th bart., of Mostyn, co. Flint], Richard [Howe, 1st viscount Howe of Langar, and] earl Howe, Charles [Cornwallis, 2nd] earl Cornwallis [and 1st marquess Cornwallis], General [George] Washington, and General [Horatio] Gates. The text of the 'Literary Life', and of certain other manuscript sections of the volume, such as the Oxford doctorate oration, was possibly transcribed by Thomas Jones, son of Roger Jones, parish clerk of the parish [of Whitford, co. Flint], who had been engaged by Thomas Pennant in 1791 as his secretary, 'to copy my several manuscripts' (see Literary Life, p. 39).


Title based on contents.

Formerly known as Pennant[-Feilding] 1.

Preferred citation: NLW MS 12706E.

Other Finding Aids

The description is also available in the Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IV (Aberystwyth, 1971).

Custodial History

On the inside, upper cover is a small label inscribed 'Downing Library'.

Related Material

See also NLW MS 12718E.

Additional Information


Personal Names