LANGFORD, John William (d.1848) of Bath. MS diary 1835

Product no.: MSd0008

In stock

UK shipping included.
Overseas shipping extra - please contact us.


LANGFORD, John William (d.1848). Handwritten diary occupying the second half of The Law and Commercial Daily Remembrancer for 1835, comprising 123 printed pages, followed by 102 pages of manuscript diary entries and a further 7 sides of handwritten notes (accounts, gambling wins & losses, belongings at houses in Bath & Houndstreet, medical recipes), bound in worn pictorial boards with fragmented leather backing, and loose sections, but contents good, with the ownership signature on the free endpaper ‘J W Langford, Bath’. The manuscript entries comprise many short day-to-day memoranda concerning his property, monetary transactions, family and social engagements, letters sent, days at the horse races, hunting and shooting, and these are interspersed with several substantial narratives of excursions at home and abroad, most notably his Scottish tour.

In February he visits the Isle of Wight to attend the wedding of his brother Tom [Thomas Netherton Langford RN] – Wednesday11th  “Tom married this morning. Edward, William St Leger & myself late for the marriage owing to having been told by Lady Riversdale a later hour. Breakfasted with her and after seeing the married ones away, we left for Portsmouth in a sailing boat for which we paid four shillings and ran over in less than the hour - the Ryde Pier nearly half a mile in length – put up at the Star & Garter …… went to the play and more amused by the drunken Midshipmen than by the performance”.

Langford spends most of May in France. Just before setting off he spends an evening “on board some of the American Merchantmen - they are the finest ships in the World and I never saw better accommodation or a ship more superbly fitted up than the Ga----- …… for a six hundred ton ship she struck me as being very short of men having only14.”  From Le Havre he travels to Rouen “In the Hotel d’ Ville there are some fine Pictures but the best by modern Masters and in the Library is a most extraordinary Missal which took the Monck who wrote and embellished it thirty years to complete, it is kept with great care under lock and key ……..  Met an Extraordinary Person at the Hotel this Evening a Mr. Wright who had been a superintendent of the stud of the German Princes, he showed us a box that he had been presented by Prince Louis one of the most beautiful things I ever saw, the subject Leda & her Swan”.

On 28th July Langford travels north on the first leg of his Scottish tour, arriving in Liverpool then on to Anglesea and back to Liverpool for Glasgow. In Glasgow he visits the Hunterian Museum which has “a fine collection and there are some few good Paintings, dead Game by Chysinders, Danae & Shower by Giordano, St. Francis by Rubens – Vesalius by Titian and one by Dominica Pieti – a full length figure of Watt by Chantrey and some curious old Letters & Mss. the Museum is in the College – The Cathedral is a fine old building  partly demolished by Knox who began pulling it down saying the only way to get rid of the Devil was by destroying the Rookery “. On 4th August Langford travels across to Ireland, tours Londonderry and the Giant’s Causeway, then sails to Iona “Made Staffa which is eight miles from Iona in one hour after leaving the latter it is a very small uninhabited Island belonging to one of the Macdonalds who takes his name from it. This is worth fifty Giants Causeways & Fingals Cave the most magnificent thing I ever saw we found no difficulty in landing and walked over the rocks to the cave”. From here he travels to the Isle of Mull, Oban, Island of Kerrera then back to Oban for Inverness, noting that “Lovatts Estate is quite a principality and the scene of the Highland Smugler Story;  the character of Angus being intended for his old Keeper – Baillie Frazer [James Baillie Fraser] the Author is now living close to this”. On his way to Perth “we passed Calloden within ¼ mile to the left of the road & about four miles from Inverness it is a Muir on a rising ground about three miles from the River and has nothing in it that ought to have induced & undisciplined force to have given battle in the place” and nearby “Among the few curiosities here are the polished pebbles some of them are very fine but inferior in size & variety to those of India”. His Scottish tour ends in Edinburgh where he visits Holyrood Palace “a dull old building at the bottom of high Street and only worth seeing from its associations – here is Marys Bed, her Glass, her dressing Case, & the scene of Rizzios murder ……  From the smallness of the room in which the Queen was when the Conspirators entered for the purpose of the murder had Rizzio made any defence it is possible he might have beat off his assailants as the door is so small that it could only allow the admittance of one person at a time – the whole appearance of the building is more that of a Prison than a Palace”.

There are several brief entries written in Arabic script (or one of its derivatives). The diary comes with a copy of John William Langford probate will and copies of several census returns.


John William Langford was one of four children of Edward Hill Langford and Mary Anne Kelleway (married at Portsea, Hampshire 1803). His two brothers were Captain Thomas Netherton Langford RN (1805-1883) (who married Caroline St. Leger, daughter of Ven . Hon. James St. Leger as recorded in the diary), and Rev.Edward Henry Langford (1808-1885), Rector of Marksbury, Somerset. His sister Mary Anne Langford (1814-1889) married Rev William Marriott Leir of Bruton, Somerset in 1840. John William married firstly in 1836 Susanna Hicks at Bury St. Edmunds, the daughter of John and Susan Hicks of Bath. Susanna died in Bristol in 1841 and John married secondly in 1845 Cecilia Elizabeth Longmore in Cape Town, South Africa. He had three sons John Frere Langford (born circa 1841, India), presumably the child of his first wife(?), and by his second wife George Edward Langford (born c.1846, India, died 1915, Bournemouth) and William Thomas Langford (born 1847, Bombay, India). John Frere Langford attended Balliol College, Oxford, was vicar of Bere Regis Church 1876-1886, and afterwards chaplain of Holy Trinity Church, Nice, France. George Edward became a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, and William Thomas studied law and became a bank agent.

Records of John William Langford’s later years (n.b. Cornwall Record Office - Records of the Langford family of Penzance and Bath, Somerset) locate him abroad - in a release under a marriage settlement of 1843 he is described as ‘of the East Indies’; in a conveyance of March 1845 he is ‘resident at Cape of Good Hope’; and in his will drawn up in August 1846 he is ‘of the Bombay Civil Service’, and the births of all three sons place him in India in the 1840s.

Browse this category: DIARIES & JOURNALS