There wasn’t space to include all the background information provided by Roger Hudson for his piece on the The Wynne Diaries which appears in Slightly Foxed Issue 77. For those who would like to read more about the Wynne family and the diaries of Elizabeth and Eugenia, Roger has supplied an appendix.
A Richard Wynne (d. 1689) was a haberdasher of St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London. After being educated at St Paul’s and Christ’s College, Cambridge, his son followed him but retired early and bought the estate at Folkingham, also serving as MP for Boston from 1698 until his death in 1719. It was his son who married Anna Gazzini in 1740. Thomas Fremantle’s grandfather had been secretary at the British Legation in Madrid and married a Spaniard, while his father had married an heiress and bought an estate near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.
Thomas Fremantle’s brother William, born the year after him in 1766, went into the army and got his lucky break serving as ADC and secretary to the Marquess of Buckingham when he was Lord Lieutenant in Ireland in 1782‒3. In 1789 he retired from the army and purchased the position of Irish secretary resident in London, as Buckingham was serving a second term as Lord Lieutenant. From this point on he was ‘confidant and political valet’ to Buckingham, his heir and his brother Lord Grenville. In 1792 Buckingham obtained for him a lucrative deputy tellership of the Exchequer which he held until 1806. He became an MP in 1807, first for Saltash then for a Scottish seat and finally in 1812 for Buckingham, which was in the pocket of the Marquess. He lived near Windsor and was taken up by George III and his family, eventually becoming Treasurer to the Royal Household and Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park. In 1805, shortly after Queen Charlotte ordered new shoes for Betsey’s daughter Emma, she and two of her brothers were summoned to the Queen’s House (now Buckingham Palace) ‘to amuse the King’, which it seems they did.
The Wynne household early in the diaries, over and above family members, was made up of: Messieurs Fries and Jaegle, tutors; Mademoiselle Eberts, governess; Mary Edmonds, nurse to the youngest daughters; Monsieur Granger (and his three children), dancing master; Messieurs Pleyel and Chappui, music masters; Monsieur Cimador, music tutor; Monsieur Bartolozzi, drawing master; Mr Buller, secretary to Mr Wynne; Marianne and Blanche, maids; Francis, footman; Charles and George, grooms; Odylle, cook. She did not last long and neither did other cooks, while Betsey complained that over a period of two years five maidservants got pregnant.
The few pages from Thomas Fremantle’s sketchy diary for 1793‒7, which reveal Nelson’s and his fairly systematic womanizing, in his case right up to the week of his marriage, first appeared in the selected one-volume edition which came out in 1952. Betsey’s parents got back to England in 1798, but her father died the following year at Bath, and her mother in 1800. Betsey having ten children was not exceptional, and she would probably have had more if Thomas had not been away at sea for years at a time. Her three younger sisters all married Scotsmen. Eugenia wed Robert Campbell of Skipness in Kintyre in 1806. She lists his pluses and one minus: ‘Draws well, writes bouts rimés, in short has a thousand ways of making his company desirable, but I wish that he did not take so much snuff.’ One can understand why Harriet was eager to marry James Hamilton of Kames, in spite of parental opposition, after reading her description of a dire day in the country in September 1804 a few years before, when she was 18. ‘I was all misery; the day was wretched. We had a fire in the drawing room by which I sat all day without stirring. We had a good dinner of venison and a fig. We were all cross: Betsey on account of receiving a stupid letter from the husband, Justina unwell and I all thinking. I was delighted when it was bedtime.’ Justina married a writer to the signet (or solicitor) called Finlay but died in 1814, as too did Robert Campbell.
© Roger Hudson 2023
About the contributor
Whenever there is a jam on the A1 and he diverts to the A15 through Folkingham, Roger Hudson thinks of Betsey Wynne, whom he first encountered on her honeymoon when doing a book on Nelson and Emma in 1994.