Sunday, November 19, 2017

Biographical Notes on Robert Withy (part 2)

With this essay, I am going to provide long extracts from two interesting sources on Robert Withy without added comment.

The first is a genealogical work, His Pedigree, with Memoirs old and new, Delineated by G. R. G. Pughe, of Mellor Vicarge, 1902, available for download from the Internet Archive. It  has 50 pages of rhyming couplets giving the history of Mr. Pughe, whose ancestors include our Robert Withy! The section on Robert and his son, also Robert, are on pages 17-18:
My mother's maiden name was Withy, and her family
I will accordingly distinguish as The Withy Tree.
The oldest Withy provable as her progenitor
Was Hilborne Withy, Coleman Street, an Upholsterer.
Robert, his eldest son, was long remembered as "Bob Short,"
Whose calling was stockbroking, whilst whist-playing was his forte.
His eldest son and namesake was a money scrivenir,
Or, what we designate at present, a solicitor;
He was of Buckingham Street, Strand, also of Bletchingly
In Sussex, and of Brighton. I may mention, by the bye,
That Robert, the solicitor, was no monogamist,
But, as in houses so spouses, quite a pluralist.
He married thrice. Miss Burton was the first upon his list.
One of his many daughters, Mary, lived at Cheltenham,
Also at Stapleton (it would rhyme better Stapletam).
Sarah, another of his daughters, married Mortemer
Rodney, an Honourable, I, of course, must honour her,
He was the son of George, the second Baron and the son
Of great George Brydges Rodney, who, for victory well son
Over the French when led in vain by Comte de Grasse, became
Promoted to the Peerage with a handle to his name,
And reached in seventeen eighty-three the zenith of his fame.
His Pillar on the Breidden Hill reminds my family
Of our affinity as well as as of his victory.
In eighteen fifty-six, and at the age of sixty-four,
Seven years my junior, died at Lanfanque this Mortemer.

A final source, also amusing. and also in verse is An Invocation To Edward Quin, Esq. as delivered at a society called The Eccentrics, on Saturday the 26th of Nov. 1803, by John Gale Jones (available for download from Google Books).

There are merely two lines that relate to Withy (page 37):
Did W*thy tell thee with his parting breath,
That all must share the fatal stroke of death?
It is the notes to the couplet that provide biographical interest:
 "Did W*thy tell thee," &c. The late Robert W*thy, a respectable stock-broker, and an honorary member of this society. This gentleman was author of a little tract well known among card players, intituled, "Ten Minutes Advice to those who play at Whist," signed, "Bob Short." He lately departed this life, and his death was generally believed to have been prematurely hastened by pecuniary embarrassments. Consistently with the maxim of "de mortuis nil nisi bonum." I shall merely state, that he was one of the first founders, and, by way of distinction, called "the Father of the Brilliants," a society from which, in consequence of an act of felo de se, that threw the poor landlord into a prison, and consigned his helpless wife and children to beggary and ruin, this most honourable and valuable institution, like a phoenix from the ashes of a conflagration, dates its origin and existence! Mr. W*thy was much attached to these societies; and notwithstanding his advanced age (nearly 70 years) was constant in his attendance, and assiduous in regulating its concerns. He was a facetious and pleasant companion, but, unfortunately, very irascible in his temper, and one of those who take every thing to heart! A double entendre, or a humourous allusion, afforded him great satisfaction; and he frequently indulged the company with an amorous song. When he was reproved for his levity, and reminded of his age, his reply was, that early habits are not easily eradicated; and that an old coachman always remembers with pleasure the crack of his whip!
There will perhaps be one more biographical essay to follow.

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