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Sir Richard Byron.

Sir John (knighted at siege of Calais).
Sir John Butler. Sir John (knighted in 3d year of Henry V.).


Sir Nicholas

Sir Nicholas (made K. B. at marriage of Prince Arthur; died 1503).

Sir John (knighted by Richmond at Milford;
fought at Bosworth; died 1488).

2d wife, widow of George Halgh

Sir John Byron (received grant of Newstead from Henry VIII.,

May 26, 1540).



Sir Nicholas Strelleye.
Sir Ricbard Molyneux. Alice John Byron, of Clayton (inherited by gift, knighted by Elizabeth, 1579).

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(Buried at Hucknall Torkard) RICHARD, 2d Lord (1605-1679). Sir JOHN, 1st Lord (created Baron Byron, of Rochdale, Oct. 24, 1643;

at Newbury, Edgehill, Chester, etc.; Governor Viscount Chaworth

of Duke of York; died at Paris, 1652). Elizabeth WILLIAM, 3d Lord (died 1695). Lord Berkeley.

WILLIAM, 4th Lord (1669–1736). – Frances (3d wife).
WILLIAM, 5th Lord (1722–1798) (killed Mr.

Isabella - Lord Carlisle. Admiral John (1723-1786; "Foul-weather Jack").
Chaworth; survived his sons
and a grandson,who died 1794;

Lord Carlisle called "The wicked Lord "). (the poet's guardian).

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The Crest of the Byron Family (a mermaid with glass and comb) surmounts this page. Their Arms and Motto appear in Life of Byron.

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for the almost absolute power he wielded in the then

infant realm of Russia. Two members of the family ANCESTRY AND FAMILY.

came over with the Conqueror, and settled in England.

Of Erneis de Burun, who had lands in York and LinBele RYRON'S life was passed under the fierce light that coln, we hear little more. Ralph, the poet's ancestor,

beats upon an intellectual throne. He succeeded is mentioned in Doomsday Book-our first authentic in making himself—what he wished to be—the most record—as having estates in Nottinghamshire and celebrated personality in the world of letters of our Derby. His son Hugh was lord of Horestan Castle in century. Almost every one who came in contact with the latter county, and with his son of the same name, him has left on record various impressions of intimacy under King Stephen, presented the church of Ossingor interview. Those whom he excluded or patronized, ton to the monks of Lenton. The latter Hugh joined maligned; those to whom he was genial, loved him. their order; but the race was continued by his son Sir Mr. Southey, in all sincerity, regarded him as the prin- Roger, who gave lands to the monastery of Swinstead. ciple of Evil incarnate; an American writer (of tracts This brings us to the reign of Henry II. (1155–1189), in the form of stories) is of the same opinion: to the when Robert de Byron adopted the spelling of his name Countess Guiccioli hé is an archangel. Mr. Carlyle afterwards retained, and by his marriage with Cecilia, considers him to have been a mere sulky dandy." heir of Sir Richard Clayton, added to the family posGoethe ranks him as the first English poet after Shake- sessions an estate in Lancashire, where, till the time speare, and is followed by the leading critics of France, of Henry VIII., they fixed their seat. The poet, relyItaly, and Spain. All concur in the admission that ing on old wood-carvings at Newstead, claims for some Byron was as proud of his race as of his verse, and of his ancestors a part in the Crusades, and mentions that in unexampled measure the good and evil of his a name not apparently belonging to that agenature were inherited and inborn. His genealogy is, therefore, a matter of no idle antiquarianism.

“Near Ascalon's towers, John of Horestan slumbers". There are legends of old Norse Buruns migrating a romance, like many, possibly founded on fact, but infrom their home in Scandinavia, and settling, one capable of verification. branch in Normandy, another in Livonia. To the Two grandsons of Sir Robert have a more substanlatter belonged a shadowy Marshal de Burun, famous tial fame, having served with distinction in the wars

of Edward I. The elder of these was governor of the “My whole ambition only does extend city of York. Some members of his family fought at

To gain the name of Shipman's faithful friend"Cressy, and one of his sons, Sir John, was knighted an ambition which, considering its moderate scope, by Edward III. at the siege of Calais. Descending may be granted to have attained its desire. through the other, Sir Richard, we come to another His successor, the fourth lord (1669–1736), gentleSir John, knighted by Richmond (afterwards Henry man of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark, VII.) on his landing at Milford. He fought, with his himself living a quiet life, became, by his third wife, kin, on the field of Bosworth, and dying without issue, Frances, daughter of Lord Berkeley, the progenitor of left' the estates to his brother, Sir Nicholas, knighted a strange group of eccentric, adventurous, and passionin 1502, at the marriage of Prince Arthur. The son ate spirits. The eldest son, the fifth lord, and imineof Sir Nicholas, known as “little Sir John of the great diate predecessor in the peerage of the poet, was born beard," appears to have been a favorite of Henry VIII., in 1722, entered the naval service, left his ship, the who made him Steward of Manchester and Lieutenant “Victory,” just before she was lost on the rocks of of Sherwood, and, on the dissolution of the monas- Alderney, and subsequently became master of the stagteries, presented him with the Priory of Newstead, hounds. In 1765, the year of the passing of the Amerthe rents of which were equivalent to about $20,000 ican Stamp Act, an event occurred which colored the of our money. Sir John, who stepped into the Abbey whole of his after-life, and is curiously illustrative of in 1540, married twice, and the premature appearance the manners of the time. On January 26th or 29th of a son by the second wife-widow of Sir George (accounts vary), ten members of an aristocratic social Halgh—brought the bar sinister of which so much has club sat down to dinner in Pall-mall. Lord Byron and been made. No indication of this fact, however, Mr. Chaworth, his neighbor and kinsman, were of the appears in the family arms, and it is doubtful if the party. In the course of the evening, when the wine poet was aware of a reproach which in any case does was going round, a dispute arose between them about not touch his descent. The "filius naturalis,” John the management of game, so frivolous that one conByron, of Clayton, inherited by deed of gift, and was jectures the quarrel to have been picked to cloak some knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1579. His descendants other cause of offence. Bets were offered, and high were prominent as staunch Royalists during the whole words passed, but the company thought the matter period of the Civil Wars. (Pages 305, 326, 327.) At had blown over. On going out, however, the disEdgehill there were seven Byrons on the field.

putants met on the stairs, and one of the two, it is unSir Nicholas, one of the seven, is extolled as “a person certain which, cried out to the waiter to show them of great affability and dexterity, as well as martial an empty room. This was done, and, a single tallow. knowledge, which gave great life to the designs of the candle being placed on the table, the door was shut. well affected.” He was taken prisoner by the Parlia- | A few minutes later a bell was rung, and the hotelment while acting as governor of Chester. Under his master rushing in, Mr. Chaworth was found mortally nephew, Sir John, Newstead is said to have been be- wounded. There had been a struggle in the dim light, sieged and taken; but the knight escaped, in the words and Byron, having received the first lunge harmlessly of the poet-never a Radical at heart—a “protecting in his waistcoat, had shortened his sword and run his genius,

adversary through the body, with the boast, not unFor nobler combats here reserved his life,

characteristic of his grand-nephew, “ By G-d, I have To lead the band where godlike Falkland fell.” as much courage as any man in England.” A coroner's

inquest was held, and he was committed to the Tower Clarendon, indeed, informs us, that on the morning on a charge of 'mur The interest in the trial, before the battle, Falkland,“ very cheerful, as always which subsequently took place in Westminster Hall

, upon action, put himself into the first rank of the

was so great that tickets of admission were sold for Lord Byron's regiment.” This slightly antedates his six guineas. The peers, after two days' discussion, title. The first battle of Newbury was fought on Sep- unanimously returned a verdict of manslaughter. Byron, tember, 1643. For his services there, and at a previous pleading his privileges, and paying his fees, was set at royal victory, over Waller in July, Sir John was, on liberty; but he appears henceforth as a spectre-haunted October 24th of the same year, created Baron of Roch- man, roaming about under false names, or shut up in dale, and so became the first Peer of the family.*

the Abbey like a baited savage, shunned by his fellows This first lord was succeeded by his brother Richard high and low, and the centre of the wildest stories. (1605–1679), famous in the war for his government That he shot a coachman, and Aung the body into the and gallant defence of Newark. He rests in the vault carriage beside his wife, who very sensibly left him; that now contains the dust of the greatest of his race, that he tried to drown her; that he had devils to attend in Hucknall Torkard Church, where his epitaph records him-were among the many weird legends of “the the fact that the family lost all their present fortunes wicked lord.” The poet himself says that his ancesby their loyalty, adding, “yet it pleased God so to tor's only companions were the crickets that used to bless the humble endeavors of the said Richard, Lord crawl over him, receive stripes with straws when they Byron, that he repurchased part of their ancient inher- misbehaved, and on his death made an exodus in proitánce, which he left to his posterity, with a laudable cession from the house. When at home he spent his memory for his great piety and charity.”. His eldest time in pistol-shooting, making shamn figlits with son, William, the third lord (died 1695), is worth re- wooden ships about the rookeries of the lake and membering on two accounts. He married Elizabeth, building ugly turrets on the battlements.

He hated the daughter of Viscount Chaworth, and so wove the his heir presumptive, sold the estate of Rochdale first link in a strange association of tragedy and ro

-& proceeding afterwards challenged by the poet mance: he was a patron of one of those poets who, (entailing law costs of more than $70,000)—and cut approved by neither gods nor columns, are remembered down the trees of Newstead, to spite him; but he surby the accident of an accident, and was himself a vived his three sons, his brother, and his only grandpoetaster capable of the couplet, —

son, who was killed in Corsica in 1794.

On his own death, in 1798, the estates and title passed * For a condensed summary of the Genealogy of the Byron to George Gordon, the future poet, then a child of ten, family, the reader is referred to the Genealogical Table preceding whom he used to talk of, without a shadow of interthis “Life."

est, as "the little boy who lives at Aberdeen." His

sister Isabella married Lord Carlisle, and became the as he was called, seems to have boasted of his conmother of the fifth earl, the poet's nomina! guardian. quest; but the marquis, to whom his wife had hitherto She was a lady distinguished for eccentricity of man- been devoted, refused to believe the rumors that were ners, and (like her son, satirized in the Bards and afloat, till an intercepted letter, containing a remittance Rericwers) for the perpetration of indifferent verses. of money, for which Byron, in reverse of the usual The career of the fourth lord's second son, John, the relations, was always clamoring, brought matters to a poet's grandfather, recalls that of the sea-kings from crisis. The pair decamped to the continent; and in whom the family claim to have sprung. Born in 1723, 1779, after the marquis had obtained a divorce, they he at an early age entered the naval service, and till were regularly married. John Byron seems to have his death, in 1786, was tossed from storm to storm. been not only profligate but heartless, and he made life "He had no rest on sea, nor I on shore," writes his wretched to the woman he was even more than most illustrious descendant. In 1740 a fleet of five ships husbands bound to cherish. She died in 1784, having was sent out under Commodore Anson to annoy the given birth to two daughters. One of these daughters Spaniards, with whom England was at war, in the died in infancy; the other was Augusta, the half-sister South Seas. Byron took service as a midshipman and good genius of the poet, whose memory remains in one of those ships—all more or less unfortunate- like a star on the fringe of a thunder-cloud, only called “The Wager." Being a bad sailer, and heavily brighter by the passing of the smoke of calumny. * In laden, she was blown from her company, and wrecked 1807 Augusta married Colonel Leigh, and had a numerin the Straits of Magellan. The majority of the crew ous family, most of whom died young. Her eldest were cast on a bleak rock, which they christened Mount daughter, Georgiana, married Mr. Henry Trevanion. Misery. After encountering all the horrors of mutiny | The fourth, Medora, had an unfortunate history, the and famine, and being in various ways deserted, five of nucleus of an impertinent and happily ephemeral the survivors, among them Captain Cheap and Mr. romance. Byron, were taken by some Patagonians to the Island of Chiloe, and thence, after some months, to Valparaiso. They were kept for nearly two years as prisoners at St. Iago, the capital of Chili, and in December, 1744, put on board a French frigate, which reached Brest in October, 1745. Early in 1746 they arrived at Dover in a Dutch vessel.

This voyage is the subject of a well-known apostrophe in The Pleasures of Hope, beginning

"And such thy strength-inspiring aid that bore

The hardy Byron from his native shore." John Byron's own account of his adventures, published in 1768, is remarkable for freshness of scenery like that of our first literary traveller, Sir John Mandeville, and a force of description which recalls Defoe. It interests us more especially from the use that has been made of it in that marvellous mosaic of voyages, the shipwreck, in Don Juan, the hardships of his hero being, according to the poet

Arms of the Byron Family.

From Burke's Peerage.
To those related in my grand-dad's narrative.
In June, 1764, Byron sailed with two ships, the

The year after the death of his first wife, whose in“Dolphin” and the “Tamar," on a voyage of dis- come of $20,000 ceased with her life, John Byron, covery arranged by Lord Egmont, to seek a southern who seems to have had the fascinations of a Barry continent, in the course of which he took possession of Lyndon, succeeded in marrying a second. This was the largest of the Falkland Islands, again passed Miss Catherine Gordon of Gight, a lady with considerthrough the Magellanic Straits, and sailing home by adventurer-and an overweening Highland pride in

able estates in Aberdeenshire—which attracted the the Pacific, circumnavigated the globe. The planets her descent from James I., the greatest of the Stuarts, so conspired that, though his affable manners and considerate treatment made him always popular with his through his daughter Annabella, and the second Earl men, sailors became afraid to serve under "foul- of Huntly; Miss Gordon had a fortune of $115,000– weather Jack. In 1748 he married the daughter of a doubled. This union suggested the ballad of an old

in land and bank shares—a fortune which rumor had Cornish squire, John Trevanion. They had two sons and three daughters. One of the latter married her

rhymer, beginningcousin (the fifth lord's eldest son), who died in 1776, “O whare are ye gaen, bonny Miss Gordon, leaving as his sole heir the youth who fell in the Medi

O whare are ye gaen, sae bonny and braw? terranean in 1794.

Ye've married, ye’ve married wi' Johnny Byron, The eldest son of the veteran, John Byron, was

To squander the lands o' Gight awa'." father of the poet; born in 1751, educated at West- The prophecy of the rhymer was soon fulfilled. The minster, and, having received a commission, became a property of the Scotch heiress was squandered with captain in the guards. But his character, funda- impetuous rapidity by the English rake. mentally unprincipled, soon developed itself in such a We may here note the comparison would have been manner as to alienate him from his family. In 1778, unfavorable to Mrs. Byron had Captain Byron compared under circumstances of peculiar effrontry, he seduced her with a woman of ordinary attractiveness. For Amelia D'Arcy, the daughter of the Earl of Holder- though she had royal blood in her veins, and belonged to nesse, in her own right Countess Conyers (the beauti- the superior branch of the Gordons, it would not have ful and accomplished wife of the Marquis of Car- been easy to find a gentlewoman whose person and inarthen, afterwards Duke of Leeds). "Mad Jack," countenance were less indicative of ancestral purity.t


* In allusion to the charges by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

+ See poem and foot-note, page 325.

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A dumpy young woman, with a large waist, florid next morning after the child, she was told by Captain complexion, and homely features, she would have been Byron thathehad had quite enough of his young visitor." mistaken anywhere for a small farmer's daughter or a After a short stay in the north, the Captain, extorting petty tradesman's wife, had it not been for her silks enough money from his wife to enable him to fly from and feathers, the rings on her fingers and the jewelry his creditors, escaped to France. His absence must about her short thick neck. At this early time of her have been a relief; but his death is said to have so afcareer she was not quite so graceless and awkward as fected the unhappy lady, that her shrieks disturbed the Mrs. Cardurcis (in Lord Beaconsfield's Venetia "), neighborhood. The circumstance recalls an anecdote but it was already manifest that she would be cum- of a similiar outburst-attested by Sir Walter Scott, brously corpulent on coming to middle age; and even who was present on the occasion-before her marriage. in her twenty-fifth year she walked in a way that Being present at a representation, in Edinburgh, of the showed how absurdly she would waddle through Fatal Marriage, when Mrs. Siddons was personating drawing-rooms and gardens on the development of Isabella, Miss Gordon was seized with a fit, and carher unwieldy person. In the last century it was ried out of the theatre, screaming out, “O my Biron, not uncommon for matrons of ancient lineage to my Biron." All we know of her character shows it to possess little learning and no accomplishments; but have been not only proud, impulsive, and wayward, Miss Gordon's education was very much inferior to but hysterical. She constantly boasted of her descent, the education usually accorded to the young gentle- and clung to the courtesy title of “honorable," to women of her period. Unable to speak any other which she had no claim. Her affection and anger were language, she spoke her mother tongue with a broad alike demonstrative, her temper never for an hour seScotch brogue, and wrote it in a style that in this cure. She half worshipped, half hated, the spendpoliter age would be discreditable to a waiting-woman. thrift to whom she was married, and took no effective Though she was a writer of long epistles, they seldom steps to protect her property; her son she alternately contained a capital letter, or a mark of punctuation, petted and abused. "Your mother's a fool!” said a to assist the reader in the sometimes arduous task of school companion to him years after. “I know it,” discovering their precise meaning; and though she was his unique and tragic reply. Never was poet could spell the more simple words correctly, when she born to so much illustrious, and to so much bad blood. was writing in a state of mental placidity, she never The records of his infancy betray the temper which used her pen in moments of excitement without com- Byron preserved through life-passionate, sullen, demitting comical blunders of orthography. To Captain fiant of authority, but singularly amenable to kindness. Byron, however, the lady's temper was more grievous On being scolded by his first nurse for having soiled a than her defects of person, breeding, and culture. It dress, without uttering a word he tore it from top to should, however, be remembered by readers who seam, as he had seen his mother tear her caps and would do her justice that Mrs. Byron was by no means gowns; but her sister and successor in office, May Gray, devoid of the shrewdness and ordinary intelligence of acquired and retained a hold over his affections, to inferior womankind, and was capable of generous im- which he has borne grateful testimony. To her trainpulses to the persons whom, in her frequent fits of un- ing is attributed the early and remarkable knowledge controllable fury, she would assail with unfeminine of the Scriptures, especially of the Psalms, which he violence, and even with unnatural cruelty.

possessed : he was, according to her later testimony, peIn 1786 Mrs. Byron left Scotland for France, and culiarly inquisitive and puzzling about religion. returned to England towards the close of the following To this practical orphanhood, and inheritance of

On the 22d of January, 1788, in Holles Street, feverish passion, there was added another, and to him London, Mrs. Byron gave birth to her only child, the a heavy and life-long burden. A physical defect in a future poet, George Gordon, sixth lord. Shortly after, healthy nature may either pass without notice or be being pressed by his creditors, the father abandoned turned to a high purpose. Accounts differ as to the both, and leaving them with a pittance of $750 a year, extent and origin of his deformity; and the doubts on fied to Valenciennes, where he died, in August, 1791. the matter are not removed by the inconsistent accounts

of the indelicate post-mortem examination made by Mr. Trelawny at Missolonghi. It is certain that one of the poet's feet was, either at birth or at a very early

period, so seriously clubbed or twisted as to affect his CHAPTER II.

gait, and to a considerable extent his habits. It also

appears that the surgical means-boots, bandages, etc.EARLY YEARS AND SCHOOL LIFE.

adopted to straighten the limb only aggravated the [1788–1808.]

evil. His sensitiveness on the subject was early awak

ened by careless or unfeeling references. “What a pretto Scotland. After spending some time with a re- pity he has such a leg ! " On which the child, with lation, she, early in 1790, settled in a small house in flashing eyes, cutting at her with a baby's whip, cried Aberdeen. Ere long her husband, who had in the in- out, Dinna speak of it.” His mother herself, in her terval dissipated away his remaining means, rejoined violent fits of anger, when the boy ran round the room her; and they lived together in humble lodgings, until laughing at her attempts to catch him, used to say he their tempers, alike fiery and irritable, compelled a was a little dog, as bad as his father, and to call him definite separation. They occupied apartments, for " a lame brat ':-an incident which suggested the opensome time, at the opposite ends of the same street, and ing scene of the Deformed Transformed.* In the interchanged visits.

height of his popularity he fancied that the beggars and Being accustomed to meet the boy and his nurse, the street-sweepers in London were mocking him. He satfather expressed a wish that the former should be sent irized and discouraged dancing; he preferred riding to live with him, at least for some days. “To this and swimming to other exercises, because they conrequest,” Moore informs us, “Mrs. Byron was at first cealed his weakness; and on his death-bed asked to be not very willing to accede ; but, on the representation blistered in such a way that he might not be called on of the nurse that if he kept him over one night he would not do so another, she consented. On inquiring

* See text and foot-notes on pages 241, 244, 247.


" What a

Sto Scaftar dhe ! a .

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