Further Adventures of a Double Coronet

Shortly after completing the research on the Fiddle pattern dessert spoons belonging to Earl Nelson , I was surprised to see the same coronets on 6 further very similar dessert spoons but with a different crest (Fig 2).


Fig. 1


Fig. 2

The six we acquired were made in London by Mary Chawner (a successor to the makers of the previous examples).  These spoons were assayed between  29th May and 20th June 1837 (as shown by the combination of the date letter and the oval shaped King's Head duty mark).


Fig. 3

The crest, accompanied by the coronets associated with the Nelson family, is a demi-friar which was used by the Knight family.

A contemporary description of the connection between the Nelson and Knight families is mentioned in the entry for 1st February 1837 of a diary*** kept by William Tayler (1807-1892), a footman employed by Mrs. Prinsep of 6 Great Cumberland Street (the present site of the Cumberland Hotel in Central London) :

'Lady Nelson, our next door neighbour, has been married today — or rather to night as her husband is named night [Knight].  This is her third time of being married.  The first time she married her first cousen, second time old Lord Nelson and now she has married an old bachlor.  I took a walk; very cold, a sharp frost.  Finished my scrapbook, all ready to send off.'

He was extremely well informed about the past life of his employer's next door neighbour (presumably from overhearing the conversation of his employers or talking to other servants).

Hilaire Barlow, Countess Nelson and Duchess of Bronte from 1829-1835, was born the daughter of Admiral Sir Robert Barlow in 1791 and her first marriage, as Tayler was aware, was to her first cousin Captain George Ulric Barlow in 1817.  Five years after the death of her first husband in 1824 she married William 1st Earl Nelson and then, two years after his death, George Thomas Knight in 1837.  She died in Paris in 1857.

These spoons show that, despite her remarriage, she retained the aristocratic status of her second husband.  It is interesting to note that having been sister-in-law of Admiral Nelson by her second marriage she became niece by marriage to Jane Austen by her third, something not noted by Tayler.  George Thomas Knight was the son of Jane Austen's brother Edward, who had taken the name of Knight to inherit the estates of Godmersham and Chawton (where Austen and her family lived) from distant relatives.

 

Luke Schrager


*** Wise, Dorothy (editor): Diary of William Tayler Footman 1837: Westminster Archives: 1998: p. 23

 


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