A closer examination of the BDM Registers (see Babies post) suggests an alternative to what is known about Priscilla.

We know she had three children that lived to adulthood and two that died. It is also possible she had another baby that died.

The following has not been verified. Note the difference in the spelling of the two children born in 1775 and died 1779 – possibly a transcription error?

A search using Priscilla’s name only seem to locate births of her children and not burials whereas a search using Edward’s name reveals both.

Edward Wakefield & Priscilla Bell marry in 1771.

1772 – burial – Edward died aged 2 weeks father named as Edward Wakefield

1773 – birth – Isabella – survived to adulthood

1774 – birth – Edward – survived to adulthood

1775 – birth – Barclay

1775 – birth – Banlay

1776 – birth – Daniel – survived to adulthood

1779 – burial – Berkley- died aged 3, on 18 April 1779, father Edward Wakefield 

1779 – burial – Berkler – father Edward Wakefield

Note: Jonathan Bell’s memoir states that ‘two or three of Priscilla’s infants died’.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm  Comments (3)  

Edwin & Arthur Middleton

Arthur Middleton becomes the central character for Priscilla’s travel books. He is first introduced in A Family Tour as a 14 year old with his younger brother Edwin. Edwin is described as ‘a more silent character, and, from his diffidence, less pleasing to strangers; but he was his superior in attention and industry’.  (A Family Tour p. 7) Quiet and emotional Edwin is a counter to his more outgoing brother.  What was to come is signalled by the following quote from Arthur, ‘novelty delights me ; when I am a man, I will travel all over the world’. (A Family Tour  p. 3).

In the travel book series Arthur journeys to North America, Africa and Asia including India and China. During that time the Middleton family characters age and their circumstances change.

On whom the characters of Edwin and Arthur Middleton are modelled is unknown. Likely candidates could be Priscilla’s sons Edward and Daniel or the grandsons Edward Gibbon and Arthur

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 2:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Excursions in North America

Excursions in North America Described in Letters from a Gentleman and his Young Companion, to Friends in England was published in 1806.

The young companion of the title was Arthur Middleton one of the child characters from the family Priscilla created in A Family Tour.  The gentleman is Mr Henry Franklin – the brother of the boys’ tutor. One significant feature of this book is her continuation of the Middleton family characters onto another publication. This did not happen in the case of the Harcourt or Seymour families. After the publication of A Family Tour the Middleton family and specifically Arthur Middleton are the characters she uses in the remaining travel books.

Following is a link to  Excursions in North America  a copy from the Stanford University Library

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

The Journals

Following is a description of Priscilla’s journals by (it is assumed) Lady Georgiana Chapman.

‘The diary for the first year is written in a small paper book about the size of a penny account book, but all the subsequent ones are in marbled covered exercise books, without lines. Every page is carefully ruled into spaces for each day of the week, with a margin an inch wide, ruled off for a record of the weather.

The entries for each day are brief, but very much to the point, and although they are a record of facts rather than emotions, reflections or expressions of feeling occur often enough to give the chronicle of events a living interest and to reveal the character of the writer so fully that we seem to know her intimately.

The Journal for most years is preceded by a summary of the events of the previous twelvemonths, and this retrospect is sometimes the occasion for more copious reflections than appear in the daily entries.’

Micro MS-0972-02 ‘Priscilla Wakefield’, Chapter 1, p.7. TS manuscript. 122 p. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  


A search of the Official Non-Parochial BDM Serivce for Priscilla Wakefield reveals the names of the two children that did not survive. Both boys were born in the year 1775 and were Priscilla’s 3rd and 4th pregnancy. It appears that Barclay Wakefield was born early in the year and Banlay Wakefield later in the year.

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 8:26 am  Leave a Comment  


In her journal for 1805 Priscilla wrote, ‘I have published one volume  of ‘Domestic Recreations’ and prepared another for the press my ‘American Excursion’ an effort essentially necessary as business is flat indeed and seems difficult to increase.’

But on 10th October 1806 she wrote, ‘The Booksellers object to the 3rd vol. of ‘Domestic Recreations’ as unsuitable in its subject for children. A disappointment after all my labours.’

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  


In Domestic Recreation Lucy says the following about insects ‘it is one of my favourite amusements to search for them on plants in the garden; I mean merely to look at them, for I never hurt or confine them’.

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 3:47 am  Leave a Comment