Selections from Jonathan Bell’s memoirs provides some insight into the character of Priscilla’s sisters.

Catherine: a closely devoted religious Quaker. Florid complexion, dark eyes and hair more a Bell than a Barclay in looks. Her mind possessed every engaging quality … under strict regulation her thirst of knowledge was ardent and she was extensively accomplished in mental attainments. She was greatly admired. She married John Gurney a merchant of Norwich. They had a numerous family: Catherine, John, Rachael, Elizabeth, Hannah, Richonda, Louisa, Samuel, Daniel, Joseph, Priscilla. She died at a young age – her daughter Elizabeth Fry was the well-known prison reformer.

Elizabeth: elegant and stately, very handsome and graceful, endowed with talents energy and feeling over taking the strongest interest in everyone’s affairs and pursuits. She wrote some novels that were highly spoken of but never published. She did publish a book on home nursing. The death of her daughter from measles at the age of 14 or 15 is said to have nearly broken her heart. She married John Hanbury and lived to over 70 years of age. Her children were: William, Kitty, John, Capel Charles, George.

Lucy: died unmarried although she had many suitors. She suffered for many years with palpitations from an enlargement of the heart. She adopted the closest demeanor in dress and conduct and appeared as the plainest of Quakers. She had a natural cheerfulness and affectionate disposition. Of middle stature, brown complexion with black expressive eyes.

Charlotte: was more of a Friend from her youth than her sisters. She married a close friend Capel Hanbury (brother of John) and had two sons Cornelius and Daniel. She was slight and rather tall, neither brown or fair, a sensible countenance without the energetic character of her sisters and without the attractiveness they possessed. There was a reserved coldness in her disposition. She was extremely read in all kinds of literature.

Rebecca: the handsomest, a fine expressive countenance, stately in person, more brown than fair, the finest temper and disposition possible, animated and affection overflowing. Married Abel Chapman who was not a Quaker and this was a point of disagreement. They had a large family: Abel, Hannah, Mary, Catherine, Emma, Ellen, David, Jonathan, William, Daniel, Edward, Alfred, Frederick and Henry.

Christianna or Chrissy Bell: very popular, animated countenance and cheerful – very clever – quick in ideas and expressive in manner. Married twice. First to David Springhall the children Nathaniel and Catherine died young. Second husband was Thomas Hankin and she had Hannah, Chrissy, Maria, Daniel, Emma and George. She had a mind panting after knowledge and good in which her husband did not harmonise. She died a victim of extreme nervousness.  

Caroline: fair with blue eyes and flowing auburn hair. She was all sweetness and simplicity. Married John Head of Ipswich some years older than herself. She died within a year of the marriage.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 4:54 am  Leave a Comment  

The Hill

In Priscilla’s journals there are many reference to ‘The Hill’ – this was ‘Stamford Hill’ the residence of her father Daniel Bell (1726-1802).  It was located between Hewington and Tottenham with about 70 acres of land with a wharf and a warehouse on the River Lea. He ran a successful business as a coal-merchant.According to Jonathan Bell’s memoirs the property had been purchased by some of the Barclay family and he became a tenant of The Hill.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  

A mother’s influence

Priscilla wrote the following about her mother Catherine Bell (nee Barclay) in the introduction to Variety; or, Selections and Essays, Consisting of Anecdotes, Curious Facts, Interesting Narratives, with Occasional Reflections, published in 1809.

‘I am the eldest daughter of a very numerous family, and received my education in the paternal house, under the inspection of one of the most excellent of mothers, to whose incessant care and admirable example, I owe the foundation of any merit I possess. From my earliest years she taught me the habit of industry, and employed me, whilst a child, to assist her in instructing my younger sisters. Being thus accustomed, from my cradle, to take an interest in the improvement of children, and to watch the progress of their understandings, I have formed an habitual attachment to youth – delight in the society of young people – and an never more agreeably employed, than in contributing to their stock of knowledge and amusement’.

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 8:42 am  Comments (1)  

Robert Barclay

Priscilla Wakefield was the great-granddaughter of Robert Barclay (1648-1690) the Quaker martyr who wrote An Apology for the True Christian Divinity first published in 1678.

Writing and publication would become a feature of following generations. Priscilla herself publishing seventeen books, her son, grandson and great-grandson were also authors.

Published in: on June 10, 2009 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Catherine Barclay

Priscilla’s mother was Catherine Barclay (1727-1784). She was cheerful and a Friend in spirit. According to her son Jonathan she ‘endeavoured to cultivate religious principles in her numerous family’.

[Memoirs of Jonathan Bell] in Some family records of Daniel Bell of Tottenham and of Katherine Barclay his wife, and some of their descendants, collected and edited by Lady Chapman, n.d.

Published in: on June 6, 2009 at 5:46 am  Comments (13)