Mr and Mrs Wakefield and Catherine Bell


Francis Wheatley (1749-1801), Norfolk Museums Service,  More information here

In 2009 I did post about this picture and received some comments. It was painted  around 1774 and depicts Edward Wakefield, his wife Priscilla (on the right) and Priscilla’s sister Catherine Bell in the centre.  Read about Catherine here

It is such an intriguing composition that seems full of hidden meaning. I welcome any further comment on the background, the position of the subjects, the hands, the objects they are holding and the clothing.

Published in: on July 4, 2018 at 2:05 am  Comments (1)  

Tottenham remembers

In 2018 two Tottenham residents developed a website that highlights many aspects of Priscilla’s life.

Priscilla Wakefield: Tottenham Activist

Follow the associated Twitter account @TottenhamQuaker

Published in: on July 2, 2018 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  

More about maps


The inclusion of folded maps was a feature of Priscilla’s travel books. The above image provides a sense of the scale of these maps in comparison to the text. It must have been a source of delight to children to carefully unfold them and follow the adventures of Arthur, Henry Franklin and Sancho in North America.

This image is on the website of an online auction for Excursions in North America with the following description.

third edition, 1 large folding engraved map of North America, some very light browning, contemporary ink inscription to front free endpaper, contemporary blind-stamped calf, gilt, spine gilt in compartments, rubbed, 1819 § Birkbeck (Morris) Notes on a Journey in America , third edition, 1 large folding engraved map ‘from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois’, hand-coloured in outline, some slight soiling, modern morocco, spine gilt, edges uncut, 1818; and 4 others, similar America, 8vo, (6).

Published in: on October 27, 2014 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Ladies’ Monthly Museum

In the following publication, at pages 61-64, is a portrait and biography of Mrs Priscilla Wakefield dated August 1818.

The Ladies’ Monthly Museum ; or, Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction ; Being an Assemblage of Whatever can Tend to Please the Fancy, Interest the Mind, or Exalt the Character of The British Fair, Vol VIII, Improved Series, London: Dean and Munday, 1818.

It is available on Google Books here

This source was referenced in an article by Alison E. Martin published by the Journal of Literature and Science, see the post on Botany

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 9:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Remembering Isabella

Isabella Head (b. 1841) was Priscilla’s granddaughter. The daughter of Alfred Head (b. 1797) and Elen Cooper.  Alfred was the second eldest child of Priscilla’s daughter Bell. I have come across this book for sale on the Internet. It is not listed in the British Library or the Library of Congress. The Library of the Society of Friends do not hold a copy.

I am wondering if Isabella continued the philanthropic works of her mother or grandmother? This book may be able to describe those activities and if so I would be interested in finding out more about Isabella.

Note: this post has been updated following new information. I had confused Priscilla’s daughter and granddaughter.

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment  


In 2008 a plaque was erected to commemorate Priscilla Wakefield by the Haringey Council  

There seems to be a photo but some confusion about Priscilla’s year of birth (1751 is correct).

Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Animal rights

Researchers interested in animal rights history have included quotes from Priscilla’s books on the following website:

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 12:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Catherine Gurney Wakefield

Catherine (1793-1873), (known as a young child as Kitty) was the first child of Edward and Susan and Priscilla’s first grandchild. She was born in London two years after her parents married and it would be three years before her brother Edward Gibbon was born followed by eight other siblings. When her mother’s health deteriorated Catherine and Edward Gibbon lived for long periods with Priscilla who took responsibility for their education.  The task of caring for small children put demands on Priscilla’s time, ‘my literary efforts have been greatly suspended. The Travellers are still unpublished. I have written a few Dialogues for a new work, and one story for another: my reading has likewise confined’.  A portrait of Catherine in 1800 was painted by a French woman refugee and is inserted in Irma O’Connor’s biography of Edward Gibbon. Catherine at seven has dark hair and eyes and a rather serious expression.

Published in: on July 12, 2009 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Priscilla, Edward and Catherine Bell in 1774

In the English Country House Gallery of Norwich Castle is a portrait of Priscilla, Edward and Catherine painted by Francis Wheatley c1774.

The link to the pictures in this gallery is here

Click on the image for more information.

Priscilla is seated on the right and would have been about 23 years old. In the centre is her sister Catherine, later wife of John Gurney and mother of Elizabeth Fry.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 2:41 am  Comments (3)