Aunt Frances writes - (Victorian Hangover Chapter 8)

Frances de Brissac married Captain John Dickinson R.N. and among the many family relics which devolved on me, were several pairs of white silk naval stockings, and a number of gold buttons which had belonged to him. I am thankful to say that I presented these, together with a box full of exquisite old de Brissac lace, to the (Worthing) museum to which I presented the old dolls which I have already mentioned, and they thus escaped the destruction of all our other treasures.


The eldest son of Thomas Dickinson and Frances de Brissac was John Dickinson, founder of the world-famous paper works, and from their second son, Major General Thomas Dickinson, descended Willoughby The First Lord Dickinson, and his grandson Richard, second Lord Dickinson. There were four daughters, Harriet, who became Mrs. Grover, Anne who became Mrs.Arthur Benoni Evans, and ultimately my great-grandmother, Elizabeth, who became Mrs. Phelps and mother of Aunt Janey, and Frances, who never married. There is a story that Frances was one of twins, the only case of twins on record throughout the whole pedigree, and that the twin brother was killed by being dropped by the nurse on the way to the christening. Frances, or Aunt Fanny as she was always known, remained “queer” to the end of her days, and was always very different from her three handsome, merry sisters.


Harriet, known as Aunt Grover, was the subject of one of the many stories told to me by Aunt Janey. Her husband, the Rev. Septimus Grover, was at one time incumbent of Farnham Royal, near Slough. At that time stag hunting was a very popular form of sport among the wealthy of the neighbourhood. One day a stag, close pressed by hounds and huntsmen, rushed in through the open front door and into the room where Aunt Grover was sitting. The old lady took this phenomenon in her stride, shut the stag in, and proceeded to the front door, where hounds and huntsmen were pouring up the drive. Taking her stance squarely in the doorway she defied the whole mob, replying to the furious demands for admission to drive out the stag by saying that it had sought sanctuary under her roof, and they would only get at it over her dead body. She added that the hounds and horses were ruining her garden and drive, and. she desired that they be removed immediately. She won the day, though history does not record how she ultimately dealt with a large and terrified stag in her drawing room. There is no doubt, however, but that she coped with the situation with complete competence.