Harriet Anne Dickinson's notes


Of the Dickinson Family


It is said that our great-grandfather, Captain John Dickinson [1723-1781], ran away from a school in Northumberland to go to sea, having been left to the care of some relations who neglected him; that he thereby lost a large property from the difficulty of proving his identity, and that he took no measures to establish his rights until after his marriage, when his wife persuaded him to look into the matter. He had collected some papers and documents for this purpose when they were all lost in the Great Lisbon Earthquake [1755].  So ended the family prospects of wealth and greatness.


Captain Dickinson, as he was called, was a man of great energy. He was an Elder Brother of the Trinity House, and was certainly an officer in the Navy. But we do not know whether he attained the rank of Captain.

He was in an engagement as one of the officers of a ship named the Brunswick, which conquered "the enemy" under disadvantages.


John Dickinson was Commander of the Lisbon Packet in 1752. He married an Irish lady, Alice Quin, who was a woman of energy and talent. She exerted herself, whilst residing at Lisbon, with the Portuguese Government to obtain redress of the grievance of a British subject.


She escaped on board her husband’s packet, then at Lisbon, at the time of the great Earthquake. [1755]


Their house, and most of their property in that city, was destroyed. A broken silver spoon picked out of the ruins is still possessed by the family; and a pair of well shaped silver candlesticks, which were fortunately in the ship, are still [1840's] in use atAbbots Hill.


A miniature portrait of this Captain Dickinson is also in my mother’s possession, set as a brooch.


One anecdote bordering of the supernatural still survived respecting John Dickinson and his wife. Captain Dickinson is said to have started on his voyage to Lisbon on one occasion leaving his wife very ill. On the return voyage he dreamt one night that he saw her on her deathbed, and that she expired. Awaking in great agitation, he made a note of the circumstance, and hastening home as soon as he landed found that she had died the very night that he had witnessed her death in his dream.


John Dickinson died in 1781. His son Thomas, our grandfather,  left his ship at Portsmouth to attend his father in his last moments. He was under the care of a Dr. Dominicetti, then in high repute.


He left two sons, William, who died without children at Newnham in Gloucestershire in 1828 “(no entry of this can be found in the Register at Newnham, says Maynard Colchester-Wemyss)” and Thomas, who was born in 1754, and who married, 1781, Frances de Brissac, and died, May 26th 1828.

[These notes of Harriet Ann Dickinson 1826 - 1858, date from the 1840's.]