A Collection of Memorabilia relating to family of Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore, and Edward Whalley

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Date of Auction: 26th March 2019

Sold for £850

Estimate: £40 - £60

A small group of 18th and 19th century letters, invitations and visiting cards, including invitations for various balls and ‘smart parties’ addressed to Theodosia Whalley and others, in an embroidered silk wallet, together with a sheet of hand written verse by Bishop Thomas Percy, with watercolour and appliqué floral motif verso, a lock of Bishop Percy’s hair and a sheet of hieroglyph/code text, etc. £40-£60


Thomas Percy (13 April 1729 – 30 September 1811), was Bishop of Dromore, Co Down. Born in Bridgnorth, the son of a grocer, he was awarded a Careswell exhibition to Christchurch, Oxford. In 1753 he was appointed to the vicarage of Easton Maudit, Northampton, three years later moving to Wilby. In 1769 he was appointed as Chaplain to King George III and in 1782 became Bishop of Dromore, County Down. A linguist and antiquarian, Percy’s greatest contribution to literature was as author of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), the first of the great ballad collections. This work is considered to be responsible for the revival of the ballad tradition in English poetry that was a significant part of the Romantic movement, and set the stage not only for Robert Burns, but also for Wordsworth and for Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads.

A member of the
Literary Club, founded in 1764 by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson, Percy made the acquaintance of leading literary and political gentlemen of the day, including Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, and Edmund Burke.

Edward Whalley (c. 1607 – c. 1675) was an English military leader during the English Civil War, and was one of the regicides who signed the death warrant of King Charles I of England.

He was the son of Richard Whalley High Sherriff of Nottingham and his second wife, Frances Cromwell, aunt of Oliver Cromwell.
At the outbreak of the Civil war in 1642, he took up arms for Parliament. He distinguished himself in battle, commanding one of Cromwell’s two regiments of cavalry at the Battle of Naseby. When the king was seized by the army, he was entrusted to the keeping of Whalley and his regiment, at
Hampton Court Palace. Whalley refused to remove Charles's chaplains, and treated his captive with courtesy, so much so that Charles later wrote him a letter of thanks. In the Second English Civil War, Whalley again distinguished himself as a soldier. He was chosen to be a Commissioner (judge) at the trial of Charles I and was the fourth to sign the king's death-warrant, immediately after Cromwell. The King was executed in London on 30 January 1649. At the Restoration, Whalley, with his son-in-law, Major-General William Goffe, escaped to North America, and landed at Boston on 27 July 1660 where they were well received. But opinion turned against them and in 1661 they fled to Connecticut, finally settling in Massachusetts. Attempts by the English government to arrest them failed, and Whalley remained there till his death around 1674/5.

This sheet of Thomas Percy’s verse, signed and dated 1784 reads:
See how fair spring resumes her gentle reign,
Descending beautious in a vernal shower,
Delightful moisture fill the fertile plain
An every branch of Nature feels her power.

Quick let me wander at approach of dawn,
And hear the feather’d race their love declare,
Or with extatick (sic) pleasure seek the lawn,
And listen to the lark aloft in air.

Such scenes as these delight my youthful muse,
Pleas’d with the voices of the tuneful throng,
Again your unaffected worth I chuse (sic)
To be the subject of my artless song

What through nor Sappho’s ease, nor Pindants fire,
for grace my verse, or echo in my lay,
Deign to except this efford of my lyre,
That annual tribute which to you I pay.