Thursday, 24 June 2010

Thomas Bewick and A Shropshire Squire

In his Memoir, Thomas Bewick complimented the efforts of the ‘gentleman amateurs’ from Shropshire, namely John Freeman Milward Dovaston (1782-1854) and John Clavering Wood. Much is known about Dovaston, but J.C. Wood has largely remained a mystery – up until now.

The publication in June 2010 of A Shropshire Squire: Letters & Diary (1812-1825) of John Clavering Wood, Esquire, Marche Hall near Shrewsbury, not only offers a useful snapshot of the broad interests of a country gentleman of the period, but includes Thomas Bewick’s letter of 6 June 1825 to Wood, as well as Dovaston’s transcription of Bewick’s letter of 18 November 1823.

The book also succeeds in identifying a mystery profile silhouette which was ordered by Dovaston. The silhouette proved to be of Squire Wood.

Wood’s diary, covering 1819-1823, reveals the owner of the 350-acre Marche estate as a man with a strong curiosity about the natural world, as well as having an enthusiasm for ornithology, European travel, tree-planting, experimenting with horticultural techniques and cider-making, solving family legal problems, investing in locally-mined feldspar for use in china-making, and keeping bookshelves well stocked with volumes on natural history, philosophy and poetry.

The 200-page A Shropshire Squire includes illustrations, biographical notes, endnotes and a detailed index. It is available from Booka Bookshop, Oswestry ( or phone: 01691 662 244) and from the Shropshire Family History Society . Cost £9.99 + p&p. 
For more information, visit
NEW BOOK: A Shropshire Squire: Letters & Diary (1812-1825) of John Clavering Wood, Esquire, Marche Hall near Shrewsbury. Edited by Gerard Benjamin & Gloria Grant. Published by Gerard Benjamin, Brisbane, 2010.

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