Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lady Byron at the Clock House Beckenham

As I have worked through the fragmentary medical accounts of Thomas Ilott surgeon of Bromley to produce transcripts I have examined the various Byron material which is in the loose accounts folder at Bromley Archives.
Although now conserved the medical account on a fragment of paper for Lady Byron's househould under reference 617/7b is on the reverse side of an account for a Mister Vidler of Beckenham.
In 1824 Ilott treated members of her household:
Sir R in the account refers to lady Byron's father Sir Ralph Noel 6th Baronet who was to die in 1825.
Miss in the account refers to the 8 year old  Augusta Ada Byron daughter of the Poet Lord Byron and Lady Byron or Anne Isabella Noel.
A seperate account for 1824 called Lord Byron reference 617/8 refers not to the poet but to George Anson Byron who was treated by Ilott on 16 May 1824. George Anson Byron (8 March 1879-1 March 1868) was cousin to the poet who succeeded to the title after the poets death on 19 April 1824. He was a career naval officer see biography
The visit to Beckenham by George Anson Byron within a month of the poet's death is captured in the Ilott account.
Also in the Bromley Archive is the letter written by Lady Byron on 12 December 1825 from Hastings which is accompanied by a draft for £40 for "attendances and medicines to my father and myself". In this letter she replies to Ilotts concern for the health of Augusta Ada Byron. In reply Lady Byron describes her daughter's health "appears so completely re established that I hope we shall not have any reason to regret her removal from the sea-side". She goes on to describe that she herself had benefited from the stay at Hastings. She signs the letter A Noel Byron.
Ada her daughter is known to have suffered a number of childhood illnesses after the care provided by Ilott which it seems reasonable to infer included removal from Beckenham to the sea side. At this time Ada had received much of her day to day care from Judith Lady Milibanke Lady Byron's own mother. Ada was later to become a mathematician and writer who is known for her work on Charles Babbages Analytical Engine. She wrote about the first algorithm to be carried out on a machine and is nowadays regarded as the world's first computer programmer. More of her childhood can be found here
The Bromley Archive material has been paper conserved but both Lady Byron's fragmentary account and her letter have lost part of the original page and characters. The account number is damaged and the right hand side of her letter is irregular and lose part of the word re established but the whole letter has been transcribed.
Lady Byron is referred to in other sources at Bromley in connection with her residence at Clock House.