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Fellowes, W. D. (William Dorset)

Family records collected by William Dorset Fellowes : from original mss and traditionary memoranda in my possession : for the information of my descendants Madame Alfred Marquise de Bois Thierry and her children.

Additional Title(s):

Spine title: Memoirs of the Butler and Fellowes families by Dorset Fellowes

England, circa 1842-circa1845.
Physical Description:
1 volume (187 pages, with blanks) ; 23 x 31 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
CS439 .F45 1842+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
William Dorset Fellowes (1769-1852) was the son of Mary Butler (c. 1740-1819) and William Fellowes (1738-1827), a military surgeon who later served as physician to George IV. He served in various capacities in the British navy and the East India Company; the latter positions took him to South Africa, India, and other ports throughout the empire. He then took command of a Post Office packet ship, eventually surviving a shipwreck, the experience of which formed the basis of the first of his four books (the others were primarily travel writing). By 1820, Fellowes served as Secretary to the Lord Chamberlain, though it's unclear how long he held this position (there are few if any official records of him occupying the role). He later left his wife for a woman he had met in France: the child to whom he dedicated this family record is the result of that relationship. He died in France in 1852. See: "Captain William Dorset Fellowes, 1769-1852." Caird Collection. Greenwich, London, UK: National Maritime Museum, updated May 2015. Accessed 20 February 2018. http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/42149.html
Title from front cover.
The inside cover includes an engraving of a coat of arms, with the caption "Dorset Fellowes, House of Lords," and, in ink, a note reading, "Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, for the latter part of the Reign of George the Third and to the Commencement of William IV."
Bound in black leather, with titles stamped in gilt on front cover and on spine. Binder's label, on front paste-down: "Barth, relieur et doreur ... Tours."
The volume consists primarily of manuscript accounts of the lives of William Dorset Fellowes, his immediate family, and his ancestors. Also present are clippings, engravings, seals, and autograph letters from a variety of sources. The volume appears to have been compiled primarily circa 1842-1845. Some items mentioned in the text are missing from the volume, such as a passport used by his father during his travels.
The family records begin with a brief musing on the nature of family history and genealogy, before an extended exploration of the ancestry of Mary Butler, Fellowes's mother. Fellowes laments the lack of documentation--much of which was lost in a shipwreck--but insists on several points, including that his mother's father was, in fact, the illegitimate son of a nobleman, and that, further back, her family traced its lineage to Queen Elizabeth via a secret relationship with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Much of Fellowes' account is dedicated to supporting this assertion: he provides detailed accounts of history and politics and alludes to various family traditions, letters, and manuscripts he has uncovered or possesses.
His account of his father's family is more limited, he says, due to scarce materials. His writes primarily about his grandfather and father. The former was involved in the South Sea Company, and was drastically affected by its collapse and the ensuing fines imposed on those connected with the company's operations. Fellowes gives a detailed account of the company's crisis and its economic context--transcribing a list of people involved and fines paid--and determines that his family was unfairly implicated in the scheme. They were, rather, victims of both the financial crisis and the court's response. He discusses his father's career as well, concluding that his only fault was to believe other people as good as himself. Fellowes appends numerous appendices and clippings to this and his mother's family history, providing, in some instances, supporting evidence or biographical data, and in others, anecdotes related (but not integral) to the stories at hand.
Fellowes eventually turns to the story of his own life or, as he calls it, "my own chequered existence." He provides detailed accounts of his time in China and India. In the case of the former, he recounts his voyage, some encounters along the way, and the involvement of another individual in a murder, for which he had to pay with his life. In India, Fellowes tells a story in which, following the breaking of his palanquin, he is left to fend for himself by his attendants, only barely--in his telling--surviving. Other anecdotes include his involvement in the capture of an American vessel, and his rather unfortunate connection with financial investments and speculation.
Later parts of the volume include what Fellowes frames as historic letters--many aimed at evidencing his claims to royal ancestry--and pages from his published account of the sinking of his mail ship, The Lady Hobart. He has annotated the account with clippings and comments (in black ink). He includes numerous seals and an illustration of a coat of arms, as well as a meticulous family tree of his mother's family, again stressing its origin in Queen Elizabeth's illicit relationship with Robert Dudley. Other materials include descriptions of the grave sites of various family members, along with transcriptions of epitaphs.
Subject Terms:
Butler family.
Butler, Mary, approximately 1740-1819.
China -- Description and travel.
Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603.
Fellowes, Hélène Mary Butler, 1822-1877.
Fellowes, W. D. (William Dorset)
Fellowes, William, 1738-1827.
Fellows family.
Great Britain -- History.
India -- Description and travel.
Lady Hobart (Packet)
Leicester, Robert Dudley, Earl of, 1532?-1588.
Seafaring life.
South Sea Company.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Fellowes, W. D. (William Dorset). Narrative of the loss of His Majesty's packet, the Lady Hobart.

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