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Hughes-Onslow, Denzil, 1863–1916

Denzil Hughes-Onslow diaries.

England, 1890, January 1-1915, July 12.
Physical Description:
24 v. ; 14 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DA69.3 .H84 1890
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Denzil Hughes-Onslow, originally of Balkissock, Ayreshire, was a Major in the 6th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment. He was killed in action at the Somme on 10 July 1916.
Preliminary leaf of 1890 diary inscribed: Denzil Hughes-Onslow, Tregantle, Jan. 3rd 1890, from Harry.
Bound in publisher's uniform red or dark green limp leather, with marbled endpapers.
Manuscript journals kept by Denzil Hughes-Onslow, British army officer stationed in Dorset, from 1890 to 1915. There is one journal for every year, except for the years 1892, 1913, and 1914, which are lacking. From 1890 to 1909 the diaries are written within Houghton & Gunn's diary; from 1910 to 1915, within Asprey's diary. The diaries reveal the active life of an extremely avid sportsman, whose duties as an army officer appear minimal until the approach of war in 1915. The collection also includes an album of 14 family photographs.
Hughes-Onslow and his wife Marion live near the barracks in Weymouth, adding three sons to the household between 1893 and 1902. The diaries show Hughes-Onslow's daily devotion to sporting activity. He frequently hunts with friends and records successful kills. Marion (Min) often joins him for rides, either on horseback or in buggy, dogcart, or victoria. They are bicycle enthusiasts as well. The diary entry for the 8th of August, 1902, reads: "Bicycled to Ballantrae & along the shore in the morning. Went with Min & the children to menagerie in Ballantrae in the afternoon. Played croquet with Mrs. Oliver & Min after tea." Almost every day the diarist engages in a competitive sport, including snooker, cricket, skating, soccer, croquet, badminton, table tennis, and lawn tennis. Social visits and entertainment are usually reserved for the evening, as in the entry for the 14th of July, 1911: "Went to cricket ground in the morning and to Weymouth in car with Min & Nigel at 2-30, and went out fishing on the sea for 2 hours. Went down again in the car at 8 with Min & Dorothy to listen to the band." Military responsibilities receive minor mention, with visits to the barracks at the beginning of most days, plus occasional parades and exercises. This changes in 1915, when the army prepares for war in Europe, and the diarist spends entire days at the barracks conducting exercises in firing, trench digging, and maneuvers. The entry for July 2 reads: "Bayonet fighting, musketry and judging distance on the hill in the morning ... Parade in the afternoon. Went for a walk after tea."
The 14 family photographs are in an oblong cloth album stamped "Kodak", with window mounts designed to accommodate two 3x3" photos per page. All the photos are unidentified. They likely depict Hughes-Onslow, his wife, and one of their sons, along with a number of horses, the family dog, the exterior of the Hughes-Onslow home, and men playing tennis (doubles). There are also two photos too large to fit in the album, depicting gathered hunting parties (one including women and children). One last photograph depicts a military platoon gathered for a formal portrait. Finally, there is a bill from Joseph Stohwasser & Co, tailors, dated October, 1884, for 28 items bought by Hughes-Onslow, which include a scarlet gold laced tunic, two pairs of blue elastic trousers with scarlet stripes, a pair of collar ornaments, and a gold dress sash; the total bill came to £72 10s.
Subject Terms:
Dorset (England) -- Social life and customs.
Great Britain. Army -- Officers -- Diaries.
Horsemanship -- Great Britain.
Hughes-Onslow, Denzil, 1863-1916 -- Diaries.
Hunting -- Great Britain.
Onslow family.
Soldiers -- Great Britain -- Diaries.
Sports -- Great Britain.
Photograph albums.

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