Chambre Corker Townshend (5D14)

Date of Birth: 23 Jul 1838
Date of Death: 1 Oct 1897
Generation: 6th
Residence: London, Switzerland & Richmond, Yorkshire
Father: Reverend Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01]
Mother: Oliver, Eliza Wilmot
  1. Gibson, Emily Caroline
  1. Brian Chambre [5D29]
  2. Geoff [5D72]
  3. George Marsden [5D30]
  4. Caroline Charlotte [5D31]
  5. Rachel Susannah [5D32]
See Also: Table VD ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Chambre Corker Townshend (1)

When his father died in 1852, Chambre was only 14 and his mother, maternal grandparents and aunt, Katherine Townsend, acted as guardians to him and his siblings until they came of age. Under the terms of his father’s will (2) dated 2 September 1846 he became entitled to an equal share of £2,000 devised to all the children, except his half-brother Horace Payne-Townsend who inherited the entire Derry estate.

Chambre was educated at Cheltenham and Trinity College, Cambridge (MA 1864). During this time, according to family correspondence (3), he was living at 44 Berners Street, Marylebone, London.

Engaged 18 January 1873. Married 8 May 1873. Emily Gibson (4) was the daughter of John Gibson, a shipbuilder. Emily and Chambre met through Isabella Townshend, Chambre's sister, who was a student at Girton at the same time as Emily and was one of Emily's closest friends there.

Chambre trained as an architect and started his working life as an Assistant under George Edmund Street, who designed the Law Courts in the Strand. He never set up his own architectural practice and, lacking drive and business acumen, failed to make use of his remarkable artistic abilities, in particular his flair for house decoration. As the years passed Emily became increasingly concerned at the lack of income and suggested that Chambre should abandon architecture so that the whole family could move abroad where living was cheaper. Thus in 1882, with a small unearned income, the family moved to Switzerland where they remained until 1885 when they moved to Florence. They lived there for four years until they returned to England and settled in Richmond, Yorkshire. Financially they must have been much better off whilst abroad for the son Brian Chambre Townshend was sent home to school at Sedbergh, George. Marsden Townshend to school at Rugby and the daughter Caroline Charlotte Townshend went to St Andrews University.

Chambre died in St Malo and was buried there; a photograph of his headstone is included in his 'Scrapbook'.

Chambre’s grandfather, Major General Oliver died on 11 January 1854. In his will, dated 25 February 1853 (5), he devised his personal estate to his trustees who were to invest the same and pay the interest to his wife, Marianne, during her lifetime and after her death to his daughter Eliza Townshend (Chambre's mother). After her death the residue was to be divided equally amongst her surviving children share and share alike.

Likewise he devised his real estate in Suffolk and Kerry to his trustees who were to pay the yearly rents to his wife during her lifetime and after her death to Eliza. After her death when the children came of age, or if the daughters married before then, they were to receive their share of the real estate or the rents thereof, or if the real estate was sold they were to receive their share of the principal or the interest of the proceeds.

Chambre’s mother died on 17 August 1906 and thus his share (£2,419) of the Oliver estate passed to his executors, John Chambre Miller, son of Caroline Charlotte Townshend, and Captain Thomas Gibson – presumably Emily’s brother.

Emily was one of the first students to enrol (1869) at Girton College, Cambridge where she intended to read mathematics.

As noted above, she met Isabella Townshend at Girton and in her diary records "(Isabella) had a great influence on my views on life and on my life altogether.....A complete revolution was effected in my aims and desires. To live fully, to enjoy everything worth enjoying, to have all human experiences, to see the most delicate and exquisite aspect of everything. These were now my aspirations. No wonder mathematics fell into the shade.” Emily never finished her degree course as she had a deep distaste for examinations and left Girton in 1872. Later in life after the death of Chambre she became a member of The Fabian Society. She wrote several tracts for the society including one on William Morris and the Communist Ideal. She also edited the letters of her son in law, Frederic Keeling - the "Keeling Letters". Very much a Liberal, Emily supported the Suffragete Movement (6) and spent two weeks in Holloway prison for her activities. Throughout her long life up to her last days, Emily maintained an insatiable intellectual curiosity and this made her an endless delight to her wide circle of friends.

Emily's nephew, Thornly Gibson, was Lloyd George's personal interpreter at Versailles.

Emily was a member of the Governing Council of Hawnes School, which was founded by her great niece Janet Gray Townshend in 1929, from its inception until her death in 1934.

In her autobiography, ‘Anything Once Dorothea Petrie Townsend (Carew) recalls calling on Emily who was living in Wimbledon in 1930. Emily died at Ditchling, Sussex on 23 May 1934 (obit in The Times 29 May 1934).

(1) Much of the information about Chambre is drawn from the book 'Emily Townshend 1849 - 1934. Some Memories for her Friends' published privately at The Curwen Press in 1936.

(2) Derry Papers 5D01/6. Will of Chambre Corker Townsend dated 2 September 1846 with codicil dated 5 April 1851. Probate 9 Sep 1852.

(3) Llanvapley Papers.

(4) Emily was born on 27 August 1849. She was living with her daughter, Caroline Charlotte Townshend, at 61 Deodar Road, Putney, London SW15 when she died on 23 May 1934. Her will was proved in the Principal Probate Registry on 27 July 1934 by Caroline. London Gazette 34113 page 8090 dated 11 December 1934.

(5) Derry Papers OL/8, 8A, 8B, 9, 9A. The wills of Major General Oliver and his wife, Marianne, and the disposal of their estates.

(6) Muriel Bradbrook (a former Mistress of Girton) recalled "In due course I was invited to meet one of the original five students who in 1869 joined the first College for Women, then at Benslow House, Hitchin; in 1873 it moved to within two miles of Cambridge and was renamed Girton College. Emily Gibson, Mrs Townshend, an exquisitely pretty old white-haired lady of eighty, observed, "I will give you a piece of useful advice, my dears. If ever you have to go to prison take a change of underclothes, so that they will know you are a lady; and say you are a vegetarian -- the food is better if you do.' In the cause of women's suffrage, she had spent a fortnight in Holloway jail."