Isabella Frances Vere Townshend (5D22)

Date of Birth: 1 Nov 1847
Date of Death: dunm 20 Jul 1882
Generation: 6th
Residence: Wimbledon, London
Father: Reverend Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01]
Mother: Oliver, Eliza Wilmot
Spouse: Unmarried
Issue: None
See Also: Table VD ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Isabella Frances Vere Townshend

Isabella's birth is recorded in the diary of Agnes Townsend - 'Nov 1st 1847 Mrs CC Townsend a daughter Isabella FV.'

When her father died in 1852, Isabella was five and her mother, maternal grandparents and aunt, Katherine Townshend, acted as guardians to her and her siblings until they came of age. Under the terms of her father’s will (1) dated 2 September 1846 she became entitled to an equal share of £2,000 devised to all the children, except her half-brother Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] who inherited the entire Derry estate.

In 1869 Isabella was one of the first five women to join Emily Davies at her new college at Hitchin (later to become Girton College). She was there at the same time as Emily Gibson, who became her great friend and who later married her brother Chambre Corker Townshend in 1873. She left Girton in 1872 at the same time as Emily without taking a Tripos.

In an article entitled ‘Decorative Art and Architecture in England’, published in Harpers New Monthly Magazine, November 1874, Moncure Conway states that Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend had an interior design business at 12 Bulstrode Street, Marylebone, London. In the article he claims that ‘These ladies, who have been employed to decorate the new ladies’ College (Girton) at Cambridge, have not only devised new stuffs for chairs, sofas and wall panels, but also for ladies’ dresses.’

It is not known for how long Isabella remained in partnership with Mrs Hartley Brown. Clearly she was artistic, like her brother Chambre. Emily Gibson mentions that in the period between leaving Cambridge and her marriage to Chambre Townshend, he and Isabella were particularly friendly with Lucy and Walter Crane who were noted writers/artists of the time. In the early 1880s she went to Italy to study painting.

In the book 'Emily Townshend 1849 - 1934 Some Memories for her Friends' (3) Emily records that Isabella ‘had a great influence on my views of life and on my life altogether. She was about a year older that myself, small and plain. She had considerable ability, indeed, many of us gave her credit for a touch of genius, yet she never accomplished much definite work of any kind. She was more mature than many of us and in quite a different stage of development...the sort of influence she exercised over me was chiefly due to her having been swept over by a very early wave of that current of aestheticism which was just then beginning to gather force. The sort of doctrine she taught, or rather that she gave living expression to, was that the most valuable means for culture was to be found in the enjoyment of the beautiful in nature and art, that a beautiful combination of colours, a delicate bit of decorative work seen and cared for in a reverent and appreciative spirit, could do more for us in the way of training and development than much steady grinding at mathematics and classics. She had considerable ability, indeed, many of us gave her credit for a touch of genius, yet she never accomplished much definite work of any kind. Isabella took the utmost pains to live from hand to mouth. She would work hard now and again when she felt the subject in hand to be worth working at, but she scorned to tie herself down to do things against inclination for the sake of obtaining some definite mundane good.’

Isabella's grandfather, Major General Oliver died on 11 January 1854. In his will, dated 25 February 1853 (2), 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 (Isabella'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.

The Girton Register shows that Isabella died in Italy, ‘of typhoid fever contracted at Capri’. It may well be that she became ill in Italy, but the Probate Register shows that she died on 20 July 1882 at Ealing and was buried at Perivale on 25 July 1882.

Page 761 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Administration of the estate of "Isabella Frances Vere Townshend late of Wimbledon Surrey" who died on 20 July 1882, was granted at London on 21 January 1890. Resealed at the Principal Registry Dublin on 19 February 1890. Effects in Ireland £119 14s 10d.

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

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

(3) Published privately at The Curwen Press in 1936.