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The Tathams of County Durham
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Robert Bristow Tatham (1824-1881)

Note regarding his family connections

Inasmuch as in the event of my death in Natal no record of my family connections will be extant, I have adopted this mode of putting down certain circumstances connected with my relatives in order that my children may have some slight proof of their right and title to be called gentlemen.

My father Charles Heathcote Tatham formerly of 34 Alpha Road, St. John's Wood, London and 1 Queen Street, May Fair, London, Architect, held a high position in his profession, he was the author of a work upon the Architecture of Rome, – he held diplomas as a member of the Academy of St. Luke at Rome and of the Institute at Bologna. He was architect to the late Kings – George IV and William IV, and was after Sir John Soane, father of the Architects' Society. As a member of the "Woods and Forests" he had charge of the Tower of London and Somerset House.

His father Ralph Tatham, was a gentleman of private fortune, his Estate "Horn Park Essex" (I do not know the position in the County); he spent the greater part of his fortune, if not all, in Electioneering matters in connection with his friend Lord Howe, the celebrated Admiral of the Navy after whose great victory "Howe's victory" (I think "Navarino") was named. He died, I have heard, from Dysentery on board Lord Howe's flag ship.

My grandmother (his Widow) was left with her own jointure, only £300 a year, to bring out six sons, which she did most successfully; it appears friends rallied round her and being a well bred woman of whom I have heard my father speak in the highest possible terms, as a high classed lady.

My father was taken by the hand by the then celebrated Architect, Mr. J. Holland, who afterwards sent my father to Rome to study, which led to his afterwards producing the beautiful drawings which were published. (I think it right here to mention that my father taught the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland etching, not as a drawing master or anything of the kind, but as a friend. To prove that friendship, Her Grace the Duchess was very kind to me as a little boy, and one one occasion gave me a book enclosed in which was a £5 note, and saying pleasantly to me "you will think by and bye more of your name having been written by the Duchess of Sutherland in the Book than you will of the £5 note. Come and see me again when you come home from the sea". This digression must be excused as it enables me to point to the fact of the position held by my father. (When I returned from Jamaica, a year afterwards, unfortunately the dear old lady was dead, or I should have had a valuable friend through life).

William Tatham, a brother of my father's was a Lieutenant in the Navy, and came to a tragical end, having whilst in command of H.M.S. Monkey, Gun Brig taken the Boats of the vessel to explore and island in the Pacific, but a storm coming on, the Brig had to stand off and neither my uncle or his boats crews were ever heard of after. This fact my father took much to heart & never liked my going to sea and I remember a conversation with Sir Thomas Hardy (Nelson's Captain) when he was Governor of Greenwich Hospital which took place at my father's house when I was a boy, in which Sir Thomas said "Don't let the boy join the Navy, send him into the Merchants' Service". I was accordingly at the age of 13 sent in the "Volusia" as a Middy in, what was called, "Green's Service", a large mercantile fleet held by that great Ship-owner. I only took one voyage, as, having been wrecked on the homeward passage & almost lost with the vessel coming through the gulf of Florida my father did not wish me to follow the sea, nor to tell the truth did I, so I left it.

John Tatham one of my father's brothers was a lawyer & made a fortune, his eldest son Montagu was a Proctor of Doctors Commons of high standing, the second son Albert was an Officer in the Army & died in Jamaica. There was another brother in the law, but I forget his name, there are several barristers and lawyers who have descended from these brothers. The present Admiral Edward Tatham, my Cousin, was the son of my father's brother Thomas.

My mother's family I do not know much of, other than they were Welsh, my mother's name was Harriet Williams prior to her marriage, the Williams' were all wealthy. The only brother of my Mother's that I knew and cared about was Major Williams of Pembroke House Hackney, the father of Dr. Williams & Mrs. Wright now of Reigate, Mrs. Wright married a clergyman with large private means (I think £2000 a year). William Williams another nephew of my mothers' was in the Church & Rector of a parish near Winchester.

The large shipowner of our name (Tatham) was a son of one of my father's brothers. A nephew of my father's (Dr. Tatham) was Principal of St. John's College Cambridge, another cousin of my father's (an admiral in the navy) died very rich & left a large Estate in Derbyshire, I think, which was thrown into Chancery & I understand was inherited by a young gentleman quite away from our family.

My godfather, Robert Bristow, was a gentleman of very large fortune – £14,000 a year and his town residence was 101 Piccadilly & his Country seat Broxmore Park Hampshire. – My Eldest brother Frederick was at first a Sculptor and a pupil of the great Sir Francis Chantrey, but they quarrelled, it was said through jealousy of my brother's great artistic power. The statue in marble, of Lord Eldon in Lincolns Inn was by my brother Frederick.

My brother Arthur was Rector of Boconnoc & Broadoak near Lostwithiel Cornwall. He married first a daughter of Sir John Devonshire, the Admiral, but she died a few years after marriage – he married secondly a Miss Glanville, connected with the Fortescue & Grenville families – He was a JP of the County & a Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. He left at his death two sons one was in the Church & the other an Officer in the Marine Artillery. A long paragraph upon this brother, in the "Guardian" is in the scrap book, showing the respect in which he was held.

My sister Julia married the celebrated George Richmond the artist who is now a D.C.L. of Oxford, and a man of standing in England. Their address, 20 York Street, Portman Square, London. William Richmond my sister's second son is a great painter & has had the honour of painting the Queen & the Prince & Princess of Wales, facts which prove his high position as an Artist. – Thomas, my sister's eldest son is Rector of a parish in Warwickshire – one of his daughters is married to a Mr. Farrer a Barrister & another to a Mr. Kennedy, also a Barrister, all my nephews or nieces of that family hold good positions. In fact the standing I hold here is very inferior to that either of my ancestors or of the present generation in Europe.

       Rob. B. Tatham

My father's nephew & I think a son of Thomas Tatham was Dr. Tatham L.L.D. Master of John's College Cambridge.

The owner of the "Kate Tatham" & five other vessels all named after his daughters is my first cousin he is reputed by Captn. Hitchins of the Point to be worth over £100,000. – The only one that I know of the family in trade.


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