Two autograph diaries of Rev. William Jebb Few, MA, of Christ Church, Oxford, 'continued during residence' at Henley-on-Thames; Alverston, Hampshire; Braemar, Elgin and Banff (as tutor to the Earl of Fife's son); Reading. With carte de visite.

William Jebb Few (c.1835-c.1881), MA, of Christ Church, Oxford, and Rector of St Nicholas, Guildford, Surrey [Alexander William George Duff (1849-1912), 1st Duke of Fife]
Publication details: 
The two diaries covering the period from 30 May 1858 to 25 August 1864, and written at Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire; Alverston, Hampshire; Mar Lodge, Braemar; House, Elgin; Duff House, Banff; and 6 Coley Hill and 4 Castle Crescent, Reading.
SKU: 12989

Both volumes in good condition, on lightly-aged paper, in worn black leather bindings, marbled endpapers. Both 4to, the first volume smaller than the second. First Diary: 168pp., 4to. Titled by Few: 'Diary commencing May 30, 1858, and continued during residence at Henley on Thames Oxfordshire. Alverston Hampshire'. Includes two pages of addresses, page of 'Books Read' in 1860 and 1861, and page of accounts for 1861. Second Diary: 180pp., 4to. Titled by Few: 'Diary commenced 10 July 1861 detailing residence at Mar Lodge, Braemar | <?> House, Elgin | Duff House, Banff | 6 Coley Hill, Reading | 4 Castle Crescent, Reading | ended 25 August 1864'. Includes two pages of meteorological notes for 1864, a page of addresses, and a page of notes on postal delivery. The first volume mostly provides a record of Few's clerical duties, with occasional mention of his state of health (usually poor), the weather, and parishioners. It commences with the start of Few's religious career, the very first entry reading: 'May 1858 | Sun 30 Trinity Sunday. Ordained deacon by S. Wilberforce Bp of Oxford at Cuddesden after three days examination.' The following Sunday he 'Read afternoon prayers in Fakenham Ch & Even[son]g in the district Chapel. A little nervous at first but all right after the sentences.' On 16 May 1858 he arrives in Henley, 'in the midst of a thunder storm'. As the days proceed he describes his parishioners and duties. A typical entry, 1 August 1858, reads: 'Read Epistle & confession at Early Communion. Did the whole morng service at the workhouse then to the Ch in time to assist at the communion read confession & took round the cup. Did the whole afternoon service in the Ch. Read 2d lesson in the Eveng. Meals at Rectory. The Rectors mother & aunt there. Letter from Charlie'. On 13 August 1858 he records that 'The Rector had to send away a godfather from a baptism ("Lowe") for not understanding the vows'. As the volume proceeds it builds up a picture of a hard-working provincial cleric. Another typical entry, 9 March 1859: 'Ash Wednesday. Services prayers at 9 read 1st lesson litany commination & communion service with a hymn at 11.30. Read litany. Eveng service & sermon at 8 canticles and hymn chanted. I was very seedy all day. Went for a short walk in the afternoon in Lambridge wood. Very cold. Letter from mother.' On 4 October 1859 the rector John Frederick Fixsen is married and Few is his 'groomsman', having to 'return thanks for the bridesmaids' at the wedding breakfast. On 23 October 1859 he records 'coldest day ever known in October - Ther: 22.' By April 1860 Few is not happy in Henley, suffering from 'tremendous headache & sickness on the twelfth, and 'In bed all morng with calomel' three days later. On 17 April 1860 he travels 'To town by the 8.58 to meet Benson who helped me but little & advised my leaving H.' On 28 August 1860 Few 'Took no part in morng service. Had an interview with Mr Walpole at 20 and agreed to come here as curate.' The diary concludes in the usual restrained style, with Few writing on 9 July 1861: 'read morng prayer (Rector away, Cooper ill) Letter from Mr Pritt. Took a wedding. Packing all day. Funeral at 5. Visited Lawes. <?> Tea at Cruikshanks. Croquet afterwards. <?> Letter from my dearest E & from mother. Nice day'. The last entry reads: 'Wed 10 Leave Alveston for good'. The second volume is entirely different in tone, with longer and more descriptive entries. It begins with Few travelling up to Scotland, to act as tutor to the Duke of Fife's son, Lord Macduff (Alexander William George Duff, 1849-1912, later 1st Duke of Fife). He writes on 3 August: 'Fanning & I started inside the omnibus as it was very wet at about 10.30 from Arboyne for Ballater (11 miles) on arriving there finding all the inside places taken in coach we took a private carriage & pair to Braemar (18 miles £1. 17. including driver 5/6 <?>) Lord Fifes carriage was waiting for us & took us 3 ¼ miles farther to Mar Lodge. We had a very warm reception by Lady F & family. Macduff shewed me over the grounds. My quarters are very snug - like all the rest it is detached cottage - with a bright fire of wood &c. Wrote some sermons until it was time to dress for a 7.30 dinner - only the Family & Mr Williams who is a sort of secretary. Retired to my own room in Evng about 10.30 to finish sermon. Letter from Mother.' On 16 August 1861 he writes regarding the Earl's eldest child Lady Anne Duff (later wife of the 5th Marquess Townshend), that it is 'Lady Ann's birthday aged 14 & so a general Holyday. [...] Had a long talk with Mad[emois]elle on religious matters.' Two days later comes a curious entry: 'Poor Madelle was taken very ill last night Mrs H going up from the drawing room last night about 10 met Peter who said the schoolroom bell had rung, but on arriving there no one was to be seen. She went to Madelle room & found her in bed in Hysterics. [...] In the middle [of dinner] I was sent for as she was taken much worse & I witnessed the most awful scene I have ever seen & one which I trust I may never witness again. In a word she was raving mad! Lord Powercourt man was up there, an immensely powerful man & he with Mrs Harris & Mr Watting could not hold her down. She screamed horribly that the devil was seizing her - "Dont you see him. Oh tell me. Mrs Harris save me, keep him from me. Oh you man of God why cannot you save me - Oh he has hold of me he is dragging me - he touches me - Oh mother I am a wicked child - mother mother I have deceived you. Mother bless me, oh Bless me ich bin ein gute kind - ich bin ihre kind - my mother is dying quite & she will not hear me - [...] This lasted more than an hour or so'. On 19 August 'Macduff desperately naughty over his lessons & had to give him some to write out.' On 30 August he reports 'Grand row with Macduff in Eveng. He broke a cup in his rage.' A fortnight later Few returns to Henley, and the entries resume their previous terse form. On 19 August 1861 he describes 'Our Wedding Day at last, thank God.' On 28 March he officiates at the London marriage of his younger brother Robert Hamilton Few to Emily Bless. The final entry, 25 August 1864, reads: 'Morng service. Shools 9-10.30. In to the Church with Holmes about Choir desks - in to Jenkinson for a short time he promised to do picture for us. To Reading Flower show from 2.30-3.30 Visited Wilson - Jordan - Baker - Harris - ATkinson. Ives up for Ch from Witering. Choir practice at Church 8-9.' Loosely inserted in the second volume are two items: first, a carte de visite by Butler ('Artist and Photographer') of 9 St Mary's Butts, Reading - a full-length standing portrait of a priest (presumably Few) in surplice and tippet, with pronounced sideburns, standing at a lectern; second, manuscript testamentary accounts (2pp., foolscap 8vo), made out by Few & Co., and folded into a packet which is docketed: 'April 1881 | Particulars of Trust Funds and income under The Revd and Mrs. W. J. Few's Marriage Settlement and The Revd. W. J. Few's Will.' Few was the eldest son of Robert Few of Covent Garden and Esher. After receiving his MA from Christ Church, Oxford, he was curate of St Mary's, Reading, from 1862 until his appointment as Rector of St Nicholas, Guildford, in 1872. The Gentleman's Magazine reports his marriage at Windermere, on 19 August 1862, 'to Emily Ellen, second dau. of G. Pritt, esq., of Great George-st., Westminster, and Helm, Windermere'. The couple's son Col. Robert Jebb Few (1876-1965) had a distinguished army career.