Hilary, Florence and Richard

Hilary and Florence were cousins, born into families of wealth and privilege. Hilary became an artist but died quite young. Florence went into nursing but was also recognized in her later years as being ‘well-versed in the art of preparing and reflectively analysing social data’ (Edwin W. Knopf). She was not just the “Lady of the Lamp”  but also the “Passionate Statistician” (Francis Galton). Florence was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and was made an honorary member of the American Statistical Association in 1877.

Florence devised pie diagrams that she called her “coxcombs”, intended to ‘affect thro’ the eyes what we may fail to convey to the brains of the public through their word-proof ears’. This one was published in an appendix to the Report of the 1857 Commission and reprinted for private circulation in a pamphlet entitled Mortality of the British Army. It shows the relative mortality from zymotic diseases (blue), wounds (red), and from all other sources (black) in the hospitals of the Army in the East from April 1855 to March 1856.

She may not have been a nurse, hospital administrator or statistician if she had succumbed to the advances of Richard. He was possibly the most ardent of her suitors and gave her years to make up her mind. After she finally said “no”, he married Annabella Hungerford CREWE when he was 42 years old.

Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton, George Richmond, public domain

[Richard]…was one of the most attractive bachelors in London, a gifted litterateur, a rising politician, a wit, a brilliant host, famous for his breakfasts, to which he invited everyone of note. Carlyle, asked what would be the first thing to happen if Christ came back to earth, said, Monckton Milnes would ask him to breakfast’. To these gifts he added great kindness. ‘He treated all his fellow mortals as if they were his brothers and sisters’, said Florence. He had a feeling for children and worked for many years, against strong opposition, to improve the treatment of young offenders. It was largely due to him that reformatories were instituted for them so that they should not be put in jails with adult criminals. He once took Florence to visit one of these reformatories and she was struck by the trust the children showed in him. ‘He had the same manner for a dirty brat as a duchess’, she wrote afterwards. She dreamt of a delightful partnership with him. But then what was to become of her vocation?

Richard Stone

Florence kept private notes on her thoughts and when she was about seventeen she wrote, ‘God spoke to me and called me to His service’. Some years later, she wrote to her cousin…

[ca. 10 February 1845]

Dearest child [Hilary Bonham Carter]

You did not happen to see a little book of Abbott’s called The Way to Do Good when you were here did you? I was reading some of it to Shore once and cannot find it now. My young people are not yet home, you see.

Mrs Hogg died yesterday morning and the face which was just before so convulsed is now so calm. I have so much to tell you of her when we see each other. When that weary head rolled upon my shoulder, it seemed to me as if “many things were becoming clear to me.” Now we go to life and she to death – which of us for the better part, the gods only know.

I am sure patience had its perfect [words cut out], as long as she was sensible, last week her sufferings were too great. She had her prayer at last that she might see before she died – she saw us all and a few hours before asked me why I had my bonnet on and where I was going. Now she can speak truth and be understood. Now she knows even as she is known, she has awakened from the dream of life and left us behind to envy her rest….

I took the sacrament with Mrs Hogg a few days before she died. One feels such reverence before the spirit that is waiting to put on incorruption and being tried in its painful, painful passage to the grave, whether it is capable of infinite endurance and able to the weight of immortality. How one feels then that the most real presence in the room is the invisible presence which hovers round the deathbed and that we are only ghosts, that have put on form for the moment, and shall put it off almost before we have had time to wind up our watch. We are the apparitions. But I must have done, my dear. Best love to Ju [Aunt Julia Smith]. I hope to see you soon.

Do you recollect your last visit to poor Mrs Hogg? She always knew my voice, and sometimes when she was in convulsions, she would answer and then the tears would come and she was still. I never saw such sufferings. I wish I had gone every day before she became so very ill. I was thinking only of myself then and shall always repent it.

ever yours  [lines cut off]

[first sheet missing, presumably because of Nightingale’s request that it be burned]

from Florence Nightingale: an Introduction to her Life and Family edited by Lynn McDonald [Google Books online]
Florence, lithograph, original drawing by Joanna Hilary Bonham Carter, National Portrait Gallery with permission

Fortune and fame don’t ensure a full representation on the FamilySearch Shared Tree but the pedigrees of the Misses Bonham-Carter and Nightingale, and Richard Monckton Milnes are extensive.

Florence, disappointingly, has been given the wrong mother. Martha Frances was the first child of William Smith and died unmarried in Tenby in 1870. Frances, or Fanny, is the mother of “Parthe” and Florence but isn’t listed with the other children of William and Frances COAPE. Country Joe offers two fragments of Shore/Nightingale and Smith genealogy which offer clarification and indicate the Bonham-Carter connection

In case you are wondering, Britsh actress Helena Bonham Carter is Hilary’s great grand niece.

Go back far enough in time and you will find that Florence and Richard share several common ancestors, making them cousins of several denominations I guess. And if my portal had not closed against me, as mentioned in an earlier post, I could have claimed connection to them both. Sigh.

Hilary Bonham Carter

Richard Monckton Milnes

Measure of Man 47 · Remembrance

Mile Haven, Muston Sands

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