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Letter from John Gibbon to Isabella Twysden


This letter has been for centuries in a book of accounts for 1707 to 1720 kept by Lady Frances Twysden, née Cross. Sometime after the marriage in 1713 of her youngest daughter Isabella to Richard Lybbe of Hardwick House, Oxon, she came to live with them, bringing with her an unmarried daughter, also Frances. We think that Lady Twysden died at Hardwick in 1731, certainly Frances Twysden did so in 1743. Anyhow this account book, with its enclosure, stayed at Hardwick possibly until the house was sold at the turn of this century and is now in my possession.

The letter itself is on a large sheet of double near-foolscap paper and is very discoloured now. All the evidence of the folds of the letter indicate that it is the original and was folded, tucked in and addressed to Madam Isabella Twysden. It is in a handwriting and with abbreviations and words that I found difficult to decipher. Fortunately I recently found, in an old family bible of the early nineteenth century, a transcription of this letter in a legible hand. This transcription copies the spelling, abbreviations and small diagrams precisely or at least as much as I can check. And it is this transcription that I have copied here. Obviously the manner of some abbreviations with their superscripts, as in 'yt' and 'ye', and other accents, as in the dash above the 'm; of 'erm', these I have not been able to reproduce. A scanned copy of either the original or this transcript would take up more disc space than I am allowed on Demon. The details on the third page of the original are in what looks like another hand, far smaller, more precise and much more legible than that of the rest of the document.

The letter was from Johan Gybbon, as he signs himself, or almost certainly John Gibbon as he is now known. I owe to Blair Churchill and Neil Crockford thanks for the following information:

  "There was a John Gibbon who was Blue Mantle, a pursuivant with the
  College of Arms. One of my ancestors corresponded with him circa 1686.
  The letter is preserved or at least mentioned in the Marquis of Bath
  Papers, Vol.II, HMC (1907), p.173."  [Blair Churchill]

  "John Gibbon was "reputed learned and skilled in many tongues, but was
  arrogant and used to scrawl disparaging remarks about his colleagues in
  the College books..."Gybbon's Ordinary", a MS which belonged to him and
  which is now in the College, contains transcripts of ten rolls of arms"
  "Gibbon's Arms : Azure, a lion rampant guardant between 3 escallops
  argent, a martlet for difference. Crest : A demi-tyger looking
  backwards argent with a mural crown gules about its neck."

  "[Source : London, H. Stanford (Norfolk Herald Extraordinary) "A Complete
  List of the Officers of Arms" in Godfrey & Wagner "The College of Arms.
  Queen Victoria Street", London Survey Committee, 1963]"  [Neil Crockford]

It looks as if there could be a chance of comparing the writing of this letter with that of John Gibbon, Bluemantle Pursuivant, and probably proving the identity.

The recipient was Isabella Twysden. From the date of the letter she must have been, of the many Isabella Twysdens in this family, the second daughter of Sir Roger Twysden, 2nd baronet, and Isabella Saunder. She never married and lived from 1637 to 1725. Sir Roger was a noted scholar and had a renowned library. She would have been brought up surrounded by this and probably spent all her life in the family home, Royden Hall at East Peckham, or the small Twysden house in Westminster. From the letter we know that, at the mature age of 56, she was interested in tricking (drawing) crests. Interestingly, as a spinster, she was yet addressed as "Madam" not the more modern "Miss", let alone "Ms".

The letter also mentions John Gibbon's cousin Whetnall. There was a family of Whetenhalls, to use John Ramskill Twisden's spelling (below), who lived at East Peckham near to the Twysdens. It is highly likely that it is these Whetenhalls are the Whetnalls that Gibbon is referring to. Isabella's great-great-great-grandmother was Margaret Whetenhall of this family so Isabella and the nearby Whetenhalls were probably fourth cousins, plus or minus a generation or two. Accordingly she was thereby also a distant relation, if only by marriage, of John Gibbon. And if this is the case, then I am a relation of both of them, being descended from Isabella's father.

Note: The major part of the Twysden information above is from John Ramskill Twisden's "Family of Twysden and Twisden", 1939, pub by John Murray - an excellent book.

Tim Powys-Lybbe
April 1999

[page 1]

Good Madam

having a very Antient unkle yt. dyed, Since I saw you I have been much in Suff: having been trusted with some affairs. I gave you formerly Satisfaction (as much as I could) as to ye Baronetts made by King Charles I after Sr. Wm. Dugd Edition as also whoe K. James made and K.Wm, made Baronetts. Crests of Francs and Ireland, Ireland has nonne. As to ye Kings natural Sonns, you have on next page, wherein ye Lion crest of England is differenced in their individuall Crests. you have also in ye Said next pages ye Crests of those Engsh. peers. you defined (as farre as our office can doe it).

As to ye Scotch and Irish, wee are not in a Capacity to doe it wee are as much unacquainted with them as with ye present State of Egypt. Madam, yr. inclination to Heraldry and excellent faculty in tricking are extremely taking with mee, and I am very Sorry I cannot correspond to ye particulars nee of yr. demands. pray Spare mee not in any thing in my way who am yr. ready servant

15. gbre. 1693

Johan Gybbon

Madam my Humble Service to ye Baronett yr Bro. And to my Cozen Whetnall and his family. I needs not ye reason of my not writing him this Autumne you have it above.

[page 2]

This Supplyes ye defect of ye other Side
Ld. Griffin ye family have used 2 Crests but ye most usual is a talbot's head erased S.
Ld. Stafford. A Swanne ppr Beaked G. Sitting on Ducall Crown pr pale G.S.
yelverton Ld.Gray. on a wreath a lyon passant reguardt G.
Mildmay Ld. Fitzwalter. on a wreath a lyon rampt. B.

Madam when I had made up my letter I perceived yr sealing would make a breach upon my Lord of Lichfield's crest. Therefore the breach is heere made up.
The legge or, the thigh Arg couped, and a Pellican close winged Standing upon it.

[page 3]

Griffin Ld. Griffin (see contrary Side
Ld. Waldegrave out of Ducall Coronet Or. 5 Feathers Party per pale Argt & g.
Ld Godolphin. on a wreath. a Dolphin imbowed. Sa: Finned Or.
Ld. Stanwell _ on a Chapeau Gules Turned up Erm: a Bird volant Argt. wth an Escrole in the Beak. with these words. En Parole Je vis.
Ld. Allington _ on a wreath a Talbot Passt. Argt. Billettŵ Sab.
Ld Cartaret _ on a wreath a Squirrell Sitting in a Chaplet of Oake leaves Proppr an hold a Nut to his Mouth or.
Ld. Osculton _ I have it not in our office
Ld. Langdale on a wreath an Estoile Argt. of 6. points wavy
Ld Ward Chgd (?) Or. and B. a Bend Erm: Crest a Lyons head Az: out of Ducall Coronet Or.
Ld. Carrington on a wreath a Peacocks head Azure Gorged with a Ducal Coront. Or.
Ld. Stafford _ See contrary Side
yelv. Ld. Grey See contrary Side
Ld. Fitzwalter See contrary Side
Ld. Ferrers _ An Old Mans head and Face sideways proper, garnished with a wreath of Laurel Vert
E of Yarmouth A Griphon stiant Or. Winged. upwards Collard gu. the string turning up through his Mouth.
E of Frensham have it not in our office
E. of Lichfield Out of a Marquisses Coronet Or, a Pillar Argt. and thereon the leg & thigh of a bird, the Leg or, ye thigh Argt. couped and a Pelican close winged standing on it. or.
Ds of Portsmouth. No Crest (women never have Creasts
D. Northumbld. A Lion passt. gardt. Or Crowned [tiny drawing] Az. gorged with a Collar Compone Erm. & B.
D St Albans A lion passt. gardt. Or Crown'd [tiny drawing] gu. a Collar gu. charg'd with 3 Cinquefoils Argt.
D. Berwick On a Chapeau gules turn'd up Erm. a dragon passt Argt. Wings upwds. Collar'd B. charg'd with 3 [tiny drawing] (fleurs-de-lys) or.

[ page 4]

Wt follow is Copied out of ye Kings warrants

Charles Fizroy E: of Southampton. upon a chapeau G. doubled erm. a lyon pass. guard or ] with a Ducall coronet azure; and gorged with a collar compone erm. azure: Duke of Northumbd: Henry E of Euston Same crest. but ye collar contre=compône Arg. Azure
George Fitz Roy. ye Same with Henry E of Euston. only the collar contrecompône erm. Azure.

[Against the next entry there is a note in the margin of "gules".]

Ch.Lenox D. of Richmond. crest is a chapeau G. turnd up erm. lion passt gardant or. with a Ducall crowne gules gorged with a collar copone A.G. the A charged with roses of 2d.

Charles Fitz Roy E: of plymouth. upon a chapeau G. turned up erm. a lyon passant guardt or - with a ducall Crown G. pr. pale A.B. and gorged with a collary vairy, unto wth a chaine the links A.B. reflexed over his Loins is affixt.
Charles Beauclair E of Burford on a chapeau G. turned up erm. a Lyon pass. guard. or. with a Ducall Coronett pr. pale A.G. gorged with a collar 2d charged with 3 roses of ye first.

Understand the wreath is allways of ye colour of the first and chargd the principall colours if these are 3. or more


for Madam Isabella Twisden

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