Thoroton Society Record Series

Thoroton Society Record Series Volume XLIII (2004). Unhappy Reactionary: The Diaries of the Fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, 1822-50. Edited by Dr Richard Gaunt

Cover of Newcastle Diaries

The volume is edited by Dr Richard Gaunt of the University of Nottingham and comprises a selection of entries from the original eight diaries (which resurfaced only in 1966, having been lost for some 50 years) arranged in three main sections, dealing with the Duke's political affairs, and especially his electioneering in the constituencies in which he had influence, with his family and social life in Nottinghamshire, and with his estates and houses in and outside the county.

The 4th Duke was one of the most important figures of early 19th Century Nottinghamshire, owning both Clumber House and Nottingham Castle. He achieved notoriety during his lifetime as a right-wing reactionary aristocrat opposed to many of the contemporary changes and reforms which affected so many aspects of life in his period.  It was his opposition to the parliamentary Reform Bill in 1831 which led to an irate mob setting fire to Nottingham Castle in 1831. His diaries show him unswerving in his political convictions, but also a devoted family man devastated by the early loss of his wife, to whose memory he erected the enormous mausoleum church at Markham Clinton. The Diaries also reveal how he over-reached himself financially with his improvements at Clumber and elsewhere, and the purchase of both the Worksop Manor estate and another in Wales, circumstances which speeded up the carefully controlled development and sale of exclusive building plots in Nottingham Park.

The Diaries contain numerous points of interest to local historians – e.g. his occasional spats with the Duke of Portland, details of the demolition of Worksop Manor in 1844, and information about the purchase of a new ship, the Lincoln, from a boatyard in the Isle of Wight to sail on the lake at Clumber in 1838. The edition runs to 321 pages. 

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