‘Dear Brother’: The grand tour letters of Charles Henry Cadogan part 1. Canterbury to the Alps

Little is recorded of Charles Henry 2nd Earl Cadogan (1749 – 1832) beyond his dates of birth and death, and the bare facts that he served for a time in the army, and that he was insane for at least twenty-five years before his death. So it’s wonderful to discover further biography of this engaging and likeable man, thanks to some unpublished letters in the Parliamentary Archive (PA CAD/4), describing his travels from Dover in 1783 to Paris in 1790, via Naples, Egypt, the Near East, Constantinople and Poland. I am grateful to the Cadogan Archive for giving me permission to reproduce his portrait, painted, I would say, by Tilly Kettle in the 1770s.


(c) Cadogan Archive

In his mid-30s, Cadogan was older than many Grand Tourists, but this was no ordinary Grand Tour, and his travels lasted the best part of a decade. These letters are written to his brother Rev the Hon William Bromley Cadogan (1751 – 1797) Vicar of St Giles’s, Reading. 

The brothers grew up at the Cadogan family seat Caversham Park in Berkshire. Their mother Frances Bromley had died in 1768. Their father the 1st Earl Cadogan (1728 – 1807) remarried in 1777, and because of its sad association with his first marriage, sold the house over dinner in 1783 to Major Charles Marsack (d.1820), an East India Company officer who had made a fortune while on service. Charles Cadogan calls the sale the ‘Caversham Event’. Marsack demolished the house built by the brothers’ great-great uncle the famous General Earl Cadogan (1672 – 1726) and built one of his own. Nabob Marsack made himself unpopular by closing the Park to locals, who had always been allowed to walk through it.

A quick note on some of the other people mentioned – Gipps, with whom Cadogan was staying in Canterbury must be a relative of George Gipps (1728 – 1800) MP for Canterbury, a successful hop-merchant turned banker and politician; the British Minister Plenipotentiary at Brussels was George Byng 4th Viscount Torrington (1740 – 1812), tho why he is called ‘the Snake’ I have no idea; Lord Montfort was the brothers’ uncle Thomas Bromley Lord Montfort (1733 – 1799), a man who kept his own menagerie (Amusements of Men of Fashion in 1782 GEC Complete Peerage) and whose ‘egregious Folly and inconsistent Prodigality brought him to utter Ruin’ (GEC); Old Loveday must be their neighbour John Loveday (1711 – 1789), the antiquarian who wrote a journal of his travels through the British Isles in 1732; Vatas is a an old retainer at Caversham; My Lord and Lady are the brothers’ father and their stepmother Mary Churchill (later divorced in 1796 for an affair with a clergyman).

I’m not sure if Charles Cadogan’s ‘Phacaon’ is an accepted Eighteenth Century spelling of ‘fashion’, or if it’s an in-joke between the brothers. I’ve never read it anywhere else.

Canterbury July 19 1783

Dear Brother,

I got here yesterday to dinner from Tunbridge, where I left my Lord and Lady in perfect health.

I stay here till about two to day in order to take a walk over the Cathedral with Gipps. At that time I set off for Dover, I shall embark there to night either in the Calais or Ostend Packet but rather think the latter. My Ink apparatus has ended in a Ginger and my writing Paper in a red Portfolio in the Chaise Pocket. This upon examination I found the most convenient mode, as my Correspondence you know is always limited, and my mean writing paper is to be contained in the little Paper books fit for remark. I have nothing farther to tell you but that I beg to be kindly remembered to your wife, and thank you shall hear from me when at Traytoner’s as I told you. I will always give you my Directions in my letters.

I remain dear brother most affectionately yours

CH Cadogan

PS I got your answer to my last the other day at Tunbridge, am much concerned at the work done at Caversham but hope it will not materially affect the place.


Neuchatel November 20 1783

Dear Brother,

Young Mr Simpson is going back to his Father’s in Cheapside, and therefore I take the opportunity of his Departure of writing to you hoping that this will find you and Mrs Cadogan in good health at Reading.

I set sail from Dover for Ostend on July 19, and after satisfying my Curiosity in travelling in the Barges along the Cuts in the Netherlands, I got to Brussels August 5. There I stayed til the 19th, and was civilly received by the Snake (which you may tell old Loveday with my best Compliments if you please) Tho he in Point of Circumstance and tho he is our Minister there, is pretty near as well able to be Hospitable as Lord Montfort. I got to Spa August 24th, where there was a vast Concourse of people from all Nations, and plenty of Phacaon as well as all kind of Gambling. I left Spa September 16, got to Nancy the 23rd, as I took Nabecourt where I spent a day in my way, and it is five days journey that way, the Road being so very bad in some places; tho’ the Distance is but about 200 Miles. Left Nancy the 30thand got here October 2nd. Had very fine weather upon the whole. Pray tell Vatas I stay in these parts till August, and that he shall hear from me during my stay. Whist that is Pouring foes forward Every day. Tell Mrs Cadogan, that she’ll hear of me again before I pass Mount Cenis, In the mean time let me hear from Reading. Live on these upon the plan you proposed when I saw you last, and tho’ I have no great hopes of hearing of any great Intercourse between my Lord’s family and yours, Yet I repeat live as above, For tho’ you may not be quite happy in other Respects, yet Independence is one Essential Ingredient at least of Happiness. Remember me kindly to Mrs C. and if you can give me any Information concerning Jack Cottrell give it, and believe me Dear Brother most affectionately Yours CH Cadogan

Direct to me Gentilhomme Anglois àNeufchatel in Alps. Put a shilling with the letter into the Post, otherwise it won’t go.


Guevaux August 12 1784

Dear Brother,

I thank you for your last of May 25, and am glad to hear you are well. I hope you continue as well and happy as you describe yourself in your last. I have just had a letter from My Lord and find that Nabob Marsack is in Possession of poor Caversham. I hope he will keep it well and do it Justice, tho’ I don’t imagine that you will take many rides through the Park in order to observe it. I figure to myself the lively feelings of old Loveday upon the occasion, as well as Vatas pouting out his Lip and saying have mercy on us.I hope the latter received my last, and I beg you will tell him that the Caversham Event shall not in the least alter the Regard I allways had for him, and that I shall write to him from time to time. What strange changes the little man has lived to see at poor Caversham! I dare say he will hardly believe his own Eyes when he sees Marsack and his family at Church, and I dare say that he will allways go up to the Park with Reluctance.

My first Tour over the little neighbouring Mountain answered very well, and I found your last at Neuchatel on my Return. I saw a very Industrious poor Country full of Natural Curiosities, and Chemin faisant caught one day in about 3 hours 8 good Trout of towards ½ a lb each, and had 6 times as many bites. You know I am a sad bungler with a fly.

I came here the middle of June and stayed here till the 22ndJuly. On that day I set out for my Grand Tour, and have been from that day till the 9th Instant partly over the tops of some great Snowy Alps then and partly among Vallies which afforded the most wonderful Scene by much I ever saw in my life, the Mountains of Wales, Highlands etc. are a joke to them. I was obliged to lead my horse great part of the way for fear of falling over the high precipice. This climbing was fatiguing, but amply recompensed by what I saw. I am now prepared for Mount Cenis which I shall cross the end of next month. I saw the Rivers Rhone and Aare their very Sources, which are in one of the Glaciers close to which I went and are formed by the melting of Ice and Snow; they run down the Rocks with a prodigious rapid Current, and form the most Majestic scenes I ever saw; but to describe all I saw would take up a Volume.

I leave this Country in three weeks, and after staying about a week at Lausanne and Geneva, cross the Mont, and pass about three weeks or so at Turin. Thence after a slight touch at Genoa and Leghorn I go strait to Naples, I shall be at Turin from the beginning till toward the end of October, and at Naples from early in November for 3 or 4 Months.

direct to me Gentilhomme anglois at these places remembering to put Poste restanteat the bottom of the Direction.

Pray remember me to all neighbours (if I may now call them so) but friends I may call them and particularly to Mrs C. believe me Dear Brother most affectionately yours, CH Cadogan

Parliamentary Archives CAD 4/1 – 3


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