The Lushington Family

Photograph of Dr Stephen Lushington, c.1870 (SHC ref 7854)

Photograph of Dr Stephen Lushington, c.1870
(SHC ref 7854)

Dr Stephen Lushington (1782-1873), who rented Ockham Park as his country seat, was an eminent lawyer who represented Queen Caroline, wife of King George IV, and Lady Byron in their famous divorce cases and was known as the man who ‘knew the Byron secret’.  He was also a reformer who campaigned for the ending of capital punishment and the slave trade. Read more about his connection with fugitive slaves in Ockham.

Sir Hubert Parry at Highnam Court SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p11

Sir Hubert Parry at Highnam Court
SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p11

His children included Vernon Lushington (1832-1912), also a lawyer and a County Court judge in Surrey from 1877.  Vernon was drawn into Christian Socialism and went on to serve on the Council of the Working Men’s College alongside John Ruskin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  It was through the Working Men’s College that Lushington came to introduce Edward Burne-Jones to Rossetti.  Burne-Jones later wrote to Lushington, ‘My first introduction to Gabriel was your doing – and big results it brought into my life.’  Vernon married Jane Mowatt (died 1884), daughter of Francis Mowatt, who was Liberal MP for Penryn, Cornwall, and afterwards for Cambridge, in 1865.  They lived at Wheelers Farm, Pyrford, and then at Pyports, Cobham, while maintaining a London home at 36 Kensington Square. Vernon and Jane Lushington had three daughters, Katherine, Margaret and Susan.  All three daughters were talented musicians and were tutored in their musical studies by the composer Sir Hubert Parry (best known for the choral song Jerusalem), a family friend, and neighbour in Kensington Square.  Hubert called Katherine, or Kitty as she was usually known, ‘my darling Kittiwake’. The artist Arthur Hughes, another family friend, painted a portrait of Jane Lushington and the three girls at their Cobham home, entitled ‘The Home Quartet’.

Katherine ‘Kitty’ Lushington (1867-1922), married Leopold Maxse the journalist and political writer whose family then lived at Dunley Hill near Effingham, Surrey.  Kitty’s friendship with Virginia Woolf resulted in her being used as the model for ‘Mrs Dalloway’. Kitty and Leo were engaged at Talland House in Cornwall which was the summer residence of the Stephen family.  Woolf later used events at the summer house parties at Talland as the basis of her novel ‘To The Lighthouse’.

Margaret Lushington (1869-1906), married Stephen Massingberd of Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire.  Margaret and Stephen organised music festivals in Lincolnshire.

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens at 36 Kensington Square (SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens
at 36 Kensington Square
(SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

Susan Lushington (1870-1953), the youngest daughter, never married. After her father’s death she moved to Kingsley just over the Surrey border in Hampshire. There she established herself as a rather eccentric, somewhat formidable, but much loved personality. She lived an extremely active and varied life, taking part in musical pursuits of all types and was awarded the MBE in 1943.

The papers of these three generations of the Lushington family, spanning 150 years  (SHC ref. 7854), are a very valuable source for the social history of Surrey and for many British musical, artistic and intellectual movements in which members of the Lushington family were deeply involved in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.  A detailed catalogue of the archive has now been completed thanks to an award in 2013 from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme. The archive catalogue is now available to browse on this website.

As well as both sides of a remarkable husband and wife correspondence between Vernon and Jane Lushington for the near 20 years of their married life the archive also includes many letters between the sisters and to and from their parents and papers relating to Vernon’s involvement in the Positivist movement.  The archive contains letters to Susan from many people involved in the development and performance of music in the early 20th century and letters and concert programmes relating to Susan’s own musical performances at Kingsley and elsewhere. During World War I and World War II Susan corresponded with a large number of servicemen who were based at the army camp at Bordon near her Kingsley home.  They were invited into her home to share her musical interests, and later wrote back to her from the front line.  One of the writers was Susan’s relation Franklin Lushington who later wrote books on his wartime experiences and served with the poet Edward Thomas.

Susan was a keen photographer and there is a splendid series of photograph albums depicting many of the Lushingtons’ relations and friends who feature in the correspondence.  She was also a diarist and kept a fascinating and detailed record of her activities and impressions during the 1880s and 1890s, beginning when she was a teenager.

Notable people who feature in the archive include the artist William Holman Hunt and his family; the artist and designer William Morris, who Vernon Lushington visited at his Kelmscott home; William Robinson of Gravetye Manor, Sussex, the pioneer gardener, and Sir Hubert Parry who wrote to Susan during the years he was director of the Royal College of Music.

Other families with whom the Lushingtons were associated and whose correspondence appears in the archive includes the Montgomerys of Blessingbourne, Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland, and the Massingberds of Gunby Hall.  Archibald Montgomery (1871-1947), who married Diana Massingberd and later became Field Marshal Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd, wrote a fine series of letters to Susan from the front line of the Boer War.  There are also letters from George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle (1843-1911), ‘the artist Earl’ and members of his family.

Black History links in the Lushington Archive.

The Lushington family: a photographic narrative.

Surrey History Centre’s May 2019 Marvel of the Month revealed Vernon Lushington’s admiration for the work of the great American poet, Walt Whitman.

William Gladstone with assorted Howards (captioned by Susan on the back as 'William Gladstone, Mr Motley, Lady Harcourt, Mr Charles Howard, Mr and Mrs George Howard, Mary, Cecilia and Charley Howard'

William Gladstone with assorted Howards (captioned by Susan on the back as ‘William Gladstone, Mr Motley, Lady Harcourt, Mr Charles Howard, Mr and Mrs George Howard, Mary, Cecilia and Charley Howard’

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