1778-1800 - Childhood and Early Schooling

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The Byron Chronology

Year

Date

Chronology Entry

1778 Summer John Byron, the father of the poet, captivates the wealthy heiress Marchioness Carmarthen, wife of the Marquis of Leeds, into an elopement.
1779 June 9 Following her divorce by Act of Parliament, John Byron marries the Marchioness.
1783   Augusta Byron (the poet's half-sister) born.
1784 Jan. 26 Lady Carmarthen dies in France. At some point, Augusta is placed in the care of Francis Leigh, her paternal aunt.
1785 Spring John Byron travels to the ballrooms of Bath where he meets the inexperienced, young heiress Catherine Gordon of Gight.
May 13 John Byron marries Catherine Gordon and lays waste to her inheritance over the next several years.
1787 Sept. Catherine Gordon joins her husband in France where he had gone to escape creditors.

Augusta, now four, is placed in Catherine's care after her arrival.
1788 Jan. 22 George Gordon Byron born in London at 16 Holles Street, Cavendish Square. He has a caul and a deformed foot.

The family moves frequently to avoid creditors.
Feb. 29 The infant Byron is christened in Marylebone parish church.

Mrs. Byron chooses the Duke of Gordon and her relative Colonel Duff of Fetteresso as his godfathers.
early March Catherine Gordon Byron (CGB) arranges a settlement, securing a portion of her inheritance (4,222 ) from her husband's creditors.

Of this, 3,000 is invested five-per-cents, and the interest on the remaining 1,222 becomes her grandmother Duff's life annuity.

The interest from her investment offers CGB a yearly income of 150.

Year

Date

Chronology Entry

1789   CGB moves to Queen Street, Aberdeen, where she and her young son can live more easily on her income.
summer John Byron lives on the Kent coast at Sandgate Castle where his kinsman William John Byron visits.
August John Byron moves back to Scotland, but soon takes up lodgings at the opposite end of Queen Street. He and his wife live more amicably, visiting and drinking tea.

John Byron leaves Aberdeen within several weeks.
June 14 Storming of the Bastille
1790   John Byron visits Aberdeen for money to travel to France. He lives in his sister's house in Valenciennes.
1791 May Mrs. Byron moves to better accommodations--a first floor flat--at 64 Broad Street.
June 21 John Byron makes his will, making his three-year-old son his executor.
August 2 John Byron dies in France.
1792   George Gordon Byron studies under a series of teachers: first at Mr. Bowers's co-ed Grammar School where he learns "little"; then with a clergyman named Ross under whom he learned to read; then with a tutor named Paterson who introduced basic Latin Grammar.
1794 July 31 William John Byron, heir presumptive to the Byron title and estates, is killed by cannon-ball at the Battle of Calvi in Corsica.

George Gordon Byron becomes heir presumptive.
1794-98   Byron attends Aberdeen Grammar School.
1795[?] summer
vacation
CGB and the young Byron visit Margaret Gordon Duff, CGB's grandmother, at Banff.
1795   CGB arranges to have Byron's first portrait drawn--one of him holding a bow and arrow--by the Edinburgh artist, John Kaye.
1795 or 96   Recuperating from scarlet fever, George Gordon Byron vacations with his mother in the valley of the Dee, within sight of Morven and Lachiny Gair, which inspires a poem of the same name. His love of Scottish highland scenery appears in his early poetry, particularly in his volume Hours of Idleness.

Year

Date

Chronology Entry

1796   First love affair--a passionate attachment to Mary Duff, a distant cousin he met at dancing-school either in Aberdeen or Banff.
1798 May 21 Fifth Lord Byron dies, his estate riddled with debt.

George Gordon becomes the Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale.

John Hanson, a Chancery Solicitor, is consulted in Byron's affairs and becomes both business agent and a sort of guardian.
June 16 The fifth Lord Byron is finally buried, after solicitors determine the estate has enough money to bury him.
late Aug. Byron and CGB travel to Newstead Abbey, the ancestral Byron estate in Nottinghamshire, only to find it in almost complete decay.

Byron and his mother determine to repair the Abbey and live there.
1799   Accompanied by May Gray, his nurse, Byron lives with the Parkyns family, Nottingham, while the quack Lavender doctors his foot.

Under tutelage of "Dummer" Rogers, Byron reads parts of Virgil and Cicero.
July 12 Byron travels to London with John Hanson.

CGB reveals to Hanson that her yearly income has been reduced to 122.
July 13 Byron meets Frederick Howard, fifth Earl of Carlisle (1748-1825), distantly related to Byron (the son of Byron's paternal great aunt).

Hanson encourages Lord Carlisle to confer on the young lord's education and to act as his official guardian.

Carlisle uses his influence to get CGB a yearly provision of 300 out of the Civil List.
July 17 Drs. Baillie and Laurie examine Byron's club foot; at their recommendations Mr. T. Sheldrake makes a brace (which Byron neglects to wear).
Sept. 1 Byron enters Dr. Glennie's School, Dulwich.
August/Sept. Hanson dismisses May Gray after learning that she had been in the habit of coming to bed with Byron and indulging in sexual play.

Byron also admits to Gray's beatings, drunkenness and general neglect of her duties.
1800 Nov. 27 to
early January
Byron spends Christmas holidays with the Hanson children at Earl's Court, Kensington.
mid. January CGB's increased income allows her to move to Sloane Terrrace, London, near the Hansons and Dr. Glennie's School.
Jan 16. CGB meets Lord Carlisle for the first time.
Spring To Hanson's dismay, CGB interferes with Byron's education by keeping him out of school.
Summer Byron and his mother spend the summer holiday in Nottingham and Newstead.

Byron falls in love with first cousin, Margaret Parker (d. 1802), who inspires his "first dash into poetry" (Poetry I 5n; Detached Thoughts , No. 79)
  Catherine Gordon Byron's interference in the young Lord's education becomes unreasonable, and she is denied her weekly visits with Byron by his guardians.

Her temper and tantrums alienate Lord Carlisle.
Christmas Byron spends the holidays at Earl's Court with the Hansons.
  Dr. Baillie and Dr. Maurice Laurie evaluate Byron's foot, and Laurie prescribes a new brace to replace those designed by Sheldrake.

Published @ RC

November 2000

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