Louisa Capper

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Louisa Capper (1776–1840) was an English writer, philosopher and poet of the 19th century. She was the mother of two notable sons.


Early life and writings

Louisa Capper was born on 15 November 1776 at Fort St George, Madras, India. She was the youngest daughter of Mary (née Johnson [1] ) and Colonel James Capper, [1] [2] an officer in the army of the East India Company, known as a writer and meteorologist. Her grandfather, Francis Capper, was a London barrister; her uncle of the same name was a Church of England clergyman. [3]

Fort St. George, India fort in Chennai, India

Fort St George is the first English fortress in India, founded in 1644 at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. The construction of the fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally an uninhabited land. Thus, it is a feasible contention to say that the city evolved around the fortress. The fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and other official buildings.

Chennai Megacity in Tamil Nadu, India

Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, it is the biggest cultural, economic and educational centre of south India. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the sixth most populous city and fourth-most populous urban agglomeration in India. The city together with the adjoining regions constitute the Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is the 36th-largest urban area by population in the world. Chennai is among the most visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked the 43rd most visited city in the world for the year 2015. The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India. Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. As such, it is termed "India's health capital". As a growing metropolitan city in a developing country, Chennai confronts substantial pollution and other logistical and socio-economic problems.

James Capper (1743–1825) was a British army officer of the East India Company, known as a writer and meteorologist.

She is chiefly remembered for writing An Abridgment of Locke's Essay concerning the Human Understanding , published in 1811. [1] [2] Her Children's Stories however were a more profound contribution to the history of literature, marking a departure into a new populous genre in early Victorian readers. She was a pioneer of writing directly for children in a modern idiom.[ citation needed ]

John Locke English philosopher and physician

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

<i>An Essay Concerning Human Understanding</i> book

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. It first appeared in 1689 with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. He describes the mind at birth as a blank slate filled later through experience. The essay was one of the principal sources of empiricism in modern philosophy, and influenced many enlightenment philosophers, such as David Hume and George Berkeley.

A Poetical History of England (1810) is also attributed to Capper, being a versed history of England from Roman times to the start of the House of Hanover in 1714. [2] It ran to a second edition in 1815. [4] Her history was republished in 2012 as A Poetical History of England; written for the use of the young ladies educated at Rothbury-House School, etc, by the British Library. [5]

Narrative poetry is a form of poetry that tells a story, often making the voices of a narrator and characters as well; the entire story is usually written in metered verse. Narrative poems do not need rhyme. The poems that make up this genre may be short or long, and the story it relates to may be complex. It is normally dramatic, with objectives, diverse and meter. Narrative poems include epics, ballads, idylls, and lays.

Roman Britain part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire

Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised almost the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland.

House of Hanover German royal dynasty

The House of Hanover, whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a German royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th through 20th centuries. The house originated in 1635 as a cadet branch of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, growing in prestige until Hanover became an Electorate in 1692. George I became the first Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714. At Victoria's death in 1901, the throne of the United Kingdom passed to her eldest son Edward VII, a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The last reigning members of the House lost the Duchy of Brunswick in 1918 when Germany became a republic.

Marriage and motherhood

Louisa Capper married, on 16 October 1811, the Reverend Robert Coningham. [2] His respect for her was such that on re-writing his will, he made her sole executrix and guardian. Much of his money came from slave sugar in St Vincent, where his uncle Walter Coningham had made a fortune at Colonarie Vale. Robert received a share of the money paid by the British government under the Slave Compensation Act 1837. [6]

Sugar plantations in the Caribbean

Sugar was the main crop produced on plantations throughout the Caribbean in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Most islands were covered with sugar cane fields, and mills for refining it. The main source of labor, until the abolition of chattel slavery, was enslaved Africans. After the abolition of slavery, indentured laborers from India, China, and Java migrated to the Caribbean to mostly work on the sugar plantations. These plantations produced 80 to 90 percent of the sugar consumed in Western Europe.

The Colonarie River is the longest river in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Located on the main island of Saint Vincent, it flows from the northeast slopes of Grand Bonhomme peak in a northeastward direction, turning east before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean on the island's central east coast. The town of Colonarie is located on the banks of the river.

The Slave Compensation Act 1837 was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, signed into law on 23 December 1837.

She gave birth to at least two children, but only one lived to adulthood: William Coningham, the art collector and politician. Her first child, John, was born in 1812 or 1813, when she was 35, and died in infancy. William was born near Penzance in 1815. She took into her household the infant James Fitzjames, and raised him as a brother to her son; he achieved fame by volunteering for the doomed Arctic exploration known as the Franklin Expedition. Through a 2010 biography of Fitzjames, much of her life has become clearer.

William Coningham British politician

William Coningham was a British Liberal politician and art collector.

Penzance town in Cornwall, UK

Penzance is a town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, in England, United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is about 64 miles (103 km) west-southwest of Plymouth and 255 miles (410 km) west-southwest of London. Situated in the shelter of Mount's Bay, the town faces south-east onto the English Channel, is bordered to the west by the fishing port of Newlyn, to the north by the civil parish of Madron and to the east by the civil parish of Ludgvan.

James Fitzjames Royal Navy officer and explorer

Captain James Fitzjames was a British Royal Navy officer who participated in two major exploratory expeditions, the Euphrates Expedition and the Franklin Expedition.

Rose Hill and later life

Capper and her husband lived in Cornwall, then Watford, before settling in the 1820s at Rose Hill, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. They lived in quiet comfort, near enough to London to be in touch with cultural developments but in a pleasant country atmosphere. Rose Hill was a substantial household to run, of about 30 acres, with several indoor and outdoor servants.

Abbots Langley civil parish in Hertfordshire, England

Abbots Langley is a large village and civil parish in the English county of Hertfordshire. It is an old settlement and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Economically the village is closely linked to Watford and was formerly part of the Watford Rural District. Since 1974 it has been included in the Three Rivers district.

The house itself, built in the 1820s, sat immediately above the Grand Junction Canal, [7] which had opened in 1800. The London and Birmingham Railway was constructed along the same valley during the 1830s, in the teeth of land-owners' opposition. [8] (See also the Modern history of Hertfordshire.) In the 1870s, Rose Hill was home to the civil engineer George Turnbull; it was demolished in 1952. [9]

The Rose Hill social circle consisted of extended family and travelling friends, as well as neighbours such as the Earl of Essex at Cassiobury House. Robert Coningham's widowed mother, born Elizabeth Campbell, lived with them. His cousins included John Sterling, [10] the writer and man of letters, and his brother Anthony Coningham Sterling, Army officer and historian. Louisa Capper's elder sister Marianne married Robert Clutterbuck, author of the county history of Hertford; [11] the two married sisters lived near one another for many years.

Louisa was responsible for a happy and well-run home. One of her visitors was Jane Carlyle, who describes Rose Hill as a sort of Eden: "a perfect Paradise of a place, peopled as every Paradise ought to be with Angels", filled with "cheerful countenances" only too happy to cater for her every happiness. [12]

Fitzjames's letters home refer to Louisa's and William's illnesses; she took her son to Cheltenham, Switzerland, and Boulogne in search of cures. She died on 25 May 1840 at Chorleywood and is buried at Rickmansworth, both in Hertfordshire. [1] [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Robinson 1887.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Perkins 2004.
  3. Wikisource-logo.svg Robinson, Charles John (1885–1900). "Capper, Francis"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  4. James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition.. Page 30
  5. Amazon 2011.
  6. "Rev. Robert Coningham, Profile & Legacies Summary". Legacies of British slave-ownership. UCL. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  7. Rosehill: 51°41′55″N0°25′58″W / 51.698586°N 0.432844°W
  8. Birtchnell, Percy (1960). "Our Communications". A Short History of Berkhamsted. ISBN   9781871372007.
  9. Hastie, Scott (1993). Abbots Langley—A Hertfordshire Village. Abbots Langley: Abbots Langley Parish Council. ISBN   0-9520929-0-5. Rosehill was built in the 1820's and demolished circa 1952. The house stood on Gallows Hill where the Gade View flats are today.<...>Between 1875 and 1887, the house was home to George Turnbull whose wife survived him and lived on there until 1899.
  10. Catherine Hall; Keith McClelland; Nick Draper; Kate Donington; Rachel Lang (2014). Legacies of British Slave-ownership. Cambridge. p. 54. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  11. Cooper 1887.
  12. Quoted in chapter 1 "Tracking down James Fitzjames". James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition by William Battersby. 2010.
Works cited