PIOZZI, HESTER LYNCH (1741 - 1821), author

Name: Hester Lynch Piozzi
Date of birth: 1741
Date of death: 1821
Spouse: Gabriele Mario Piozzi
Spouse: Henry Thrale
Parent: Hester Lynch Salusbury (née Cotton)
Parent: John Salusbury
Gender: Female
Occupation: author
Area of activity: Literature and Writing
Author: William Llewelyn Davies

A friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Born 16 January 1741 at Bodfel, near Pwllheli, Caernarfonshire, only child of John Salusbury, Bachygraig, Flintshire, and Hester Maria (died 1773), daughter of Sir Thomas Cotton, bart., of Combermere and Lleweni. Her inordinate pride in her Welsh ancestry can be understood if it be remembered that on the paternal and the maternal sides she was a descendant of Katheryn of Berain; her father was a descendant of Katheryn's second and her mother of the first marriage. Her career is described in the D.N.B. and other works, and, more recently (Oxford, 1941), by James L. Clifford in Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs. Thrale), a work based on an exhaustive study of much 'Piozziana' and 'Thraliana,' including the material in the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California, the John Rylands Library, Manchester, and the 'Brynbella Piozziana' and other smaller groups in the National Library of Wales. Hester Lynch Salusbury was precocious, with a gift of writing, for journal-keeping, and with a considerable amount of aptitude for learning modern languages. Her father, whose means were slender and who spent some time in Nova Scotia and Ireland, died in 1762, almost a year before she was married, on 11 October 1763, against her father's will and somewhat against her own judgement, to Henry Thrale, brewer, of the Borough (London) and Streatham. The greater part of her life before her marriage Hester had spent partly in London, but mainly at Lleweni or at Offley Park, Hertfordshire, the home of Sir Thomas Salusbury, her father's brother. Fairly soon after her marriage, Mrs. Thrale came to know Dr. Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and others; it is her friendship with Johnson which largely accounts for her fame. Johnson accompanied the Thrales on a journey to North Wales in 1774 - for his journal of this Welsh tour and Mrs. Thrale's journal, see A. M. Broadley, Doctor Johnson and Mrs. Thrale (London, 1910). Johnson also accompanied the Thrales on a journey to France in 1775 - for an account, see The French Journals of Mrs. Thrale and Doctor Johnson (1932, a John Rylands Library, Manchester, publication). Thrale died 4 April 1781. The friendship with Johnson continued until Hester married, much against the wishes of Johnson and numerous other people, including her two eldest daughters, an Italian music master, Gabriele Piozzi, in July 1784. After this second marriage Mrs. Piozzi and her husband visited Italy. On their return, in March 1787, she found that the resentment hitherto felt against her in some quarters had largely diminished. They left Streatham for Wales at the end of 1795; they repaired Bachygraig and afterwards built Brynbella , not very far from Bachygraig. Piozzi died at Brynbella, March 1809. Their adopted son, John Piozzi, later became Sir John Piozzi Salusbury (died 1858), and Mrs. Piozzi made him her heir.

Mrs. Piozzi's publications were (a) ' Preface ' and nine poems contributed to the Florence Miscellany (Florence, 1785); (b) Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson, Ll.D., during the last twenty years of his life (London, 1786, and many subsequent editions); (c) Letters to and from the late Samuel Johnson … (London, 1788); (d) Observations and reflections made in the course of a journey through France, Italy, and Germany (London, 1789; another ed., Dublin, 1789; German trans., Frankfort and Mainz, 1790); (e) The Three Warnings (Kidderminster, 1792); (f) British Synonymy: or an attempt at regulating the choice of words in familiar conversation (London, 1794, Dublin, 1794, Paris, 1804); (g) Three Warnings to John Bull before he dies. By an Old Acquaintance of the Public (London, 1798); (h) Retrospection: or a review of the most striking events, characters, situations, and their consequences, which the last eighteen hundred years have presented to the view of mankind (London, 1801). She had a very large circle of acquaintances or correspondents in England and Wales (see J. L. Clifford, op. cit.) - members of the aristocracy, writers, dramatists, antiquaries, historians actors, etc. Among her Welsh friends were Thomas Pennant, the ' Ladies of Llangollen,' Lewis Bagot, bishop of St Asaph, Margaret Owen of Penrhos, and Mrs. Siddons. She spent much of her later years at Bath. She died at Clifton 2 May 1821, and was buried at Tremeirchion, Flintshire, on 16 May.


Published date: 1959

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