Powys-Lybbe Forbears - Person Sheet
Powys-Lybbe Forbears - Person Sheet
NameCaroline Girle [29], [30]
Birth27 Dec 1738
Death7 Nov 1817, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon
BurialWhitchurch, Oxon
GeneralHeir. Diarist.
FatherJohn Girle FRS (ca1702-1761)
MotherBarbara Slaney (1717-1801)
ChildrenCaroline (Died as Infant) (1763-1764)
 Philip Lybbe (1765-1838)
 Thomas (1768-1817)
 Caroline Isabella (1775-ca1838)
Notes for Caroline Girle
Martin P-L writes:

Her father was the Surgeon in Chief to St Thomas's, a member of the Royal Society, and a wealthy man.  He owned property in Beenham, Bucklebury, Padworth and Ufton (all in Berks) and built no. 1 Lincoln's Inn Fields, which is now half of a double house.  He died the year before she married PHILIP, and was buried at Beenham.  Though the church has since burnt down, the memorial tablet erected by his wife survives and is in the new church.   His wife, Barbara, lived on for many years.  In due course, Caroline inherited all the above property, plus her mother's third share of an estate in Worcs., and many investments.

Her father had encouraged her to keep a journal while away on holiday in Norfolk, and she maintained the habit till soon before her husband's death, when she herself suffered so badly from rheumatism that she found it hard to write.
The Diaries give a warm and detailed account of eighteenth century life as a country lady.  There were about 20 volumes, which were distributed round the family.  Mrs Climenson was able to reassemble them to produce her edited version, but half of them subsequently disappeared, on the Isle of Wight apparently.  The remainder were given by AP-L to the British Library, together with her recipe book.  This contains about 200 recipes (or receipts), not just for food but for medicines and concoctions for cleaning a variety of materials.  AP-L has another book of hers, an anthology - in impeccable hand - of passages from books that she enjoyed or valued.

Mrs Climenson's edition was published in 1899.  She had access to many other family papers, which she quoted liberally in her footnotes and appendices.  Since the original papers have since disappeared, we have cause to be grateful to her.  There is very little additional information that I have been able to lay hold of.  One such, to end with.
Queen Charlotte, with whom Caroline was quite friendly, gave her a gold comb, which she must have given to her second son Thomas, since it is now in the possession of  Thomas Whitby, who is descended from him.

The miniature of Caroline that AP-L had was stolen, but a reproduction of it is on the flyleaf of the Diaries.

Both Caroline and Philip were buried in the family vault, under the vestry at Whitchurch.

Her will is at Kew, for Caroline Powys, widow of Fawley, Bucks and proved on 8th Jan 1818.

The notice of her death in The Gentleman’s Magazine  for 1817, Jul to Dec, p. 566 states it was on 1st Nov and that she died at Henley on Thames:

“Nov 1. At Henley-on-Thames, aged 80, Mrs Caroline Powys, relict of the late and mother of the present Philip Lybbe Powys, esq. of Hardwick-house, co. Oxon.”

The British Museum Quarterly, Vol 5, No 4, (Mar 1931), pp. 120-124, records this acquisition:

“Diaries, in 12 vols, of Mrs Caroline Powys, 1739-1817, of Harwicke House, Oxon.  Bequeatheed by her descendant the late Mr R.C.L.P.Lybbe.”

Note that her name is correctly recorded in this entry.
Will notes for Caroline Girle
Will of Caroline Powys, Widow of Fawley , Buckinghamshire 08 January 1818 PROB 11/1600
DNB Main notes for Caroline Girle
Powys [née Girle], Caroline (1738-1817), diarist,

was born on 27 December 1738, the only child of John Girle (d. 1761), surgeon, of Beenham, Berkshire, and his wife, Barbara (1715-1801), daughter of John Slaney of Yardley and Ludsley, Worcestershire. Her father built a house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, and they moved there in 1754. After his death she moved to Caversham, Oxfordshire, with her mother, but following her marriage in 1762 to Philip Lybbe Powys (1734-1809), the eldest of the three sons of Philip Powys (1704-1779) and his wife, Isabella Lybbe (1713-1761), of Hardwick House, Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, she became mistress of Hardwick House, which had been in the Lybbe family since 1526. Isabella Lybbe, as the only child, had inherited the house from her father, Richard Lybbe.

Caroline Powys had two sons, Philip Lybbe (1765-1838), who was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards, and Thomas (1767-1817), a clergyman, and one daughter, Caroline (b. 1775), who married the Revd Edward Cooper, later rector of Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire. Another daughter died in infancy. After her sons left home she and her husband let Hardwick House, and in 1784 moved to Fawley rectory, Buckinghamshire, 13 miles away, to live with her brother-in-law, the Revd Thomas Powys, a bachelor.

It was Caroline Powys's father who taught her to keep a diary, starting in 1756. While still living in Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1761 she saw Earl Ferrers being taken from the Tower of London to Tyburn to be hanged for murder, and saw the hearse return; also in 1761 she describes the coronation procession of George III. After her marriage the diary records social life in the country, with visits to neighbouring country houses, often newly built, with gardens laid out by Capability Brown, such as Caversham Park; assemblies and balls during the Henley winter season, with lists of those attending; visits to Bath and London, with plays and concerts, including performances by Mme Catalani in Bath and Mrs Sheridan in London; travels, always in England, including a visit to Ramsgate in 1801, where she could hear Nelson bombarding French ships off Boulogne; local events, as when she watched Cliveden burn down in 1795; details of alterations to the gardens at Hardwick, with lists of fruit trees planted; recipes, including one for lavender drops, a cure for the palsy; and menus, including that for a dinner given in 1798 by her brother-in-law in Canterbury for Prince William of Gloucester. After a ball in the Upper Assembly Rooms in Bath in January 1791 her list of all the members of the nobility there fills more than a page, besides baronets and their wives innumerable.

Caroline Powys's diary has been dismissed as of little interest, but although she rarely comments on political events, it is none the less a fascinating record of upper-class life in the second half of the eighteenth century. She wrote over 150,000 words, but had no pretensions to literary style: 'if the rusticity of a dull pen, like a piece of rough Marble, may be polished by exercise, then ‘ ... may I, in time, perhaps have the honorary title of an expert journalist' (U. Powys, Reading Mercury, 7 Nov 1959). The diary ends in December 1808, when the rheumatism in her right hand stopped her from writing any more. The death of her husband on 12 April 1809 was followed six months later by that of her brother-in-law, who had been dean of Canterbury since 1797 (always referred to as the Dean). She moved to Henley-on-Thames, and her son Thomas was given the living of Fawley in 1810. On 17 August 1817 Thomas died, leaving a widow and eleven children, including six-year-old triplets, and Caroline returned to Fawley rectory to help her daughter-in-law. She died there three months later, and was buried in her husband's grave at Whitchurch on 7 November 1817. A volume of passages from the diary was first published in 1899.

Anne Pimlott Baker

Sources †

C. Powys, Passages from the diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys of Hardwick House, Oxfordshire, 1756 to 1808, ed. E. J. Climenson (1899) ∑ U. Powys, The eighteenth century re-created,Reading Mercury (22 Aug-7 Nov 1959) ∑ A. Ponsonby, English diaries: a review of English diaries from the sixteenth to the twentieth century with an introduction to diary writing, 2nd edn (1923), 2523 ∑ W. Matthews, British diaries: an annotated bibliography of British diaries written between 1442 and 1942
(1950), 89 ∑ Burke, Gen. GB (1894) ∑ IGI
Notes for Philip Lybbe & Caroline (Family)
Whitchurch Marriage Register:
  "1762 Aug 5   POWYS   Philip Lybbe of Hardwick in this parish
                         GIRLE     Caroline of Caversham
                    Wit: John WHISTLER, Philip POWYS                    Lic."

In her diary for 5 Aug 1802, Caroline Powys wrote: our Wedding day married in 1762.
Last Modified 7 Jun 2018Created 14 May 2022 by Tim Powys-Lybbe
Re-created by Tim Powys-Lybbe on 14 May 20220