July 18 1813: Lord Byron is Displeased

On July 18 1813, Lord Byron is displeased. that there is a report that he has ‘ill-treated” and been “unfair” to Thomas Claughton, the “young man” – really a solicitor of forty-five years of age – who has purchased Newstead Abbey. His friends have asked him to explain. One such friend is Lady Melbourne who has been asked about the report by Annabella Milbanke. Byron believes, with some justification, that it is he who has been ill-treated by Claughton who has not lived up to his obligations under their contract. It is only in July that Byron received two further payments of £7,500 to complete the deposit for the sale. Claughton had raised a number of objections that had delayed the sale and stopped the flow of funds. In fact, Byron will received some more money from the sale but will never complete the sale to Claughton, who simply does not have the money to do so.

Byron writes to Lady Melbourne to explain his position. He ends with a postscript with coy instructions on how to deal with Annabella writing: “You will make my best acknowledgements to Miss M – & say what is most proper – I have not the skill – you are an adept – you may defend me if it amuses you – not else – let them say anything but what is true & I forgive your prattlers against me.”

 July 18th. 1813

My dear Ly . Me. – The purchaser of Newstead is not a young Man – it was supposed that the purchase was for a Mr. Leigh – & I wish it were – for that Gentleman could make 50 such without injury to himself.

– – Of Mr . Claughton’s circumstances I know little or nothing – he bought the estate not at the public auction – but after a fortnight’s deliberation after the public biddings – the price was certainly his own offer. –

He himself has never made such a representation to me or my agents – & till this moment I never heard the report – he declared & declares himself willing to complete when a title is made out – this we of course are prepared to provide – I do not it is true consider him a willing purchaser – he evaded & at last drove me into Chancery – but if he is ruined by this contract or has been illtreated by me or mine – on that subject he has hitherto been silent – {at least to me. –} If any one is injured in this transaction in circumstances or unfair treatment – it is myself – the title to my estate (of 300 years standing) has been <called in  question> {doubted} – my hopes & my arrangements overthrown & confused – & it should now seem – my character called in question. – I have no time now to expatiate further on a subject which I feel persuaded will not require explanation to those who know me – besides I am not very fond of defending myself – I shall however have an immediate explanation with the interesting youth (a lawyer of forty five years) who is so much overreached by the dreadful chicane & wily experience of that mercenary & litigious person who is yrs. most truly


P.S. You will make my best acknowledgements to Miss M – & say what is most proper – I have not the skill – you are an adept – you may defend me if it amuses you – not else – let them say anything but what is true & I forgive your prattlers against me. –

Byron also takes a more aggressive stand against the rumours by writing to his lawyer John Hanson. He instructs him to put out a statement setting out what has transpired. 

 Sunday, July 18th, 1813.

 Dear Sir,—A Report is in general circulation (which has distressed my friends, and is not very pleasing to me), that the Purchaser of Newstead is a young man, who has been over-reached, ill-treated, and ruined, by me in this transaction of the sale, and that I take an unfair advantage of the law to enforce the contract. This must be contradicted by a true and open statement of the circumstances attending, and subsequent to, the sale, and that immediately and publicly. Surely, if anyone is ill treated it is myself. He bid his own price; he took time before he bid at all, and now, when I am actually granting him further time as a favour, I hear from all quarters that I have acted unfairly. Pray do not delay on this point; see him, and let a proper and true statement be drawn up of the sale, etc., and inserted in the papers.

 Ever yours,


P.S.—Mr. C. himself, if he has either honour or feeling, will be the first to vindicate me from so unfounded an implication. It is surely not for his credit to be supposed ruined or over-reached.

1 thought on “July 18 1813: Lord Byron is Displeased

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Posts: 1813/2013 | pastnow

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