Item #53485 To the fair ladies of Great Britain, old or young. Sir John Dinely.

The eccentric Sir John Dinely advertises for a wife

To the fair ladies of Great Britain, old or young

Windsor: Printed by C. Knight, [23 October 1799]. Large folio broadside, letterpress text within type ornament border, with a central full-length etched portrait of Sir John in a frock coat and wig presenting his proposal, titled at the foot 'The Courteous Baronet or Windsor Advertiser' (dated 16 Feb 1799); woodcut vignettes at each corner; facsimile signature at foot; in excellent condition, framed and glazed. A striking and rare illustrated broadside. Sir John Dinely (1729-1808/9), descending from a family marked by fratricide and insanity, wasted what little of the family estates he inherited. In 1798, the influence of the Pelhams and Lord North procured for him the pension of a poor knight of Windsor and a grace-and-favour apartment in Windsor Castle, where he cut a very peculiar figure, dressed in the costume of the age of George II. 'He had dreams of ancient genealogies, and of alliances still subsisting between himself and the first families of the land' (DNB). He was convinced that he would succeed to enormous wealth if only he had the funds for the necessary proceedings at law. To this end he took to advertising for a wife: 'Sir John Dinely, Baronet, having it in his power to offer to any Lady who may be inclined to enter into the sacred and all-soothing state of Matrimony, not only the Title of Lady, but a Fortune of Three Hundred Thousand Pounds, besides the very great probability of succeeding to a Coronet, - condescends thus publicly to tender his hand to such Ladies as are qualified to years of age £300, from 21-30 years £500, from 30-40 years £600, although a few 'Spinsters...of that age...will be eligible with less than a Thousand. However, Widows under Forty-five will have such Abatement as personal Charms and accomplishments entitle them to expect'. The advertisement was first placed, as is explained here, 'in the Morning Advertiser of the 12th of Jan last'. This was its first appearance in the form of a broadside, to which Dinely subscribed his signature: I do hereby declare this New Edition of my last Address to the Ladies, to be a true Copy, and that Mr. C. Knight hath my Authority to publish the same...Windsor Castle, October 23d, 1799'. Over the next tow years, more than 400 women apparently made enquires, but either they didn't meet his qualifications or they thought better of the arrangement, and he died unmarried ten years later. Burke tells the story in his Romance of the Aristocracy. The stationer Charles Knight, recently removed to Windsor from Soho and Chelsea, and presently to be elected mayor of Windsor, was a skilled engraver who may have trained under Bartolozzi (DNB, Maxted). He was doubtless responsible for the large engraving which embellishes the broadside, and which was apparently also available separately (BM J,1.166). There were two issues, one with a woodcut of a crown in the top right corner (BL and Wesley Theological Seminary in ESTC), and one, as here, with the head of a screaming old woman (Bodley only in ESTC). ESTC misdates the latter to February because the Bodley copy is imperfect, cropped at the foot. There are additional copies of the crown issue at the British Museum (hand-coloured) and in the Royal Collections, and of the present issue at the British Museum. Item #53485

Price: $2,000.00

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