John Loveday of Caversham
Portrait of John Loveday by Thomas Gibson, 1739
John Loveday was an antiquarian, traveller and philologist best known for the tours which he made and chronicled in Great Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands between 1728 and 1765.
He was the founder of a family library which was taken by his son, also John (1742-1809), to Williamscote House near Banbury. He added many volumes to it and it was further augmented by the inheritance of the library of the poet and scholar James Merrick (1720-1769). The library comprising some 2,500 bound volumes remained at Williamscote until 1966 when it was acquired by Penn State University.
The manuscript of the 126 tours remained in the possession of the family and passed to Loveday's great, great, great granddaughter, Sarah Markham (nee Loveday). It formed the basis of the biography which she published in 1984. She had however during the ten or so years leading up to her death in 2003 at the age of 93 been working towards publication of the tours in full with a comprehensive index of names and places. Not only did this require much research but it was also no mean feat for her to grasp the complexities of Microsoft Word including the insertion of numerous footnotes and symbols.
Her sons have attempted to refine their mother's work which was almost complete. They are now glad to make it available to scholars and antiquarians who would like to see the original tours in full.
It may also be of interest to today's travellers to see what has changed and indeed what has not changed since the middle of the eighteenth century.
Loveday comments on the towns and villages and landscapes he passes through and sometimes their inhabitants.
There is, for instance, an interesting description of Mam Tor and other features of the Peak District. Apart from numerous churches, many of the houses he visited are to-day open to the public, such as, Chatsworth, Castle Howard, Burghley, Wilton, Powderham and Syon.
As an example, Tour No. 28 has been reproduced on this website. This includes a visit to Windsor Castle. If you would like access to the complete Tours, please go to the contact page and email a request.
We will endeavour to send the Tours by email in PDF format as soon as possible.