The Tours of John Loveday

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Historian, Sarah Markham (1909-2003) wrote the biography of her ancestor John Loveday of Caversham (1711-1789) in 1984.


As custodian of John Loveday's Tours, Sarah realised that the valuable observations which he had made on his extensive travels should be made available to the public.

The biography was published by Michael Russell Publishing Ltd (ISBN 0 85955 095 8). 

Photo: Sarah Markham

The first half of the Author's Note, prefacing the book, is reproduced below:


John Loveday has a niche in the Dictionary of National Biography. He is known to have been a friend of Thomas Hearne and Daniel Waterland but is more often thought of as he appears in the diaries of John Byng or William Windham- a benevolent old gentleman keeping his open house at Caversham.  He is also remembered for his diary of a tour in 1732 which has been of use in the restoration of certain houses and which was published in 1890 by his great-grandson, J.E.T. Loveday.

The diaries of the other tours were mislaid for the best part of a century and were never seen by my grandfather [J.E.T. Loveday]. Unlike the 1732 tour, which was bound, they were written on odd sheets of paper which were often used again throughout the years.  When I transcribed them I found they covered a period from 1729 to 1765, varying from day visits to journeys of several weeks. 


Throughout his life he built up a notable library which is still largely intact and well cared for at Pennsylvania State University. He never wrote a book himself and his contributions to learned journals were almost always under a pseudonym. He became, however, a highly valued consultant on theological, antiquarian or literary matters to a number of authors. Thomas Warton might have spoken for all when, two years before he became Poet Laureate, he wrote: 

I know not how to thank you sufficiently for the many Corrections and excellent Hints, which you have so repeatedly communicated.  I only wish you would give me Permission to take the first opportunity of acknowledging this kindness in a public Manner.  The Public have a right to know by whom they have been obliged.

 With the help of his diaries and correspondence and with the new light thrown upon them by the diaries of the tours and by other researches, I have followed him through his early years and middle age and have also attempted to reconstruct to some extent the lives of his numerous friends. It is partly due to the care with which his daughter, Penelope, and her first husband, William Benwell, preserved so many of the tales of his youth that this has been possible.

Sarah Markham had for some years before she died in 2003, aged 93, been working towards a publication of all the tours in full with a comprehensive index of names and places. When she died she had almost completed the research. Since then some further research has been carried out and time has been spent on checking, index references, pagination and so on.