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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Winsor's backers - the artistocrats

There were also some aristocrats –

John Murray. 4th Duke of Athol
The Dukes of Athol are based at Blair Athol, Aberdeenshire where this Duke and/or his immediate forebears had a bad reputation for highland clearances and at the same time were involved with the freemasons at the highest possible level. John Murray succeeded to the Dukedom in 1803. He had some scientific pretensions being a Member of the Society of Arts and Fellow of the Royal Society as the result of his book "Observations on Larch" - a book written as part of an attempt to find a rot-resistant wood for naval shipbuilding – gas tar was also considered for this which could explain his interest in gas lighting.
Athol had a family connection with J.L.Grant, the first Governor of the Gas Light and Coke Co., - and both of them were very close to the Royal family. His London address was 30 Great George Street, but in 1801 he built Castle Mona on the Isle of Man where the family have rights as hereditary governors of the Island.

Viscount Anson
Thomas Anson, née Adams, 1767-1818.. A great-nephew of the famous Admiral George Anson he was created Viscount in 1806 and became a Whig Member of Parliament. He undertook ‘improvements’ at the ancestral home of Shugborough, including the provision of a model farm together with specially designed and heated greenhouses - described, by William Pitt, as ‘a kind of Academy for the study of Horticulture‘. Perhaps, in this context, Winsor's pamphlet about the use of gas in hot houses should be taken in account. Anson married the daughter of the agriculturist, Thomas Coke and was also a keen huntsman.

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