Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interesting Collection Finds

Managing a library collection sometimes has its surprises, especially when you open a book and find little treasures saved within its pages. How many of us have ever used a photo or other piece of paper to mark a place in a book? And have forgotten to remove it after we finished with the book? Without a doubt, librarians over the years have encountered many pieces of "ephemera" (printed matter of passing interest, such as postcards, tickets, ads, etc.) inside volumes upon their return.

Luckily, my find was better than generic ephemera: two precious little watercolors painted by two young girls in 1858 and saved by their father, Charles M. Taynton, in one of his personal books. Each painting was carefully dated as to when it was painted and when its caption was written. Although my search for information about the family has been unsuccessful, I hope Mary and Phebe would be pleased that their father inadvertently saved their artwork for posterity.


  1. I wasn't sure who I should e-mail this question to but I was wondering who the large portrait in the room adjacent to the dinning room is of. I saw it in "Houses of the Founding Fathers" and the woman is wearing red lined with what looks like ermine. I would greatly appreciate any info on the painting -thank you!!

  2. Hi, you're probably referring to the portrait of Queen Caroline. When the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association purchased and started restoring the house in 1929, they thought Queen Caroline had given Thomas Lee some money to build Stratford because his former house was burned down. Further research showed that she had not given him money for this--in fact, probably didn't even know who Thomas Lee was!--but the portrait is still there because of the history we can tell. It's always good to show people how the research shows us new aspects to the house--and the family's--history.

    Hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Thanks a lot for your interest!

  3. Thank you so much! How fascinating! I was also wondering what the precise origin of the coat of arms on the cover of "Stratford Hall Plantation and the Lees of Virginia" is. I have seen it posted several places online, but have never been able to trace where it is originally from. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Also, I have heard of a Lee genealogy displayed at Stratford which goes into that of the Lees of Coton Hall and ends with "Warin the Bold". Is there such a lineage? The person I spoke to might have been misinformed.
    And lastly, do you know if any portraits exist of any members of the "Ditchley line" of Lees? I have read about one of Judith Steptoe (Lee)but have been unsuccessful in finding it and thought if anyone would know anything about it (or others like it) it would be the scholars at Stratford.

    Thank you,

    One more thing, I have to complement you all for doing such a fantastic job with the Stratford website and everything related (I have been following the site for several years but haven't been able to actually visit yet -out in California I'm afraid). I am a History grad student so I know how difficult it can be for organizations to reach a broad population in this day and age, and I must say I think you are succeeding!

  4. Judy Hynson, Director of Research & Library CollectionsMarch 31, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Thanks for your good comments...we try to keep up with it all! The genealogy chart that you refer to was removed when we redid the Visitor Center exhibits in 2000. It had some inaccuracies that were discovered by Lee family research in the 1980s and 1990s. Alas, I don't know the whereabouts of any Ditchley Lee portraits, but I can tell you about the Lee coat-of-arms. It was used centuries ago by the Lees of Coton Hall in Shropshire, England, and continued to be used by Richard Lee's descendants in America. The shield, with squirrel crest above and motto "Non Incautus Futuri" below, was quartered with that of the Astley family.

  5. Thank you for your help! Do you happen to know where that particular rendition of the coat of arms is from? I have seen a few versions but none are as well done as this and I have always wondered whether it is from Col. Richard Lee's time or our own. From the quality of its artistic execution I wouldn't be surprised if it was rendered by an actual herald.

    Thanks again,

  6. Dylan,
    The most elaborate rendition of the arms that I've seen is on Philip Ludwell Lee's bookplate that he had engraved while he studied at the Inner Temple in London. There are many stylized versions as well. One very attractive image is the colored line drawing of the arms used as the frontispiece in Cazenove G. Lee's book Lee Chronicle, first published 1957. If you would like for me to send you images of both, just email me at