One can be diverted down all sorts of byways when researching a novel. I have been reading a volume which was published in 1856, relating to the history of Kent . I found it on archive.org, which is invaluable as a source of both obscure specialist texts and out of print popular fiction.
This particular volume was published by subscription. The list of subscribers at the end is almost as interesting as the subject matter.
Various county archaeological, antiquarian, literary and philosophical societies subscribed. So too did members of the aristocracy – Buccleuch, Norfolk and Northumberland, among others. Local noblemen represented included the Earl of Abergavenny (a Neville, to balance out Percy of Northumberland) and Earl Stanhope. This would have been the fifth Earl Stanhope, who had a somewhat undistinguished political career, and was best known for his cultural and antiquarian interests.
A name with unfortunate associations is that of Sir Oswald Mosley. This Sir Oswald, of Rolleston Hall, Burton upon Trent, was a Member of Parliament at various times between 1806 and 1837, and was also interested in local history and natural history.
Four Gurneys of Norfolk subscribed. They were members of one of the leading banking families of the time. As Overend Gurney, in 1866 the bank was involved in one of the biggest financial crashes of all time.
Eight members of another family subscribed; they had a personal connection to the subject of the volume. Of the seven men, three were of Christ Church, Oxford. Another was a clergyman. Another was a clergyman and of Magdalen College, Oxford. Another was a country gentleman. The last was a major in the 44th regiment. His address was given as ‘Sebastopol’. Very likely his family subscribed on his behalf; he probably did not have much time to spare to think about antiquarian interests while engaged in a siege.
Miss Smith of 5 Liverpool Street, City is a reminder that Liverpool Street station was not yet built. Alfred North, Esq., of 33 Huskisson Street Liverpool calls to mind a different aspect of railway history.
William Debonaire Haggard was a numismatist and an official of the Bank of England. Robert Chambers of 339 High Street Edinburgh was the publisher. Messrs Sotheby and Wilkinson, Wellington Street, Strand, were the forerunners of Sotheby’s the auctioneers.
No doubt more research would reveal further interesting characters among these subscribers. But I need to get back to the novel!