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Ogborne [née Jackson], Elizabethlocked

(1763/4–1853)
  • Rosemary Mitchell

Ogborne [née Jackson], Elizabeth (1763/4–1853), antiquary, was, or claimed to be, the daughter of Sir John Eliot, first baronet (1733x6?–1786), of Peebles, from 1778 physician to the prince of Wales; her mother was Jane Jackson, a tea dealer in Tottenham Court Road Terrace, London. She was almost certainly illegitimate, and seems to have lived with her mother until her marriage, on 20 March 1790 at St Pancras, London, to John Ogborne (1755–1837). Ogborne, an artist and engraver, was the fourth and only surviving son of David Ogborne, a painter. The couple had one son, John Fauntleroy (1793–1813), and lived at 58 Great Portland Street, London, where they housed Euphemia Boswell, the eccentric daughter of Johnson's biographer.

After their son died in 1813, the Ogbornes attempted to assuage their grief by pursuing an interest in the history of Essex, John Ogborne's native county. Elizabeth prepared the first volume of a county history, while her husband contributed engravings to illustrate it. The antiquary Thomas Leman offered much assistance, and contributed a short account of Essex antiquities to the volume; Joseph Strutt is also believed to have helped the Ogbornes. The first volume of The History of Essex was apparently published in 1817 (although the date of 1814 appears on the title-page), and contained descriptions of parishes in the hundreds of Becontree, Waltham, and Ongar, and the liberty of Havering. Beautifully illustrated, and written in a simple and informative style, it later won the approval of the Gentleman's Magazine, where it was described as 'creditable to both the artist and the author' (GM, 220). However, the lack of public response and the straitened means of the Ogbornes (they became pensioners of the National Benevolent Institution in later years) prevented the publication of any further volumes.

Elizabeth Ogborne died on 22 December 1853 at 58 Great Portland Street. She was described by Edward A. Fitch as a little woman, old-fashioned in her style of dress and 'very precise and particular'. He dwelt on her 'very high and proud spirit' (Fitch, 140), her love of display, and her obvious learning. This last quality was displayed in her papers, which met with a sad fate after her death, when they fell into the hands of her servant, the wife of a marine-store dealer. Many of them had already been used as waste paper before the remainder were purchased by a passing antiquary, E. J. Sage. They contained unpublished material on Rochford and other Essex hundreds, including many extracts from the works of earlier Essex historians and the Harleian and other manuscripts.

Sources

  • E. A. Fitch, ‘Historians of Essex, VII—Elizabeth Ogborne’, Essex Review, 8 (1899), 129–44
  • GM, 2nd ser., 41 (1854), 220
  • H. W. King, ‘The Morant and Astle MSS and other historical and topographical collections relating to Essex’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, 2 (1863), 147–54, esp. 153–4
  • N&Q, 9 (1854), 322
  • will of Sir John Eliot, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/1147, sig. 567

Archives

  • Essex RO, Chelmsford, drafts and notes for The History of Essex (unfinished); papers relating to publication of The History of Essex

Likenesses

  • J. Strutt, pencil and colour drawing, repro. in Fitch, ‘Historians of Essex’, facing p. 129
National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
Gentleman's Magazine
Notes and Queries