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Douglas Denon Heath 1811-1897

of Kitlands, Coldharbour, Holmwood, Surrey.

Born: 6 January 1811 and died 25 September 1897.
Son of: George Heath (1779-1852) and Ann Raymond Heath (nee Dunbar,1787-1842).
Brother of:
1. Julia Anna Harrison (nee Heath) (1807-1879), who married James Park Harrison.
2. Rev John Moore Heath (1808-1882), who married Marianne Harman (1816-1888).
3. Charles Heath (1814-1814).
4. Rev Dunbar Isidore Heath (1816-1888), who married Emily Mary Harrison (18??-1897).
5. Adm Sir Leopold George Heath (1817-1907), who married Mary Emma Marsh (1826-1902).
6. Emma Jane Whatman (nee Heath) (1821-1884), who married William Godfrey Whatman (1819-1876).
Douglas never married.

We know about Douglas from the following sources:

1. An entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family" by George Heath, 1913.
2. Photograph album of Adm Sir Leopold George Heath (1817-1907).
3. Notebook of Julia Anna Harrison nee Heath (1807-1879).
4. A memoir by H E Malden.


  Douglas Denon, so named after his godfather Mons. Denon, a noted French savant, Director of the Louvre, and Master of the Mint under Napoleon, was born in Chancery Lane, January 6th, 1811.

  He attended a private school at Greenwich, kept by Dr Burney, but left before he was 16, owning to indifferent health, and spent the best part of 1826-7 in Paris, with his father's friend Mons. Guyet, a strong Liberal, whose house was the frequent meeting place of the more eminent members of the opposition to the Government of Chas. X.  Guizot, Casimir Périer and the Duc de Broglie, were all friends of the Guyets.  Here he learnt French, and heard and saw much of interest.  He was a spectator of the famous review of the National Guard in 1827, when the men, in place of the expected "Vive le Roi," shouted to the King "A bas Villèle," the name of the reactionary Premier, who had attempted to destroy the liberty of the Press.

  Madame de la Ferriè, of Paris and St Cloud, was Mlle. Guyet, she states that her father was a friend and associate of Mons. Thiers.

  Returning from France about May 1827, he went up to Cambridge with his elder brother John for the Long Vacation, and read for two Long Vacations with Henry Malden, ex-fellow of Trinity, with whom he resided.  Malden was a great classical scholar, and no bad mathematician, but D.D.H. specially read classics with him, and mathematics with Challis, of Trinity.  In October, 1828, he went into residence at Trinity, and obtained his scholarship April 23rd, 1830.  His degree in 1832 was very remarkable.  He graduated as senior Wrangler, and took the first Smith's Prize.  In the Classical Tripos of the same year he was placed ninth in the first class

  Above him were Lushington, Shilleto, Thompson, Venables, and Alford.  Looking at the competition, his classical was little lower than his mathematical degree, yet he used to say that he had never learnt Greek grammar, except by extensive reading, and that he never could do Latin verses, having never been taught that accomplishment at school.  In short, he was a great scholar over a very extensive field of learning, and ought, it appears, to have become a fine literary critic.

  He was elected Fellow of Trinity in the same year as his degree, other distinguished men of this year, such as Thompson, Alford, Dobson, and even Lushington, having to wait till 1834.

  At this time he had a desire to take Orders, but family reasons determined otherwise, as will appear from the following:-
"I may add that John's giving up the law was the cause of my taking it up, and so determined the whole course of my life.  The appointment of "County Clerk of Middlesex" was in the gift of the Sheriffs of Middlesex.  My father having obtained it, considered himself pretty certain of being able some day to resign in favour of a duly qualified son.  He ment to do so for John; failing him, he laid his hands on me.  I was an unwilling victim at the time, wishing to stay at Cambridge, and having no inclination to the life of a barrister.  However, I cannot grumble now, I got the office, really that of a small debts Court, with jurisdiction up to £2, performable by deputy.  On he establishment of Country Courts all over the Kingdom, I was abolished, and appointed Country Court Judge for Bloomsbury, with compensation for the difference in income, while continuing in the office, and full compensation when I should retire.

  "Though you need not put it down on paper, I may as well give the correct account of this compensation, as I find an erroneous statement has been made in one of Labouchere's papers, and I find your Uncle Leopold had been deceived by it.  My compensation is put down at £3,200 a year, and I believe a trifle over.  This was the full value of the office, out of which I used to pay a deputy for doing part of the work.  When I retired from the Judgeship in September, 1865, I proposed allowing £700 odd on his account, and retired upon £3,100.  My Egyptian tour was in the winter of 1874.  For several years your uncle and aunt (Whatman) wintered at Cannes, and I went about seeing the world, Italy, Egypt, Sicily, and something of Greece."



  On the whole of the middle portion of his career D.D. Heath left a fragment of his autobiography which is worth quoting, as giving some account of his intellectual history.

  "I studied the law and ultimately became County Clerk of Middlesex - the prospect of obtaining which was my father's motive in his action (in inducing me to become a Barrister) which was ultimately converted into a County Court Judgeship.  I may as well say that my study of Law as it then stood - Coke upon Littleton, &c. - and the theory of conveyancing, interested me very much.  But I should have utterly failed as a practising barrister - could not speak well in a good case, and still less devise arguments for a bad one.  But I believe I did not do amiss as a Judge of small debts, and had a faculty that might have done me credit if I had kept my office during the successive enlargements of its jurisdiction - provided that I had kept my studies diligently.  But the novelty having passed away, my intellectual zeal for the Science of Law had passed away too, and so ended this side of me."

  "When I left Cambridge and was settling down to new pursuits, I had to consider whether I should keep up my mathematics, and I saw that a great change in their character was impending - new objects (molecular physics) great generalisation in method, etc., and that amateur workmanship would not avail.  So I have only endeavoured to keep myself in a general way in touch with what was going on in Physics and abstract mathematics - now and then so interested and excited with what was going on, that I was tempted to write and publish.  But generally, while having I believe something worth saying about the matter in question, I blundered over some detail from forgetfulness of formulas with which I had been familiar of old, or ignorance of newly established principles, &c.  I believe that my 'Energy' (Conservation of Energy, Longmans, 1874), founded on lectures given at Cranleigh School, was a good book; it was read (in MS. I think) by Clark Maxwell, and praised"

[This is too diffident.  Messers. Longman submitted the MS. to Professor Clark Maxwell, who wrote to them as follows:-
  "It appears to me the be very sound and at the same time intelligible.  The author has succeeded in getting rid of the technical phrases which have got mixed up with sound scientific ideas as relics of the disputes which were carried on in former generations.  At the same time he has not fallen into the opposite extremes of being popular, that is of using his words without precision.  I therefore think that Mr Heath's book will be a very valuable one, for beginners as well as for more advanced students.  The great difficulty is how to deal with the dynamical part of the subject.  I think however, that Mr Heath has arrived at the main results with the least expenditure of calculation.  Those whose digestion is too delicate to go through Mr Heath's investigation have no business to know anything about Energy at all."
P.S. - "I have been studying his exposition again and I think that if it is published, Science will be the gainer, and if it is read, the next generation will be a very great gainer, by being shown and example of sound reasoning such as few authors deign (or are able) to introduce into text books, whether written in English or in Algebra."].

  "He afterwards wrote a small primer on Dynamics (I forget the title) for the Christian Knowledge Society, which started with the same principles, and I long after found that Lord Kelvin held the same doctrine about Energy.  But I spoilt a whole chapter by confounding British and Foreign measures.  Mathematical Physics meanwhile soared into higher and higher regions, and I ceased to follow them.  Thence forward Greek and English philosophy (I will not call it Metaphysics, for I have no faith in them as expounded ex. gr. in Encyclopaedias), J.S.Mill, Aristotle and Plato furnished subjects for Articles in the Philosophical Journal, and the Contemporary started by my college contemporary and friend.  My friends will also remember the zeal with which I defended the personal character of Herodotus against Professor Sayce: De Saycii Malignitate."

  "Two papers of mine on some points in Aristotle's doctrine were much approved by Dr Jackson, Pr³lector in Ancient Philosophy, and used in his lecture reom.  Whether these prolusions will leave any traces of influence hereafter, I cannot conjecture.  I am afraid that they will be all that will remain to justify the good opinion once had of my powers.  I also at James Spedding's request edited the legal remains of Lord Bacon.  I remember writing to H.Malden (senior) that 'I dare not expect a single soul would read my work, but that I rather thought it well done.'  And now for my domestic social character and deeds: Cætera desunt."

  To the village of Coldharbour, he was a superintending providence.  Church, schools, cottages, drainage, roads, water supply, continuous employment, all owed much or everything to him.  He used to say, that like Tennyson's Northern Farmer, his real claim to remembrance would be that he had stubbed Coldharbour waaste.

  He took the deepest interest in the school at Cranleigh, founded to provide sound education for the middleclasses.  He was a founder, and continual benefactor and counsellor to all connected with it.

  Interested in politics, he was not a politician, nor in Church matters was he a party man.

  On the death of his father, in 1852, he succeeded to Kitlands, where his sister Mrs Whatman and family also resided till the death of her husband in 1876.  After this date, his niece Mrs H.E.Malden, took charge of his household (for 17 years); and all her children were born there.

  For the Paris Exhibition of 1867, a large party of Heaths and Whatmans went over, and in due course were entertained along with French friends, by a certain Mme. Guyet, about 70 years of age.  She was, I believe, unmarried, but anyhow was styled Madame.  This good lady invited a large party of us to a déjeûner in the Exhibition gardens, and after the repast, called for cigars, which were handed round to all the gentleman.  To our surprise Mme. Guyet chose a large cigar herself, and smoked away to her great satisfaction.  That evening, I was taken by a young Frenchman to see "La Dame aux Camélias," and I remember well that next morning D.D.H. asked me the name of the play, and was decidedly shocked when I told him.

  On one occasion he stayed with us at Milland to meet another Senior Wrangler, Archd. Smith.  On the day of their departure it was found at breakfast time that their evening suits had got mixed.  D.D.H. could not describe his, but Smith explained to the puzzled butler "You will know my waistcoat by the polyhederal buttons on it."

  He once gave me an account of his scheme of working at Cambridge.  "Classics and mathematics all the week, Sophocles at breakfast, and Plato on Sundays!"

  Mr Wright, the family solicitor, was of opinion that D.D.H. ought to have been made a judge.  He stated that his decisions were remarkably sound, and that the number of those reversed on appeal were remarkably small.

  A warm tribute is due to his memory for the generous financial aid he repeatedly rendered to members of his family in times of difficulty.

  He once remarked to me, "I am very well, but I feel as old as Julia Moore is," she being his senior by seven years.

  He was called to the bar in 1835, served as County Court Judge 1847 to 1865, and was also J.P.

  He died at Kitlands, Sept. 25th, 1897, and is buried at Coldharbour.  By his will he desired

A simple funeral, no trumpery, and as near the earth to earth arrangements as is customary.

  It is supposed that he intended to have had a lead coffin, but his executors provided the usual polished oak.


  The following letters are of interest, and still more so the extracts relating to the Heaths at Cambridge taken from "Tennyson and his friends" and "Lord Tennyson, a Memoir," for the printing of which due permission has been given.



18, Gower St. CAMBRIDGE,
Jan. 27th, 1832.
  I am 1st, and Laing is 2nd, and West is to call on the Chancellor, so I suppose he has run Laing hard.  I have not yet enquired whether there is an inside place by the Star, but I have no doubt of getting one by that or the Telegraph.
Yours truly,




   &ldots; "I have a copy of the original Regulations, probably drawn up by Sterling, a very solid, lucid piece of economics; and the List of the proposed Members, signed 'James Spedding, Secretary,' and dated 8th August, 1838."

  Here in a Note they are, if they can be important to anybody.

Rev. J.W.Blakesley.
Copely Fielding.
Rev. J.C.Hare.
The Lord Lyttelton.
Philip Pusey.
James Spedding.
Alfred Tennyson.
Rev. Connop Thirlwall.
Rev. W.Hepworth Thompson.
and others.



25th January, 1889.
  By request of Miss Hamilton, I have forwarded to you by registered post, the locket with miniatures of James Heath and his Wife by Burch, and I enclose herewith an account of that painter, from Redgrave's Dictionary.
Yours faithfully,

  This locket was left by D.D.H. to George Heath.  The two portraits are now in separate frames.  Miss Hamilton was a granddaughter of James Heath, R.A.  All his prints and pictures were left to his daughter Caroline, who married Mr. Hamilton.

  William Burch, engraver and enamel painter, born in Warwick.  Exhibited at Royal Academy first time in 1781.  These miniatures must be near this date, as James Heath married about 1777.  Burch went to America in 1794, and settled in Philadelphia, where he died.


23rd Oct., 1895.
  The only excuse I can make for not acknowledging your letter sooner is - that I am becoming more and more dawdling.  I receive letters, usually at breakfast time, and I put them in my pocket, then at night time I duly empty my pockets; then next morning I put the letters back into them; then I now and then in the course of the day think I will "presently" sit down to answer them and so wie, isn't that good German?  (Weiter is the word.).
  Your father and I were our father's exors.  But I have no recollection of ever receiving any notice of what was doing at the burial ground; I won't say positively that non was sent.  I do not think I should have objected, if I had power to do so effectively.  But do I understand that you think anything in the way of cleaning should be done?  You say one monument is black, (you speak of two).  My recollection is that by my father's wish he was buried in the same grave as my mother, and I should have thought the two names would have appeared on one stone.
  You are the head of the family.  But I will hold you harmless, if you give any direction in the way of painting, etc.  Long ago, I remember your aunt Julia wrote to me suggesting rails round the tombstone to keep people from sitting on it.  But I had a whim against this, and without refusing it, I just let is alone.  Perhaps this may account for the blackness.
  I hear that Bertie is at last beginning to move about [After breaking his leg by a fall from his horse in Hyde Park].  I do not know when you may expect to see him at "the shop."  Likewise I hear to day that Gerard with his wife and child are about to start homewards for a three months holiday after his hard work, and, while I am writing this, I hear that John Moore is forbidden the London fogs till the end of November.  Whether this means that he must stay at Brighton, I don't know.
Your affectionate Uncle,




The friends of A.Tennyson at Trinity College, Cambridge, were Spedding, Milnes, Trench, Alford, Brookfield, Blakesley, Thompson, Heaths, A.Hallam, etc.

The Society of Apostles.
  Douglas Heath writes that the images he has carried away of my father, is one of sitting in the front of the fire, smoking and meditating, and now and then mingling in the conversation.  With one short phrase he was wont to sum up the issue of the arguments.  Heath continues: "I cannot satisfy myself as to the time when I became an Apostle, or when I made acquaintance with Mr A.T.  My belief is that he had already become an hon. Member extraordinary.  In the usual course, a member had to read essays in 'regular succession, or give a dinner in default during a certain period, after which he became honorary.  But A.T. was, I suppose, bored by this; and the society was content to receive him, his poetry and wisdom, unfettered.



  Last Saturday we had an Apostolic dinner, when we had the honour, among other things, of drinking your health.  Edward Lushington and I went away tolerably early; but most of them stayed till past two.  John Heath volunteered a song, Kemble got into a passion about nothing, but quickly jumped out again; Blakesley was afraid the Proctor might come in; and Thompson poured large quantities of salt upon Douglas Heath's head because he talked nonsense.


After staying at Kitlands, DORKING. Oct., 1832.

  I had the first proof sent down to me while I was staying at Heath's.  The weather was miserably rainy, so, after breakfast, we adjourned to an arbour in the garden, and while Thompson, who was also staying there, furnished cheroots, I furnished proof sheets.
&ldots; We had a long battle with Mr Heath, a famous lawyer, but no man of letters, about the last stanza in the proofs.  We flatter ourselves we floored him; to be sure we were three to one, but he fought well.  The principle point of attack was "cloud white;" he said it was absurd to explain a fixed colour as pearl by the most variable hue in the world, that of a cloud.  We recovered ourselves with all the grace of practised combatants, and talked learnedly about the context of feeling, and the conformity of the lady's dress to her magical character, till at last our opponent left us in possession of the field, declaring still between his teeth, that for his part, he thought poetry ought to be sense.  In one place a whole line was omitted.  Douglas Heath read "sudden laughters of the Tay" (Jay) without ever suspecting the misprint.
Ever your most affectionate,


CAMBRIDGE.  Nov., 1833.
&ldots; "Simeon Styltes" is said by the prophane, that this is the mathematicians, Spring Rice and Heath, to be not "the watcher on the pillar to the end," but to the nth, and I think this is an improvement; the more so as it shows your universally off, and marks that you have a touch of mathematics in you.  Oh Alfred, could you have only made the height of the pillar a geometrical progression.
Ever yours,


  I hope this will find you at Cambridge.  J.Heath wrote to me that the books should have been returned by the 21st, and I received this note on the 21st.  I know not what the fine is, and as to applying for any information on Cambridge subjects to Cambridge men, I hold it vanity.  They are smoke sodden.  Shamefully careless was it to have let these books lie for three weeks in Spring Rice's room.  Shameful not to have sent the second volume of Keightley, and hateful the purloining of my album, which I will have found.  If the thief be not Douglas himself, it is that luxurious, eyeglass wearing, unconscienced fellow Spring Rice, whom &ldots; fill up the chasm as you choose; if the book be returned, let it be with a blessing.  Seriously speaking, I am disgusted.  I am heartily glad you have got Beowulf out.  Some thoughts, vague ones, I have, of coming up to Cambridge and attending your lectures next term, always provided they be gratis.  Good bye, dear old Jack.
Thine ever,
P.S. - Perhaps you would use your paternal authority with the undergraduate whom you may suspect of being the thief.  Douglas himself ought not to pass unreproved.  What a careless set you are.


After an Apostles' dinner.
John Heath and many others were full to the brim of enquiries after you, and if you had heard the cheer that followed the health of A.T. the Poet of the Apostles, at our dinner, if you had!

  In July, 1834, A.T. visited his friend Heath at Kitlands near Dorking, and thence journeyed with him to Worthing.  When they arrived at the little seaside town on a beautiful still night, the sea was calm and golden, and there was a Cuyp-like picture of boys bathing in the glowing sunset and of grey fishing boats moored out in the distance.  Heath tried to persuade my father to go to Brighton, for he said "The town is worth going to see, and moreever the coast is very fine, an infinitely finer place that Worthing."  But my father refused, and insisted on returning to his work.  He took Kitlands again by the way, and had "lonely walks in dark valleys," and by the side of the streams which rise in Leith Hill.  In his notebook on one page there is a map of Kitlands and of the surrounding country.

  The following letter reached him at Kitlands from his sister Emily:

  &ldots; How long do you think of remaining at Kitlands?  Remember us all to "our Mr.Heath" and his brother, and cannot you intimate to his sister how sorry we were not to have been able to avail ourselves, that it Mary and myself, of her kind invitation.
  Take care of thyself, etc.


  Mrs Tennyson also writes:
  I have found the books which Mr.Heath mentions.  Shall I send them by Mr.Spedding?


  Mary Tennyson adds a line entreating him to lend an attentive ear to any music that may be sung, and to ascertain if Miss Heath will give the name of one or two that most affect his musical organs.  Remember me kindly to all at Kitlands.


KESWICK.  Sept., 1834.
Spedding writes:
  I received by Douglas and John Heath divers of your compositions, albeit too few for my appetite.



  I sent Julia, on hearing her fears, a copy of your two companions to "Fair Ship," which have been a great delight to her, and she seems to have communicated them to some others.  The Xmas is indeed most beautiful, most touching, and the later portions of the "Fair Ship" speak to our hearts indeed.  That last verse, is it not the expression of each voiceless thought?  But the enjoyment of these will sink deeper yet.  I seem sometimes as if I could not take in more than one thought at a time, I mean such thoughts as the mind loves to dwell on, and feed upon as it were, etc. I am doubtful how far I am justified in having sent you this, but I could not resist.  There are many more people that take an interest in you than you are aware of.  Your letter was balm to me, send me more such.  I hope we shall see you in the summer.
Your very affectionate friend,
P.S. - Thompson cometh, Spedding then, and if you ask what doeth the Spedding, well marry it is this.  He bade me say in answer to all enquires that he, the said Spedding, was now waiting till he should grow wiser.


To JAS. SPEDDING.  No date.
  John Heath writes me word that Mill is going to review me in a new magazine to be called the London Review, and favourably, but it is the last thing I wish for, etc.



JAS. SPEDDING.  June 21st. 1838.
  The great Alfred is here, i.e. in Southampton Row, smoking all the day, and we went from this house, 14, Queen Square, Westminster, on a pilgrimage to see him; to wit, Two Heaths, my brother and myself, and meeting Allen on the way, we took him along with us, and when we arrived at the place appointed, we found A.T. and A.H.H., and J.M.K.  So we made a goodly company, and did as we do at Cambridge, and, but that you were not among us, we should have been happy.


July 18th.
  A broad smiling letter from John Heath commissions me this morning to engage Mrs. Perry's lodgings for Dunbar, where eat I rejoice: also informs me that he himself keeps a Parroquet, and that Douglas has become a great Berkeleian, and would leave his body, like Jeremy Bentham's, to be dissected, if he thought he had one.


  By a letter from D.D.H., received today, I infer that "Subscription no Bondage," is out; which I shall certainly send for.  I am sorry it is not to be understood in the sense of "Killing no Murder," which seems to me, till I be further enlightened, the only sort of construction which will make sense of it.  D.D.H. looketh on this Pamphlet as the final cause of the system of subscription at Oxford, and now that the effect hath been accomplished, doth heartily wish that custom may be discontinued.
Euge D.D.H.!


J.S.  1835.
  I ment to have gone to Kitlands today, but the coach was full.  D.D.H. thinks there is humour in and equity draft.


  W.H. Thompson appointed Head Master of Leicester and Leicestershire Collegiate Schools.
 See D.D.H.'s notes.


Aug., 1831.
  Douglas Heath had meant to join John, who had been tumbling up and down the Alps under the guidance of some Geologist; (Prof. Forbes), an unsafe guide, I should fancy, for what death so sweet to a Geologist as to knock out his brains against a stone; or to be embedded in some liquid, liquefying or indurescent substance, (such as snow, or mud, or lava), in which, a million of years hence, some other Geologist may find him embedded, and so satisfy himself that a man was once there?
  He seems to have had some fine rides on the backs of avalanches down fissures.  But Douglas was kept in London by business partly, and partly by the illness of his mother and the uncertain health of his father, and does not expect to get out of England this year.  I hope he will contrive to get hither (The Lakes) in about a month.


  Mention is made of "A complete edition of Bacon's Works," in which Mr. Leslie Ellis undertook the philosophical, Mr. Douglas Heath the professional, and Spedding the literary and miscellaneous, to which he afterwards added the life and letters.
  In 1849 Mr. Ellis had a severe attack of rheumatic fever, which entirely disabled him for the work he had undertaken: he died in 1859.  Spedding therefore, had to take his place, and edit as best he could, Bacon's Philosophical Works.  The book was published between 1857 and 1859.


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