GIBBON (EDWARD) Autograph authorisation signed, 1769
Lot 73
GIBBON (EDWARD) Autograph authorisation signed, 1769
Sold for £1,625 (US$ 2,731) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph authorisation signed ("Edward Gibbon"), addressed to James Scot in London: "Pray pay Mrs Phebe Ford or order one hundred and eleven pounds"; docketed with her signature ("Phebe Ford") and filed "No. 15", one page, two small tape-stains in upper margin, light browning overall but otherwise in good and attractive condition, oblong 8vo, Buriton, 6 December 1769


  • EDWARD GIBBON MAKES PROVISION FOR DR JOHNSON'S COUSIN: Phoebe Ford, the beneficiary of this order, was Dr Johnson's first cousin through his maternal grandfather, Cornelius Ford, and later for many years served Gibbon as his housekeeper. Our document dates from just under a year before the death of Gibbon's father, a time when his son was struggling – ultimately without success – to put the family estate at Beriton, near Petersfield in Hampshire, on a sound financial footing. When, after his father's death, Gibbon moved back to London permanently, eventually selling the estate, Phoebe Ford, who had previously been employed at Beriton, was to come with him; and as a trusted member of the household was to be generously provided for in his will: 'I give to Phoebe Ford, who formerly lived with me in the capacity of a housekeeper, an annuity of twenty-five pounds for her life' (she lived on until about 1791).

    James Scott (or Scot) to whom this order is addressed was a cousin of Gibbon's stepmother Dorothea, who was to inherit his property as next-of-kin, and looked after her affairs. Gibbon wrote him many letters that show he was especially close to the family at this period; indeed, he was to spend the following summer with them at Beriton. After his father's death, Gibbon told him: 'The friendly part you have taken in my affairs, would render me inexcusable, if I omitted to acquaint you with what has been done, as well as to consult you in relation to what ought to be done' (4 February 1771). It was also at, or round about, this time that Gibbon was beginning, or thinking of beginning, work on Decline and Fall, the first volume of which was at the press in June 1775.
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