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A book containing remarkable occurrences happened to me or my Friend, from the year 1760': an autobiographical account by Mrs Elizabeth Richards (nee Kiddle or Kiddell), a woman from a Norfolk farming family

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MS. 11495
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The 'remarkable occurrences' is an autobiography of Elizabeth Richards (1742-1816), a woman from a Norfolk farming family. Entries appear to be recorded at the end of each year until December 1815, when she describes her 'declining state', shown by the frequent references to hopes for the following years, for example at the end of 1793 (fol. 27v) when she records that there is war with France, and offers prayers that 'it may have a speedy and happy end'; or at the end of 1797 (fol. 30) which 'ended happily to me because I had the pleasure of seeing all my family with me an enjoyment I have not known of many years before and much question whether I ever shall again be so blessed: God only knows'. The volume forms a record of Elizabeth's family and her Norfolk social circle. There is much about the growth and progress of her children, with reports of inoculations, first days at school, her oldest boy Jack's [John] first dancing lesson, illnesses and mishaps. She records several of her own miscarriages. As her children grow up she notes their courtships, engagements and marriages, their careers and families. Jack entered a clerkship at Lincoln's Inn in London in 1779 (fol. 15), and took chambers at Staples Inn in London in 1785 (fol. 22), becoming a successful solicitor, gaining the Duke of Sussex as a client, and moving to Datchet, Berkshire where he married an heiress Elizabeth Russell. Mrs Richards visits her grown-up children in London, Datchet and Portsmouth.

Notable entries include visits to London in 1766 (fols. 2v-4v), 1801 (fol. 35), and 1806 (fols. 41-2); visits to the theatre, including Drury Lane, London (fol. 3), Norwich (fols. 14v, 21, 24), Yarmouth (fol. 15v), a play performed in a barn in Dereham (fol. 16v), in the Swan at Harleston (fol. 27v), 'the opera of Cleopatra's death'[Nasolini, La Morte di Cleopatra] in London in 1806 with 'Braham and Madm Grassino'[Giuseppina Grassini] (fol. 42), and Windsor (fol. 44).

Public events mentioned include Norwich riots in 1766 (fols. 4v-5); the contested Norwich and Norfolk elections, 15 and 23 Mar 1768 (fol. 6) and 5 Apr 1784 (fol. 19), the election and subsequent riots in Norwich, 15 Sep 1786 (fols. 22r-v), and the 'grand contested' Norfolk election, Oct 1806 (fol. 42v); the execution of the King and Queen of France ('the beautiful but unfortunate Maria Antoniette') in 1793 by their 'wicked subjects', and of Princess Elizabeth in 1794, and the flight of the Dutch Stadholder to England in early 1795 following the French conquest of the Netherlands (fols. 26v-28r); a visit to Yarmouth in 1797 to see the captured Dutch fleet (fol. 29v); a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for the 'signal victory gain'd over the French fleet off the Nile by Adm Nelson a Norfolk man', 29 Nov 1798 (fol. 32). She records the victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 (fol. 59), contributing to a subscription for war widows.


  • Creation: 3 Apr 1760-10 Dec 1815


62 Leaves

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 11495, fols. 1-2].

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MS. 11495

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 11495


An autobiographical account by Mrs Elizabeth Richards (nee Kiddle or Kiddell), a woman from a Norfolk farming family, 1760-1815.

Biographical / Historical

The author was Elizabeth Richards, nee Kiddle or Kiddell, of Mattishall (1743-1815), daughter of Joseph Kiddell (c.1718-1788). We learn from the manuscript that her mother and father, a farmer, had lived in Mattishall for 42 years prior to 11 Oct 1778 (fol. 14). She married John Richards at Caistor St Edmund, Norfolk on 30 Aug 1762. The Marriage Register states that she was 19 years of age ["England, Norfolk Marriage Bonds, 1557-1915," database with images, FamilySearch: 20 May 2014; Norfolk, Archdeaconry of Norfolk, Court, 1761-1763, image 227 of 498; Record Office, Central Library, Norwich]. She records the birth of her children, John (23 June 1763), Elizabeth (9 July 1764 - d. 1771), Joseph Kiddle (16 Feb 1766), Charlotte (2 May 1767), James (11 June 1769), Henry (1 July 1772), Elizabeth (8 Sep 1773), Anna Maria (5 Dec 1774), Harriot (16 June 1779). All seven of her living children born before 1778 were christened at the same time, 9 Jul 1778 (fol. 13v), all the sponsors' names being recorded. After their marriage the Richards family moved to Arminghall, and lived at Hall Farm, a moated site, a 15lb pickerel and being caught in 'our moat' in 1776 (fol. 11). They left Arminghall 15 Oct 1779 and rented 'a small farm of Mr Burton's at Weston', around October 1779. This would be Weston Longville, about 13 miles from Arminghall, and therefore it appears that she is the 'Mrs Richards a goodnatured and sensible woman' mentioned by Parson Woodforde in his diary, 6 March 1780 [Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, MS. Eng. misc. f. 153, fol. 20v]. Woodforde notes that the Richards family were renting from Mr Burton and intended to stay for a year. Mrs Richards records leaving Weston on 10 Oct 1780 'after having spent a year there'. In Jan 1780 Mr Richards hired a 'large farm' at Cley, but had to relinquish it as he did not have sufficient funds to stock it. The family evidently being in debt, in October 1780 they left Weston and went to live with her father's family at Thorpe [i.e. Thorpe Ashwell or Ashwellthorpe (see fol. 14)], her father mortgaging his estate to pay their debts. She records the death of her father, aged 70, in 1788 (23v), and his burial at Ashwellthorpe. The Richards family moved to Arlacton 5 Nov 1788 (fol. 24), returning to Ashwellthorpe 20 Oct 1789 to live with Mrs Richards's son Joseph. Her husband died 3 Feb 1792 (fol. 25v). Her mother died 7 Sep 1793 (fol. 27). In Sep 1797 she hired the parsonage house at Woodton, and in 1803 moved to Hempnall Street farm house (fol. 38v), home of her son James. The last dated entry in the diary is for 27 Dec 1815. She died in 1816, aged 73, and was buried at Hempnall parish church 12 July 1816 ["England, Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941," database with images, FamilySearch: 20 May 2014), Norfolk, Archdeaconry of Norfolk, 1816, H-L, image 92 of 266; Record Office, Central Library, Norwich].

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bought, John Hart Bookseller, May 2015

Physical Facet

Contemporary marbled paper wrappers, with an outer wrapper of brown paper, probably late 19th or early 20th cent.

Catalogue of an autobiographical account by Mrs Elizabeth Richards (nee Kiddle or Kiddell), a woman from a Norfolk farming family
Mike Webb and Eleanor Kerfoot
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom