chapter  8
34 Pages

An English Catholic Traveller: Sir John Courtenay Throckmorton and the Continent, 1792–1793

One of the most noteworthy of his family and its only published author of any significance, Sir John Courtenay Throckmorton, the fifth baronet, was born in 1753, son of Sir George Throckmorton and his wife Anna Maria. John Courtenay Throckmorton went to school in the 1760s with the English Benedictines at St Gregory’s in Douai, beginning a familiarity with the continent which he further developed in a grand tour centred on Rome in the 1770s, where, described as ‘of a most agreeable character’, he acquired the training in artistic taste which was to serve him so well in his second continental tour – the subject in large part of this chapter – in 1792-93. Early in 1778 Throckmorton, back in England, took up residence at one of his family’s estates, Weston Underwood in Buckinghamshire, and in 1782 married Maria Catherine (1762-1821), the daughter of Thomas Giffard (d. 1775) of Chillington and of the old Staffordshire recusant family of Giffard. Maria Catherine’s mother was a daughter of the eighth Baron Petre, of the great Essex recusant dynasty, whose father featured in Pope’s Rape of the Lock, so that the marriage confirmed the Throckmortons’ position at the very centre of the intertwined and intermarried English Catholic elite. John succeeded to the baronetcy and estate on the death of his grandfather Sir Robert, the fourth baronet (b. 1702), in 1791 and set up home at Buckland House in Berkshire, upon which the younger brother, George, moved into Weston Underwood.1