Sir John Herschel and Jos Langton of Cippenham Court Farm

Sir John Frederick William Herschel, section of portrait drawn by H W Pickersgill and engraved by W J Ward. Published 1835. National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), was the only son of Sir William Herschel. Like his father, Sir John was one of the foremost scientists of his age and also lived at Observatory House in Wellington Road, Slough. He made enormous contributions to astronomy and was a pioneer of photography (in fact, he invented the term “photograph”).

In the interesting letter below of 1831, Jos Langton, tenant of Cippenham Court Farm reminds John Herschel that he (Langton) is related to John’s mother and then begs the loan of the considerable sum of £300.

Cippenham Court

June 6 1831

Dear Sir

The subject on which I am going to write to address you gives me such pain to write upon and my only apology for so doing is the relationship in which I stand to your mother (the effort is too much for my father to continue. I have therefore taken his pen.) & the benevolence which you are known to possess. It has unfortunately been my lot, owing to the unfavourable state of the agriculturist for some time past, added to the very high rent at which I have been rated, & the general depression of farming in every line. To have been the loser of some thousands, since I took possession of the farm. I am now about to quit and my landlord who has in no way conceded or enabled me by lowering the rent to meet his demands is now impatient for some arrears of rent, & I fear unless I satisfy him by paying in part that he will not act with full clemency & consideration which is more kind hearted disposition might be induced to do under the circumstances respected as I have been so many years in the highlands where I was brought up & where I have lived from childhood with a family around me whose interest & position in life, depends so much on my maintaining this respectability. I would appeal to you as a friend & relation to kindly assist me by the loan of £300 which will be of more service & call forth more thanks from me than I can well express as early a reply as possible will much oblige. I am dear sir

Yours very sincerely

Yours Jos Langton

I hope to research this story further in the coming months.

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