Bunsen, Frances (DNB00)

BUNSEN, FRANCES (1791–1876), wife of Baron Christian Bunsen, was the eldest daughter and coheiress of Benjamin Waddington, who died at Abercarne on 19 Jan. 1828 in his eightieth year, by his marriage in 1789 with Georgina Mary Ann, eldest daughter of John Port, who was born 1771, and died at Llanover on 19 Jan. 1850. She was born at Dunston Park, Berkshire, on 4 March 1791, and educated under her mother at Hanover. In 1816 her parents, accompanied by their family, went to Rome to spend the winter. Here Frances first met Christian Bunsen, to whom she was married, on 1 July 18 17, in the chapel of the Palazzo Savelli, then the habitation of Barthold Niebuhr, and it was twenty-three years from this period before she again visited her native country. Henceforth she was one with her husband in thought and feeling, tastes and actions; she enabled him to carry out his objects by her sympathy and by her active co-operation; she took upon herself the vexing petty cares of life, and left him free to carry out his political and literary career. Yet she was no mere 'housewife,' but shared all the best parts of his mind on all occasions. He died on 28 Nov. 1860, having acted as German ambassador to England from 1841 to 1854, and in accordance with one of his last requests she published 'A Memoir of Baron Bunsen, drawn chiefly from family papers, by his Widow,' 1868, 2 volumes. After her husband's death she went to reside at Carlsruhe, where she took charge of the children of her deceased daughter, Theodora, Baroness von Ungern Sternberg. She died there 23 April 1876. The brilliant hospitalities which she dispensed at the Prussian embassy during her residence in England will be long remembered. As authoress of the life of her husband her literary ability has been fully acknowledged, but it was only among her private friends that her extraordinary talent and her wonderful knowledge of the various public events of the time could be appreciated. She was the mother of ten children, one of whom, Henry George Bunsen, rector of Donington, Salop, died in 1885.

[Bunsen and his Wife, Contemporary Review, xxviii. 948-69 (1876); Hare's Life and Letters of Frances Baroness Bunsen, 1882, 2 vols.]

G. C. B.