Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tonna, Charlotte Elizabeth

TONNA, CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH (1790–1846), miscellaneous writer, was the daughter of Michael Browne, rector of St. Giles's Church and minor canon of the Cathedral at Norwich, where she was born on 1 Oct. 1790. She married in early life a Captain Phelan of the 60th regiment, and spent two years with him while serving with his regiment in Nova Scotia. They then returned to Ireland, where Phelan owned a small estate near Kilkenny. The marriage was not a happy one, and they separated about 1824. Mrs. Phelan subsequently resided with her brother, Captain John Browne, at Clifton, where she made the acquaintance of Hannah More [q. v.]; later on she removed to Sandhurst, and then to London. In 1837 Captain Phelan died in Dublin, and in 1841 his widow married Lewis Hippolytus Joseph Tonna [q. v.] She died at Ramsgate on 12 July 1846, and was buried there.

While in Ireland Mrs. Tonna began to write, under her christian names, ‘Charlotte Elizabeth,’ tracts for various religious societies. She was very hostile to the church of Rome, and some of her publications are said to have been placed on the ‘Index Expurgatorius’ (Gent. Mag. 1846, ii. 434). In 1837 she published an abridgment of Foxe's ‘Book of Martyrs’ (2 vols. 8vo). She edited ‘The Protestant Annual,’ 1840, and ‘The Christian Lady's Magazine’ from 1836, and ‘The Protestant Magazine’ from 1841 until her death. She also wrote poems, two of which, entitled respectively ‘The Maiden City’ and ‘No Surrender,’ were written specially for the Orange cause, and are extremely vigorous and popular. They are quite the best Orange songs that have been written.

Mrs. Tonna's other works include:

  1. ‘Zadoc, the Outcast of Israel,’ 12mo, London, 1825.
  2. ‘Perseverance: a Tale,’ London, 1826.
  3. ‘Rachel: a Tale,’ 12mo, London, 1826.
  4. ‘Consistency: a Tale,’ 12mo, London, 1826.
  5. ‘Osric: a Missionary Tale, and other Poems,’ 8vo, Dublin, 1826 (?).
  6. ‘Izram: a Mexican Tale, and other Poems,’ 12mo, London, 1826.
  7. ‘The System: a Tale,’ 12mo, London, 1827.
  8. ‘The Rockite: an Irish Story,’ 12mo, London, 1829.
  9. ‘The Museum,’ 12mo, Dublin, 1832.
  10. ‘The Mole,’ 12mo, Dublin, 1835.
  11. ‘Alice Benden, or the Bowed Shilling,’ 12mo, London, 1838.
  12. ‘Letters from Ireland, 1837,’ 8vo, London, 1838.
  13. ‘Derriana.’
  14. ‘Derry,’ 1833; 10th ed. 1847.
  15. ‘Chapters on Flowers,’ 8vo, London, 1836.
  16. ‘Conformity: a Tale,’ 8vo, London, 1841.
  17. ‘Helen Fleetwood,’ 8vo, London, 1841.
  18. ‘Falsehood and Truth,’ 8vo, Liverpool, 1841.
  19. ‘Personal Recollections,’ 8vo, London, 1841.
  20. ‘Dangers and Duties,’ 12mo, London, 1841.
  21. ‘Judah's Lion,’ 8vo, London, 1843.
  22. ‘The Wrongs of Woman, in four parts,’ London, 1843–4.
  23. ‘The Church Visible in all Ages,’ 8vo, London, 1844.
  24. ‘Judea Capta: an Historical Sketch of the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans,’ 16mo, London, 1845.
  25. ‘Works of Charlotte Elizabeth,’ with introduction by Mrs. H. B. Stowe, 3 vols.; 2nd edit. New York, 1845; 7th edit. 8vo, New York, 1849.
  26. ‘Bible Characteristics,’ 8vo, London, 1851.
  27. ‘Short Stories for Children,’ 1st and 2nd ser. 12mo, Dublin, 1854.
  28. ‘Tales and Illustrations,’ 8vo, Dublin, 1854.
  29. ‘Stories from the Bible,’ 12mo, London, 1861.
  30. ‘Charlotte Elizabeth's Stories’ (collected), 8 vols. 16mo, New York, 1868.

[Sketch of Charlotte Elizabeth by Mrs. Balfour; Gent. Mag. 1846, ii. 433-4; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland; Memoir of Charlotte Elizabeth. 1852.]

D. J. O'D.