Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/403

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
 

her authority over her people to her belief in herself and to her great force of will. Their faith in her endured through cold, hunger, and suffering, and many and repeated misfortunes. It was believed that they would all live for ever, and that sooner or later everybody would acknowledge the divinity of Mrs. Girling, who would then rule over a peaceful world. She was a tall, lean woman, with an upright carriage, a strong, intelligent countenance, bright eyes, a very good expression, and a rather winning voice. She had scruples against going to law, which afterwards made her an easy prey to her enemies. Although the community was industrious and lived in a state of celibacy, it got into debt and was ejected in a somewhat arbitrary manner from New Forest Lodge in December 1873. This ejection took place in very severe weather, and the pitiable condition of the people excited much commiseration. They encamped on the roadside for two days, when they had notice to leave, and part of the community returned to their homes in various parts of the country. A Mr. Beasley then offered them the use of a shed, where they remained for three weeks, but the place was not large enough for them all to sit down at one time. They next found a friend in the Hon. Auberon E. M. Herbert, who gave them the use of a barn on the Ashley Arnewood farm, Lymington. After staying in this barn five weeks, they removed to a field which they formerly had on lease with New Forest Lodge; when this lease expired they were again turned into the roadway, and there they lived night and day for five weeks. In 1879 Mrs. Girling rented a small farm of two acres called Tiptoe Farm, near Hordle, Lymington. Here they erected a number of wooden huts with canvas roofs, with a larger and superior hut as a place of public worship. The only publication issued by Mrs. Girling is a small four-page tract entitled ‘The Close of the Dispensation: the Last Message to the Church and the World.’ It is signed ‘Jesus First and Last (Mary Ann Girling), Tiptoe, Hordle, near Lymington, Hants, 1883.’ In it she says: ‘I now close this letter with the true and loving declaration that I am the second appearing of Jesus, the Christ of God, the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, the God-mother and Saviour, life from heaven, and that there will not be another.’ Latterly the children of God escaped public notice, except from excursionists visiting the place. The cold and exposure at last told on Mrs. Girling, and she fell ill. During her illness she did not lose faith in what she had preached, and believed that she would never die, but would live until the second coming of Christ. She died of cancer at Tiptoe, Hordle, on 18 Sept. 1886, aged 59, and was buried in Hordle churchyard 22 Sept. After the funeral those of the community who had friends returned to them, and only six persons were left to occupy the camp at Tiptoe. Mrs. Girling left children, among them a younger son, William Girling.

[Irish Monthly, October 1878, pp. 555–64; Times, 20 Sept. 1886, p. 9; Standard, 20 Sept. 1886, p. 3; Pall Mall Gaz. 18 Sept. 1886, p. 8, and 27 Sept. p. 3; Lymington Chronicle, 23 Sept. 1886, p. 3, and 30 Sept. p. 3; Vanity Fair, 25 Sept. 1886, p. 181; information from Brother H. Osborne of Tiptoe, Hordle.]

G. C. B.

GIRTIN, THOMAS (1775–1802), water-colour painter, was born on 18 Feb. 1775. Though 1773 is given by several authorities as the year of his birth, his tombstone records that he died in 1802, aged 27 years, and his descendants now living believe this to be correct. His father was an extensive rope and cordage maker in Southwark, and died when Thomas was about eight years old. His mother afterwards married a Mr. Vaughan, a pattern-draughtsman, and Girtin lived with them at No. 2 St. Martin's-le-Grand till 1796. He received some instruction from a drawing-master named Fisher in Aldersgate Street, and was afterwards apprenticed to Edward Dayes [q. v.], who imprisoned him for refusing to serve out his indentures. He soon made the acquaintance of J. M. W. Turner, then a boy of his own age, employed like him in washing in skies for architects, and colouring prints for John Raphael Smith [q. v.], the engraver, painter, and printseller. They also frequently met in Adelphi Terrace, at the houses of Dr. Thomas Monro and Mr. Henderson, the well-known patrons of young artists, and went out sketching together on the shores of the Thames and in the neighbourhood of London, and in 1793 on a more extended tour. From drawings left by Mr. Henderson's son to the British Museum we learn that Girtin copied drawings by Thomas Malton and Mr. Henderson himself, that he made studies after pictures by Canaletti, and copied in pen and ink the prints of Piranesi. These drawings, and one after Morland's picture of ‘Dogs hesitating about the Pluck,’ show his early freedom and skill in the use of water-colour and pen and ink. One of his earliest employers was James Moore, F.S.A., an amateur artist, with whom he travelled to Scotland and other places. Some of Moore's sketches, after being worked upon by Girtin, are said to have been engraved and published with Moore's name only attached as artist. In 1794 he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, when he sent a drawing of