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Warburton, Bartholomew Elliott George (DNB00)


WARBURTON, BARTHOLOMEW ELLIOTT GEORGE, usually known as Eliot Warburton (1810–1852), miscellaneous writer, eldest son of George Warburton of Aughrim, co. Galway, formerly inspector-general of constabulary in Ireland, who married, on 6 July 1806, Anna, daughter of Thomas Acton of Westaston, co. Wicklow, was born near Tullamore, King's County, in 1810. After being educated for some time by a private tutor at Wakefield in Yorkshire, he went to Queens' College, Cambridge, on 8 Dec. 1828, but migrated to Trinity College on 23 Feb. 1830. He graduated B.A. on 22 May 1833, and M.A. 1837. On 19 March 1830 he took part with Monckton Milnes, Edward Ellice, J. M. Kemble, A. H. Hallam, and others in the Cambridge dramatic club rendering of ‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ and in August 1831 Milnes joined him at Belfast for a tour ‘in open cars.’ Kinglake, author of ‘Eothen,’ was a fellow-pupil at Procter's (Barry Cornwall's) in conveyancing (Procter, Autobiogr. p. 67), and both Milnes and Kinglake were the ‘lifelong’ friends of Warburton. Letters from him to Milnes are in Reid's ‘Lord Houghton’ (i. 243, 345). He was called to the Irish bar in 1837, but threw up his profession to travel and write.

About 1838 he was living with his father at Gresford, near Wrexham (Jones, Wrexham, p. 53). In the spring of 1844 he was at Paris, with introductions to the Tocquevilles, and in 1843 he made ‘an extended tour’ through Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. These travels were described by him in the ‘Dublin University Magazine’ (October 1843, January and February 1844) under the title of ‘Episodes of Eastern Travel,’ and he was persuaded by Charles Lever, its editor, to make a book from them. Its title was ‘The Crescent and the Cross, or Romance and Realities of Eastern Travel,’ and it came out in two volumes in 1844, but is dated 1845. Although Kinglake's ‘Eothen’ had but just appeared, this work by Warburton passed through at least seventeen editions, having been reprinted so late as 1888, and its popularity was due to its ‘glowing descriptions.’ T. H. S. E. [Escott] refers to it as almost a guide-book to Egypt. He dwells on its ‘terse, simple, but most telling touches,’ and finds in it the germ of many ideas now accepted by English statesmen (Observer, 5 Dec. 1897, p. 7). The success of this book led to the adoption of literature as his profession. Its copyright, when in the thirteenth edition, was sold in Henry Colburn's effects, on 26 May 1857, for 420 guineas (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iii. 458). A story of ‘Zoe: an Episode in the Greek War,’ told to him in the Archipelago, was printed in 1847 to help a bazaar for the distressed Irish.

Warburton led a roving life. His eldest son was born on 20 Oct. 1848, when he was at Lynmouth, North Devonshire. In January 1849 he was dwelling at a château in Switzerland. The summer of 1851 was passed on the Tweed and Yarrow. He was ‘generous, high-spirited, and unselfish;’ every one spoke well of him (Miss Mitford, Letters, ed. Chorley, ii. 124, and Memoirs of Charles Boner, i. 221–5), and he had the Irish love of adventure. When Monckton Milnes challenged George Smythe (afterwards Lord Strangford) in 1849, Warburton was his second, and was much chagrined at the peaceful settlement (Reid, Lord Houghton, i. 417–418). He brought out in 1849, in three volumes, the ‘Memoirs of Prince Rupert and the Cavaliers, with their Private Correspondence’ (French translation, Geneva, 1851, 8vo), which were sympathetically treated, and, having passed much time in the examination of manuscripts of this period, wrote a novel called ‘Reginald Hastings: a Tale of the Troubles in 164–’ (1850), but it was devoid of life. His own copy, with manuscript corrections for the second edition, is in the Forster Library at the South Kensington Museum. In 1851 he edited the ‘Memoirs of Horace Walpole and his Contemporaries,’ a compilation by Robert Folkestone Williams (Halkett and Laing, Anon. Lit. ii. 1581), and, just as he was departing on his fatal voyage, he published ‘Darien, or the Merchant Prince: an historical Romance’ (1852, 3 vols.; 4th edit. 1860), with William Paterson (1658–1719) [q. v.] as its hero, and with a description of the horrors of a ship on fire. To make its details accurate he spent some time at the Bodleian Library and British Museum in investigating the history of the buccaneers.

Warburton contemplated compiling an impartial history of Ireland—he described himself as an Irish landlord and a tory, but ‘by reading and observation a good deal chastened in that creed’—beginning with the lives of its viceroys; but no publisher would treat for the work, and the scheme was abandoned. Some letters to Mr. Digby Starkey on this undertaking are in L'Estrange's ‘Friendships of Miss Mitford’ (ii. 147–61). He collected the materials for a ‘History of the Poor,’ and his last visit to his native land was to examine the haunts of poverty in Dublin. At the close of 1851 he was deputed by the Atlantic and Pacific Junction Company to arrange a friendly understanding with the Indian tribes on the Isthmus of Darien, and he embarked from Southampton on 2 Jan. 1852, on board the West India mail steamer the Amazon, with that object, and also with the intention of exploring the district. The ship caught fire on this her first and last voyage, and Warburton was among those that perished on 4 Jan. He was the last passenger that was recognised on the deck of the burning ship (Loss of the Amazon, 1852, p. 23). A window was erected to his memory in Iffley church, near Oxford. Copious journals and memoirs of Eliot and his brother, George Drought, are in the possession of the widow of the Rev. Thomas Acton Warburton.

Warburton married at St. James's, Piccadilly, on 11 Jan. 1848, Matilda Jane, second daughter of late Edward Grove of Shenstone Park, Staffordshire. Lady Morgan boasted that ‘the marriage was made on my little balcony’ (Memoirs, ii. 497). The widow in 1855 chiefly lived with her two little boys at Oxford or at Iffley (Hare, Story of my Life, i. 510–13, ii. 12, 13). She married, on 6 Aug. 1857, Henry Salusbury Milman, fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, and barrister-at-law, and died at Bevere Firs, near Worcester, on 23 Oct. 1861, aged 41, having had three daughters by her second husband. Warburton's eldest sister, Sidney Warburton, ‘a most remarkable and interesting person,’ was author of ‘Letters to my unknown Friends, by a Lady,’ 1846. She died at Clifton on 18 June 1858 (ib. i. 510).

One brother, Warburton, George Drought|George Drought [q. v.], is noticed separately. Another brother, Thomas Acton Warburton (d. 1894), at first a barrister, was afterwards ordained in the English church. He was vicar of Iffley from 1853 to 1876, and of St. John the Evangelist, East Dulwich, from 1876 to 1888. His chief works were:

  1. ‘Rollo and his Race, or Long-steps of the Normans,’ 1848, 2 vols. 2 edits.
  2. ‘The Equity Pleader's Manual,’ 1850.

He died at Hastings Lodge, Dulwich Wood Park, on 22 Aug. 1894, and was buried in Iffley churchyard.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850 ed. ii. 1508, iii. 511; Burke's Peerage, sub ‘Milman;’ Times, 7 Jan. 1852 et seq.; Gent. Mag. 1848, i. 421, ii. 645, 1857 ii. 330, 1858 ii. 202, 1861 ii. 693; Athenæum, 1852, p. 54; Reid's Lord Houghton, i. 84, 110–12, 329, 419, 467–8, ii. 365; Burnand's A. D. C. p. viii; Dublin University Magazine, February 1852, pp. 235 sq.; information from Professor Ryle, president of Queens' Coll. Cambridge, from Mr. W. Aldis Wright of Trinity Coll. Cambridge, and from Rev. Canon Warburton, the last surviving brother.]

W. P. C.