The journal of Amélina Petit de Billier

19th Century society through the eyes of a Parisienne

The journal of Amélina Petit de Billier records her life from 1820, when she left Paris to join the family of Mr. Charles Feilding and Lady Elisabeth Feilding, until 1835. During several of those years she acted as companion to Lady Elisabeth and her two daughters, Caroline and Horatia. She accompanied the family on their extensive travels in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. When in England, they lived in London, visited relations, or rented houses in Bristol, Richmond, Worthing or Brighton. An important member of the family was William Henry Fox Talbot, the pioneer of photography, who was Lady Elisabeth's son by her first marriage. He had inherited the Lacock Estate as a baby on his father's death in 1800. He reached his majority in 1821, but the estate, at first encumbered by debt, was let to tenants on a lease which did not expire until 1827. It was in August 1827 that the family came to live at Lacock (often spelt Laycock by Amélina) for the first time. Amélina decribed this important event in great detail in her journal.

The fifteen volumes that make up this journal are in the possession of Janet Burnett-Brown and Petronella Burnett-Brown at Lacock Abbey. They are in a very fragile state. Transcriptions and translations were done at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution from photocopies made at the Fox Talbot Museum.

The translations which are published here do not attempt to correct any unusual spellings or punctuation in the original. Amélina frequently refers to her companions using the following abbreviations:

Mr. T.   =  W. H. Fox Talbot
Mrs. T. =  Constance Talbot
Mr. F.   =  Admiral Charles Feilding
Lady E. =  Lady Elizabeth Feilding
Lord V. =  Lord Valletort
Ld. W.  =  Lord Wilton

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