Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis, Esq. F.R.S. and S.A. Amicitiae sacrum.
London, “printed by T.Gillet, Crown-Court, Fleet-Street” 1808.
4to. Engraved portrait frontispiece, vii + (1) + 60pp, 9 engraved plates. Original boards, worn and chipped at corners, rebacked with mid twentieth century paper spine and strengthened at inner hinges. An untrimmed copy. Some light spotting on plates. Nineteenth century booklabel of William George Mills.
A scarce privately printed biographical tribute to Thomas Brand Hollis (1719-1804) (born Brand), the intimate friend and testamentary heir of “that true and inflexible patriot” Thomas Hollis (1720-1774), promoter of libertarian causes and benefactor to Harvard. Thomas Brand Hollis held similarly radical political opinions, leading to a friendship with John Adams, American Minister in London and a future President of the United States, documented in a series of private letters to Brand Hollis from Adams and his wife, reproduced in full in this volume. Brand Hollis also possessed a substantial country house at The Hyde, Ingatestone, Essex, with an entrance hall and staircase built for him in 1761 to designs by Sir William Chambers, and Chambers’s designs are reproduced on two of the volume’s plates. These, according to the author’s preface, were printed from copper plates prepared for Brand Hollis “a few years before his death”, so it may at some time have been Brand Hollis’s intention to produce a volume of his own devoted to The Hyde and his collection of classical sculptures and antiquities, but this never materialised. The remaining plates include engraved illustrations of two handsome carved sarcophagi, brought from Rome and presented to Brand Hollis by Thomas Hollis, also in 1761 (these are now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) ; and three engraved perspective views showing the grounds of The Hyde and its rather charming thatched hermitage. By 1808 The Hyde and its contents had passed under Brand Hollis’s will to John Disney (1746-1816), an Unitarian clergyman and the author of the present volume, and Disney’s motive in issuing the volume was both to record the facts of Brand Hollis’s career and to justify his inheritance of The Hyde, since Brand Hollis and he were unrelated, and Brand Hollis’s bequest to him, like Thomas Hollis’s bequest to Brand Hollis, resulted solely from personal friendship and shared political opinions.