Queer Places:
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
36 Kensington Square, London W8 5HP, UK
Pyports, Downside Bridge Rd, Cobham KT11 3EG, UK
St. Nicholas Church Pyrford, Woking Borough, Surrey, England

Vernon Lushington KC, (8 March 1832 – 24 January 1912), was a Positivist, Deputy Judge Advocate General, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, and was associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He was a Cambridge Apostle. In his life of Sir Leslie Stephen, Noel Annan has written of the emergence in Victorian Society of an intellectual aristocracy which has profoundly influenced English politics, education and literature during the 19th century. The Lushington family were at the heart of that group. A glance at the index of the biographies of many of the great names of the nineteenth century will usually reveal at least one or two references to members of the Lushington family. Vernon's sister was Alice Lushington.

Lushington was born in Westminster, London, to Stephen Lushington and Sarah Grace Carr; his twin brother was Godfrey Lushington, KCB GCMG, Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Home Office. Stephen Lushington was an eminent lawyer who made his reputation as counsel to Queen Caroline, wife of George IV, in the matter of her divorce, and to Lady Byron in her divorce. Throughout his life, Stephen was an ardent reformer and staunch churchman, campaigning for the abolition of capital punishment and supporting his friend William Wilberforce by speaking in favour of the Slave Trade Abolition Bill. He was also involved with members of the Clapham Sect. Stephen Lushington spent the last years of his life at Ockham Park, Surrey which belonged to the Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace. A neighbour wrote 'At Ockham Park the famous Dr Lushington collected around him the cleverest folk of the day' and visitors at Ockham included John Ruskin, William Holman Hunt, William Michael Rossetti, Thomas Woolner, Elizabeth Gaskell, Edward Lear, Benjamin Jowett and the Christian Socialist F D Maurice. At Ockham Lushington's daughters took over the running of the Ockham Industrial Schools which had been created under Lady Byron's influence. It was there that the two celebrated former slaves William and Ellen Craft were both educated and employed after their escape from the USA. In 1821 Stephen Lushington married Sarah Grace Carr (died 1837) whose father Thomas Carr, a Scottish lawyer, had known Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey and whose circle of friends included the writers Joanna Baillie, Maria Edgeworth, and Anna Letitia Barbauld together with Harriet Martineau, Henry Crabb Robinson, Sir Humphrey Davy, Lady Byron and William Wordsworth. Sarah Carr's sisters were Laura, Lady Cranworth whose husband, a Whig politician was twice Lord Chancellor and a neighbour a friend of Charles Darwin; and Isabella, Lady Eardley whose husband was Sir Culing Eardley a religious campaigner and a prime mover in the founding of the Evangelical Alliance. Stephen Lushington was a judge of the High Court of Admiralty from 1838 and Dean of Arches from 1858 to 1867. He died at Ockham Park in 1873.

Arthur Hughes | The Home Quartette: Mrs Vernon Lushington and Children  (1883) | MutualArt
The Home Quartet: Mrs Vernon Lushington and her Children

Vernon Lushington was educated at East India College, Haileybury, Hertfordshire, and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] He became a QC, a county court judge, Secretary to the Admiralty in 1871, and Deputy Judge Advocate General from 1878 to 1912. He married Jane Mowatt, daughter of Francis Mowatt, on 28 February 1865. From 1877 to 1903 the Lushington family's country residence was Pyports, Cobham, Surrey.[2] With his brother Godfrey, he advocated positivist philosophy, motivated by the ideas of Auguste Comte, and was a follower of Frederic Harrison. Influenced by Frederick Denison Maurice, he joined the Working Men's College as a singing teacher, and promoter of art and music appreciation; he became part of the group that formed the first College governing Corporation in 1854. At the death of Maurice in 1872, he, with his brother, and Frederick James Furnivall, Thomas Hughes, and Richard Buckley Litchfield, became a unifying force at the College.[3] He was a friend to artists, authors and activists, particularly those of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts Movement who gravitated to the Working Men's College. In 1856, it was he who first introduced Edward Burne-Jones to Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his college rooms.[4][3] Burne-Jones later wrote to Lushington, 'My first introduction to Gabriel was your doing - and big results it brought into my life'. With his friend, the sculptor, Thomas Woolner, Vernon Lushington visited Alfred, Lord Tennyson on the Isle of Wight and became a close friend of the family. Rossetti used Lushington’s wife, Jane, as a model in 1865.[5] Lushington, friend of William Morris, was a frequent visitor to Kelmscott Manor.[4] He was a close friend of Leslie Stephen and his family; Stephen’s daughter Virginia Woolf based her character Mrs. Dalloway on Lushington’s daughter Kitty.[4] He was also a close friend of Working Men’s College founder Richard Buckley Litchfield and his wife Etty, daughter of Charles Darwin; the Lushingtons were regular visitors to Darwin’s Down House. As Thomas Carlyle’s friend, he edited Carlyle’s first Collected Works, (Chapman and Hall, 1858).

Vernon and Jane Lushington lived for a while at Wheelers Farm, Pyrford, before moving to Pyports, Cobham, whilst maintaining 36 Kensington Square as their London residence. Families with close links to Vernon and Jane Lushington include Montgomery of Blessingbourne, Ireland; Massingberds of Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire; Bell of Rounton Grange and Mount Grace Priory; Howard of Naworth; Stanley of Alderley; Rathbone of Liverpool; Farrer of Abinger; Buxton of Surrey; Vaughan Williams of Leith Hill Place and High Ashes, Surrey; Darwin of Down House and Cambridge; and Litchfield. Vernon and Jane Lushington had three daughters who together represent the third generation in the archive.

Jane Lushington was a talented musician who sang in the Bach Choir and played the piano. Her playing was admired by Charles Darwin.[6] She and her three daughters (Kitty, b. 1867, Margaret, b. 1869 and Susan, b. 1870) were the subject of a painting by Arthur Hughes. The Home Quartet: Mrs Vernon Lushington and her Children was first exhibited in 1883, and shows Mrs Lushington at the piano, two daughters with violins and a third with a cello.[7][8] The three sisters all received tutoring from Hubert Parry[9] and performed not only in an intimate family setting and before small groups like the Positivists, but in public with, for example, the South Hampstead Orchestra.[10] Jane Lushington died suddenly in 1884. Kitty married the journalist and amateur tennis player Leo Maxse in 1890 and became a well-known London society hostess.[11] She died in 1922.[12] Margaret married Stephen Massingberd in 1895 (who inherited Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire in 1897) but died early in 1906 of peritonitis.[13] Susan Lushington was a founding member of the Folk Song Society in 1898. She was awarded the MBE in 1943 and died in 1953.[14]

My published books:

See my published books