On this day … 6 January 1689

Portrait of Abigail Bellingham, the wife of the diarist Col. Thomas Bellingham
Abigail Bellingham

The entry in the diary of Thomas Bellingham included:

Ye 6th. Frost continues. Nabby was very ill all last night, by means of ye late accident. All is well again.

Nabby was Bellingham’s pet name for his wife, Abigail; the late accident is not identified. When he mentions his wife and family in his diary Bellingham is always warm and affectionate.

Not so A. R. Maddison, canon of Lincoln Cathedral and rector of Burton-by-Lincoln, who in his introduction to Anthony Hewitson’s edition of Bellingham’s diary comments waspishly, ‘His wife, Abigail, was no beauty, and looking at her picture one cannot be surprised at two out of the three daughters remaining single.’

Abigail was a member of a leading Anglo-Irish family, and married into another. Such marital ties spun a web of family connections between the Protestant gentry who ruled Ireland: her brother-in-law, Robert Rochfort, was speaker of the Irish House of Commons, attorney general and chief baron of the exchequer.

He was one of the prominent Irish Protestants who felt threatened by James II’s Catholic forces in Ireland and fled to England. While in England, he paid a visit to Preston to see the Bellinghams.

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