Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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PIOZZI , HESTER LYNCH ( 1741 - 1821 ), author ,

and friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson ; b. 16 Jan. 1741 at Bodfel , near Pwllheli, Caerns. , only child of John Salusbury , Bachygraig, Flints. , and Hester Maria (d. 1773 ), daughter of Sir Thomas Cotton , bart. , of Combermere and Lleweni (see under Cotton , Sir Stapleton ). Her inordinate pride in her Welsh ancestry can be understood if it be remembered that on the paternal and the maternal sides she was a descendant of Katheryn of Berain (q.v.) ; her father was a descendant of Katheryn 's second and her mother of the first marriage. Her career is described in the D.N.B. and other works, and, more recently ( Oxford , 1941 ), by James L. Clifford in Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs. Thrale) , a work based on an exhaustive study of much ‘Piozziana’ and ‘Thraliana,’ including the material in the Henry E. Huntington Library , San Marino , California , the John Rylands Library , Manchester , and the ‘Brynbella Piozziana’ and other smaller groups in the National Library of Wales . Hester Lynch Salusbury was precocious, with a gift of writing , for journal-keeping , and with a considerable amount of aptitude for learning modern languages . Her father, whose means were slender and who spent some time in Nova Scotia and Ireland , d. in 1762 , almost a year before she was married, on 11 Oct. 1763 , against her father's will and somewhat against her own judgement, to Henry Thrale , brewer , of the Borough (London) and Streatham . The greater part of her life before her marriage Hester had spent partly in London , but mainly at Lleweni or at Offley Park , Hertfordshire , the home of Sir Thomas Salusbury , her father's brother. Fairly soon after her marriage, Mrs. Thrale came to know Dr. Samuel Johnson , Oliver Goldsmith , David Garrick , Sir Joshua Reynolds , and others; it is her friendship with Johnson which largely accounts for her fame. Johnson accompanied the Thrales on a journey to North Wales in 1774 — for his journal of this Welsh tour and Mrs. Thrale 's journal, see A. M. Broadley , Doctor Johnson and Mrs. Thrale ( London , 1910 ). Johnson also accompanied the Thrales> on a journey to France in 1775 — for an account, see The French Journals of Mrs. Thrale and Doctor Johnson ( 1932 , a John Rylands Library , Manchester , publication). Thrale d. 4 April 1781 . The friendship with Johnson continued until Hester married, much against the wishes of Johnson and numerous other people, including her two eldest daughters, an Italian music master , Gabriele Piozzi , in July 1784 . After this second marriage Mrs. Piozzi and her husband visited Italy . On their return, in March 1787 , she found that the resentment hitherto felt against her in some quarters had largely diminished. They left Streatham for Wales at the end of 1795 ; they repaired Bachygraig and afterwards built Brynbella , not very far from Bachygraig . Piozzi d. at Brynbella , March 1809 . Their adopted son, John Piozzi , later became Sir John Piozzi Salusbury (d. 1858 ), and Mrs. Piozzi made him her heir.

Mrs. Piozzi 's publications were ( a ) ‘ Preface ’ and nine poems contributed to the Florence Miscellany ( Florence , 1785 ); ( b ) Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson, Ll.D., during the last twenty years of his life ( London , 1786 , and many subsequent editions); ( c ) Letters to and from the late Samuel Johnson … ( London , 1788 ); ( d ) Observations and reflections made in the course of a journey through France, Italy, and Germany ( London , 1789 ; another ed., Dublin , 1789 ; German trans., Frankfort and Mainz , 1790 ); ( e ) The Three Warnings ( Kidderminster , 1792 ); ( f ) British Synonymy: or an attempt at regulating the choice of words in familiar conversation ( London , 1794 , Dublin , 1794 , Paris , 1804 ); ( g ) Three Warnings to John Bull before he dies. By an Old Acquaintance of the Public ( London , 1798 ); ( h ) Retrospection: or a review of the most striking events, characters, situations, and their consequences, which the last eighteen hundred years have presented to the view of mankind ( London , 1801 ). She had a very large circle of acquaintances or correspondents in England and Wales (see J. L. Clifford , op. cit.) — members of the aristocracy, writers , dramatists , antiquaries , historians actors , etc. Among her Welsh friends were Thomas Pennant , the ‘ Ladies of Llangollen ,’ Lewis Bagot , bishop of S. Asaph , Margaret Owen of Penrhos , and Mrs. Siddons . She spent much of her later years at Bath . She d. at Clifton 2 May 1821 , and was buried at Tremeirchion, Flints. , on 16 May .


  • To the references already given add K. C. Balderston (ed.). Thraliana the diary of Mrs. Hester Lynch Thrale (later Mrs. Piozzi) 1776-1809 (Oxford, 1942) , two vols. (Oxford, 1942, 2nd ed. 1951 );
  • Annual Report of the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) , 1943-4 (brief account of the Brynbella Piozziana);
  • NLW MSS 1577, 1593 (iv), 4734, 5664, 6432;
  • Salusbury-Thrale marriage settlement (facsimile in N.L.W.);
  • Cornhill Magazine (London) , Sept. 1939.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959