Lot 185
  • 185


1,500 - 2,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Byron Family Snuff Box
  • the thumbpiece engraved Byron 1770
  • gilt-copper
  • 7 by 3.1cm. 2¾ by 1¼in.
  • Made circa 1770.
the lid hand-chased in high relief with a battle scene between a knight on a horse and a centaur, the sides hand-chased with dragonflies and butterflies below scrolls, the front with a putto and lion, the underside with die-stamped scrollwork, together with a typed note reading 'This belonged to the 5th Lord Byron and probably the 6th after him. 'Byron 1770' can be seen in small lettering on the lid. It was given to me by the Hon. Mrs. Rodd (Rosie) on the night of my lecture on Byron for the British Council in Rome'


William, 5th Baron Byron (1722-1798)
thence probably by descent to his great-nephew, George Gordon, 6th Baron Byron (1788–1824)
The Hon. Mrs Rosie Rudd (1917-1992)
Gifted in 1951 to Mrs Doris Langley Moore (1902-1989)
Sotheby's, London, English Literature, 19 July 1993, lot 250


London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Byron, 1974, item A4


Associated literature: Frederick Bradbury, History of Old Sheffield Plate, Sheffield, 1968, p. 21

Catalogue Note

William Byron (1722-1798) inherited his title 5th Baron Byron upon the death of his father in 1736. Soon afterwards he began service in the Royal Navy. The 5th Lord Byron is chiefly remembered for his hot temper and insanity, which, combined with his unstable financial situation, resulted in scandals. In 1765 he killed his cousin, William Chaworth in a drunken duel, for which he was prosecuted but escaped with a nominal fine for manslaughter. Little wonder that he earned the titles, 'The Wicked Lord' and 'The Devil Byron,' epithets of which he was proud and which were remembered in the works of his great nephew and successor, the celebrated poet, George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), who in 1798 succeeded to the title as 6th Baron. Besides a few possessions, among which was probably this snuff box, he had very little to leave.

The snuff box was presented to the Byron scholar and historian of costume, Doris Langley Moore (1902-1989), following her delivery of a lecture on the poet for the British Council in Rome in 1951. Langley Moore wrote extensively on Byron and in 1977 published a biography of his daughter, Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), the noted mathematician.

The fact that a lecture on Lord Byron was given in Rome was hardly surprising, inasmuch as he lived for several years in the Italian capital, in 1817 at the Piazza di Spagnia where he left some belongings and tantalisingly 'nine boxes' amongst which  the present work may have been included. He quit Italy for Greece and his ultimate death in 1823.