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Mary Rawson Bush diary of a trip to France and Italy


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Mary Rawson and Major General William Bush (1790-1854) married in 1812 and were the parents of Sophia (1814-1881), Anna Maria (1815-1856) and Seddon William Sutton (1822-1842) Bush. The family lived in Maidstone in Kent around 1815. From November 1822 to March 1823, Mary and William Bush traveled from England to France, the Alps, and Italy, via a carriage, exploring the cities and countryside along their route. During the trip, Sophia and Anna Maria remained in England, presumably with family, and were mentioned regularly throughout the travel diary. Bush refers to "the child" quite frequently, and it is possible that their infant, William, traveled with them.

Mary and William Bush interacted with other British travelers throughout their trip, including the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Sutton, Colonel Forster, Captain Garth, and Miss Bridges. It is possible that Mr. Sutton traveled with the Bush's during the entirety of the trip.

Mary Rawson Bush documents her trip (along with husband William) through regular entries in her diary in which she describes the cities, countryside, culture, and people she encounters. She began writing her travel journal on November 30, 1822, in Lyon; however, she began the trip prior to that date. She claims, on the first page, that she had been "too stingy to purchase a book before," (page 1). The family probably started their European travels at Calais, however, the first city mentioned was Saint-Omer, which they visited on November 12. From there, they traveled to Arras, Amiens, and Chantilly, before arriving in Paris on the 16th of November. There they visited the Champs-Élysées, the Opera Comique, and the Louvre. The rest of their visit was summarized: "suffice it to say, the same routine of amusements took place until the 22nd when we left the gay city of Paris for Fontainebleau," (page 7). From Fontainebleau, they traveled to Lyon (staying from November 29 to December 2), Bourgoin, Savoy (where they saw snow and enjoyed mountain scenery), Chambéry, and Montmélian (described as "a poor miserable hole"). From December 14 to 20th they visited Turin, Italy (a city with which Mary Bush was delighted); then traveled through Alessandria, Marzano, Genoa, Buggiano, Prato, and Florence, before arriving in Rome on February 11 and staying until February 24. During their stay in Rome, they visited St. Peter's Cathedral, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and the Corsini Chapel. William became ill and was treated by the Duke of Devonshire's physician. They then traveled to Naples (disappointing to Mary Rawson Bush), with side trips to Herculaneum and Pompeii, before returning to Rome, from March 10 to at least March 15, when the diary is completely filled and concludes. It is unclear if the family continued to travel, but Bush indicated that she had a new book in which to write the next day.

Throughout the volume, she occasionally skimped on details, indicating that William had written his own travel journal that documented the experiences more fully. Mary Rawson Bush was extremely opinionated and expressed her frequent disappointment and displeasure at "narrow, dirty and disagreeable" streets, shabby towns, and "rude, self-sufficient and vulgar" people. (page 9).

Laid in at the back cover are four notes that are seemingly unrelated to the travel diary. They include "An Offer of Marriage from a Gentleman to a Lady" and on the verso "The Lady's reply; an "Alphabetical Dialogue" and on the verso, "How to write by Proxy;" "A Village thief …" and on the verso, "Advice to a Young Man;" and songs and diagrams.

Sold by Antiquates Fine and Rare Books (Dorset, England), 2023.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 June 22
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Diary of trip to France and Italy, 1822 November-1823 March.
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