Having been intrigued by Charles Rozzell’s headstone since I was a boy, but being unable to discover much from local histories, I eventually set out in search of him myself. The results far exceeded my expectations, and are contained the three volumes mentioned at the foot of this page. Three volumes might seem a bit excessive, but it was the only way I could get all the material into order and set it in some sort of context.
While searching for Rozzell however, I inevitably came across numerous other fragments of eighteenth-century Leicester in the pages of the Leicester and Nottingham Journal that were not directly related to Rozzell’s writings, but were fascinating in themselves and vividly evocative of the times. In short then, having set out in search of a forgotten individual, I discovered a forgotten community; and what began as a haphazard collection of items that did not fit into the books has now developed a monstrous life of its own.
So far, the years 1759 to 1772 are fairly comprehensively covered after which the entries are rather more thinly scattered. I am updating when I find the time but it is a laborious process. All the items on this site are transcribed longhand from some pretty grubby originals (on microfilm), then typed into my desktop, then reformatted again to display here. I have retained the original, often erratic spelling and approximated the typography in so far as I am able, but for the ease of modern readers I have rationalised some of the more infuriating punctuation, and made no attempt to duplicate the ‘long S’ (which makes ‘suspect’ look like ‘sufpect’). Elisions like ‘fam’d’ and ‘hop’d’ which throw the eye and make a puzzle of simple words like ‘famed’ and ‘hoped’ are expanded throughout, except when such alteration interferes with the metre of verse.
If you have read the books and were wondering about Rozzell’s harangues on behalf of the framework-knitters mentioned in the introduction to Improvements of Leicester, you will find them here. It was either that or publish another volume, and that seemed a tad excessive even to me.
If you have never heard of Charles Rozzell, this is the epitaph that provoked my curiosity:
This Grave Contains the perishable part of
C H A R L E S R O Z Z E L L
An offspring of parents, both of the Irish Nation
Whose dust mingles with his.
This is the memorial of a Man
Not more distinguished for the eccentric bent of his Conduct,
Than for the superior endowments of his mind;
Who, by strength of natural Genius,
Unaided by the advantages which wealth affords,
Exhibited those rare and genuine qualities,
Which constitutes the Wit, the Orator, and the Poet.
He was born in Leicester, September 21, 1754
And died July 25, 1792.
Whether he’s summon’d in life’s early morn.
Or in old age, drops like an ear of corn,
Full ripe he falls on Nature’s noblest plan,
Who lives to Reason, and who dies a Man.
The LIFE and TIMES of
C H A R L E S R O Z Z E L L
in 3 fully annotated volumes:
Improvements of Leicester, Epitaphs & Elegies, and Political Songs & Satires
…who erst, undaunted struck the Lyre,
And through the page breathed true poetic fire:
With sharp satyric lash, kept folly down,
Nor feared the Despot’s threat, nor blockhead’s frown.
Researched, Edited, Annotated,
and everything else
Price: £5.95 per vol.
or £15 the set.