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Letter App12

Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell to John Hancock (15 June 1878)

Hancock is invited to join his friend Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell at the Exposition Universelle in Paris where he is acting as one of the judges. He refers to the significant bequest Hancock has acquired on the death of his great friend William Chapman Hewitson.



Hotel du Louvre Paris

15 June


My dear Friend

I sent word through Hugh1 to let you have my address in case you thought of coming [to] Paris to see the Exhibition.2

I have just heard indirectly through Mr. Newall3 that you have received a substantial accession of fortune at the death of your friend W Hewitson4. I sincerely hope that this may be true and I hasten in anticipation of its being confirmed to assure you how glad I am of it. There is no [p.2] one to whom such an event happening could afford me greater pleasure.

I noticed with regret the death in the Times and imagine that I should be seeing you in passing through London to his funeral.

I am here as a juror 5 & shall have to remain 14 days at least. I am sure that you would see much to interest you in the Exhibition. China & Japan are wonderfully extensive.

I shall be glad to secure a [p.3] room for you in this hotel if you will give me notice. Mrs. Bell is here with me & Florence Johnson.

I have observed that the Brit. Museum gets the butterflies!6


Believe me yours truly | I Lowthian Bell [signature]


Wrote Mr. B. about the 21st. [Hancock’s hand]



I. Lowthian Bell Esqre.

from Paris —  [Hancock’s hand]




Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, 1st Baronet FRS (1816 – 1904) was a Victorian ironmaster and Liberal Party politician born in Newcastle upon Tyne.

1. Sir Thomas Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet, known as Hugh, who fathered the explorer and diplomat Gertrude Bell. He was Lowthian Bell’s son.

2. Exposition Universelle, the third World’s Fair to be held in Paris from 1 May through to 10 November 1878.

3.  Robert Stirling Newall

Lowthian Bell’s brother in law and partner in his business.

4. William Chapman Hewitson was born in Percy Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in a house opposite the Haymarket on January 9th, 1806. He was a his life-long friend of John Hancock and when he died at his home Oatlands Park on May 28th, 1878, aged 72 years he bequeathed his estate to him. He also left the large sum of £3,000 and the remainder of his books to the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Hancock used the money towards the building of the New Museum of Natural History at Barras Bridge, later renamed the Hancock Museum.

5. Bell served as a juror at the International Exhibitions in Paris in 1878. He was accordingly made an officer of the Legion d’Honneur.

6. Hewitson’s magnificent collection of butterflies were bequeathed to the British Museum