Laetitia Matilda Hawkins
Nineteenth century local gossip
1759 - 1835
Laetitia and her brother 'Harry Classic' move to Sion Row
Laetitia Hawkins, the author, had been much influenced by her father. Accompanied by her scholarly younger brother Harry, a Chancery lawyer (nicknamed “Harry Classic” on account of his learning) she moved back to Twickenham early in the 19th Century and settled at No.1 Sion Row. There she and her brother lived until her death in 1835 aged 75. There is a memorial to her (and her brother Henry) in St Mary's Church.
Anecdotes, biographical sketches and memoirs
In her sixties she wrote three volumes of local gossip, Anecdotes and Memoirs, in which she described Twickenham and its residents.
Amongst those whose activities she described were her father, Horace Walpole, David Garrick, Sir Samuel Prime, the Marchioness of Tweedale at Gifford Lodge and her family, Joshua Ward (”the”quack doctor”), Paul Whitehead, the Vicar George Costard, Richard Owen Cambridge, Kitty Clive and many others.
Living with her and her brother at No.1 Sion Row, was her companion Mary Mitchell. According to Richard Cobbett, the threesome ”formed as grotesque a trio as can well be imagined”. It is possible that Mary Mitchell was the widowed daughter of John Spyers who had owned a house in Sion Row at his death.
R S Cobbett , Memorials of Twickenham, 1872
Donald Simpson, The Twickenham of Laetitia Hawkins, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No.39, 1978
Laetitia Hawkins, Anecdotes, Biographical Sketches and Memoirs, 1822
Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts and Opinions, 1824
F C Hodgson, Thames Side in the Past, George Allen, 1913