Thursday, June 8, 2017

Baron Charles de Berenger's Gun

Thursday, June 8, 2017
Loretta reports from London:

Don't know about you, but when I venture into a library's archives, I'm not expecting firearms. OK, so there weren't a lot in immediate sight, but I'll tell you there was more than one.

The place: The Kensington Central Library. My host: archivist/librarian Dave Walker, of The Library Time Machine blog, one of our favorite blogs. My firearm: a musket once the property of the Baron Charles de Berenger. His name was engraved in brass near the firing mechanism.

Thanks to Mr. Walker, I have discovered a most colorful character from the 1830s, the era in which I set my books.  You can read a bit about the baron here.  Among other activities--like a fraud or two-- he wrote an early book on self-defense, titled Helps and Hints: How to Protect Life and Property, which you can read here.

I'll be reporting more on my visit to the Kensington Central Library in coming days. I'm still reeling from the wealth of material in the archives--and I haven't even got to my own research yet!


Anonymous said...

Coincidence or what? I just wrote the story of de Berenger's involvement in the Stock Exchange fraud of 1814. He pretended to arrive from France with the news that Napoleon was dead (which he wasn't of course). His aim was to drive up the stock market and unload at a profit a ton of government bonds. My interest was in his erstwhile accomplice, Sir Thomas Cochrane, the probably innocent naval hero who was implicated. Cochrane was the Top Gun hero of his age. His trial started 203 years ago today.
De Berenger was also a fascinating man, as you say in the blog. He was a crack shot and after he did time for the fraud he started the famous Cremorne Gardens as a shooting range.

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