The Count and the Porter who was promoted…

So, one of our librarian’s was an Italian Count… More about him here.

1857 – 1867 Count Ubaldo Marioni

 Address: Park Row (1858); Canning Street (1862); Forest Road (1864); Arboretum Street (1866).

Of the 39 candidates who applied to replace John Walton as librarian in 1857, twelve made the first short-list and then six were on a second list, of which Ubaldo Marioni was one, and who received detailed consideration.
He was appointed at £100 per annum after a ballot against William Richardson held on 11/12/1857.

Count Ubaldo Marioni had come to England as a political refugee after the occupation of his native Perugia by the Austrians in 1849. Perugia is in central Italy and about 100 miles north of Rome. His family had lived there for many generations and were of some importance.
He was named after St Ubaldo, a 12th century Bishop of Gubbio. Gubbio is a town about 25 miles north of Perugia and Ubaldo’s family had connections there.

In May 1849 Ubaldo came to London as an envoy of Giuseppe Mazzini’s Roman Republic and had accreditation from Carlo Rusconi, the foreign secretary of his native republic and he had been a member of its assembly before the invasion by the French troops.

Marioni stayed in London with Thomas and Jane Carlyle at their residence in Cheyne Row, Chelsea and it is possible that Joseph Neuberg, a Bavarian merchant, Bromley House subscriber and resident of The Park, and his sister, who were friends of the Carlyles, introduced Marioni to Nottingham.

The Library was not particularly strong in the literature of the Italian political struggle as might have been expected with a librarian with these origins.

He seems to have been a satisfactory, if not outstanding, librarian not taking his duties more seriously than was strictly necessary.
Although the Library was open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays he left at 8.20 in the evening and at 3.30 p.m. on Saturdays, returning at 10.30 a.m. on Mondays.
His two weeks of holiday became extended to a month (Taylor, 1988).

‘Slow but steady progress is making in the formation of a New Catalogue’ was reported to the 1863 General Meeting and a year later the catalogue was due ‘in a few weeks’.
On 1/8/1864 he received £3. 3s. 0d (increased to £6 6s. 0d on 5/9/1864) for work on the catalogue, but there is reason to believe that much of the work was done by John Banwell, the assistant librarian.

However, in March 1867 the combined salaries of £152 per year for librarians Count Marioni and John Banwell caused a protest from subscribers.

A document of which the following is a copy was affixed in the Library on the 2nd day of March 1867.

Bromley House Library
    Pursuant to the 25th Rule notice is hereby given that at the annual general meeting of the Shareholders to be holden on the first Tuesday in April 1867 the following resolution will be proposed for adoption. – Viz. –
    That in the opinion of this meeting the expenditure in Salaries and Wages is excessive, and that the Committee be, and are hereby requested to take immediate steps to reduce the same and at the same time secure greater efficiency in the service of the Library.

No mention of this protest is made in the minutes of the 1867 Annual General Meeting.

Obviously Count Marioni was out of favour with some subscribers and in the Spring of 1867 he had resigned.

    You are aware that I some time ago placed my Resignation as Librarian in your hands but with the view that its acceptance by the Committee should be deferred until Xmas next.
    Finding however that dissatisfaction exists amongst some of the Subscribers who might become an increasing source of unpleasant feeling between me and them I have reflected that I should best consult the interests of the Institution and my own character as a Gentleman by requesting you to accept my resignation.
    At the same time permit me to say with all sincerity and activated by the single desire that the Institution of the Library should not suffer I will cheerfully if it be the wish of the Committee continue my service for another 3 months, i.e. until 1st July when I should respectfully beg to retire.
    With the warmest feeling of respect to you and the Committee and of thankfulness for the kindness I have invariably received at their hands during the 9 past years of my office.
I have the honour to be
Your most obedient servant

However, at the 1867 Annual General Meeting Colonel Wright proposed and J. Bishop seconded a vote of thanks to Count Marioni and this was carried ‘by a large majority’’ which was perhaps indicative of the antipathy towards him from some subscribers.

The following is a copy of the memorial referred to in the last resolution

To the Committee of Bromley House Library
    We the undersigned Shareholders earnestly desire that Count Marioni may be requested to retain office as Librarian until the end of the present year.
    From the letter of the Count entered in the Committee Minute Book it appears that when he several months ago placed his resignation in the hands of the President, he expressed the wish to remain in Office until next december, when he would have completed ten years service.
    We feel confident that if this wish had been mentioned at the Annual Meeting it would have met with a hearty response and remembering the Count’s long, faithful and able services (to which the Committee and Shareholders have recently borne testimony) we desire that effect should now be given to the Count’s wish and that such arrangement should be made by the Committee as well secures to the Library the advantage of his services, until the close of the present year.

However, despite this strength of support, which included the Duke of Newcastle, Marioni left and on 1/7/1867 John Banwell was promoted from assistant to Librarian.

The Count, who it seems never married, died aged 82 at Woodhouse Eaves on 6 October 1886.

The Nottinghamshire Archives contains 36 letters (M5805 to M5840) written by Marioni between September 1881 and August 1882 from Woodhouse Eaves, near Loughborough, to Richard Enfield, the Nottingham solicitor Low Pavement.

Count Marioni was making payments to support a school for orphan girls in Naples and these were handled by Madame Julie Salis Schwabe (1819-1896).

Transcripts of these 36 letters and a brief account of the life and work of Julie Salis Schwabe can be found in The Marioni Letters (Priestland, 2007).


1867 – 1893 John Cummings Banwell

 In 1861 he was appointed as Library porter (4/12/1861).

When Alloway left, Banwell was appointed to replace him as under-Librarian (3/2/1862) and his salary was increased to 20s 0d per week (1/4/1862). On 1/8/1864 he received £3. 3s. 0d for work on the catalogue. Although this was really the responsibility of the Librarian, Count Ubaldo Marioni, it seems likely that most of the work was done by Banwell.
In August 1866 he received an increase of £10 8s 0d per year, taking his pay to £62 8s 0d per year)(7/8/1866).

He was promoted to Librarian to replace Marioni at a salary of £100 per annum plus the use of the house (1/7/1867). The Committee agreed that his kitchen be cleaned (3/10/1870) and that he receive a gratuity of £5 for his help in cleaning the Library.

His salary was still £120 per annum in 1893 and paid quarterly.
In 1881 the Committee agreed that he get £50 and 14 days holiday in consideration of his work on the catalogue (5/4/1881) and he was also paid £1 for each new share he could sell (5/1/1885).
He, and Edmund Percy, the President, planted six plane trees in the garden (3/11/1875).
In 1916 Russell reported that only three of these survived, but that they had grown into large specimens. They are still here and even larger.

The Library Association held its Annual General Meeting in Nottingham in September 1891 and it may be that Banwell, librarian, and J. William Moore, assistant librarian, attended [Peter Hoare].

In the 1870s and 1880s he was in favour with the Committee but the 1890s saw a downturn of the relationship. Banwell was criticised for slackness concerning the supply of books by Mudie (3/1/1893) and on 7/2/1893 he asked for a testimonial.

A special meeting of the Committee was held at the offices of H.E. Hubbart, the Honorary Secretary, at 10 South Parade at 5 p.m. on Monday 10/7/1893. This was the first meeting of the Committee to be held outside Bromley House since the Library moved there in 1820.

J.B. Hutchinson proposed and G.N. Berry seconded a motion ‘that it is desirable to remove Mr Banwell from the office of Librarian’.
No reason for this drastic step was given, nor did one later emerge.
A second motion proposed by Samuel H. Sands and seconded by W.W. Lewis offered Banwell £70 for the first year, £50 for the second year and £30 for the third year should he agree to resign.
This he did in a letter to the Honorary Secretary dated ten days later on 12 July 1893.

At the same meeting H. Dixon proposed with Samuel H. Sands as seconder that the post of Librarian go to William Moore.

Three years later (3/11/1896) the Committee considered a plea from Banwell to continue their support of him as agreed when he resigned. He felt that at the age of 72 he had little hope of any further employment. The Committee referred this matter to the next General Meeting to be held in six months time in April 1897 but nothing seems to have been decided there.

His age and his date of death are not known.



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