Daniel, Alexander (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 14
Daniel, Alexander

by Sidney Lee
As Alexander Daniell in the ODNB.

DANIEL, ALEXANDER (1599–1668), diarist, was born, according to his own account, at Middleburg, Walcheren, on 12 Dec. 1599. His father, Richard Daniel (b. 1561), was a prosperous Middleburg merchant, who emigrated from Cornwall to Holland in early life, and made a fortune there. In Alexander's ‘Diary’ he notes that his father ‘made his first voyage to Embden in East Freezeland 18 March 1584,’ and that his ‘second voyage was to Zealand 8 March 1586.’ He married Jaquelina von Meghen, widow of Rein. Copcot, 18 Feb. 1598–9, and Alexander was their first child. The mother died at Middleburg 21 Nov. 1601, and to Alexander's disgust his father married a second wife, Margaret von Ganeghan, at Dordrecht, 9 Nov. 1608. Richard Daniel was deputy governor of Middleburg in 1613; soon afterwards settled in Penzance, Cornwall; represented Truro in the parliaments of 1624 and 1628, and died at Truro 11 Feb. 1630–1. Jenkin Daniel, Richard's brother and Alexander's uncle, was mayor of Truro in 1615. Alexander was apparently educated in England: in June 1617 he was sent for a time to Lincoln College, Oxford. He married, on 20 Jan. 1625–6, Grace, daughter of John Bluet of Little Colon, when he took up his residence at Tresillian. He moved to Penzance in 1632, and to Laregon, where he built a house, in 1639; in 1634 sold some land in Brabant bequeathed him by his maternal grandmother; and died in 1668, being buried in Madron Churchyard. On his tomb are the lines—

Belgia me birth, Britain me breeding gave,
Cornwall a wife, ten children, and a grave.

Richard, his eldest son (b. 1626), married Elizabeth Dallery of London, 6 April 1649, and died in 1668. He is credited with the authorship of ‘Daniel's Copybook, or a Compendium of the most useful Hands of England, Netherland, France, Spain, and Italy. Written and invented by Rich. Daniel, gent. And ingraven by Edw. Cocker, philomath,’ Lond., 1664. The fifth son, Eliasaph (b. 1663), was impressed by the Commonwealth navy in 1653, and served under Sir George Ayscue. The eighth and youngest son, George (b. 1637), went to London to learn the ‘ball-trade,’ founded and endowed a free school at Madron (cf. Report of Charity Commissioners, June 1876), and died 4 May 1716, being buried next his father. Alexander's sister Mary (d. 1657) was the wife of Sir George Whitmore (d. 1654).

Daniel left in manuscript (1) ‘Brief Chronologicalle of Letters and Papers of and for Mine Own Family, 1617–1668,’ and (2) ‘Daniel's Meditations,’ a collection of 375 pieces in verse. These works belong to Thomas Hacker Bodily, esq., of Penzance, and extracts of the first were printed by Sir Harris Nicolas in ‘Gent. Mag.’ 1826, i. 130–2; and in J. S. Courtney's ‘Guide to Penzance,’ 1845, app. pp. 75–91, appear a number of Alexander Daniel's letters to his relatives, and one religious poem extracted from the ‘Meditations.’

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. 103, 1146–7; Gent. Mag. 1826, pt. i. 130–2; Gilbert's Survey of Cornwall, ii. 90; J. S. Courtney's Guide to Penzance, 1845, app. Some mention of the Daniel family is made in the Bodleian Library Rawlinson MS. C 789; extracts have been printed in the Cornishman, 16 and 23 Jan. 1879.]

S. L. L.