Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Schreiber, Charlotte Elizabeth

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SCHREIBER, Lady CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH (1812–1895), Welsh scholar and collector of china, playing-cards, and fans, second daughter of Albemarle Bertie, ninth earl of Lindsey (1744–1818), was born at Uffington House, Lincolnshire, on 19 May 1812. She married first, on 29 July 1833, Sir Josiah John Guest [q. v.], and took up her residence on his estate in Wales. By him she was the mother of five sons and five daughters. He died on 26 Nov. 1852. Lady Charlotte, a woman of energy and capacity, subsequently managed with success his ironworks at Dowlais near Merthyr-Tydvil. She married, secondly, on 10 April 1855, Charles Schreiber, M.P. for Cheltenham and Poole, who died at Lisbon on 29 March 1884 (Times, 1 April 1884).

While resident in Wales Lady Charlotte patronised and largely contributed to the eisteddfods. After acquiring a perfect knowledge of Welsh she published ‘The Mabinogion, from the “Llyfr Coch o Hergest,” and other ancient Welsh Manuscripts, with an English Translation and Notes,’ 7 parts forming 3 volumes, 1838–49, a work of much labour and learning. A second edition, abridged, with the Welsh text omitted, appeared in 1877, and ‘The Boy's Mabinogion; being the earliest Welsh Tales of King Arthur in the famous Red Book of Hergest,’ in 1881.

Between 1877 and 1880, while her son-in-law, Sir Austen Henry Layard, was ambassador at Constantinople, she actively aided the Turkish compassionate fund for the alleviation of distress among Turkish women and children.

She was an enthusiastic collector of old china, and, after the death of her second husband in 1884, presented a large quantity of valuable English porcelain and earthenware to the South Kensington Museum as a memorial of him (South Kensington Museum: Schreiber Collection of English Porcelain, &c., edited by Lady C. Schreiber, 1885, with portraits of herself and husband).

After collecting fans and fan leaves for many years, she published two magnificent folio volumes entitled ‘Fans and Fan Leaves collected and described by Lady C. Schreiber.’ Vol. i. (1888), with 161 illustrations, contains a description of the English portion of her collection; vol. ii. (1890), with 153 illustrations, treats of foreign fans. She presented these collections to the British Museum in 1891, and a catalogue was printed in 1893. She also interested herself in fan-painting, and offered valuable prizes in public competition for excellence in the art. In recognition of her efforts she was presented with the freedom of the Fanmakers' Company on 17 Dec. 1891.

She also made a large collection of playing-cards, and, after completing the volumes on fans, commenced publishing another sumptuous work entitled ‘Playing Cards of Various Ages and Countries,’ 3 vols., 1892–5. The third volume, which was sent to press after her death, was edited by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, who had aided her in preparing the earlier volumes. Vol. i. contains the English, Scottish, Dutch, and Flemish cards; vol. ii. (1893) gives the French and German cards; and vol. iii. (1895) the Swiss, Swedish, &c. By her will she provided for the presentation to the British Museum of such specimens of her playing-cards as the trustees did not already possess. On 1–2 May 1896 Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge sold by auction the remaining portion (Times, 4 May 1896, p. 9). The honorary freedom of the Company of Makers of Playing Cards was presented to Lady Schreiber on 26 Nov. 1892.

During the later years of her life she became blind. She died at Canford Manor, Dorset, the residence of her eldest son, Ivor Guest, baron Wimborne, on 15 Jan. 1895.

[Times, 16 Jan. 1895, p. 6; Daily Graphic, 18 Dec. 1891, p. 8, with portrait; Illustrated London News, 26 Jan. 1895, p. 122, with portrait; information from Alfred Whitman, esq.]

G. C. B.