Duckett, George Floyd (DNB12)

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DUCKETT, Sir GEORGE FLOYD, third baronet (1811–1902), archæologist and lexicographer, born at 15 Spring Gardens, Westminster, on 27 March 1811, was eldest child of Sir George Duckett, second baronet (1777–1856), M.P. for Lymington 1807–12, by his first wife, Isabella (1781–1844), daughter of Stainbank Floyd of Barnard Castle, co. Durham. His grandfather Sir George Jackson, first baronet (1725–1822) [q. v.], assumed in 1797 the surname of Duckett, having married the heiress of the Duckett family. After attending private schools at Putney and Wimbledon Common, young Duckett was at Harrow from 1820 to 1823, when he was placed with a private tutor in Bedfordshire. In 1827–8 he gained a thorough knowledge of German at Gotha and Dresden. Matriculating on 13 Dec. 1828 as a gentleman commoner of Christ Church, Oxford, he devoted himself chiefly to hunting, and left the university without a degree.

Joining the West Essex yeomanry, Duckett on 4 May 1832 was commissioned a sub-lieutenant in the second regiment of life guards. On his coming of age in 1832, his father, whose means had been large, was ruined by wild speculations. Faced by beggary, Duckett began his economy by exchanging from the guards in 1834 into the 15th hussars, and subsequently into the 82nd regiment, in which he remained until 1839. Having obtained his company, he exchanged in 1839 into the 87th fusiliers, then on service at the Isle of France, and joined its depot in Dublin.

Meanwhile Duckett concentrated himself on the compilation of a 'Technological Military Dictionary' in German, English, and French. To make the work accurate, he obtained leave to visit the arsenals of Woolwich, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin. To complete his task he retired on half-pay. The important work was published in the autumn of 1848, and its merits were recognised abroad. He received gold medals from the emperor of Austria in 1850, Frederick William IV of Prussia, and Napoleon III. At home the book was for the most part ignored. On resuming his commission on full pay he was placed at the bottom of the captains' list of the reserve battalion of the 69th regiment, and thirty-two years later, in 1890, he was awarded 200l. (Duckett, Anecdotal Reminiscences, p. 131).

On the death of his father on 15 June 1856 he became third baronet. He abandoned interest in military matters, and thenceforth devoted himself to archæological and genealogical studies, to which he brought immense industry but small judgment or historical scholarship. In 1869 he published his exhaustive 'Duchetiana, or Historical and Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Duket, from the Conquest to the Present Time' (enlarged edit. 1874). Here he claimed descent from Gundrada de Warenne [q. v.] and a title to a dormant barony of Wyndesore. In 'Observations on the Parentage of Gundreda' (1877; Lewes, 1878) he vainly sought to confirm his belief that Gundrada was daughter of William the Conqueror. Pursuing his research, he investigated in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris the history of the first Cluniac monastery in England at Lewes in 1077, which Gundrada was reputed to have founded. He privately printed 'Record Evidences among the Archives of the Ancient Abbey of Cluni from 1077 to 1534' (1886); and a monumental compilation, 'Monasticon Cluniacense Anglicanum, Charters and Records among the Archives of the Ancient Abbey of Cluni from 1077 to 1534' (2 vols., privately printed, Lewes, 1888). There followed 'Visitations of English Cluniac Foundations, 1262–1279' (1890, 4to); and 'Visitations and Chapters-General of the Order of Cluni' (1893). For the 'Monasticon Cluniacense' he received in 1888 the decoration of an officer of public instruction in France. Duckett continued his literary pursuits until 1895, when he published his 'Anecdotal Reminiscences of an Octo-nonagenarian.' Subsequently blindness put an end to his literary activities. He was elected F.S.A. on 11 Feb. 1869. He died at Cleeve House, Cleeve, Somerset, on 13 May 1902, at the advanced age of ninety-one, and was buried in the cemetery at Wells. He was the last of the ancient line of the Dukets. He married on 21 June 1845 Isabella (d. 31 Dec. 1901), daughter of Lieutenant-general Sir Lionel Smith, first baronet [q. v.], but had no issue, and the baronetcy became extinct.

Besides the works already mentioned, and numerous contributions to local archæological societies, Duckett's published works include: 1. 'The Marches of Wales' (Arch. Cambrensis), 1881. 2. 'Manorbeer Castle and its Early Owners' (Arch. Cambrensis), 1882. 3. 'Brief Notices on Monastic and Ecclesiastical Costume,' 1890. He edited 'Original Letters of the Duke of Monmouth,' in the Bodleian Library (Camden Soc.), 1879; 'The Sheriffs of Westmorland' (Cumb. and Westm. Ant. and Arch. Soc.), 1879; 'Evidences of Harewood Castle in Yorkshire' (Yorksh. Arch. Jo.), 1881; 'Description of the County of Westmorland, by Sir Daniel Fleming of Rydal, A.D. 1671' (Cumb. and Westm. Ant. and Arch. Soc.), 1882; 'Penal Laws and Test Act under James II' (original returns to the commissioners' inquiries of 1687–8), 3 vols., privately printed, 1882–3; 'Naval Commissioners, from 12 Charles II to 1 George III, 1660–1760,' 1890; 'Evidences of the Barri Family of Manorbeer and Olethan' (Arch. Cambrensis), 1891. He also translated from the German 'Mariolatry, Worship of the Virgin; the Doctrine refuted by Scripture' (1892).

Authorities cited; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage; The Times, 16 May 1902; Standard, 14 May 1902; Athenæum, 31 Aug. 1895, pp. 285–6; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

C. W.