Page:Passages from the Life of a Philosopher.djvu/21

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5
A WILD ANCESTOR.

to have been that of a goldsmith, although several are believed to have practised less dignified trades.

In the time of Henry the Eighth one of my ancestors, together with a hundred men, were taken prisoners at the siege of Calais.

When William the Third landed in Torbay, another ancestor of mine, a yeoman possessing some small estate, undertook to distribute his proclamations. For this bit of high treason he was rewarded with a silver medal, which I well remember seeing, when I was a boy. It had descended to a very venerable and truthful old lady, an unmarried aunt, the historian of our family, on whose authority the identity of the medal I saw with that given by King William must rest.

Another ancestor married one of two daughters, the only children of a wealthy physician, Dr. Burthogge, an intimate friend and correspondent of John Locke.

Somewhere about 1700 a member of my family, one Richard Babbage, who appears to have been a very wild fellow, having tried his hand at various trades, and given them all up, offended a wealthy relative.

To punish this idleness, his relative entailed all his large estates upon eleven different people, after whom he gave it to this Richard Babbage, who, had there been no entail, would have taken them as heir-at-law.

Ten of these lives had dropped, and the eleventh was in a consumption, when Richard Babbage took it into his head to go off to America with Bamfylde Moore Carew, the King of the Beggars.

The last only of the eleven lives existed when he embarked, and that life expired within twelve months after Richard Babbage sailed. The estates remained in possession of the representatives of the eleventh in the entail.