FIRST COURSE OF MAPS Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, St Leonards on Sea. n.d. but ca.
1863. Oblong bound blank drawing manual/notebook, 8vo, ff.  blank,  illuminated title-page in gilt, red and blue, followed by leaf depicting the Arms of Great Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Papal States,  leaves of detailed hand-drawn and partially coloured maps annotated in a neat calligraphic hand,  blank; aside from some occasional light foxing and soiling, clean and bright; paper with watermark of ‘J. Whatman, 1863’. bound in full green morocco, all edges gilt, spine in compartments with ruled bands, with triple ruled gilt and blind border, head and tail of spine and joints somewhat rubbed, some light surface wear to covers, some doodling evident on rear cover, extremities and corners lightly bumped and worn; with the initials of J.M.E. in gilt on upper cover; a most appealing survivor. A beautifully executed manuscript atlas, containing 40 detailed hand-drawn and partially coloured maps, the work of the young student Julie Mary Eyre. Evidently an exercise in both geography and calligraphy, the first leaf presents the statement of ownership, carefully penned and incorporating an illuminated initial ‘J’ elaborately executed in gilt, red and blue. The Royal Arms of Great Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Papal States are the focus of the following leaf, again each embellished with gilt. The 40 maps open with a depiction of the western and eastern hemispheres, followed by a map of Europe, before illustrating both political and physical maps of England, Scotland and Ireland (though not Wales). For the principal European nations, both physical and political maps are included, with ‘Further India’ also granted both a physical and political representation. A map of Hindostan is also included, together with depiction’s of Asia, the Chinese Empire and Japan, Africa, Norway & Sweden, Prussia, a map of ‘Turkey in Europe and Greece’, a map of ‘Turkey in Asia’, Russia, the United States, ‘Mexico, Central America and the United States’, South America (both political and physical), Oceania, Australia (and New Holland), and concluding with Palestine (again both political and physical). Bound in full green morocco, all edges gilt, and with her initials stamped on the upper cover, the ‘project’ was clearly intended to be treasured. Great care, and no doubt some expense, has been afforded to the whole endeavour.
The Convent of the Holy Child Jesus was a Catholic teaching convent and religious order founded by the American-born educator Cornelia Connelly (1809-1879) from Philadelphia. Previously married to an Episcopal priest, Pierce Connelly, Cornelia agreed to travel with him to Europe, and then England, after her husband’s crisis of faith and eventual conversion to Catholicism, which ultimately led to the annulment of the marriage. Cornelia agreed to give him the requisite deed of separation and pronounced a vow of perpetual chastity, entering a convent herself, in so doing effectively becoming estranged from her children. She embraced Catholicism, and turned her attention to education, and encouraged by Cardinal Wiseman, the Archbishop of Westminster, founded the first of many English Holy Child Schools in 1846 in Derby. Seemingly jealous of her success, Pierce Connelly tried to claim that he was a co-founder, and then had yet another crisis of faith renouncing his priesthood and his Catholic faith. He removed their three children from the schools they were attending and denied her all access to them, hoping thus to force her to return to him as his wife. He even pressed a lawsuit against her which caused quite a scandal at the time. Though he eventually lost, he conducted a public campaign against her for many years. These trials seem to have merely strengthened her own faith and resolve to dedicate herself to education. In 1848 the mother house moved from Derby to St Leonards on Sea in Sussex, where she remained until her death in 1879. She was proposed for beatification in 1959, and her name hit the headlines in recent years, after an attempt to exhume her remains and re-bury them back in Philadelphia led to a public outcry and a reversal of the decision.
Though not a precise guide, the paper is watermarked ‘J. Whatman, 1863’ providing a tentative date.