The “billiards-like” trajectory of progress in this quest continues! Somehow, surprising outcomes seem to regularly come about when one line of inquiry turns up a thread leading down some new path… I’ve been “offline” for a few weeks now because I have been back in research mode – following up on an important new lead I was given by a law professor at the University of Richmond.
One key artifact gives a clear account that a portrait of Sir Richard Lane once existed – a copy of a “catalogue” of the portraits available to visitors of the 1866 Special Exhibition of National Portraits in London. Interestingly, I have recently come across evidence indicating this “catalogue” wasn’t originally planned to be provided by the organizers of the event! If it hadn’t been, I suspect his portrait (and with it any chance of knowing what the man looked like) would have been truly lost to the larger world…
The satisfying thing about Richard Lane as a subject of historical research is that although his early life was one of obscurity, the political drama he was swept into brought about a fair number of useful historical artifacts related to him. Perhaps in the end, those bits and pieces will yield a rich and tangible sense of who he was. But, this isn’t Hollywood – history is about building knowledge based on facts, very much like building a legal case. And sometimes, the facts you need simply may not exist. What can really be known about a man who lived 400 years ago? Who was he really? What was important to him? And if you could have met him, what would he have looked like?
“Considering Sir Richard Lane’s spotless integrity, and his uniform adherence to his principles, – notwithstanding his comparative obscurity and his poverty, he is more to be honoured than many of his predecessors and successors who have left behind them a brilliant reputation, and ample possessions and high dignities to their posterity” — Lord John Campbell (1848 “Lives of the Lord Chancellors”, Vol 2)
Why is this quest so important to you? This is a question I have been asked quite often – and given the investment of time, energy and some money it has taken, its a fair question!
In the beginning, it was simple curiosity. I bought the “Lane’s Reports” book because it was so fascinatingly old. I wanted to find out what else there might be to know about it, beyond its age and the quill margin notes it contained. What could it tell me about the world it came from? Whose hands had held it long before even the earliest family I have known even existed? Or, for that matter, before most of this country existed?
Yes, that’s right. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Our 3rd President and author of the Declaration of Independence? I knew Richard Lane’s sister married a man named “Randolph”, and that some of their sons had helped found early Virginia, but I didn’t expect this… Continue reading “Richard Lane: Ancestor of Thomas Jefferson!”
So I have an assignment for you – do a google search on “latin translation” and plug the title of this article into it. Everyone should know about this amazing tool the good folks at Google have brought into our world! And make no mistake – after the curse of targeted advertising, they owed us one!