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Byng, John (1743-1813) 5th Viscount Torrington

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Shakespeare's Lives

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Byng, John (1743-1813) 5th Viscount Torrington
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Diarist, born on 18 Feb 1743, the younger son of George Byng, 3rd Viscount Torrington of Southill, Bedfordshire, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Lyonel Daniel of Clapham, Surrey. He was the nephew of Admiral John Byng (1704–1757), who was executed in 1757. The following is a chronological list of surviving journals.

1. Tour to the West, 31 May-14 Jul 1781 (Bodleian Library)

2. Ride into the West, Aug. 23-9 Sept 1782 (Hampshire Record Office, 95M88)

3. Tour in North Wales, 2 vols, covering London-Hereford-Montgomery-LlanfairCaereinion-Dolgellau-Caernarvon-Anglesey-Wrexham-Shrewsbury-London, 25 Jun-31 Jul 1784 (Cardiff Central Library, 3.235)

4. Ride taken in 1785 through Oxfordshire and Warwickshire including visit to Stratford, 2 Jul-12 Jul 1785 (Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive, ER108)

5. Tour in South Wales, 2 vols, covering London-Monmouth-Swansea-Brecon-Hereford-London, 21 Jul-18 Aug 1787 (Cardiff Central Library, 3.237)

6. Tour into Sussex, 15-25 Aug, 1788 (Brighton and Hove Library Service, S9T63)

7. Tour in Hertfordshire (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, MS Add. 7492)

8. Tour in the Midlands, 29 May-4 Jul 1789 (Bodleian Library)

9. A Tour in the Midlands, from Leicester to Manchster, 8-22 June 1790, journey through the East Midlands, 29 June-19 July 1790, 2 vols (Manchester Archives and Local Studies, MS Q 942.5.T1)

10. A Tour in Bedfordshire, 21 Aug-5 Sept 1790 (Luton Central Library)

11. A Tour into Kent, 17 Sept-26 Sept 1790 (held privately)

12. A Tour into Lincolnshire, 13 Jun-25 Jul 1791, 2 vols (Lincoln Central Library, mss 5064 & 5065)

13. Tour to the North, 26 May-17 Jul 1792 (Bodleian Library)

14. A Tour to North Wales, 2 vols, covering Biggleswade-Oswestry-Ffestiniog-Llanrwst-Bala-Shrewsbury-Biggleswade, 9 Jul-20 Aug 1793 (Cardiff Central Library, 3.238)

15. Two Tours in Bedfordshire, 14 Apr-14 Jun & 9 Sept-29 Sept 1794 (Luton Central Library)

Byng was also interested in Shakespeare and knew the Irelands and corresponded with contemporary Shakesperians. He claimed to own a crossbar from Shakespeare's chair.

Further information

William H. Rupp's webpages at the University of Warwick contain information on his PhD research on Byng and details of published editions of the diaries. Click here for further information.

S Schoenbaum 'Shakespeare's Lives' describes his Shakesperian connections