Thomas Orde in Italy, 1772-1773 and 1788-1789

Thomas Orde (1746-1807), travelled to Italy twice in the late-18th-century. A talented, amateur artist, his sketchbooks are held as part of the Bolton Hall archives, as well as his travel journals [ZBO]. Images of his drawings of Paestum can be seen on a separate web page. He is one of a number of 18th-century travellers to Italy within our archive collections.

Sketch books of Thomas Orde, with book of ‘Finished Drawings’ (far left), and his book plate with family crest and motto ‘mitis et fortis’: ‘gentle and brave’ [ZBO IX 1/3/2-4]

After studying at Eton and Cambridge, Thomas Orde (later Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton) made his first visit to Europe aged 25. He travelled across the Channel from England to Paris in January 1772, through the south of France to Switzerland and then through Italy. He arrived in Rome in mid-November 1772 and headed south to Naples a few weeks later in early December, intending to return to Rome in January and February 1773.

A transcript of extracts from the 1772 travel diary relating to the Bay of Naples, Vesuvius, Pompeii and Paestum can be read here (in pdf format).

Thomas Orde’s travel journal for 1772, showing pages relating to his time in Naples and visit to Paestum in December of that year [ZBO IX 1/2/2]

The earliest of his travel journals ends with an entry dated 13 December 1772, describing visits to Pozzuoli and Baiae, shortly after his visit to the Greek temples of Paestum, which he sketched. There are no journal entries from 1773. However, we know that Thomas Orde returned to Rome in 1773 because, whilst there, he had his portrait painted by the artist Pompeo Batoni, and was also featured in a painting of a Grand Tour group of five gentlemen in Rome, attributed to the artist John Brown.

Upon his return home to England, Orde enjoyed a successful career as a barrister, civil servant, politician and landowner. In 1778, he married Jean Mary Browne-Powlett, through whom he inherited Bolton Hall and Bolton Castle in Wensleydale.

Thomas Orde returned to Italy in 1788-1789 with his family, arriving in Rome from Siena in mid-June 1788, travelling south to Naples at the beginning of July, and returning to Rome at the end of December 1788, where he stayed until mid-April 1789. Throughout his travels, he kept detailed notes of where he went, what he did, who he met, as well as observations on the weather, his social engagements, and an itemised account of his expenditure.

Thomas Orde’s travel journal for 1788, showing pages relating to his time in Naples [ZBO IX 1/2/7]