A Forgotten Wiltshire Poet
Emmeline HINXMAN née FISHER:  Her Links with William WORDSWORTH and the National Anthem

Foreword & Dedication
This webpage tells the story of the gifted child prodigy and poet Emmeline 'Emmie' FISHER (1825-1864), who was invited to re-draft the National Anthem for Queen Victoria's coronation. 

She later married Reverend Charles HINXMAN (Salisbury branch; 1811-1903), thereby becoming a HINXMAN, and a mother of HINXMANs.

The 1st edition of this article was researched and written by Neville Gordon HINXMAN (Titchfield branch; 1922-2016), and was published in 1994aThis 2nd edition is re-published here for its HINXMAN family history interest, and to bring its story to a wider public. 

It is dedicated to the memory of Neville G. HINXMAN, a kindly and urbane man with a gentle humour, who was much loved.  Neville had a strong sense of family, and contributed greatly to researching, preserving and disseminating our HINXMAN family history.

Illustration 1.  Emmeline's great-uncle Bishop John FISHER & his wife Dorothea.  1826.  For picture details, see footnotes.

A Wiltshire Background
Few people today are aware that the Wiltshire village of Poulshot cradled a remarkably talented child poet.  Her verses drew extravagant praise from the poet William WORDSWORTH and gave pleasure to Queen Victoria, but her poems and her name are now virtually forgotten.

Emmeline FISHER was very much a Wiltshire child.  She was born on 19 April 1825 at Poulshot1, a small village near Devizes in Wiltshire.  During her childhood she lived at Poulshot, where her father the Reverend William FISHER (c.1799-1874), a nephew of John FISHER, Bishop of Salisbury from 1807 to 1825, was the rector. 

In 1835, when she was ten, her father was appointed a Residentiary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and gained a residence in the Close, the North Canonry, until he died in 18742.  The family lived part of the year in the Close and part of the year at Poulshot3.

Emmeline had other strong family links with the county. 

She married a Wiltshire man, the Reverend Charles HINXMAN (1811-1903), second son of Edward and Delitia HINXMAN of Little Durnford, a village 3 miles north of Salisbury.  They were married in Salisbury Cathedral on 2 July 18504 and their first child, Katherine Isabel HINXMAN (1851-1929), was born in the Close the following April5

They moved north soon afterwards as Charles became Rector of Dunmore, Stirlingshire6, and their only son, Lionel Wordsworth HINXMAN (1855-1936), was born in Dunmore in 18557

However, the family returned to Wiltshire in 1860, when Charles was instituted Rector of Barford St. Martin, where he remained the incumbent until 18868.  Emmeline spent the remaining four years of her short life at Barford and her second daughter, Constance Angela HINXMAN (1861-1941), was born at the Rectory there in 1861 9

When Emmeline's mother Elizabeth (c.1797-1852) died at Poulshot, her husband erected a new tower to the church in her memory10.  This replaced the old timber bell turret11, and gave a more visible and permanent form to the family's connections with the county.

Illustration 2.  Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds.  1826.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Elizabeth (née COOKSON) was a first cousin of William WORDSWORTH12.  This link with the Lakeland poet exerted a considerable influence on Emmeline, initially through her mother, who regarded the relationship 'with feelings of pride and delight' and she added:

'I need scarcely say this feeling has been transmitted to Emmie, and in her instance, heightened by her own enthusiastic temperament, and keen relish for poetic excellence'13

While she was quite young Emmeline was affected, more directly, by WORDSWORTH's poems.  In a letter to WORDSWORTH, written from Poulshot Rectory, her mother divulged that:

'the spirit of the poetry contained in the Lyrical Ballads (which have been perpetually under her pillow, or in her hands, since she was four years old) has been fostering the genius under which her love and taste for poetry have grown'14.

Queen Victoria
When Emmeline was a little older her proud mother sent some of her daughter's verses to WORDSWORTH who was clearly impressed by them.  He wrote to a friend:

'This child now about 11 years of age appears to be a really inspired Creature - having composed at the early age of eight very touching verses, which would do no discredit to the first writer of the age'15.  In the same letter he says 'the Queen has heard of her, and been much pleased I am told, with some of her productions - one in particular, of which Her Majesty was the subject'

This royal approval may have been the reason for WORDSWORTH embarking on an extraordinary plan involving his young relative.

At the time of Queen Victoria's coronation, in 1837, the words of the National Anthem were causing concern and WORDSWORTH was asked by Thomas SPRING-RICE, Chancellor of the Exchequer (1835-1839), to write some new words for it. 

Finding himself unable to do so ('I found the name Victoria as a substitute for Great George utterly unmanageable'16), he wrote to Elizabeth at Poulshot asking if Emmie, then only twelve years old, would try to compose new words for the Anthem.  He explained:

'The verses, upon the Queen, especially in the translation from the star to the living Person, are exquisite, and tempt me to ask, tho' not without hesitation, that as Emmie has, I am told, such a fine feeling for Music, that she would make an attempt to fit the noble music of 'God save the King' with better and more appropriate words, than those that are ordinarily joined with it. 

A request to this effect was made to myself, from a person in high office - I tried but could not succeed.  Your inspired little creature may be more happy in her effort'17.

Elizabeth evidently thought it was worth putting the request to her daughter and Emmeline must have responded with surprising speed, because Elizabeth replied by return of post enclosing Emmie's new words, together with some other poems.  In her letter to WORDSWORTH, Elizabeth, rather apologetically, wrote:

'With regard to the National Anthem you will probably think she has failed.  I suggested the subject to her slightly, without any existing motive. 

In a few minutes she brought me the lines I enclose, saying "they are not good at all Mama - I felt as if I ought to write like a man, and besides the metre seemed harsh, and cramped me" - I merely send the lines to show that I would not neglect your suggestion'18.

Illustration 3.  William WORDSWORTH.  1831 (published 1846).  For picture details, see footnotes.

The National Anthem
WORDSWORTH apparently approved of Emmie's words for he wrote to her mother saying:

'My young cousin, for I love to call her so .  .  .  has given an entirely new thing, with which we are not a little pleased; and perhaps I may forward it, with your permission to my friend Mary SPRING-RICE - (who as you know is one of Her Majesty's Maids of Honour)'19.

The new words were submitted to the young Queen who was so moved by them that she rewarded Emmeline with a boxed writing set containing an inkwell and a pounce jar, both with silver caps engraved with the imperial crown and the royal cipher 'VR' and with 'Emmeline' engraved on a silver shield on the lid of the boxb.  Emmeline's version of the National Anthem ran to five verses and included a very Victorian invocation for divine intervention to increase the country's prosperity.  These are the lines she composed:20

Oh God of Might and Love,
Look from thy throne above,
God save our Queen!
Be thou a pillar bright,
The paths of life to light,
And guide her steps aright,
God save the Queen!

May she a planet arise,
Serene amid the skies,
Ocean's fair Queen!
Guard Thou her ships afar,
Shield her in rightful war,
Our bright, our western star,
God save the Queen!

Be her's* a glorious name, (sic)
Her's* be a deathless fame, (sic)
God save the Queen!
Save her from foreign guile,
Open foes, secret wile,
Pride of the Ocean Isle!
God save the Queen!

May her reign peaceful be,
Lands far across the sea,
Bless England's Queen!
Increase our island stores,
While Commerce freely pours,
Wealth upon our prosperous shores,
God save the Queen!

Oh may a band of love
Around her and us be wove,
God save the Queen!
Free bounty on her side,
To truth on our's* be tied, (sic)
Which nought may 'eer* divide, (sic)
God save our Queen!

*  Editor:  The unusual uses of the apostrophe shown here are as in Emmeline's original text.

Elizabeth tried to describe to WORDSWORTH how her daughter wrote the poems she sent him:

'How and when she composes the bulk of her poetry', she wrote. 'I have never been able to say - I know she does not lie awake for she sleeps in my dressing room and I always find her fast asleep in half an hour after she goes to bed and her maid tells me she has almost always to wake her up in the morning - she never seeks solitude and never writes down a single line of her poems, even if they consist of 200 lines till the whole is composed - They are then committed to paper with astonishing rapidity and without pause to alter or correct.'21 

WORDSWORTH developed a concern about the effect so much poetry writing might have on so young a child.  Elizabeth seemed somewhat nettled by this, believing that her daughter led a very normal childhood and wrote to him saying:

'With regard to your apprehension my dear Cousin, though I acknowledge in them a proof of affectionate interest, and do not wonder at their being entertained by anyone not personally acquainted with Emmie, I own that not all a mother's anxiety, nor all the warnings from time to time received, have yet had the effect of making me share in the alarm so generally felt.

Indeed I should feel
unthankful if I did not acknowledge that the blessing of her talents comes to me unalloyed by any cause of reasonable fears for their effect upon her health, disposition or happiness.
  Her health is perfect and she passes many hours each day in the full animal enjoyment of it - cantering about in the fields on her pony, running races with her brothers in which they are always far distanced and amusing herself with a hoop or ball. 

She has none of the waywardness which too often accompanies talent, and I can truly repeat that I have never yet seen her temper or cheerfulness clouded for an instant. 

She has not even the appearance of studiousness - and persons who have staid for weeks and weeks in the house with her, have declared that but for the result seen in her acquirements they should have set her down as "too lively and volatile to have learned much, and in a manner certainly childish for her age". 

She is the idol of the younger children from being always ready to lay aside other employment to play with them, and not only is she not vain, but humility and simplicity form the very essence of her mind and manner'.22.

There was another aspect of the child's life that caused WORDSWORTH concern.  He felt the publicity such a young girl might attract, if her works became generally known, could do her great harm. 

However there was an element of ambivalence here, for it was his suggestion that she should write new lines for the National Anthem, which, if they had been used, would inevitably have led to very wide publicity for the young poet.  Nevertheless, he wrote to her mother saying:

'Copies of Emmie's verses, in my opinion, ought not to be widely spread; her mind ought to grow up quietly and silently; and her extraordinary powers should be left to develop themselves naturally with as little observation as possible. 

Illustration 4.  Traveling writing set of Emmeline HINXMAnée FISHER.  1837.  For picture details, see footnotes.

You have probably as strong reasons, as a mother can have, for supposing that notice and admiration do in no degree stain, disturb, or alter the current of her thoughts and feelings - but you cannot be sure of that: she herself may receive from such quarters injuries of which she is not at all aware, and even if she should be so, her efforts to prevent it in future might be unsuccessful, the human heart being so subtle in deceiving itself.'23

In the end, Emmie's words for the National Anthem were not used at Queen Victoria's coronation - and so the twelve-year-old escaped the publicity that WORDSWORTH so feared. 

King George V
However, two subsequent coronations have seen Emmie's alternative verses resurrected for consideration.  In November 1910, the year in which King George V succeeded to the throne, The Fortnightly Review published an article portraying Emmeline, and WORDSWORTH's interest in her and her poetry, and lamenting the fact that:

'no copy (of Emmeline's new words for the National Anthem) is extant among Emmie's poems, and we can never know what the "entirely new thing" was which the inspired little brain evolved for the "noble music" and with which WORDSWORTH was "not a little pleased".'24 

However a few months later, before the Coronation, The Fortnightly Review printed a letter announcing to its readers:

'the missing National Anthem  .  .  .  has been discovered among some papers in the possession of a member of the WORDSWORTH family' and continued '.  .  . and now it re-appears, this Anthem, seventy-five years since the little slender fingers penned it.  Is it not wonderful, when one remembers it was written by a little maid of twelve - twelve summers spent in a happy English rectory?  Is it not descriptive of Queen Victoria's reign?'

The first four of Emmie's five verses followed, and the letter ended:

'Is not the Anthem of the "Inspired Little Creature" not only beautiful and dignified and thoughtful, but even prophetic?  "Ships afar" - "rightful war" - "deathless fame" - all these we associate with Victoria the Good; and the fourth verse - well might it not almost be said to foreshadow "Thinking Imperially", if not, indeed, Preference with the Empire?'25 

On the 17 June 1911, The Wiltshire Times also re-printed the verse and 'thought them a great improvement on the ones we now sing'.26

Queen Elizabeth II
The coronation of our present Queen on 2 June 1952 gave 'Atticus' of The Sunday Times the cue to recall how twelve-year-old Emmie came to write new words for the National Anthem and again he printed some of them.  'Atticus' added: 'I feel that Emmeline deserved her silver inkstand, and I am sorry that her famous cousin did not encourage her to write more.'27

Other Early Works
Emmeline did continue to write poetry.  She wrote much of it in the Romantic style developed by WORDSWORTH and COLERIDGE in the Lyrical Ballads, published twenty-seven years before she was born, in 1798.  The Wordsworth Trust's library at Grasmere possesses about twenty of her poems in manuscript, most of which were written in 1837 or 1838, though some were written in 1833 when she was only eight years old.  A charming example of her youthful work is a poem she composed in 1838 when she was thirteen:

To My Baby Brother.  born at Salisbury, Augst. 12 1838.28; c

Last month beheld us gaily roam,
Together o'er our village home,
The summer-fruit, the sunny sky,
Bespoke the days of bright July.
.We loved to sit beside the brook,
In some lone, willow-shaded nook,
To snatch the lily floating by, Or pluck the bulrush green and high,
Or see the cattle's cautious tread
To seek the streamlet's cooling bed,
Silent as pictures to the eye,
Quaffing the waves that rippled by -
And now the soft and milky wheat
Would tempt us from our grassy seat,
Or the unwary butterflys (sic)
Perch'd on the poppy glowing nigh;
Or the young bird's soft chirping sound
Call'd for our eager search around, -
Thus in the sweet and sunny weather
Linked hand in hand we roamed together
Beneath the azure vault of heaven
A fond and happy group of seven!
And there was one, by all caress'd
The last, and almost loved the best
How would we share his infant play,
Now, frame his throne of well piled hay,
Then bring the flowers that bloom'd around,
To strew upon his circled ground,
Or the tall rush that nodded near,
His wand of power, or warlike spear,
In mimic homage bow the head
Or feign his warrior might to dread.
And then beneath the oak we sprung
To reach the acorn as it hung,
And now as guerdon for the prize
Thanks in the laughter of those eyes. -
And oft at evening's calmer hour,
When tired of seeking meadow-flowers,
Or following swift with breathless pace,
The butterfly in eager chase,
Slow through the garden walks we strayed
Or sat beneath our plane tree's shade -
My Bertie!  Then thy earnest eye
Was raised to scan the branches high.
The breezes that with sudden start,
Awoke, and found the leaves apart,
Gave heaven's bright spangles to thy sight,
Those stars that raise thy young delight.
On them, how sweet thy mind to store
With wondrous tale, or simple love,
And whisper mid thy childish glee,
One word of holier things to thee! -
A joyous summer yet shall come,
To cast its sunbeams o'er our home.
But there will be another now
For whom to strip the currant bough.
Another in the field to lead
To pluck the flowers, or sound the reed, -
And he shall sport beneath the tree
And lisp his words of careless glee -
And we, whose hearts ere now were bound
To the dear forms we see around,
Oh think not, sweetest babe, that we,
Have still no fondness left for thee!
Beloved as each hath been, so thou
Shall claim thy ample portion now!

Visits to Rydal Mount
After WORDSWORTH had read her lines for the National Anthem and some of her other poems, in 1837, he expressed a desire to meet Emmie.  However, she did not make the journey to Rydal Mount until 184129, when she was sixteen. 

Her visit was eagerly awaited by the WORDSWORTH family; on the 8 June 1841 Dora, WORDSWORTH's daughter, wrote in a letter, 'We very much wish the FISHERs may decide upon this summer for Emmie's visit to Rydal as that would ensure a sight of this "marvellous" girl'30.  When she did visit WORDSWORTH he found her 'of a sweet temper and loving disposition as is apparent to everyone, even the servants'31.

But once again WORDSWORTH expressed his anxiety about his cousin.  Writing to Isabella FENWICK he confided:

'I have endeavoured to recommend and inculcate the merging of the Genius in the Woman, as much as she can.  It is obvious that though most amiably disposed to love the qualities of heart and mind that are loveable in others, she attaches, as is natural in one so gifted, too much importance to intellect and literature, and leans too much towards those who, she thinks, are distinguished in that way.

In knowledge of the the world she is a mere child of 5 years, her mother having kept her so exclusively to herself and family.  She is moreover utterly helpless in all that relates to dressing herself or taking care of her things  .  .  .  The girl's spirit, diligence, and enthusiasm in anything she undertakes are most striking, but so active is her imagination, and so prompt are her sensibilities, that one cannot but be apprehensive of her future welfare. 

In the first place we are sure she would be apt to fall in love with any youth who could talk with her about Poetry etc. with the appearance of sympathy.  Her own Imagination would at once invest him with all that was necessary to make the very thing she wished for, out of but an ordinary person'32.

Perhaps WORDSWORTH was not entirely altruistic; he may have been exhibiting a degree of possessiveness over his poetic cousin.  Evidently he was sufficiently charmed by her to pick a variety of mosses, press them and present them to her in a book inscribed 'To my dear Cousin, Emmeline FISHER, From William WORDSWORTH, Rydal Mount, Septbr 1841'33

Illustration 5.  William WORDSWORTH's House, Rydal Mount.  1897.  For picture details, see footnotes.

The visit to Rydal Mount was repeated when she was twenty and still unmarried34.  By then she had found a firm place in the hearts of the WORDSWORTH family.  Dora, writing from Portugal to WORDSWORTH's sister, Dorothy, in October 1845 began her letter: 'And so dearest old Aunty you are left sole mistress of the Mount - What a grand Lady!  .  .  .  What a busy summer you have had and how many of yr (sic) afvourites you have seen - Emmie FISHER and her charming brother whom I do not know  .  .  .'35.

Later Works
Emmeline continued to write poetry both before and after her marriage.  In 1856 she published a book of poems in her married name, Emmeline HINXMAN36.  It contained 36 poems written between the ages of 16 and 31.  A second edition was printed the following year which included one additional poem written in January 1857 when she was nearly 3237

An example of her writing as an adult, 'Thoughts in April, 1854', makes transparent her love and knowledge of nature, and illustrates her underlying seriousness and Christian faith.  This was composed a few days after Great Britain declared war on Russia, the beginning of the Crimean War, and shortly before her 29th birthday:


The sunshine settles brooding on the fields;
Full-voiced, full-breasted, flow the southern winds;
The powers of Spring are up and through the land.

They wake the tender primrose on the bank,
The cowslip nodding on the breezy croft;
They break the blue eggs in the budding hedge;
They fill the quivering nostrils of the fawn;
They set the lambs to race the daisied lea;
They lead the full-eyed leveret forth to play
On the wild outskirts of the wood, whose depths
Are trembling to the unseen turtle's voice;
They wake the turtle's voice - They waken love!
They waken life, new strength, rejoicing new!
O more! they waken, in our human hearts,
Deep instincts, prescience with remembrance linked:
The holier Future with the holy Past
They blend, and, of that wedded sweetness sown,
The inner Present hath its flowering-time,
As full of wandering fragrance and soft notes
As the green world without.
          And this works on -
These links of joy and loveliness unwind,
While posts the battle-change through the lands;
While, tracked by coiling smoke and foaming surf,
The thunderous ships rush panting to the war,
And nations, sitting by in still suspense,
Wait the first earthquake-shock, whose dying fall
This age, this order of the ancient world,
Perhaps, shall never know.  So much the more,
O gentlest ministers of God, pursue
Your timely office, never needed more!
Ye quickening elements of life and strength,
Re-issuing from rank Autumn's clammy hold,
And iron discipline of Winter's hand,
Tell to the world, in over-growth so lush,
So worn at root, your parable of hope;
Tell it of health, new virtue, worthier fruit,
Regenerate out of tempest and of pain.
And ye, O tender spirits of delight,
Abroad in earth and air!  Take up again
Your yearly echoes out of Eden's bowers, -
Press all your treasures out, in yearly aim
To crown with Eden's dower a few sweet days.
Poor striving Nature's claims again put forth,
Through her six thousand winters unresigned;
And let those musing souls, that, loving most
Her holy face, the deeper mourns its wounds,
Be free to catch, or dream they catch, a ray
Of that mute promise which on instinct waits,
To see the vision of a Summer's peace,
A Summer's joy - A Summer wide and long
Come up afar between the gates of war,
And spread, as spreads the river in the lake.

And unto simpler hearts, yet not less wise,
A homelier, not less sacred, lesson teach:
Show them the fledgeling sparrow's fearless wing;
Show them the little swallow's rosy breast
That, after cleaving leagues of ocean wind,
Against its last year's home reclines at ease;
Show them, though doubt and danger hang without,
The touch of Blessing on the land at home;
Show them the meadows, thick with early grass;
Show them the basking furrow's mellow tilth,
The fair skies smiling o'er the sower's head;
And say - For ever lives, for ever rules,
The wakeful, heedful, permeating Love,
The unchanged, undying, all-disposing Love;
Love shapes the beauteous secret end, and works
Though they be hail and thunder, through the means;
Say - Though nations stagger, yet for this
The "cords of man" are slackened not which bind
The single creature to its Father's breast;
That guardian wings around the single head
Are folded in the battle's rolling ranks
Closely as when it stooped in peaceful toil,
Or mid the kneeling household bowed in prayer.

Some of her other work was published in Fraser's Magazine, a Victorian periodical, described as 'for town and country'39.  Nine of her poems appeared on its pages between 1861 and 1864, the year of her death.

The End & Beyond
Emmeline died at Barford on 3 April, 1864, in her 39th year, three days after the birth of her fourth child, Violet, who did not survive40

Emmeline and her baby were buried together in the small Barford St. Martin churchyard.  They were laid to rest in a simple grave with a Celtic cross headstone, close to the church tower.  Her husband lived on for another 39 years, and died in his 92nd year in Dorset41.

And Emmeline's poems? 

They have also been 'buried', for almost as many years, in the archives of a few museums and libraries where, sadly, until now, they have remained virtually forgotten.  But not completely forgotten. 

The Wordsworth Trust displayed her book of poems and the writing set presented to her by Queen Victoria in one of the Trust's special exhibitions, 'Women Writers and the Romantic Period'.  This was open from August to October 1994, at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, England42

So, happily, Emmeline's name was freshly remembered and her poems made available to a new generation of readers.

Illustration 6.  Grave of Emmeline HINXMAN née FISHER.  1993.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Acknowledgements  (1st Edition)
My thanks for help freely given are due to Richard HINXMAN for genealogical information concerning the HINXMAN family; Dr. Robert WOOF, Secretary and Keeper of Collections, The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere; Jeffery COWTON, Librarian, The Wordsworth Trust; Bruce PURVIS and Judith GILES at the Salisbury Local History Library; Pamela COLMAN, Librarian, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Devizes; Suzanne EDWARD, Librarian and Keeper of the Muniments, Salisbury Cathedral; Mr John FIRTH, Nether Wallop; Mr and Mrs KNIGHT, Poulshot; Mr Joseph CAUNT, Barford St. Martin; The Wiltshire Record Office, Trowbridge; Trowbridge Local History Library; the Bristol Reference Library; and the Salisbury Reference Library.

References & Notes  (1st Edition)
  1. Wiltshire Record Office, Poulshot Parish Register, (MF3,1551/8) 1783-1812, page 16.
  2. Salisbury Cathedral Library, Records of Leaseholders in the Close.
  3. Wordsworth Trust Library, Grasmere, Manuscript letter from Elizabeth FISHER to William WORDSWORTH, written from Poulshot Rectory, dated 28 November 1837 (hereafter referred to as the Poulshot Letter), pages 5-6:  'I cannot help indulging in a hope that as Dora's visit to the South is to be prolonged during the whole of the cold season we may be indulged in some portion of her company.  If it should enter into her plans to visit her cousins in Winchester pray let it be intimated to her that Salisbury is only 20 miles from thence, and Poulshot only 24 from Salisbury, but our residence at this latter place extends through the whole of April, May, and June - the first of which may now be fairly classed among the cold months - I am sure she would be pleased with our noble Cathedral and its beautiful services, and we have the ruins at Stone-henge, the statues at Wilton and the pictures at Longford to tempt her, and a whole bevy of affectionate and cousinly hearts to welcome her.'  In spite of the tourist attractions held out by Elizabeth, Dora did not have time to visit her Salisbury relations.
  4. Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal, Saturday, 6 July 1850.
  5. Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal, Saturday, 3 May 1851.
  6. Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Volume VI, The Later Years, Part 3, 1835-1839, revised and arranged and edited by Alan G. HILL from the first edition by the late Ernest de Selincourt, Oxford University Press 1984 (hereafter referred to as Wordsworth Letters), letter 1185, page 485, Editor's note 3.
  7. Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal, Saturday, 24 March 1855.
  8. Wall plaque, nave, Barford St. Martin church, Wiltshire.
  9. Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal, Saturday, 21 September 1861.
  10. Memorial wall plaque, on the west wall of Poulshot church tower.
  11. S. HARPER and D. W. HAMPTON, Historical Sketch of Poulshot Church, page 8.
  12. Emmeline's mother, Elizabeth, was the youngest daughter of Canon William COOKSON, whose only sister Anne was WORDSWORTH's mother.
  13. Poulshot Letter (see reference 3), page 1.
  14. As above, pages 1-2.
  15. Wordsworth Letters (see reference 6), letter 1177, page 473, letter from William WORDSWORTH to Thomas Spring RICE, written from Rydal Mount, dated 17 October 1837.
  16. As above, letter 1188, page 490, letter from William WORDSWORTH to Elizabeth FISHER, written from Rydal Mount, dated December 15 1837.
  17. As above, letter 1185, page 485, letter from William WORDSWORTH to Elizabeth FISHER, dated November 1837.
  18. Poulshot Letter (see reference 3), pages 4-5.
  19. Wordsworth Letters (see reference 6), letter 1188, page 490 (see reference 16).
  20. (a)  Wordsworth Trust Library, Manuscripts.  (b)  P. A. SCHOLES, The Oxford Companion to Music, 5th. edition, 1944, devotes over 5 pages to the words and music of 'God Save Our King' and section 11 has some very interesting notes about the origin of the words while section 12 discusses a number of attempts at improving the words, including a competition organised by the Poetry Society in 1935, for which there were over 1,000 entries from all over the world.  Nothing was found 'sufficiently happy to put forward as alternative or supplementary verses'.
  21. Poulshot Letter (see reference 3), pages 3-4.
  22. As above, pages 2-3.
  23. Wordsworth Letters (see reference 6), letter 1188, page 490 (see reference 16).
  24. Rosaline MASSON, 'An "Inspired Little Creature" and the Poet Wordsworth', in The Fortnightly Review, Volume 88, Number 527, November 1 1910, page 879.
  25. Correspondence to the Editor from Rosaline MASSON, 'An "Inspired Little Creature"' in The Fortnightly Review, Number 533, April 1 1911, pages 768-769.
  26. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Library - Cuttings and Scraps Album, 1915-1920 (sic), The Wiltshire Times, 17 June 1911.
  27. The Sunday Times, 17 August, 1952.
  28. Wordsworth Trust Library, Manuscript No. 11 (WLMSA/Fisher, Emmeline).
  29. Wordsworth Trust Library, Rydal Mount Visitors Book, July 1841 entry, 'Miss Fisher, Salisbury'.
  30. Mary MOORMAN, William Wordsworth - The Later Years, 1803-1850, Clarendon Press, 1965, pages 530-531.
  31. Letter from William WORDSWORTH to Isabella FENWICK, dated 5 August 1841, in Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Volume VII, The Later Years, Part 4, 1840-1853, revised and edited by Alan G. HILL from the first edition by Ernest de SELINCOURT, Clarendon Press, revised 1988, letter 1530, page 221.
  32. As above.
  33. Wordsworth Trust Library.
  34. Wordsworth Trust Library, Rydal Mount Visitors Book, June 1845 entry, 'Miss Fisher, Salisbury'.
  35. Journal of a few months residence in Portugal, by Dora WORDSWORTH, Volume I, London, Edward Moxon, page 18, letter from Dora WORDSWORTH to Dorothy WORDSWORTH, written from St John's da Foz, Portugal, dated October 1 1845.
  36. (a)  Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Library.  (b)  The British Library, General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1975, Volume 148, 1982, page 385 (British Library index number 11649.d.4).
  37. Private Collection, Poems, by Emmeline HINXMAN, second edition, 1857.
  38. As above, pages 161-165.
  39. Bristol Reference Library, Fraser's Magazine, Volumes 59-70 (1859-1864).
  40. Memorial stone on Emmeline HINXMAN's grave, Barford St. Martin churchyard.
  41. Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal, Saturday, 17 January, 1903.
  42. Enquiries to the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria LA22 9SH, England.  Phone 05394 35544/35547.

Copyright Reserved © N. G. HINXMAN. 1994.

Supplementary Notes  (2nd Edition)

The following notes have been newly added, to supplement the original text above:

a.  First Edition:  Reference Details
Neville Gordon HINXMAN.  Autumn 1994.  Emmeline Fisher, A Forgotten Wiltshire Poet: Her Links with William Wordsworth and the National AnthemCopyright © Neville G. HINXMAN. 
Published in:  The Hatcher Review: Wessex History of More than Local Interest.  Volume 4.  Number 38.  Pages 16-30.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN.

b.  Emmeline's Writing Set
In 1992 Neville HINXMAN took an opportunity to purchase the traveling writing set given by Queen Victoria to the poet Emmeline HINXMAN.  On 24 Aug 2005 he donated it for safe keeping to the Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, England, where it is now a popular exhibit.  It is registered as Item Number 2005.58, and is kept in the Jerwood Centre which houses the Wordsworth Trust's collection. 

Neville stipulated that members of the HINXMAN family must be able to see the writing set on request, subject to agreeing to conform to the Trust's rules on correct handling, etc.  If you wish to visit and see the writing set, please book this beforehand to ensure it is readily available for you.

c.  Poem:  To My Baby Brother
There are two linked puzzles relating to this poem: the identity of the baby who is its subject, and the date of the poem's creation.

Cecil Edward FISHER
Neville HINXMAN's transcription of this original manuscript poem by Emmeline is headed 'To my baby brother - born at Salisbury Augst. 12 1838'.  This was the birthdate of Cecil Edward FISHER (1838-1925), the 8th and last of Emmeline's siblings to be born. 

The poem provides additional evidence supporting this, for instance lines 20-21 state:

'Beneath the azure vault of heaven
A fond and happy group of seven!'

The 'happy group' appears to refer to Emmeline and the other siblings (shown here in their order of birth), who were born before Cecil Edward FISHER:
  1.  Emmeline 'Emmie' FISHER (1825-1864)
  2.  Herbert 'Bertie' William FISHER (1826-1903)
  3.  Edmond Conroy FISHER (1828-1842)
  4.  Arthur Acourt FISHER (1830-1879)
  5.  Eda Eleanor FISHER (1831-1892)
  6.  Wilfred FISHER (1832-1907)
  7.  Albert Busteel FISHER (1836-1906)
The subsequent lines 22-24 of the poem make it doubly clear the subject was the last child of the family, much loved by all:

'And there was *one, by all caress'd
The last, and almost loved the best
How would we share his infant play,'
These clues all point to the baby subject being Cecil Edward FISHER.

Herbert 'Bertie' William FISHER
However, the asterisk '*' shown in line 22 of the excerpt from Neville's transcript (shown immediately above) refers the reader to a separate note below the poem, which states 'Little Bertie, now 3 years old'.  It is unclear from Neville's transcription whether this note was written by Emmeline, or Neville, or by another unidentified hand.  But in agreement with this note, line 43 of the peom specifically refers to the child as 'My Bertie!'

These statements appear to mean Emmeline's oldest sibling, Herbert 'Bertie' William FISHER (1826-1903).  Yet as Bertie was only the 2nd child of the family, there was only Emmeline available to play with him, whereas the poem repeatedly refers to a group of older children playing with the young child, and gives their number as seven.

So Bertie as the subject of this poem lacks credibility, while the weight of embedded evidence suggests Cecil Edward FISHER as the original subject.  The reason some comments identify Bertie instead is unclear.  It seems the poem was partly re-worked at some point, with Cecil's name replaced by Bertie's.  The careless clues left to its original subject seem unlike Emmeline's normally well-polished work, and may indicate another hand at work here, or perhaps a revision that was interrupted and never completed. 

As it appears fairly certain that the asterisk and note referring to Bertie are later, incorrect additions to the original manuscript, they have been omitted from the transcription in the main text above.  However line 43 (which originally probably read 'My Cecil!') has been left as 'My Bertie!'.

Date of Creation
The confusion over the baby's identity also raises a query over the poem's date.

We know that Bertie was actually born on 30 July 1826, about 12 years earlier than the birthdate at the top of Neville's transcription.  So if Emmeline had written the poem in the summer Bertie was born, she would have been only 1 year and 3 months old at the time.  And even if we accept the note means Bertie was 3 years old when the poem was written, that places its creation in 1829-30 when Emmeline was still only 4-5 years old.  Either option seems highly unlikely, and further confirms that the poem is probably not about Bertie.

Neville has assumed the date of 12 Aug 1838 given in the title (the birthdate of Cecil Edward FISHER) also indicates the year in which the poem was written.  But what if the note, though faulty about the child's name, was correct about his age?  That would date the poem to 1841-42, when Emmeline was 16-17 years old, which certainly seems possible.  But verbal clues in the poem seem to suggest an infant, not a toddler, so Neville's attribution of the summer of 1838 (when Emmeline was 13, and known to have been actively writing) would seem the most likely date.


Neville Gordon HINXMAN (Titchfield branch; 1922-2016) wrote the 1st edition of this article when living in the New Forest village of Woodgreen, Hampshire, England. 

After retiring from his career at ESSO, Neville developed an interest in family history, and this article is perhaps his most impressive piece of academic research and writing.  Learned, thorough and referenced, yet clear and accessible, it remains the most authoritative work upon its subject.

Neville's article was originally published in the Autumn 1994 edition of The Hatcher Review (a quarterly periodical, subtitled Wessex History of More than Local Interest)

Its owner and publisher The Hatcher Review Trust, a limited company and registered charity, was dissolved on 12 Oct 1999 and removed from the Charity Commission's register on 23 Jan 2001.  Attempts in 2020 to contact any residual authorities proved unsuccessful. 

However, the last line of Neville's original article makes the publishing rights to the use of his text perfectly clear:  'Copyright Reserved © N. G. HINXMAN. 1994.'  Following Neville's demise the copyright passed to his heir, who has kindly given permission for this re-publication.

The great majority of the content here is reproduced from Neville's scholarly 1st edition, written in 1994.  This 2nd edition also contains further research, illustrations, supplementary notes, and a more open layout better suited to Internet usage, added by Richard HINXMAN (Titchfield branch; 1951-) in 2020.

Illustration 7.  Festivities at Winchester to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Victoria.  1838.  For picture details, see footnotes.

Download:  Abridged Family Tree
An abridged family tree (2020-04 Emmeline - Family Tree.pdf) may be freely downloaded from the foot of this page, to view or to print.  This shows Emmeline's close relatives, and the connection between the families of WORDSWORTH, COOKSON, FISHER and HINXMAN.  It is a Microsoft Word document, in .pdf format, and occupies just 1 side of A4 paper in landscape orientation.


Webpage version 2021.1.  First version 2020.
Webpage copyright © Richard HINXMAN, 2020.


1.  Emmeline's great-uncle Bishop John FISHER (1748-1825) and his wife Dorothea
John FISHER, Bishop of Salisbury, was a close friend and the main patron of the painter John CONSTABLE.  He commissioned this painting of Salisbury Cathedral in which he and his wife are shown.
Bishop John FISHER disliked the dark clouds over the Cathedral in Constable's 1st version (now in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London), and requested this 2nd version with a clearer, lighter sky.

Detail from the lower left corner of Illustration 2 (see below).

2.  Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds
Emmeline HINXMAN née FISHER had a series of significant family connections to this beautiful and famous cathedral:
  • 1807 - 1825:  Emmeline's paternal great-uncle John FISHER, was the Bishop of Salisbury.  He and his wife Dorothea SCRIVENER are shown in this painting (see Illustration 1 above).
  • 01 Sep 1808:  Her parents-in-law, Edward HINXMAN (1779-1855) of Little Durnford & Delitia EKINS (c.1784-1848) - daughter of John EKINS, Dean of the Cathedral - were married there.
  • 06 Jan 1824:  Emmeline's parents, Reverend William FISHER (c.1799-1874) & Elizabeth 'Eliza' COOKSON (c.1797-1852) were married in Salisbury Cathedral.
  • In 1835:        Her father the Reverend William FISHER was appointed a Residentiary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, and their family came to live in the Cathedral Close.
  • 02 Jul 1850:   Emmeline herself & the Reverend Charles HINXMAN (1811-1903) were married in Salisbury Cathedral.
  • 27 Apr 1851:  Emmeline & Charles HINXMAN's first child, Katharine Isabel HINXMAN (1851-1929), was born in the Cathedral Close at Salisbury.
Oils on canvas.  John CONSTABLE (1776-1837).  1826.  Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds.  Public Domain.  The Frick Collection.  New York, USA.
Page URL:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Constable_-_Salisbury_Cathedral_from_the_Bishop%27s_Garden_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

3.  William WORDSWORTH
Stipple engraving with etching.  By John COCHRAN (active 1821-1865).  1846.  William WORDSWORTHAfter an 1831 painting by Sir William BOXALL.  FISHER, SON & Co.  London, England.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN.  Public domain.  See Terms of Use.

4.  Traveling writing set of Emmeline HINXMAnée FISHER
Digital colour photograph.  Richard HINXMAN.  2016.  Traveling writing set of Emmeline HINXMAnée FISHERCollection of Richard HINXMAN.  Copyright © Richard HINXMAN 2016. 
See Terms of Use.

Original:  Maker unknown.  1837.  Silver writing set of Emmeline HINXMAnée FISHER.  1837.  Collection of The Wordsworth Trust.  Item Number 2005.58.  Jerwood Centre, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, England. 
NB:  The writing set can be seen by members of the HINXMAN family on request, subject to agreeing to conform to the Trust's rules on correct handling, etc.  If you wish to visit and see the writing set, please book this beforehand to ensure it is readily available for you.

5.  William WORDSWORTH's House, Rydal Mount
Emmeline visited her great-uncle William WORDSWORTH on two occasions (1841 & 1845) at his home of Rydal Mount, Ambleside, in the Lake District, England.

Engraving.  B. SHELTON.  1897.  William WORDSWORTH's House, Rydal Mount
Found in:  Mandell CREIGHTON, Bishop of London (1843-1901).  1897.  The Story of Some English Shires.  Printed by William CLOWES & Sons.  The Religious Tract Society.  London, England.  Public Domain.  Page URL:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wordsworth%27s-House,-Rydal-Mount-q39-1635x1417.jpg

6.  Grave of Emmeline HINXMAN née FISHER
Emmeline and her last child are buried in the churchyard of Barford St Martin, Wiltshire (about 6 miles west of Salisbury), where her husband the Reverend Charles HINXMAN was the Rector.

Digital colour photograph.  Neville G. HINXMAN.  16 Nov 1993.  Grave of Emmeline HINXMAN née FISHER.  Barford St Martin, Wiltshire, England.  Collection of Richard HINXMAN.  Copyright © Neville G. HINXMAN.  See Terms of Use.

7.  Festivities at Winchester to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Victoria
Lithographic print.  Richard BAIGENT (1799-1881).  1838.  View from the Airing Ground, sketched during the Festivities held to celebrate the Coronation of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria on 28th June 1838, on which occasion Fifteen Hundred Children dined by public Subscription on the South Parade of the King's House.  Printed by Charles Joseph HULLMANDEL (1789-1850).  Collection of Richard HINXMAN.  Public domain.  See Terms of Use.

Richard Hinxman,
18 Apr 2020, 10:18