I am minding my own business ghost hunting for the elusive parents of one Thomas Gilpin related to Rev. William Gilpin I focused on a couple of weeks ago. Thomas Gilpin is my 10th Great Grandfather. He died in 1628 in Caton, Lancashire, England. That is all I have going backwards. I have lots of info from his son Thomas moving forward so, I am digging in the most unlikely places such as, Googling for images with the words John Gilpin who happens to be a possibility for his father.
I start researching John Gilpin and I find a Ballad with an odd history covering it like frosting on a cake. The Ballad is called The Diverting History of John Gilpin. It is based on a real person and a real event. The Ballad was written 1782 by William Cowper. The story of John Gilpin's unfortunate accident was told to him by his friend Lady Anna Austen.
John is a very wealthy draper, a person who sells cloth and materials for clothing also known as a haberdasher. He had a shop in Cheapside, London which was a huge marketing square.
John owned property in Olney, Buckinghamshire which is historicly famous for its lace production. As fate would have it William Cowper who wrote the Ballad and is a well known English Poet and hymnist lived in Olney near the property owned by John.
'Cowpers summer house Olney, Buckinghamshire'Engraved by H. Wallis Sc; Drawn by T.H. Shepherd Delt.
As it is told John, his wife and children become seperated from each other while traveling to the Bell Inn in Edmonton, London. John looses control of his horse and the animal travels 10 miles past Edmonton to the town of Ware.
Pub LocationJohn Gilpin, London Road, Ware, Herts
Mr. Cowper has had a lifelong battle with depression and is the grasp of it when Lady Austen tells him this tale. This story cheered him up so much so that he put it into verse. He publishes it annonymously in 1782 and again in 1785 and the public go wild for it; soon it is pirated and published everywhere in books of all kinds, etchings, toys,
posters and even a clipper ship in 1852 is christened the John Gilpin in honor of the character.
The ship is best known for a race agaisnt the Flying Fish in 1852 and for it's fateful encounter with an iceberg.
In 1878 Randolph Caldecott illustrates the poem and it is republished. One of the illustrations of John Gilpin riding the runaway horse becomes the basis for the design of the Caldecott Medal. The nursery Rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence which was also illustrated by Caldecott has used as the basis for the other side of the medal.
The Caldecott Medal which was designed and created by Rene Paul Chambellan in 1937 is given once a year to recognize the most distinguihed American picture book for children. It is awarded to the illustrator.
Randolph Caldecott was and English artist and illustrator. He not only ilustrated childrens books but also drew cartoons, made sketches of The House of Parliament, exhibited sculptures and paintings in oil and watercolour in the Royal Acedemy. Van Gogh and Gauguin were some of his well known admirers.