Penelope Boothby 1785-1791
The above monument, by Thomas Banks was shown at the Royal Academy in 1793 before being installed in St. Oswald's Parish Church, Ashbourne, Derbyshire (the link to Ashbourne is extremely interesting with snippets from the parish records dating back to 1539).
The white Carrara marble effigy commemorates the short life of Penelope Susanah Boothby, daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died on 20th March 1791, a month short of her sixth birthday. The inscription reads, 'She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate parents ventured their all on this frail bark and the wreck was total.' She is said to have been able to speak a little of the four languages inscribed on her tomb.
She used to play in the studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds and at age 4, was the subject of his painting "The Little Girl in the Mob-cap". Henry Fuseli, an acquaintance of Sir Joshua, also painted "The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby" in 1792.
Her distraught parents parted after her funeral, each blaming the other for her death. Sir Brooke Boothby never got over his only child's death and wrote several Sonnets about his loss; an excerpt from Sonnet X111 follows:
Her faded form now glides before my view;
her plaintiff voice now floats upon the gale.
The hope how vain, that time should bring relief!
Time does but deeper root a real grief.