The original Mrs Eaves

Posted on Feb 13, 2014 in Family

Over the past couple of months I’ve been tracing my family history with my Dad. It’s been a fun and really interesting side project and I can’t wait to bring it all together into a nice printed book for the family.

I’ve heard the rumours over the years, and I really didn’t think it was true, however this week I discovered I’m in fact a 6/7th generation descendant of the original Mrs Eaves. Unless you’re a designer, what on earth does that mean?

Well, in the mid 1700’s a business man by the name of John Baskerville became known for his love for printing, type designing and calligraphy. He designed the famous typeface ‘Baskerville’ that almost bridged the gap from old to modern fonts. Turns out that I’m not related to Baskerville himself, but this is where the story gets interesting.

Sarah Eaves was married with two children to Richard Eaves who fled England to escape charges of forgery. She moved into the home of John Baskerville as his live-in housekeeper. She moved there with her two children. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when her husband died, that Sarah married John and officially became Mrs Baskerville. Sarah was still affectionately known by ‘Mrs Eaves’ and a typeface was named after her.

In the year 1775, John Baskerville died and Sarah continued printing and running the workshop on her own. Many of Sarah’s children and grand-children adopted the Baskerville name as their middle or surname as John himself didn’t have any bloodline descendants.

On further reading, I’ve discovered blogs and books written about Baskerville. An interesting quote via the article Know your type: Baskerville

Having been an early admirer of the beauty of letters, I became insensibly desirous of contributing to the perfection of them. I formed to myself ideas of greater accuracy than had yet appeared, and had endeavoured to produce a set of types according to what I conceived to be their true proportion.

—John Baskerville, preface to Milton, 1758 (Anatomy of a Typeface).

These are samples of the records Dad and I found on Ancestry.com.au.

John Baskerville Biography

Excerpt from biography on John Baskerville. Source: Ancestry.com.au. Read from half way down first column where it mentions their live-in relationship.

John and Sarah Baskerville Marriage

Record of marriage between bachelor John Baskerville and widower Sarah Eaves. Source: Ancestry.com.au.

So far we’ve traced hand written records back to the early 1700s. It will be an interesting but challenging project to pull all of the records together but I think it will be really rewarding to see it all come together.