Areas of interest
Newcastle’s diary does not confine itself to one particular theme. Consequently its subject matter is diverse. Various topics compete for space at different times, in different proportions and with different levels of detail.
However, four particular areas of interest can be highlighted from the diaries as a whole.
One level of interest is provided by the diary itself as an example of diary-keeping - of the ways in which Newcastle selects, interprets and records the information which, on any given day, most appeals to him as worthy of comment.
Another level of interest is provided by the details which Newcastle provides about himself and his immediate family circle. John Martineau and subsequent biographers of the 5th Duke have found the diaries a valuable source of testimony concerning the relationship between Newcastle and his eldest son and heir, the Earl of Lincoln. They also contain information on Newcastle’s attitude towards the discipline, education, career and marriage prospects of his children.
A further level of interest comes from the duke’s comments and observations on developments in agriculture, the weather, the natural world, new inventions and innovations in science, medicine and industry. The diaries record Newcastle’s reaction to these changes and the sensations raised by his first experience of them.
Newcastle’s diary provides a source of commentary on the local events and personalities of these years from the perspective of a man with major political and landowning interests in the county. The duke’s involvement in local political affairs and in the maintenance and extension of his property holdings in the county provide an insight into the activities of a landed aristocrat and country gentleman of the period.
Next page: Key themes