Tom Sticks

Four accounts of Tom Sticks, from Edith Carey's Scrapbook, Vol. I., and letters from the Library's Dobree-Mann transcriptions.

1. Thomas Le Marchant, a retired Lieutenant of Mariners (familiarly called Tom Sticks by the Patricians and Le Ramouneux, or Chimney Sweep, by the Plebeians); by his miserly habits he hoarded so much money that he 'cut up' splendidly [his brother Charles inherited it]. Tom Sticks obtained his name of Le Ramouneux as follows. Believing that he had made a conquest of Miss Laperre of Les Blancs Bois, he thought to take her by surprise, as Jove did Danaë, by descending down the chimney, not in a shower of gold, but in a large sack, to keep clean from the soot. The scheme proved a sad failure. The nymph so lost her presence of mind when awoke by the clatter in the chimney and startled by the sight of her admirer disengaging himself from the sooty sack, that she raised such a howl that Tom Sticks fled. [From the Lukis MS.]

2. Thomas Le Marchant. It is true to say that there remain only a few well-known members of this noble line, and they are not of this island. Of the aforesaid Thomas we have only a few words to say. As with so many inoffensive people, he leaves very little memory behind him. A confirmed bachelor, he lived in two modest rooms in one of the good old houses in Cornet Street, where he used to play the violin, without any pretensions to musicality, to keep himself amused. He might perhaps have been more successful in that endeavour had he practised reading rather than his scales. Nicknames were all the rage then in the island, which explains why this gentleman's nickname—Tom Sticks—is fairly well recognised. He was hardly known under his real name, Thomas Le Marchant, brother of the Charles who married the heiress of Fief-le-Comte, Mrs Hutchesson's mother. Thomas was pale, and his almost perpendicular face, and his lonely man's cold demeanour, naturally drew only moderate interest from indifferent observers. They tell us that all that people remember about him are a few quite funny stories. He rarely dined at home. [By George Métivier¹ (probably)].

From the Chepmell MS, p. 146:

As for Tom Sticks, he was indeed an original. His father, to whom belonged L'Hyvreuse, a good estate for Guernsey, died when he was young and seems to have been in somewhat embarrassed circumstances. Anyhow, L'Hyvreuse was sold by his assigns and moreover, it was acquired by William Dobrée, the boy's guardian; an unfortunate arrangement as Tom Sticks always had a notion, which nothing could beat out of his head, that he had not been fairly dealt with. Beau-Séjour, Cambridge Park, or the New Ground, and all about Cambridge Park Road, were contained in L'Hyvreuse and, at the entrance to Cambridge Park Road was a gateway entrance similar to that called Ivy Gates, but much handsomer. This gateway was removed in the early part of the [19th] century and set up again as an entrance to the Town Hospital. [See page 104.]

From Edith Carey's Scrapbook, Vol. 2:

Mr Chepmell's MSS. 'Tom Sticks' (i.e. Thomas Le Marchant) being unmarried and of good family, and some ability and knowledge of the world, was 'a good diner-out' and welcomed at many hospitable tables. When the Duke of Gloucester, George III's brother, visited the island and was received by Mr De Sausmarez of the Plaiderie, as the accommodation at Government House chanced, just then, to be insufficient, Tom Sticks was called in as being an amusing man and well up in the usages and etiquette required by circumstances so unwonted.

Anne Dobrée to Henry Routh, 6th July 1812:

Yesterday died that unfortunate man Mr T. Le Marchant, he had been declining for a long time and, much as he dreaded death so great was his parsimony that though friends attributed his decline to his manner of living and gave him hopes of recovery by allowing himself the comforts of life, he rejected their advice and died the miser he had always lived. His fortune is shared between his brother Charles² and the Bell family.

Martha Dobrée to Frederick Mann, 12th July 1812:

You may recollect Mr Tom Le Marchant, a bachelor who hardly allowed himself the common necessaries of life but preferred leaving his money to accumulate for persons who have received it as their due; for a man who has a family & but little to maintain them I consider a strict attention to economy laudable, but in an instance similar to the above & observed to that degree it must be madness.


¹ [The original is in French:] Thomas Le Marchant. Il ne reste de l’honorable lignée de ce nom qu’un très petit nombre de rejetons illustrés, il est vrai, quoi qu’étrangers. Du dit Thomas nous n’aurons qu’on mot à dire. Comme tant de personnages inoffensifs le souvenir qu’il laisse est fort peu de chose. S’etant voué au célibate, il occupait deux modestes appartements dans une des vielles bonnes maisons de la Rue des Cornets, ou il jouait du violon, sans prétention artistique, afin de se désennuyer. La lecture, selon nous, aurait mieux réussi que la gamme. La manie des sobriquets prévalait alors chez nous. Voilà pourquoi le ménom de ce Monsieur, Tom Sticks, était un tant soit peu célèbre. Il etait à peine connu sous son vrai nom, Thomas Le Marchant, frère de Monsieur Charles Le Marchant, qui épousa l’héritière de Fief-le comte, mère de Mme Hutchesson. Thomas était pâle, le côté long de son angle facial à peu-près perpendiculaire, et l’air froid d’un home isolé, n’inspirent naturellement qu’un intérêt mediocre des observateurs indifférents. Sa mémoire, nous-a-t-on-dit, était un réceuil d’anecdotes, assez amusants. Il dînait rarement chez lui.

² Charles was his half-brother by marriage. Tom's father Thomas Le Marchant had married as a second wife Mary Martha Mauger, whose son Charles was. Tom's mother was Elizabeth Le Marchant, daughter of William Le Marchant of L'Hyvreuse and Elizabeth Carey; her brother, Tom's uncle, James Le Marchant, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, had died unmarried, and Tom's mother had inherited L'Hyvreuse. James held the living of Longworth in Berkshire; the Library has a copy of his will. Thomas' sister Mary Le Marchant married William Bell. James left Mary Bell and Tom Sticks one shilling each when he died in 1761.