For those of us with geeky pursuits, examining an antiquarian book can bring about many discoveries, and even more mysteries.
Take our Minor Works of Xenophon (1857), for instance.
The book itself is not that beautiful to look at, and its contents not particularly groundbreaking. Published as part of Bohn’s Classical Library, which was part of publisher Henry Bohn’s immense Libraries collection comprising 766 volumes, this edition of Xenophon comprises interesting, but not revolutionary, works such as the Apology of Socrates, On Hunting, Hiero, and others.
However, it is likely the first edition of Xenophon as translated by Rev. J.S. Watson – or, Reverend John Selby Watson, or, the man convicted for murdering his wife in one of 19th-century Britain’s most infamous murder cases/trials. He was sentenced to death, then he pleaded insanity, and public outcry led to him being sentenced to life imprisonment instead. After all the drama, however, he quite unspectacularly died from falling off his hammock.
What’s also interesting about this book was who it was owned by. There’s a plate on the inner cover of the book, with the name of its previous owner – John Rice Crowe.
This John Rice Crowe, if it’s the same guy, is evidently quite sought after on the internet. John Rice Crowe, who was a member of the prominent Crowe family in Britain, served as a diplomat in Norway for some time. And his descendents, evidently, have a good sense of family history, and are all over the internet looking for their great-great-grandfather, John Rice Crowe. Check out this forum, and this. There’s even a Crowe Clan website, with a picture of him, and a newspaper article of him from Norway, 1877.
So to the Crowe family members out there – I’m here in Singapore, holding a book your great-great grandfather owned. Ah, globalization.