The faces of history – Francis George Sternberg 1829 – 1869

Francis George Sterberg 1829-1869
Francis George Sterberg 1829-1869

FGS was the grandson of another Francis George Sternberg, who came from Lüneburg in North Germany as a trumpeter in the  Royal Horse Guards Regiment. He was one of many soldiers to migrate across the North Sea during the Hanoverian period and arrived in England about 1790. He subsequently settled in Northampton with his English wife Frances Furnivall and the Sternbergs became well established in the town, with a music shop and a singing and instrumental tuition business.

One of their sons was George Sternberg a carver and gilder and it was he who married Mary Leach Mumford and was the father of Francis George born in 1829.

Lizzie Plucknett was born at Thorverton in Devon in the same year, 1829, the daughter of Thomas Loaring Plucknett from his first marriage to Harriet (née Tootel). Francis and Lizzie  married in Bristol in 1853

Their relationship had got off to a good start.

Francis wrote this poem to ‘fairest Lizzy’ for Valentine’s Day 1851, when they were both 21 years old.


When fresher than the dew wet rose,
My lovely Lizzy smiles on me,
And in her blue eyes gently glows,
The light of heartless gaity
A nature seems with her to shine,
Far banished every dreary pain,
Its ills forsake the earth awhile,
And joy and gladness only reigns.
When pity melts my Lizzys soul,
and glistens in her eye the tear,
That meek affliction bid to call,
Ah! how much more is Lizzy dear
An angels sweetness then descends,
And softening every feature’s grace,
a more than human beauty lends
to Lizzys ever lovely face
Thus still whatever passion reigns
Whatever feeling moves her heart
My own an equal share sustains
Nor can resist her guileless art
And dear the chain that binds me so
A chain for life I would not break
For Oh! that life itself to me
Is only dear for Lizzys sake

February 13th.1851

F. G. S.

(to) Miss Plucknett

(c/o) Mr.Totills (Lizzy’s uncle, living in Bristol)

This romantic start continued after their marriage in 1853 with the birth of no less than ten children, eight of whom survived beyond infancy, one of whom was another Francis George Sternberg. In fact the name Francis has been given to a boy descendent of the Sternbergs in every generation since 1761. The current ‘title holder’ is fifteen at the time of writing.

Sadly Francis George, the poet, died of ‘alcohol poisoning and brain disease’ at the age of forty, leaving Lizzy pregnant with her youngest child Charles in 1869.

I have the original of this poem, sadly kept by Lizzy in a black banded mourning envelope.


In 1860 the Sternbergs had moved to Birmingham and Elizabeth and her eight children survived remarkably well. Thanks for this were largely due to the Mumford family (Lizzy’s inlaws), I suspect.


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