1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Countess of Derby drops by Transylvania 200 years after Earl of Derby’s visit

person looking at museum items

The Countess of Derby visited Transylvania University on Saturday — 200 years after the 14th Earl of Derby dropped by.

She is retracing the steps of Edward Geoffrey Stanley, who traveled throughout the United States before going on to serve three terms as prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“I’ve never hung out with nobility before,” said Jamie Day, a Transylvania physics professor and curator of the Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum. “She was very down to earth.”

Saturday’s tour included viewing Audubon’s “Birds of America” elephant folio.

The countess, Caroline Stanley, is co-editor of a book on the earl, “A North American Tour Journal: 1824-1825,” due out next year. She joined scholars Andrew O’Shaughnessy, who wrote the introduction, and Peter O’Shaughnessy for private viewings of Transylvania’s Special Collections, including the Moosnick Museum.

The book is based on travel notes found in the countess’ manor, Knowsley Hall, during the pandemic. She is married to the 19th Earl of Derby, Edward Stanley.

The 14th Earl of Derby (pronounced “Darby”) spent eight months journeying from eastern Canada to various locales as far away as New Orleans. Having seen both Harvard and Transylvania, he found the latter offered a more cutting-edge curriculum, Day said.

The countess posed with a 14-inch hairball donated to the university by Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law.

As for the countess, she was especially interested in the school’s Clara Peck Collection featuring equine history — because she raises horses herself and participates in dressage events.

Caroline Stanley and her guests also wanted to see things that were around when Edward Geoffrey Stanley visited two centuries ago. These included some items in the Moosnick collection and “The Kitchen” — a building that was part of Transylvania’s original campus across Third Street in what is now Gratz Park.

Additionally, they met President Brien Lewis, who gave them copies of John D. Wright Jr.’s “Transylvania: Tutor to the West.”

“They all had a great visit,” Day said.