John Lewis Pasteur (?-1793)

John Lewis Pasteur (I) was a tutor and companion to George Lewis Coke of Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire. George Lewis Coke’s sister, Charlotte married Matthew Lamb the grandparents of William, Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the 1830’s. By this time, the Pasteurs had disappeared from Melbourne. When George Lewis Coke died in 1751, an Inventory of his household possessions was taken. This showed that “Mr. Pasteur’s Room” was next door to Mr. Coke’s bedroom. It contained:

A Bedstead & hangings, Feather bed, Bolster, 2 pillows, a mattress, a quilt, 2 blanketts, Window Curtains, a Cloaths Press, a Back Gammon Table, a Dressing Table, 3 old chairs, a Fire Grate, a Dressing Glass, a Sword & tuck valued at £7.15s.6d. [Melbourne Hall Reference 168/15/1]

A scanned photocopy of the original inventory of Melbourne Hall (1751)

I do not know where John Lewis Pasteur originally came from but the name seems to be French in origin. Interestingly there is a marked similarity between the name of John Lewis Pasteur and George Lewis Coke’s name. I thought of some avenues to explore. Firstly, I sought information on the life of George Lewis Coke.

George Lewis Coke was the only son and heir of the Right Honourable Thomas Coke, who was Vice-Chamberlain to Queen Anne and King George I. His country house was Melbourne Hall and his hobby was rebuilding the Gardens at the Hall in the Dutch style. George Lewis was born in 1715 and was only 12 years old when his father died in 1727. He was brought up in London by his uncle, John Coke, and didn’t visit Melbourne until he was 15 years old. He was appointed Surveyor-General of His Majesty’s Customs when he was 17 years old. At the age of 19, he set off on the Grand Tour of Europe, and rode to Paris, Bordeaux and on to Montpellier where he spent the winter. He then went to Rome, Naples, Venice, Vienna and back to Paris, taking 20 months over the Grand Tour. He then moved to Melbourne to live the life of a country gentleman and to finish his father’s plans for Melbourne Hall and Gardens. He was Deputy-Lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1745 (at the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s invasion) and died on 15 January, 1751. He was buried in Melbourne Church. [Howard Usher “The Owners of Melbourne Hall”, 1993]

I think the most likely scenario was that they met in their time in France and Pasteur accompanied Coke back to England, and thereafter anglicised his name from Jean Louis Pasteur. I have some contacts in France with the Pasteur family there who are looking into this.

Another possibility was suggested by the Melbourne historian, JJ Briggs. He said that Pasteur changed his name from Jacques, and took his other Christian name from George Lewis Coke and his surname from the French Pasteur meaning shepherd. He had a flock of sheep at the next village, Breedon. [“The History of Melbourne in the county of Derby, including Biographical Notices of the Coke, Melbourne and Hardinge Families”, by John Joseph BRIGGS, Bemrose, 1852.] This seems highly unlikely and may be a typical Victorian invention to explain a strange fact.

The last possibility is that Pasteur was descended from a Huguenot refugee from France in the 17th century. I have checked some Huguenot sources and both Jean Pasteur and Louis Pasteur were considered appropriate Huguenot names. I haven’t explored it much further as yet.

The other thing I am not sure about is what exactly a “Tutor and Companion” is to a man of George Lewis Coke’s years. He was definitely not a servant. He married Elizabeth Clarkson (although in the IGI record of the marriage his name is spelt John Lewis Pasture) and had three children suggesting there was nothing untoward in the relationship. In 1777, John Lewis Pasteur seemed to be still living at Melbourne Hall as he paid a Window tax on a very large house with 11 windows. He died in 1793.

Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire

The Window Tax was introduced in 1696 as a replacement for the Hearth Tax and taxed the occupier, not the owner, on the number of windows in a house, with similar exemptions to the Hearth Tax. It was a flat rate of 2s in the pound with a sliding scale, upwards, depending upon the numbers of window. Only those with seven or more windows were required to pay anything over the basic rate. The tax died a slow death towards the end of the eighteenth century until its abolishment in 1851.

Source: Colin Barber


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