‘Edited by Quincey Lane. Vol: I 1888 Berkhamsted. Printed and Published by the Post Newspaper Co. Ltd.’ This title page heralded the arrival of a new magazine in September 1888, aimed at the following readership: ‘In presenting this Magazine to the people of Hertfordshire the Proprietors are assured that they meet a long-felt want… No Pains will be spared to make the contents interesting and instructional in the highest degree,’ The fact that it is a ‘Constitutional Magazine’ should win it a place in every home in Hertfordshire, in which reigns that loyal and conservative spirit, for which the county is so justly celebrated.’ The contents were to be varied to meet all tastes and to include ‘serial tales’ by local authors, scientific and artistic contributions. The ladies were to be especially catered for. ‘All Letters relating to Political, Historical, Archaeological, Astronomical, Geological, Musical and Artistic information … should be addressed to the Editor, Hertfordshire Constitutional Magazine, High Street, Great Berkhamsted, Herts.’ The magazine was available from G. Loosley, Castle Street and A. Slater, High Street, price 1/6. The Editor was one Quincey Lane.
Who was this Quincey Lane, then? There was a Frederick Quincey Lane, who, according to the 1881 census, lived at ‘The George’ in the High Street, but he was a nurseryman and a brewer and an unlikely candidate to produce such a magazine. Examination of the 1891 census shows Frederick living with an ever-growing family and his wife, Eliza, listed not as ‘brewer’s wife’ but as ‘journalist.’ In the same column was written faintly, for explanation, ‘author’.
Various press notices which appeared after the first volume give us further clarification. The Hertfordshire Standard wrote, ‘It must be confessed as surprising that no such effort before has been made or sustained in this Shire, and now a lady at Berkhamsted leads the way… It is edited by Mrs Quincey Lane, who a few months since was the first lady journalist enrolled on the books of the London District of the National Association of Journalists.’
Eliza Quincey Lane was not born in Berkhamsted, but in Marylebone, in 1847. Her father, William Parkins, a stationer, came from Hertfordshire and from the 1851 census we learn that Eliza, aged 6 and her elder sister, Mary, attended Merry Hall School in the High Street in Berkhamsted. In addition to this the two girls were almost certainly related to John Parkins, sexton of the church, who also lived in the High Street. From the 1861 census we learn that Eliza’s father was a widower and Eliza, now 15, is listed still as a scholar, so she was quite an educated young woman.
Frederick Quincey Lane and Eliza Parkins were married on 15th October 1868 at All Saints, St. John’s Wood. The couple lived in the High Street, Berkhamsted, not at The George initially. By the time of the 1871 census they had a one-year-old son, Frederick John Lane. Ten years later they were living at The George and they had five children.
Perhaps because of the success of the Constitutional Magazine, although Quincey Lane remained Editor, Volume III, published in 1889, was no longer printed in Berkhamsted nor published by the Post Newspaper Co. Ltd but printed in London and published by the Counties Constitutional Magazines’ Syndicate. From that time on the magazine seems to have lost some of its individuality and relevance to Hertfordshire and especially Berkhamsted. No issues of the magazine remain extant after 1889, either in the Society’s nor Hertfordshire’s archives. Eliza died at the comparatively young age of fifty-five in 1901. Perhaps the strain of motherhood combining with a career in journalism took its toll.