Eminent Blisses

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Aaron Thomas Bliss - Governor of Michigan 1837-1906

(extract from American DNB with further information from Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America by A.T. Bliss)
Born 22 May 1837 at Peterboro, Madison Co. NY, seventh child of Lyman Bliss and Ann (nee Chaffie)
Married: 7 March 1868 Allaseba Phelps.
Died: 16 September 1906 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No issue.
Enlisted in the Union Army October 1st 1861. Promoted to captain and involved in several Civil War battles, he was wounded and captured on General Wilson's raid near Richmond. He eventually escaped and succeeded in reaching Sherman's army at Savannah. He moved to Saginaw, Mich. in 1865.
Starting as a logger driver, he became head of one of one of the most successful lumber firms in the area.
Later he became prominent as a banker, being a director of the Citizen's National Bank and president of the Saginaw County Savings Bank. After serving as a member of the governor's staff he was sent as a Republican congressman to Washington. In 1900 he was elected Governor of Michigan. He served two terms, during which the Michigan Employment Institute for the Adult Blind was established on a site facing the beautiful Bliss Park in his home city of Saginaw.
After suffering a stroke in 1905, Bliss died the following year and was laid to rest with State and military honours in Forest Lawn cemetery Saginaw.

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Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss CH KCVO - Master of The Queen's Musik

02.08.1891- 27.03.1975 Knighted 1950. Master of the Queen's Musik 1954. KCVO 1967. CH 1971.
President of the Performing Rights Society 1954. President of the London Symphony Orchestra 1958. President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers 1960. Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal 1963. President of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music1965.
Born 2nd August 1891 Queen's Ride, Barnes, London. Eldest son of Francis Edward and Agnes Kennard Bliss nee Davies. (F.E. Bliss was a well to do American who worked for the Anglo-American Oil Company. )
Educated at: Bilton Grange School; Rugby School 1905-10; Pembroke College, Cambridge, 1910-13. First class honours degree in History. He also read for the Bachelor of Music degree, achieving a First in part I but, strangely, there is no record of his completing the course.
Royal College of Music 1913. Early musical influences included Elgar from an early age and now Stravinsky, after seeing Diaghilev's production of Petrushka.
Served in war 1914-18. Subaltern with 13th Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front August to December 1915. July 1916 at the Somme, wounded during attack on La Boiselle. Soon afterwards, his much admired brother, Kennard Bliss, was killed at the battle of the Somme. The brothers had always been close and Kennard's death was a grievous and lifelong loss to Arthur. Promoted to Captain, transferred to the Grenadier Guards. September 1918 Active service again in France, where he was gassed. At the armistice, he was one of the few gifted young men who had survived the full term of those agonising years. Elgar's 'Cello Concerto', first performed in 1919, was heard as an elegy for those departed souls. Bliss might have been expected to make his own sombre musical contribution to the memory of his vanished brother and friends. However, his chamber work, Rout, performed in December 1920, although well received by the audience, was judged by some critics to be a clever but rather empty piece of music, with no evidence of the anguished spirit of a survivor of the terrible war.
Henry Wood invited Bliss to conduct his Melee Fantasque at a Promenade concert in the Queen's Hall and Elgar gave him an opportunity to shine with a performance of his Colour Symphony at the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester in 1922. Bliss dedicated his symphony to his friend Adrian Boult.
Soon afterwards Bliss moved to America in company with his father. The family eventually settled at Santa Barbara, California. Charlie Chaplin disappointed the young composer by advising that his plans to write music for the movies were unlikely to be successful. Bliss was more successful in another enterprise: in the course of a full Californian social life, he met, wooed and won Gertrude Hoffmann, whom he married in 1925. Shortly afterwards the young couple made their home in England.

From this time, Bliss's reputation as a composer steadily climbed. His Pastoral, written for a small choir and orchestra and dedicated to Elgar, was well received in 1928. The next year Bliss confronted his long-buried experiences of war. Morning Heroes is a long symphony for orator, chorus and orchestra in five movements. It incorporates texts from Homer, an ancient Chinese poem and Walt Whitman; The final movement of agony and distress is illustrated by the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Robert Nichols. It is a difficult work, making demands on the stamina and fortitude of the performers and the listener, but it is undoubtedly a grand work and it is a fitting memorial to the composer's brother and 'all other comrades killed in battle', to whom Bliss dedicated the symphony. Its premiere was at the Norwich Festival in 1930.
Many of the world's best known soloists began to commission new music from Bliss. His ability to write pieces to order or for a special occasion became renowned; in 1942 his Fanfare For Heroes was used in an important Russian propaganda film about the Battle of Stalingrad. He now achieved his earlier ambition to compose music for films, including The shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells and an aborted film version of Anthony and Cleopatra by G. Bernard Shaw. In these years he also wrote the music for Checkmate, a ballet choreographed by Ninette de Valois. The ballet was well received at a performance in Paris by the Sadlers Wells company which included Frederick Ashton, Robert Helpmann, Michael Somes and the young Margot Fonteyn.. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Bliss was in America.
Returning to Britain in June 1941, he became Director of Music at the BBC. He wrote the score for Robert Helpmann's ballet Miracle in the Gorbals, performed at Sadlers Wells 1944. He and J. B. Priestley wrote the opera The Olympians, first performed at Covent Garden in 1949. Bliss's Processional announced the arrival of the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Also in that year he composed the music for the film A Beggar's Opera, produced by Laurence Olivier and directed by Peter Brook. He considered Meditations 1955 one of his best compositions. In 1960 he wrote the music for the 2 act opera, Tobias and the Angel, broadcast on BBC TV in 1960. His Golden Cantata celebrated the quincentenary of the Degree of Music at Cambridge university in 1964. His autobiography, "As I Remember" was published by Faber in 1970.
In his final years Arthur Bliss was, musically, still working at full stretch: producing a cello concerto and the Piano Tryptych, as well as the music for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernavon Castle in 1969, which greatly added to the splendour of the occasion. He was made a Companion of Honour by the Queen, just before his eightieth birthday in 1971, surely a worthy and sufficient end to such a long and distinguished career. However, he was still composing some significant work. After turning eighty, he produced the large, and complex Metamorphic Variations, first performed in 1973, and Shield of Faith for the Windsor Festival Committee, which was performed exactly one month after his death in April 1975.
Sir Arthur's widow, Lady Bliss, is an honorary life member of the Bliss FHS.

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Cornelius Newton Bliss - Merchant & Politician

Born 26 January 1833 at Fall River, Massachusetts, son of Asahel Newton Bliss and Irene (nee Luther).
Married 30 March 1859 Elizabeth Mary Plummer.
Died 9 October 1911 in New York city.
From relatively humble beginnings, Bliss became a leading textile manufacturer in the United States, being the head of Bliss, Fabyan & Co for many years until his death. His experience brought him onto the board of many large financial and industrial organisations; for a short period he served as President of the Fourth National Bank.
He took an avid interest in political matters and became treasurer of the Republican party's National Committee in 1892, serving in that office through every presidential campaign until 1904.
He turned down the chance to become Secretary of the US Treasury under President McKinley but he served as Secretary for the Interior 1896-8.
In 1900 he was invited to stand as President McKinley's vice-president. He refused the offer and Teddy Roosevelt was appointed in his stead. The following year McKinley was assasinated and Roosevelt became President.
Perhaps the only chance any Bliss will have of becoming President of the United States!

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Douglas Percy Bliss 1900-84 - Fine Artist, Conservationist and Director of Glasgow School of Art 1946-64



Douglas Percy Bliss's family was originally from Northamptonshire but his grandfather removed to Morayshire in Scotland, where he raised a family of sixteen children. The future artist was born in Karachi, India (now Pakistan). Douglas always regarded himself as Scottish, as he was raised in Edinburgh and was educated at George Watson's College 1906-17. On leaving school, he joined the Highland Light Infantry until the end of the Great War in 1918. He went on to gain an M.A. honours degree in English Lit. at Edinburgh University 1922. The study of Art History in his first year encouraged his lifelong interest in art and architecture.
From an early age he produced accomplished drawings; an uncle used to send him pocket money in return for his copies of Punch cartoons. Perhaps this early familiarity with the work of some of the best draughtsman of the time accounts for his characteristic use of Line and Design in his Art.
After obtaining his degree, D.P. Bliss studied painting at the Royal College of Art in London. He became student editor of the R.C.A. magazine. Impressed by the imaginative quality of his third magazine, in which he introduced the innovation of hand- colouring by stencil, the British Museum bought several copies and which sent one to the Louvre Print Room in Paris.
He discovered an ideal medium for his artistic and design talents when he studied wood engraving in his post-graduate year. The high quality of Bliss's engravings was quickly admired beyond the walls of the R.C.A. In 1925, the august and supremely conservative Oxford University Press published a book of engravings by the young art student illustrating 'Border Ballads'. Commissions quickly followed on the success of 'Border Ballads', including illustrations for 'The History of Rasselas' by Dr. Johnson, published by J.M. Dent in 1926. The same publishers paid a great compliment to Bliss when they commissioned him to write 'A History Of Wood Engraving'. Even today this is regarded as one of the best expositions ever written about this specialised field of Art. Good copies of the 1928 edition are eagerly sought by dealers and students in Europe and America. The book was so greatly admired that Bliss's primary excellence as an artist became somewhat obscured by his reknown as a teacher and critic.
In 1928 Bliss married Phyllis Dodd, who was a very talented painter. (Some of her portraits are so fine that she deserves a webpage of her own) Douglas Bliss, encouraged by his wife, took up his brushes again. During the remainder of a long life, using oils and watercolour, he recorded landscapes in England and Scotland in his own authentic style. Bliss's pictures record the end of an era of small-scale farming, when man's intervention in Nature was milder and less draconian than it is now. Ocasionally,he also recorded the urban scene just before insensitive town planning and modern materials destroyed the human scale of so many homely and elegant areas in British towns and cities.
In the thirties, aware that some of England's excellent town architecture was coming under threat from developers and uncaring Town Halls, D.P. Bliss founded the Blackheath Society, which still strives to protect the amenities of the S.E. London area, where he lived before the last war. At this time he was teaching at two London art schools and was the London art critic of The Scotsman. In 1941 Bliss volunteered for the RAF and his duties as a Decoy Officer took him back to Scotland. When he returned to civilian life in 1946, he was delighted to be appointed Director of the Glasgow School of Art in his home country of Scotland. He loved what he called "the greatest industrial city in the Empire". His artist's eye appreciated the legacy of the city's architecture, which was permanently hidden by smoke and soot in those early post-war years.
In Glasgow, Bliss became the champion of the city's then undervalued master of Art Nouveau- the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Bliss was horrified to discover plans were afoot to alter and 'modernise' features of Mackintosh's chef d'oeuvre- the Glasgow School of Art. He was equally appalled to discover piles of Mackintosh's original furniture tipped out at the back of the Tea Rooms. This was recovered and Bliss ensured that pieces were restored and distributed to Museums across the world. The main nucleus of Mackintosh's furniture is to be found in several different collections in Glasgow itself, principally in the Furniture Collection displayed at the Glasgow School of Art. Thus the School, the city of Glasgow and Art Historians around the world have much for which to thank the charming, witty and dedicated man who was Director at the School from 1946-64. His work of saving many masterpieces of Art Nouveau is one of Douglas Percy Bliss's greatest achievements.
However, students and friends of the GSA will always remember his wider contribution, as Director of the institution. At the end of his period of office, Glasgow School of Art was listed by Whittaker's Almanac among the six top Art Schools in Britain. Under his guidance and insistence, Design and Craft became equals of the long-established Fine Arts and were raised to the status of Degree subjects.
His own artistic achievement has been recognised in several Exhibitions around the country. The latest exhibition of his paintings and engravings was held in his beloved Mackintosh Building, Glasgow School of Art, in the summer of 1998.
Early in his career, Bliss stated he wanted to 'draw trees really well'. In a variety of media, he used his characteristic muted colours and the clean lines of an engraver to celebrate the English and Scottish Landscapes. Untempted by the fancies and fashions of the turbulent late twentieth century art world, he continued to record the changing scene with truth and clarity into his last years.
Sadly, much of the work of his talented youth was lost. When war broke out in 1939, his collection of engraved blocks was still mostly unpublished. During the Blitz, the entire collection was stolen from his London home. However, almost forty years after the theft,sixteen of the missing blocks were identified at an auction in Somerset. They had not been properly cared for and the bigger ones split when printing was attempted. Thus good prints of his wood engravings, perhaps the most characteristic expression of his Art, are rare.
Nevertheless, his substantial body of paintings should also be highly regarded. It records, with clarity and impressive technique the ending of the old rural way of life in Britain. One can imagine that some of his paintings will, in the future, illustrate many history books dealing with mid twentieth century rural life. Those who collect Douglas Percy Bliss's work have a present joy to treasure and perhaps a future treasure to cherish!

WORK IN PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Cardiff: National Museum of Wales
Edinburgh: Gallery of Modern Art
Glasgow: City Art Gallery
Leamington Art Gallery
London: The British Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Tate Gallery
Manchester Education Authority
National Arts Collection Fund
Perth City Art Gallery
The Contemporary Art Society

PUBLICATIONS

1925 Border Ballads (illustrations) OUP
1926 The History Of Rasselas by Dr. S. Johnson (illustrations) JM Dent London
1928 The Spanish Lady & 2 other stories by Cervantes (illustrations) OUP
1928 A History of Wood Engraving JM Dent
1929 The Palace of Pleasure by William Painter (illustrations) Cresset Press London
1934 The Devil In Scotland (introductory text& illustrations) Maclehose London
1938 Some Tales of Mystery & Imagination by A.E. Poe Penguin Books
1952 Memoirs of Prince Alexei Haimatoff by T.J. Hogg (illustrations) Folio Society London
1979 Edward Bowden (a biography) The Pendomer Press Godalming

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Gilbert Ames Bliss - Mathematician and Educator

b. May 9, 1876, Chicago
d. May 8, 1951, Harvey, Ill.
U.S. mathematician and educator known for his work on the calculus of variations. He received his B.S. degree in 1897 from the University of Chicago and remained to study mathematical astronomy under F.R. Moulton. He received his M.S. degree in 1898 and two years later his doctorate. Bliss immediately went into teaching as an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota from 1900 to 1902, followed by a two-year assistantship at the University of Chicago, a year at the University of Missouri, and three years (1905-1908) as preceptor at Princeton University--a period in which he also served as an editor of the Annals of Mathematics. In 1908 Bliss returned to the faculty at the University of Chicago as an associate professor; he was named professor five years later. He became department chairman in 1927 and served until his retirement in 1941. Bliss applied his knowledge of calculus to the field of ballistics during the latter days of World War I, when he designed an improved set of firing tables for artillery. His book Mathematics for Exterior Ballistics (1944) was based on this work. His research in algebraic functions led to his paper "Algebraic Functions and Their Divisors," and Bliss expanded on this work in his book Algebraic Functions (1933). Bliss's extensive study of the calculations of extreme values of an integral or function culminated in 1946 in his major work, Lectures on the Calculus of Variations. Bliss served as president of the American Mathematical Society from 1921 to 1922.

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Nathaniel Bliss - Astronomer Royal

b. Nov. 28, 1700, Bisley, Gloucestershire, Eng.
d. Sept. 2, 1764, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Britain's fourth Astronomer Royal. Bliss graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford (B.A., 1720; M.A., 1723), and became rector of St. Ebbe's, Oxford, in 1736. He succeeded Edmond Halley as Savilian professor of geometry at the University of Oxford in 1742 and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society the same year. A correspondent and occasional assistant of James Bradley, third Astronomer Royal, Bliss acted for him in observing the transit of Venus in 1761 and succeeded him as Astronomer Royal in 1762.

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Perry Bliss

b. Nov. 25, 1860, Williamstown, Mass., U.S.
d. Feb. 13, 1954, Exeter, N.H.
U.S. scholar and editor, especially noted for his work in American literature. Perry was educated at Williams College, Williamstown, and the universities of Berlin and Strassburg (then in Germany). He taught at Williams (1886-93), Princeton University (1893-1900), and Harvard University (1907-30) and was Harvard lecturer at the University of Paris (1909-10). From 1899 to 1909 he edited The Atlantic Monthly. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honour. He edited many volumes, including the works of Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and was general editor (1905-09) of the Cambridge edition of the major American poets. He wrote a number of books, including works on Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Carlyle, Emerson, and others, as well as novels, short fiction, essays, an autobiography, studies of poetry, and collections of fiction and essays.

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Tasker Howard Bliss

b. Dec. 31, 1853, Lewisburg, Pa., U.S.
d. Nov. 9, 1930, Washington, D.C.
U.S. military commander and statesman who directed the mobilization effort upon the United States' entry into World War I. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1875, Bliss served in various military assignments, including that of instructor at West Point and military attaché at the U.S. legation in Madrid. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Bliss was chief of staff under General James H. Wilson in Puerto Rico and later served in Cuba. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general, he negotiated the U.S.-Cuban reciprocity treaty (1902). After service as commandant of the Army War College (1903-05) and in the Philippines (1905-09), he drew various staff assignments and in 1915 was promoted to major general. With the United States' entry into World War I in 1917, Bliss was made general and chief of staff. In that position he promptly expanded and upgraded the Army to battle-readiness and resisted attempts to divide the U.S. force among the various Allied commands. At the appointment of President Woodrow Wilson, he sat on the Allied Supreme War Council and was a delegate to the peace conference at Versailles. An ardent supporter of Wilson's worldview, Bliss promoted the Fourteen Points, American participation in the League of Nations, and international arms control.

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Bliss, William D(wight) P(orter)

b. Aug. 20, 1856, Constantinople [now Istanbul]
d. Oct. 8, 1926, New York City
Social reformer and organizer of Christian Socialist societies in the United States. The son of American missionaries in Turkey, Bliss was educated at the Hartford Theological Seminary (Hartford, Conn.). First as a Congregationalist and later as an Episcopalian, he held several pastorates following his graduation from Hartford in 1882. In the late 1880s Bliss became deeply interested in Christian Socialism, a movement intent upon applying the teachings of Jesus to the social dislocations caused by industrialization and urbanization. Bliss organized the first U.S. Christian Socialist Society in 1889 and edited its publication, The Dawn. Bliss traveled extensively, lecturing on the problems of labour and social reform. He compiled and edited many books, the best known being the Encyclopedia of Social Reform (1897). He unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1887 on the Labor Party ticket, and he also served as an investigator for the Bureau of Labor. He did educational work among French and Belgian soldiers interned in Switzerland during World War I. He returned to the United States after the war and preached in New York City until his death.

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William Henry Bliss BCL DD

26 April 1835-8th March 1911 Scholar
Born 26 April 1835 Newton St Loe, Somerset, son of Rev. William Bliss and Jane Monck (nee Bridges).
Educated at Winchester 1847-1852; Magdalen College, Oxford, BA 1859 MA 1863 BCL 1868 Married 4 May 1859 Mary Jane Wray, daughter of rev. Cyril Wray of St Martin's, Liverpool.
Ordained priest 1865 by Bishop of Oxford. Curate of Honington 1858-62, St James Plymouth 1862-5, presented to Vicarage of North Hincksey 1866.
W.H. Bliss was a great Victorian scholar, who represented the Public Records Office for many years in the Vatican Archives, Rome. The son of a Church of England clergymen, Bliss seemed destined to achieve comfort and success within the bosom of the established church. His education at Winchester and Oxford brought him into the company of eminent men whose lives had been touched by the great religious debate, known as the Oxford Movement, led by Cardinal Newman. He became curate to a leading Anglo-Catholic clergymen: his uncle James at Plymouth and he knew and greatly admired the great Oxford divine, Keble.
In 1854, As a very young man he edited The Parson with his Fellow Workers. In 1867 his first major work, The Canons of the First Four General Councils, in Greek & English, was published; it was well-received and a second edition was printed in 1869. With the achievement of his BCL in the intervening year, Bliss was apparently destined for high office in the Church or the University.
However, he was having increasing problems concerning the theological and historical legitimacy of the Church of England. In 1869 he followed Newman into the Roman faith. Following his conversion, Bliss secured the position of Keeper of Periodicals at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. After 1871 he superintended the preparation of the printed catalogue. Perhaps he had hopes of succeeding Coxe, the kindly and highly esteemed librarian at the Bodleian; but the religious bitterness still rife in Oxford would certainly have excluded him from consideration.
In 1877, Bliss took up an offer from the Public Records Office to go to Rome with the purpose of doing research in the Vatican Archives on behalf of the PRO. Principally, he was employed in searching the medieval Papal Registers in order to extract references to all dealings between the Papacy and Great Britain and Ireland. From 1877 until his death in 1911 at the Via Delphini, he lived in Rome for nine months every year.
At first the bureaucrats within the Vatican were suspicious of this representative of the chief Protestant power. However, his very pleasant manner, unassuming personality and his religious beliefs eventually won him the Vatican's full cooperation. He became a leading light in the English community in Rome and, by 1886, he was English Tutor to the young Victor Emmanuel, heir to the Italian throne. He was treated as a welcome guest at the Quirinal and other palaces by the King and Queen.
The fruits of his work at the Vatican is to be found in a series of published books known as Calendar of The Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to British Isles. Volumes I and II (1894/5) were edited solely by Bliss, he edited Volume III (1897) in collaboration with C. Johnson and Volumes IV and V (1902, 1904) with J.A. Twemlow. He also edited Calendars of Petitions to the Pope Volume I, 1342-1419 (1896 ). All these volumes were reprinted by Kraus Reprint in 1971.
Bliss also worked in the Milan Archives: transcripts of manuscripts extracted by him may be found in the record series PRO 31/2 at the Public Record Office. This work was continued after his death and culminated in another calendar, Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts Existing in the Archives Collections in Milan, Volume I 1385-1618 (1913).
From 1881-1883 he spent some time researching the Swedish Archives in Stockholm. His transcripts are in record series PRO 31/13 which includes reports and notes by Bliss on papers relating to the history of England in the state archives of Sweden, reference PRO 31/13/8.
William Henry Bliss's work is an important resource for British medieval historians. He brought new information, insight and understanding to the international problems and internal struggles of the Middle Ages.

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Brevet Lieutenant colonel W.W.S. Bliss

was son of Captain John Bliss and his wife Olive Hall Simonds of NY and Alabama. He was born 17th August 1815 and graduated from West Point in 1833.
During the Mexican War 1846-8, he became Adjutant and Military Secretary to Major General Zachary Taylor.
He married the general's youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, in 1848 at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The following year General Taylor became President of the United States of America and he appointed his son in law, Col. Bliss, as his private secretary. Bliss's ability and pesonality won the esteem of men of all parties.
His wife, affectionately known as 'Miss Betty', was, in effect, the First Lady at the White House at the age of 22. The popular young couple seemed destined to become powerful figures in Washington when tragedies overwhelmed them.
The President died suddenly in 1850. Col. Bliss accompanied the widow to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she too died in 1852. Colonel Bliss took up the post of Inspector in the army. Following a visit to plague-ridden New Orleans on behalf of the University of Louisiana, Colonel Bliss died of Yellow Fever at Pascagoula Aug. 5th 1853. Thus 'Miss Betty' lost her father, mother and husband in a little over 3 years.
A 20 foot memorial of Italian marble was raised to the memory of Colonel Bliss, 'a finished scholar, an accomplished gentleman and a gallant soldier', in Girod Street Cemetery, New Orleans. In 1955, the cemetery being condemned, Colonel Bliss's remains and monument were removed to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The Fort had been named in honour of Colonel Bliss in 1854. It remains a vital part of the US Defence Training and Developement Programme to this day.
(courtesy of The Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America by Aaron Tyler Bliss)

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