Sister Act – the Culmes of Tothill

July 11, 2021 at 1:16 pm (history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

While searching one of my favorite searches – John Hobart Culme Seymour, a good search because it’s a long name, an “unusual” name, and does often bring up something about the Rev. Sir John Culme Seymour instead of children or (what’s worse!) junk results – I found a most useful and interesting article.

The name “Culme” turns up a 2017 local history article in the Sid Vale Association‘s journal “Past, Present, Future”.

It seems the Sidmouth Museum has a little sketchbook – something acquired in the 1970s – once belonging to Fanny Culme, the sister of Elizabeth Culme, the first wife of Sir John Seymor, and the 2nd “Lady Seymour” (following John’s own mother).

The article is illustrated by two watercolors (evidently dating to c1819) of the area around Sidmouth; and – most tantalizing – a self-portrait of Frances Goddard Culme, aged 17. The article, by Rab and Christine Barnard, is called, invoking this self-portrait, “The Girl in the Mirror” (see pp. 34-35).

It is most interesting to me, as a researcher trying to track down such items as sketchbooks and portraits, to read that when it was first acquired, the book was thought to belong to someone named “Fanny Coulter.” By the time the book was catalogued the last name had been guessed at as “Culine.” One can readily see in the lumps comprising the “m” of CULME how this could have segued into the odd name of Culine – but thank goodness someone recognized the girl’s real identity!

The opening tale, too, indicates how spread out research items can be. Even local museums getting in on the act, which I hadn’t always anticipated, although I did recently learn of a sketchbook by the Smith sister Charlotte Judith Smith existing in just such a local museum collection in Tring. So, my eyes have been opened – but when fingers have to do the walking, the search is trebly difficult without someone prompting discovery with a well-timed “here’s what we (or I) have . . .”

Church, Kinwarton, Warcs.

I can add a bit of clarification to the assumption about Elizabeth Culme’s marriage. She and John Seymour married in April of 1833. I suspect that they performed a marriage visit to her family in May, thus the cry of “For Auld lang syne” from her sister. (Although Fanny also may have visited Elizabeth and John, an opportunity to see where her sister would be living.) I could relay more information if John’s brother Richard Seymour had made comments about their whereabouts, IF there weren’t pages cut out of Richard’s diary about the time of this marriage (mid-April is missing), as well as dates around mid-May.

There seems to have been a ‘stall’ in the engagement in early March 1833, but Richard is not specific as to the “obstacle” nor to the nature of Elizabeth’s “promise”. Richard received news, from his sister Dora (who was undergoing her own romantic tribulations…), a few days later that “Miss Culme had set aside her [……]” [=single word cut out here; I think it must be promise]. Since whatever Miss Culme set aside made the marriage ready to move forward, it cannot have been a promise to John. Had there been a promise to another man? (seems doubtful) Maybe Elizabeth had made some promise to her sister, Fanny? Though, according to the article, Fanny had already married in 1823 – and John Seymour surely held “good prospects” for Elizabeth’s future life as a clergyman’s wife.

Private “history” can be so mysterious, especially when trying to piece things together using the remains of secrets left standing in ephemeral items like letters – or (mutilated) diaries.

The article, too, helped to recognize what I had guessed at – the transcription of the word SOLTAU (Fanny’s married name). I especially was unsure of the last letter – “u” or “n”? Richard mentions Fanny Soltau in the period surrounding the death of her sister, in 1841. Elizabeth’s baby survived – and was named after her mother, though called for the rest of her life “Sissy” by her immediate family. Sissy and her two brothers were raised by Maria Smith, my diarist Emma Austen’s youngest sister, after Maria married Elizabeth’s widower in 1844. By then, Sir John had added “Culme” to his own last name of Seymour.

*

A quick note should be made as to the position of the Rev. Seymour as Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. It was a mistake I myself made because of verbiage in certain write-ups about John Seymour. No queen in 1827. Sir John did serve as Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria, once she ascended the throne, a decade later.

In 1827, John Seymour was named Chaplain in Ordinary to the King, George IV.

Preference within the Church was of great concern for any English family with clergy sons to advance; John’s uncle Sir William Knighton was His Majesty’s Private Secretary. This last link will take you to Charlotte Frost’s website, where you have the ability to download her 2010 biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician for free. Or, follow the author on Twitter.

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By Any Other Name

June 19, 2021 at 1:10 pm (diaries, entertainment, history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , )

You might ask, given that I research people with the name of “Smith” – and Christen names like Charles and Mary, what name could possibly give me trouble….

Try: Jane Seymour.

Emma’s sister Fanny Smith was the first to marry a Seymour – the Rev. Richard Seymour the new incumbent to the living of Kinwarton (Warwickshire). They married on 30 October 1834.

The following year, September 1835, brother Spencer Smith married Richard’s sister Frances Seymour.

By 1845, not only had youngest sister Maria Smith married (his 2nd wife) the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour, but the Smith’s widowered brother-in-law Arthur Currie had married the widowed Dora (Seymour) Chester.

It was Maria who gave birth (in January 1851) to the JANE SEYMOUR I thought I was chasing. I had unearthed about a dozen photographs of a little girl and young woman – identified in a couple of albums, plus many more loose cartes-de-visite, which (I thought…) pointed to a certain “future” for the young lady portrayed.

I was wrong!

It’s tough, looking at my photographs of photographs – often done under inauspicious conditions of overhead lighting and cradled bound books – some out of focus; others the best that can be taken of the faded nothingness that now remains. Tough, too, to put together some faces that may be the same person – or some sibling – or someone totally different, just seen from an unusual angle that now has you comparing the straight or down-turned mouth, the curved or shell-like ear, the beak-sharp or the bulbous nose.

Such a one was the picture, only ID’ed on the rear with a date – “1877” – of a mother (presume) and frilly-frocked infant (christening?). The adult sitter looked like Jane Seymour – but cousin Jane never married, had had no children. The nose, here, looked sharper; the hair exhibited an mere half-inch of “fringe” (bangs they cannot be called), when in all other pictures there was only a center part and all hair pulled downwards and back. The face looked thinner, more sculpted, but then the face was bent downward, gazing at the child. The one thing all the adult photos had in comment was a clipped-short “side burn” above the ears – very similar to my own (because the bow of glasses sits right over this area).

Mother-and-Babe remained a “mystery” – for later ‘detection’.

Signature Maria L. Seymour

It was while looking through diaries – predominantly those written by Richard Seymour – for further information on the relationship of Mary Smith and Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, that I came across mention of Richard’s niece, Jane Seymour.

Mary and Gaspard had married in 1861 – but the engagement was so fraught with angst and doubt, that I had to find out more. What I found out was that they initially had become engaged in 1858. I haven’t found out if they stayed engaged the whole time, or if it was on-off-on again. Although other diaries exist, some I don’t have access to, and Richard’s I have to take painstaking reads through microfilmed handwriting. Letters of the period can be hit or miss – and more have tantalizing hints than full-length histories.

But back to Jane Seymour.

This Jane was not the first “Jane” in the family. Of course – OF COURSE! – there were several, over many generations. Maria’s daughter was a “CULME-SEYMOUR” – the “Culme” coming from Sir John’s first wife. For a while, I thought only Sir John’s “Culme” children used the “Culme” name. Maria’s mail always seemed addressed to “Lady Seymour” (see a letter I’m desperately seeking – and from 1861!). BUT: If I looked closely, Maria and her daughters inserted “C” as part of their signature. But who else could the girl called Jenny Seymour and the young woman identified as Jane Seymour or Miss Seymour have been?

Remember I said that Richard mentioned JANE SEYMOUR in his diary…

In 1858’s diary.

The section that caught my eye mentioned Richard’s “Australian niece Jane Seymour”. She arrived in mid-December, having left Sidney, Australia on September 1st. – Dora (née Seymour) and Arthur Currie picked her up at Gravesend! The very Curries who inhabited High Elms, the estate *now* (June 2021) up for sale.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

High Elms, estate of the Arthur Curries.

“Australian Jane” was the only child of Richard’s youngest brother, William (Willy) Seymour, who had emigrated, married an Australian girl in 1849, and died in 1857. I had presumed that she had stay Down-Under.

Nope…

Jane had a convoluted history. Her mother had remarried – at some unknown point – in 1858. This poor mother, born Sarah Avory and now Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie, died in February 1859. Jane’s step-father died two years later, in February 1861.

But none of that mattered: little Jane Seymour had already sailed for England, arriving hardly two months before her mother’s death – which she could never have known about for another six or eight months.

What I do not know is the WHY Jane Seymour sailed from Sidney that September 1st of 1858!

Had the patriarchal arm reached across the globe, and over her father’s grave, to pluck the little girl from the bosom of her Australian family? Had the mother, stricken by some fatal illness (? – it’s a guess) already, made plans for her soon-to-be-orphaned child, plans that did not involve that child’s step-father? Or, had the Pleydell-Bouveries sought out this change for a child they no longer cared to care for?

Such a mystery remains to be solved, awaiting more information, other diaries, more letters.

One mystery that has been SOLVED involves the BIRTH DATE of Aussie Jane. I have found her baptismal information, which gives her date of birth. Given an 1849 marriage, I had presumed the birth of a first child in 1850. Jane Seymour, however, was born in MAY 1852 – which makes our little passenger a mere SIX YEARS OLD when she sailed from Sidney Harbor to Gravesend – and into the arms and the seemingly eternal care of an aunt she had never set eyes upon before: Dora Currie.

Dora’s step-children, Arthur’s children with his first wife, Charlotte Smith, were growing up – the youngest, Drummond Arthur Currie, had been born in 1840 and would attain his majority in a couple of years. Dora had married – after a long-fought-for marriage to the Rev. William H. Clinton Chester (her family disapproved of his slender means). They had married in August 1837, but by April 1841 Dora was burying her husband. They had had no children. Little Orphan Aussie Jane might have provided an opportunity too good for Dora to pass up. A small child to call her own.

The Curries are a branch of the family with very little archival resources. Charlotte had not lived to old age, but she had daughters – and the Smiths, as a group, seem a family that held very tightly on to items like letters and diaries, portraits and memories. So what happened to the items that Charlotte produced or received, and could figure to have been given over to any or all of her daughters – akin to the family letters amassed by Emma Austen, Fanny Seymour, and Maria Lady Seymour.

As you might guess, anyone with further information, please do contact me!

Richard’s 1859 diary speaks to his meeting the child. He was enchanted with his Australian niece, Jane Seymour.

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Faint Faces Found

June 13, 2021 at 8:36 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , )

I’ve been searching for several things lately, and usually come across something completely different in that kind of situation. Friday night proved to be no different.

I’ve been reading through old letters, first from 1840 (to go with a diary I’ve transcribed); then those from 1836 – a momentous, tragic year for the Smiths & Goslings, because of the deaths (by drowning) of Augusta and Henry Wilder, in a boat accident. I have recently come across two *new* letters, written in the aftermath of this family tragedy.

1840 was another year of loss – with the death of sister Charlotte Currie. And it was in the hope of (always a hope!)  finding more letters from Charlotte that I began reading letters to Charlotte, written predominantly by eldest sister Augusta Wilder.

It was while looking for any “hit” with Charlotte and Arthur Currie, that I searched for one of several addresses at which Arthur lived – and found that his old home, High Elms (Watford), is currently up for sale! It’s a MASSIVE 14-bedroom (7 bath) Grade II listed house:

Arthur settled here long after Charlotte’s death, bringing their children and his second wife, Dora (née Seymour; the widowed Mrs. Chester). The interiors are stunning (if “empty” looking in these photos). Take a peek now (before the listing disappears) – although the price is liable to keep it on the market for a bit of time – asking £7.5 million (it does come with 10 acres of land).

[Be advised: Arthur Currie of High Elms is far different from General Sir Arthur Currie.]

When High Elms was still called “Garston Manor” (from the 1890s until 2010), it was featured in a 2011 episode of Country House Rescue, the series hosted by Ruth Watson. I must see if I can find that particular episode…

Friday, I had also been trying to locate the diary (sounds like there is only one, but one never knows!) of Jane Eliza Currie – the wife of Captain Mark John Currie, Royal Navy, Arthur’s cousin. The one diary – though (great pity!) I’ve not been able to locate images of its written contents – covers the couple’s voyage in 1829 and stay (through 1832) in Australia — in quite a new settlement at the time, which is why she as well as he comes up in searches. I’ve had a brief look through Smith & Gosling letters and early diaries for Miss Wood (I don’t know if she went by ‘Jane’ or ‘Eliza’ – I find people referring to her by each of those; but what did she call herself??) and/or the Mark Curries Junior. Not successful there. Being out of England until their return in the 1830s, means there’s no hope (or very little) that Arthur and Charlotte would be mentioned by Jane Eliza – but one never knows. It is a new avenue to take a look down. What I have found is located at the Mitchell Library, NSW. And Currie just is not an easy name to search for — so much overtaken by a certain “General Sir”.

I have also been trying to remember who I had found – among the grandchildren? (not sure now) – whose death had been looked into via a coroner’s inquest. An accidental overdose. I remember a woman… Laudanum or Morphine… but the WHO escapes me, as does the date (19th century still? Early 20th century?). I thought maybe one in the Capel Cure family – and that was how I located my *FIND*!

Of Mary Gosling’s three children – Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith; Mary Charlotte Smith; Augusta Elizabeth Smith – two married children of Capel Cure and Frederica Cheney. The Cure siblings make for heartbreaking reading in retrospect – five of the eleven children died before the age of 21. The main seat of the Cures, Blake Hall, is very familiar from the letters and diaries of the Smiths and Goslings. Of course Mary (Lady Smith) never lived to see these marriages of her children – she died in 1842 and the first marriage, Sir Charles Smith to Agnes Cure, occurred in February 1855. The next to marry, in 1857, were younger sister Augusta Smith and the Rev. Lawrence George Capel Cure.

[Elder sister Mary married in 1861, Major Gaspard Le Marchant Tupper, Royal Artillery.]

Since much literature that mentions the Capel Cure children does not mention all of them, I will list them here. You can find them in the 2nd volume of The Visitation of England and Wales (same place the Smiths of Suttons turns up):

  • Robert
  • Henry (died aged 7)
  • Frederica (died aged 10)
  • Alfred [the photographer]
  • (Rev.) Edward
  • Rosamund
  • (Rev.) Lawrence [married Augusta Smith]
  • Emmeline (died aged 19)
  • Agnes [married Sir Charles Smith]
  • Charles (died aged 8)
  • Frederick (died aged 14)

I have known of the photography work done – early in the “life” of photography – by Alfred Capel Cure. I have come across images of trees or estates – but Friday I spotted a LOT of PEOPLE. And when one album, digitized by UCLA, popped up a photograph of a portrait of “Sir C. Smith” by Ercole (whom I knew to have drawn Lawrence Cure), I slowed to savor each of the gentry portraits in Alfred’s album.

WITH SUCCESS!

A couple of photographs of Charles — whom I often still refer to, as his mother Mary did, as “Little Charles”. Mary, of course, was differentiating husband from son; I, on the other hand, know the son through the mother – and he was a child and teen in Mary’s lifetime. (Charles was born in 1827.) At least one album photograph ID’s him. Also ID’ed in a photograph is “Lady Smith and Miss Cure” – Alfred’s sisters, Agnes and Rosamund. Agnes and/or Rosumond (the only surviving girls) feature in a couple of group portraits, one of which surely includes Lawrence – it so resembles his Ercole portrait.

There are pictures of the exteriors of Suttons, Blake Hall, Badgers (a Cheney estate, which came into Alfred Capel Cure’s possession). So many familiar names. So many unknown faces.

Among the familiar names a faint and faded face identified as Lady Marian Alford. Lady Marianne Compton, as she originally was, was the eldest daughter of Spencer 2nd Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s cousin) and Margaret Clephane. There are a LOT of images – painted and photographed – of Lady Marian (Viscountess Alford) out there.

Alas, no one identified as Mr. and Mrs. Leigh or their children … – which might have unearthed some new images of Emma and James Edward Austen.

But, among the faint and faded, came a duo identified as “the Misses Smith” and dated “Badger, 9 Nov:r 1854“. And I knew I had found something “Completely New”.

I usually have a “feeling” about a *FIND* – including excitement and sureness of the “who” or “what”. I don’t know WHY, but I have almost no feelings on this portrait. Except of loving the sweet faces I see.

Maybe it’s because, named “the Misses Smith” – I’m not sure who is who.

think the elder sister is standing; the younger sister is seated. The standing sister is smiling, broadly. A ring and what looks to be a charm bracelet dangle are on her visible right hand. Her left hand rests on the chair in which her sister is seated. This seated sister has a quieter look, as if not quite “ready” for the camera. And yet, there is an attractive wistfulness that becomes haunting the more one looks.

When they posed at Badger, Mary Charlotte Smith was soon, at the end of November 1854, to celebrate her 26th birthday. Augusta Elizabeth Smith was a few months past her summer celebration of turning 24-years-old. That it IS them is not in doubt – the diary of their uncle, the Rev. Richard Seymour, notes welcoming them to Kinwarton just after their stay at Badger.

The sepia coloring of the album’s print continues strong, fading only along the lines of the gowns and around their hands. It is a remarkable souvenir of their day, (or stay), at Badger during the time of their brother’s engagement.

 

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Aunt Emma’s Sidney House, Southampton

June 6, 2021 at 11:57 am (diaries, estates, history, places) (, , )

Found, yesterday, a few indicators hitherto unseen, concerning SIDNEY HOUSE (also spelled Sydney House), with the address of Peartree Green, Southampton. The first comes in an article by Jessica Vale (1983; Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeology Society). Vale’s “Country Houses of Southampton” looks at aspects of several properties with familiar-to-me names – given that the Smiths of Suttons and 6 Portland Place had many ties to this general area of Hampshire. But for my purposes today it was the MAP that called upon my deepest attention:

There, indicated by a numbered “square” dot was Aunt Emma’s SIDNEY!

I can see the network of neighbors all around her, and will be better placed for putting names or “estates” into LOCATION, whenever I get back to work on Aunt Emma Smith’s diaries. (I find her looping handwriting a challenge at present.)

I had been hoping (once again…) to find drawings or photos of Sidney. Still hunting, I’m afraid. BUT: I did find the next best thing: a newspaper ad, which describes the house and its grounds.

Advertised as “TO BE LET” in the Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle on 28 April 1823, the area around the house is tantalizingly portrayed as,

“near Peartree Green, Southampton, — SYDNEY HOUSE, with Lawns, Shrubberies, capital Gardens, Hot and Green-houses, and a few Acres of Land, &c”

The dwelling consists of….

  • an entrance hall;
  • small library;
  • dining room;
  • anti, and large drawing-rooms;
  • three best bed-rooms and dressing rooms;
  • and six servants’ rooms

Detached, one finds…

  • the kitchen;
  • offices;
  • laundry;
  • brew-house;
  • and four-stall stable, coach-house, harness room, &c &c.

I am uncertain as to weather Aunt Emma answered this ad – or leased it later. Mentions of Sidney crop up in her 1826 diary – but, with the exception of a travel diary (trips in 1823 and 1825) no earlier domestic diary has yet been located for Miss Smith of Sidney. Family letters dating to her tenure at Sidney go back only to 1828.

Emma Smith’s father, Joshua Smith of Erlestoke Park (Wiltshire), once the MP for Devizes, had died in 1819. Emma, as the remaining unmarried sister among Joshua’s four “equal” heiresses, was quick to remove herself from Erlestoke. Family letters comment on the bare walls – devoid of Emma’s artwork, as she packed up. The tense situation was not helped by Miss Smith’s relationship with Amelia Macklin.

____________________________________________________

Further Reading:

____________________________________________________

If Aunt Emma DID respond to this ad, it was a Mr. Mecey (“All letters to be post-paid”!), Estate Agent and Auctioneer, Southampton that one applied “For particulars, and Tickets to view.”

Vale’s article includes, at the end, an appendix of the houses in the article. Sidney House is listed as “built c1790, demolished after war damage” in World War II. It does not give a year of demolition. I had once hoped that I had perhaps spotted SIDNEY when in the area some years ago. Guess not. . . A legacy report cites evidence on the 1949 Ordinance Survey Map of its demolishment by 1949, and confirms that two WWII bombs hit the general site.

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Fanny Palmer Austen aboard HMS Namur

June 2, 2021 at 12:02 pm (books, entertainment, history, jane austen) (, , , , )

Author Sheila Johnson Kindred announces a fascinating new exhibit at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent (England): HIDDEN HEROINES: The Untold Stories of Women of the Dockyard. The exhibit runs 29 May 2021 through 31 October 2021.

With covid concerns, Hidden Heroines will also have an online component. Listen to curator Alexandra Curson’s remarks on the importance of uncovering remarkable ladies who lived in the past. (Embedded in the main website page, or via Youtube.)

“Naval history, in general, tends to focus a lot on the male roles, and the women get sort of sidelined – but, the female roles were just as important, if not more important in some respects.”

— Leanne Clark, Master Ropemaker

Areas of study include, Woman at the Dockyard; Women in the Home; Women at Sea; Women in War; Women in Military Service; Post War Women; Women of Today. You will also find “asides” which highlight Louisa Good (1842-1924); Elizabeth Proby (1777-1811); Lady Poore (1859-1941); Fanny Palmer Austen (1789-1814); and Hannah Snell (1723-1792), known as James Gray, who spent more than four years in the marines. The others I will leave YOU to discover.

You will readily recognize Fanny Austen (upper right), if know the cover image of Sheila Johnson Kindred’s book, Jane Austen’s Transatlantic Sister: The Life and Letters of Fanny Palmer Austen. Sheila’s book came out in 2017 (McGill-Queen’s UP), and is now available also in paperback and eBook. See a sample on books.google.

Join Sheila Johnson Kindred, on 23 June 2021, for a “Zoom” event at 7 PM BST (British Summer Time is five hours ahead of US’s EDT), when she discusses, “Fanny Palmer Austen: Challenges and Achievements in Making a Family Home onboard the HMS Namur ” (reserve space for this free event – donations accepted! – through the main Chatham website).

In the meanwhile, you can read writings on the Austens – links included through Sheila’s website.

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Are you a fan of FANS?

May 23, 2021 at 9:26 am (entertainment, europe, fashion, history, london's landscape) (, , )

If you are a fan, a collector, or a costumer looking for that last accessory, check out the ONLINE offerings of The Fan Museum in Greenwich, England. For those in England, the plan is to reopen (hopefully) near the end of July 2021.

Can you GUESS why I adore the above fan??

It’s the eye cut-outs! Can’t you just see some coquette batting her eyelashes at some dashing young man, hidden behind her fan?? (I feel like I’ve been reading romances…, which I haven’t.) Click the picture to enlarge the photo.

The Fan Museum has partnered with Google Arts & Culture for a presentation space allowing many online exhibitions. One of the interesting things here is the grouping by material. Do you wish to see only Paper fans? Those made with Pearl, Bone or Nacre ribs? Do you wish to reproduce (or do you have your eye on a fan to buy?) and want to see what was “in fashion” in the 18th versus the 19th century? There are exhibitions for all of those. Even samples from “today”!

The Do-it-Yourself person will find (once they reopen, of course) that FAN-MAKING Workshops are offered with great regularity: the first Saturday afternoon of the month. Bring material (wrapping paper, for instance); sticks are supplied; as is coffee/tea and biscuits (how very British). Current price (May 2021): £40 (plus booking fee).

See the Museum’s own “online exhibitions.”

The Fan Museum’s SHOP is open 24/7 for those shopping online. Find Fans; Books; Jewelry; Stationery; Gifts.

Read the Regency Explorer” blog post on SPY FANS, which introduced me to the Fan Museum.

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Browse Books @ Toadstool Bookshops

May 2, 2021 at 6:14 pm (books, entertainment) (, , )

I am in *LOVE* with the website (how is I’ve never found it before) for Toadstool Bookshops — three shops, in Keene, Nashua, and Peterborough, New Hampshire. For readers outside of New England – there is the online cart. They also offer eBooks from Kobo and downloadable audio books from Libro.

I am in the midst of perusing the “shelf” for History/ Europe/ Great Britain/ Georgian Era (1714-1837). I rather like my “history” on the scholarly side – and Toadstool is introducing me to several titles that are due out in the next few months, and a couple that are new but “out”.

Sample a few that caught my eye:

  • Maggie Kilbey, Music-making in the Hertfordshire Parish, 1760-1870 “Maggie Kilbey explores attempts to improve parochial music-making over the following century and the factors that played a part in their success or failure. Using Hertfordshire as a basis, original research by this respected author and historian uses a wide range of documentary evidence to reveal a complicated picture of influence and interaction between the gentry, clergymen, and their parishioners.” [256 pp]
  • Julienne Gehrer (intro), Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen’s Kitchen. “Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is a remarkable artifact, a manuscript cookbook featuring recipes and remedies handwritten over thirty years. Austen fans will spot the many connections between Martha’s book and Jane Austen’s writing, including dishes such as white soup from Pride and Prejudice.” [312 pp; August 2021].
  • Jeremy Smilg, The Jews of England and The Revolutionary Era: 1789-1815. “Drawing on a rich range of sources, the book examines the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment in England. It breaks new ground by using government archives to demonstrate that these negative representations only had a very limited impact on the implementation of the Alien Act of 1793. This book understands the fears of the communal elite but also argues that the controversial views of some Jewish dissidents were more widely held than previously considered.” [260 pp; June 2021]
  • Susan Sloman, Gainsborough in London. “Thomas Gainsborough’s (1727–88) London years, from 1774 to 1788, were the pinnacle and conclusion of his career. They coincided with the establishment of the Royal Academy, of which Gainsborough was a founding member, and the city’s ascendance as a center for the arts. This is a meticulously researched and readable account of how Gainsborough designed his home and studio and maintained a growing schedule of influential patrons, making a place for himself in the art world of late-18th-century London. New material about Gainsborough’s technique is based on examinations of his pictures and firsthand accounts by studio visitors.” [412 pp]
  • Pat Rogers, The Poet and the Publishers: The Case of Alexander Pope, Esq., of Twickenham versus Edmund Curll, Bookseller in Grub Street. “The quarrel between the poet Alexander Pope and the publisher Edmund Curll has long been a notorious episode in the history of the book, when two remarkable figures with a gift for comedy and an immoderate dislike of each other clashed publicly and without restraint. However, it has never, until now, been chronicled in full. Ripe with the sights and smells of Hanoverian London,The Poet and Publisher details their vitriolic exchanges, drawing on previously unearthed pamphlets, newspaper articles, and advertisements, court and government records, and personal letters.” [448 pp; June 2021]
  • Michael D. Hattem, Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution. “Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.” This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens.” [320 pp]

At Toadstool Books you will find books you NEVER KNEW you wanted!

NB: In truth, I came across the ‘categories’ when I landed on Jeremy Smilg’s book; you might have to do the same – categories broaden out, but I can’t figure out how to “browse books” to start you off…  This is the best I can do:

Check out the lower LEFT corner (on a computer; not sure about other internet devices) for the “tree” of categories. This might be the BEST to change categories:

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Carte de Visite Photographers, UK, 1840-1940

April 26, 2021 at 7:43 pm (entertainment, fashion, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Several years ago, I came across a GOOD STASH of Carte de Visite portraits belonging to the Smith and Gosling family (most dating, as you might guess, to the 1860s and 1870s). There were albums, put together by the daughters of Spencer Smith of BrooklandsDora Spencer-Smith and her sister Isabella Spencer-Smith. Alas! the same “old” sittings I’d l-o-n-g seen of Emma and Edward Austen Leigh. But several of the Smith siblings (and even some Gosling grandchildren) were new to me. Thank goodness that Dora and Isabella, along with painting borders on many pages, thought to identify the sitters! Sitters included all the Austen Leigh siblings; many “in-laws” (or to-be “in-laws” of Seymours and Culme-Seymours. The *thrill* for me was to see so many photographs of the Spencer-Smiths, children of Spencer and Frances (neé Seymour).

Frances was the sister of two of Spencer’s brothers-in-law! The Rev. Richard Seymour (husband to Fanny Smith) and the Rev. Sir John Hobart Culme-Seymour (husband to Maria Louisa Smith).

I saw, for the FIRST TIME, images of Spencer and his sister Sarah Eliza (Lady Le Marchant, wife of Sir Denis Le Marchant). The time period was, sadly, too late to have images of my diarist Mary Lady Smith (neé Gosling) or the Smith sisters Charlotte (Mrs. Arthur Currie) and Augusta (Mrs. Henry Watson Wilder). Augusta had died in 1836 (along with Henry); Charlotte in 1840; Mary in 1842. Mamma (Mrs. Charles Smith; the original ‘Augusta’ – and there are lots in this family named AUGUSTA, after her), too, died before the general age of Carte de Visite photography.

Fanny Seymour – Emma’s middle sister – however I had seen already, in an 1850s “outdoor” photograph. There was a dispute as to the sitters in the picture. The archive thought it Sir John, Lady Seymour [Maria], and family. BUT: the children fit FANNY’s family more than her sister’s. An older daughter, two younger daughters, an unknown man (probably a son). I posed the probability that this photograph showed the Seymours of Kinwarton. And the albums vindicated that supposition!

It was the albums that ID’ed Fanny in a couple of lovely informal portraits, as well as a more standard, badly faded, Carte de Visite. The albums that showed the two youngest throughout their childhood and growing into young womanhood. The albums that allowed a name to be put upon the unknown man (yes, a son). Indisputable proof that the 1850s photograph showed the SEYMOURS of Kinwarton, rather the CULME-SEYMOURS of Gloucester and Northchurch.

Less successful, as far as identification went, was the pile of individual Cartes de Visite. Some had the same “view” as pasted into an album (or two). They were easy. I was pretty sure I had spotted a wonderful head and shoulders view of MARIA (Lady Seymour), mainly because there was a “companion” of Sir John – and he was recognizable from other photographs. The rear of both had the same PHOTOGRAPHER’s STUDIO. This convinced me that Maria was indeed the Lady Louisa Seymour held, in two studio views, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The photographer in that case: Camille Silvy. (Though it still puzzles me that he would put on her picture “Lady Louisa Seymour”; see my past blog post about the ins and outs of titles and first name.)

So wonderful to SEE Maria, rather than an artist’s interpretation:

Maria Smith

Her portrait miniature (above), by Sir William Charles Ross, was sold at auction some years ago; its background is so over-painted that the painting of it is generally more noticeable (to me) than the figure. If only they had left it alone (a large picture hat must have been painted out). John’s companion, painted about the same time, I have not seen (or found). Family letters discuss Maria’s portrait at length, including her SITTING to Ross – and Mamma thought the portrait “very like”. The ultimate compliment!

[The opposite, of course, was that the viewer thought a portrait, “NOT very like”.]

The *bonus* with the single Cartes de Visite, was the ability to see the REAR of each photo! Few identifications of sitter (Boo!). The photographer’s studio and other such identifying information – such *riches* – were present, and something I always have wanted to collate and put into a blog post.

NOW I may not have to do as much “digging”…

It was while searching for something completely different that I came across a website with a LENGTHY photographer LIST – a list of those men and women working as Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland,1840-1940.

There’s a “date your old photographs wizard” (I haven’t yet tried it), but REALLY enjoyed the summary of how the PHYSICAL photo – and yes counting clothes, hair, and props, but looking at the photo artwork and mount in particular. Biographies of photographers (a growing source of information); even some examples of a given photographer’s work. I do not know why (it could be my browser), but I cannot get the LONG list to highlight a searched-for name. Do scroll down, if the same happens to you. (For instance, I searched for SILVY – and he IS there in their list.)

A great resource to add to my “UK Archives Online” page, to which I have been adding many online sources beyond the traditional county “archives” catalogue.

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The Gender of Nouns

April 24, 2021 at 11:38 pm (history, jane austen, jasna) (, , , , )

In the conference JANE AUSTEN’s FRENCH CONNECTION, hosted jointly by JASNA Regions New York Metro and New Jersey, over the weekend of April 17 & 18 – one participant brought up the use of the word AUTHOR and AUTHORESS as regards JANE AUSTEN. Specifically, in a letter to James Stanier Clarke, and brother Henry Austen’s “Biographical Sketch.” We must, of course, also consider the dedication of Emma to the Prince Regent.

  • click the BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH link to read Henry’s original, in the 1818 edition of Northanger Abbey (vol. I)

The very TITLE of Henry Austen’s biographical sketch announces to Austen’s readership that he was presenting, for the first time, the “Biographical Sketch of THE AUTHOR” of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The edition, published posthumously, came out in four volumes (two volumes per novel).

  • Austen’s early novel, never published in her lifetime, had been picked up by Crosby & Co. – for which they paid her £10. It languished upon the proverbial shelf. Austen actually repaid the £10, thereby regaining the rights to the publication of her own manuscript. Read more about Northanger Abbey‘s history at JASNA.org.

Like many authors, Austen published anonymously – Sense and Sensibility (1811) appearing as “BY A LADY“; subsequent work appeared as the latest publication “by the Author of Sense and Sensibility” – with successive title pages emphasizing the authorship of the well received Pride and Prejudice.

The brief audience comment during the weekend conference made me think about the “sex” of nouns. Of course in English, (unlike other languages), words have no gender, are “sexless” if I may so term them. No die Welt (the world [feminine] or der Mond [the moon [masculine]) or das Mädchen [which is cheating, for it it “neuter” as opposed to male or female, although it indicates a ‘girl‘ or ‘young woman‘].

What English does have are words like author-authoress; poet-poetess; actor-actress. With the exception of the last, which continues in usage, ARE there many professions that designate a male or female practitioner? I rather wonder if those once in existence, having “fallen out of usage,” sound now so unusual because they were never much IN use?

OR, I wonder, DID they arise by somewhat pejorative?

Take “writer” – no ‘sex’, masculine or feminine, can be attributed to that task.

We have the term “knitter” – which certainly has undergone a change in the sex of those practicing the craft. Yet, despite the predominance of it as a “‘home craft’ among females” nowadays, there exists no “knitteress” or “knittrix” in the English language. One who knits is a knitter.

I go back to German, where it seems (German speakers could tell me if this still holds, in the second decade of the 21st century) MANY nouns had its male/female counterpart: Student / Studentin; Professor / Professorin; Schüler / Schülerin; Arzt / Ärztin; Doktor / Doktorin; Schriftsteller / Schriftstellerin; you get my drift.

English does have holdovers, like Executor / Executrix.

Paintrix comes to mind, but is it a word? Does anyone describe the likes of Freda Kahlo as a “paintress”? I don’t think so…

Photographer.
Cinematographer.
Videographer.

I might give you SALESPERSON, which has definitely evolved from Salesman/Saleswoman.

No one calls a female Singer a Songstress.

Professor.
Teacher.
Construction Worker.
Operator (as in telephone).
Assistant.
Banker; Bank Teller.
Writer.

I will even make a case for the “sex” of the WORD Secretary. Now quite outmoded (in favor of Administrative Assistant), but, once, pretty singularly A MALE occupation, before becoming dominated by FEMALES. And we all know how a profession drops in “prestige” once women enter that workforce. I’m not going down that lane in this post…

I do recognize that British Politics has retained its Private Secretary role; and in the U.S. we still designate office holders, such as the Secretary of War, Secretary of State, etc.

But most, hearing the word SECRETARY, will pull up an image from films… Always efficient; sometimes button-upped and bespectacled. Often QUITE good-looking when she takes off her glasses and lets down her pinned-up hair.

But, let’s get back to JANE AUSTEN.

In the dedication of Emma to the Prince Regent:

In BIG and BOLD lettering, Jane Austen is designated

The Author.

I’ve never thought about the word novelist – did it have a pejorative sense when it was first ‘invented’, in order to denigrate female writers of novels? (Must look that one up.)

***

SEE LETTER 106 (2 Sept 1814) – which has Jane Austen telling Martha Lloyd that she has not forgotten Martha’s Bath Friends, Captain and Mrs. Deans Dundas, for “their particular claim to my Gratitude as an Author.” Le Faye assumes it must reflect a person – ie, Captain Dundas – useful to her naval research, but note Austen’s word THEIR. As unmistakeable as her use of the designation AUTHOR in the same sentence.

HENRY Austen’s letters to/from John Murray – see this blog: http://www.strangegirl.com/emma/letters.php

Ah yes, Stanier Clarke’s letter in which she uses the term “authoress,” dated 11 Dec 1815: “the most unlearned, & unformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.” Surely, Austen is toying with her correspondent. SHE DOES echo Murray’s own phrase “Authoress of Emma” in an 1816 “reply” to Murray she herself pens. BUT: is any tongue-in-cheek joke meant — considering the letter is dated, 1 April (ie, April Fools Day).

*

“He is a Rogue of Course, But a Civil One”

— Jane Austen, referring to John Murray

letter to Cassandra Austen; October 1816

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A History of the Harp

March 25, 2021 at 3:42 pm (entertainment, jasna, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

While writing my chapter for the edited book Women and Music in Georgian Britain (soon to be under review), I found this FASCINATING video by Simon Chadwick, “The Erard Grecian pedal harp, and the history of the harp in Scotland. Talk at Hospitalfield House

Simon Chadwick’s YouTube channel gives listeners the opportunity to HEAR several harps. Tune in!

In “The Erard Grecian Pedal Harp” lecture, Chadwick mentions Margaret Douglas Maclean Clephane (after 1815, Lady Compton; from 1827 until her untimely early death, Lady Northampton). With her marriage, Margaret became my diarist Emma Austen’s cousin. Also touched upon is Elizabeth Grant (the “Highland Lady”); and the daughters of Sir Walter Scott. For the last, because Chadwick’s talk slightly pre-dates some *breaking* information from Abbotsford, see “A Tale of Two Harps” on the Abbotsford website (from 2016).

Because Chadwick’s is a filmed talk, the amount of information given out is outstanding; and viewers get to see and hear so much. The portrait of Margaret Compton, which he shows on the screen, you’ll find on my PORTRAITS page. To read more about Margaret herself, and her harp “recital” at Castle Ashby in 1815, see my article “Pemberley’s Welcome: or, An Historical Conjecture upon Elizabeth Darcy’s Wedding Journey,” published in JASNA Peruasions On-Line.

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