Eliza Chute, part II

June 13, 2008 at 10:58 am (chutes of the vyne) (, , )

Was thinking that maybe some readers, unable or unwilling to afford Le Faye’s Chronology ($150!), might like to have a taste of Eliza Chute’s diary entries, especially those involving the Austins (as she always spelled the name).

On 15 October 1793, Eliza Smith married William Chute, MP and settled at The Vyne for the rest of her life. Her sister Augusta (the future Mrs Smith and mamma to Emma Austen-Leigh) stayed at The Vyne even after the rest of the family departed, as we see in Eliza’s diary entry for 21 October: ‘misty & foggy  mild  Papa Mama & Emma & Lord & Lady Compton went away early; they left Augusta with me.’ Papa and Mama were Joshua and Sarah Smith; Emma was the youngest sister; Lord and Lady Compton, the eldest sister and her husband (future 1st Marquess of Northampton).

Four days later we see ‘wedding visits’ from many neighbors: ‘rainy & windy. Mr Harwood Mr Austin, Lady & Miss Poole, Mr Poole, Mr Mrs & Miss Austen Mr & Mrs Lefroy Mrs Bramston in the morn. We dined at Mrs Brocas.’ I suspect here the first Mr Austin was James; and that Miss Austen was Cassandra. The Lefroys, of course, would be Jane’s friend, Anne Lefroy and her clergyman husband (the parents of Anna Austen Lefroy’s husband, Ben).

But in November we definitely see Jane in Eliza’s company: ‘much rain in the night  sunny high wind. Visited Miss Biggs, Mr & Mrs Lafroy [sic] out  Mr Mrs & Miss Austins  dined & supped at Mr Bramston’s; met Mr & Mrs Birch there  played at snip-snap  staid till 11.’ It is difficult to tell (sans punctuation!) whether Eliza indicates that she called on the Austens (as the ‘out’ comment for the Lefroys indicates), or whether all ‘dined & supped’ at the Bramstons, or even whether the Austens dined and she separately means to record that she (and presumably William Chute) supped at the Bramstons… I tend to think she returned calls, which would put her at Steventon on this day.

And there, in a nutshell, is the type of primary material I work with in order to piece together the lives of people living more than 200 years ago.

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