Dramatis Personae

November 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm (people)

A new addition: listings of the various people found in the diaries of Mary Gosling/Lady Smith. This is taken from a rudimentary list I began making a couple years ago; I have not yet done the same with Charles Smith’s diaries or Emma Smith/Emma Austen’s diaries, never mind the family letters…

peopleSeeing names gathered together gives not only an impression of the vast research to be undertaken, but the large circle of people one woman encountered during her lifetime. Some will be familiar to readers of Jane Austen’s letters; others are “famous” singers and artists; many are neighbors, especially in Essex, around Suttons; some are yet to be fully identified while many have produced at least some identifying information. The dates equal the year(s) in which Mary mentions them.

As usual, my plea is to anyone with information or who can provide basic identification. Deciphering handwriting is a difficult task, and sometimes I get the name slightly wrong and have to guess. (Mary’s spelling is quite tidy and consistent, as is her hand – which is not the case with Charles! — thankfully his diaries came after hers…) Emma and Mrs Smith often provide a bit of insight as to names and relationships of neighbors and friends, and theirs were the materials I transcribed in person rather than via microfilm. While having items ‘in the flesh’ sometimes made deciphering easier, these are items I have no images of and therefore cannot at present go back and consult.

The most difficult task is to take someone who is a mere Mr, Mrs or Miss Lastname and give them some life history! However, the Smiths and Goslings did not live in a vacuum; their friends, servants, neighbors, national newsmakers all contributed to their lives, and the one way their diaries make sense is to flesh out the people they encountered and lived among.

Then there are those family members who exist as little more than birth-marriage-death dates… I firmly believe many more have left behind diaries or letters that just need to be unearthed!

The links to the relevant pages are supplied to the right of this window.

Permalink 1 Comment

Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008 at 11:42 am (books, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , )

This year there is much to give thanks for: the ability to pay mounting bills, and successful stays in hospital chief among them. And – as always – for this project, which continues to unfold.

Just yesterday evening I found a useful series of books (alas two volumes are missing; both of them waited for with baited breath! for they would contain ‘Cunliffe’ and ‘Smith’) = page scans at books.google of the Graves & Cronin 1899-1901 texts of A HISTORY OF THE WORKS OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, the originals in the collection of the terrific New York Public Library.

In the authoritative text Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (Yale: 2000), author David Mannings relies on Graves and Cronin as well as The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, by Leslie and Taylor (vol I here). THIS book had a handful of references to GOSLINGS, but the most intriguing was notice of a portrait of a generic “Mrs Gosling” (see page 388).

So the thrill of finding Graves and Cronin’s books are that there seem to be two portraits, one less fully known to them, of Mrs Goslings. Alas it is the less-fully-known (wouldn’t you know…) which concerns us here – for the portrait is said to have been of William Gosling’s mother!

Here is the description (Graves & Cronin: bottom, p. 373):

Elizabeth, daughter of William Houghton; married, November 3, 1763, Robert Gosling, of Hassobury, Essex, son [sic] of Sir Francis Gosling, the banker; died June 6, 1811.
Sat in February, 1761, March, 1762, and August, 1764.

(Robert Gosling was of course the brother of Sir Francis.)

VERY intriguing to wonder whether Sir Joshua – who painted Sir Ellis and Lady Cunliffe (Margaret Elizabeth’s parents, William’s future in-laws) – could have brought the Goslings and Cunliffes into the same social sphere. Although Sir Ellis, of course, died the year Eliza Gosling was born, Lady Cunliffe lived on and off with her children and grandchildren; and she had a documented friendship with Sir Joshua (see his pocket books). That could mean that William and Eliza meet from childhood onwards!

Anyway, the volumes so far found online are A-CD-GH-L; and M-R. Once again I ask: Where is this portrait???? [update Nov 2017:] It’s in the volume IV that includes Addenda! see below.


The Royal Academy has an interesting introduction to Sir Joshua’s pocket books — ridiculous to read that they paid (in 1873) a mere £29 10s for them! (I assume the meaning of £29.10 – or has the original cost been translated into today’s currency of pounds and pence??)

For more on Sir Joshua and Lady Cunliffe see my post.

[Photo of a page from Sir Joshua’s pocket book; from Graves and Cronin, vol D-G.]

November 2017 – I’m sure I’ve come across this volume before, but only now do I update this post. Interesting to read, now that I’ve studied so many family photos, of the letter from Mrs. Robert Gosling (née Eleanor Spencer Smith).

Eleanor wrote, on 5 July 1900, concerning the portrait mentioned on page 373: “I have ascertained that the picture of Mrs. Gosling, who sat in 1761-1764, is that of Elizabeth (née Midwinter), wife of Francis Gosling, banker, and afterwards [page 1323] knighted. It is in the possession of R.H. Gosling, Esq.” (identified as Richard Henry Gosling, at The Manor House, Waltham)

So there goes all of my presumptions!

I need to remind myself what Mannings wrote of this piece.

The illustration of Mrs. Gosling, who’s been ID’ed as the wife of Francis Gosling, the son of Sir Francis, is far in the back, facing page 1568. This volume features not only addenda, but also exhibition catalogues and even Sir Joshua’s diary. Its title page claims it to be volume IV in A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Davison Genealogy

November 17, 2008 at 11:08 pm (people) (, , , , , , )

Here are the facts:

yelloly1In the introduction to A PICTURE HISTORY OF THE GRENVILLE FAMILY OF ROSEDALE HOUSE, by young Mary Yelloly, the mother of Mary’s father is identified as JANE DAVISON. Jane has brothers Nicholas (a surgeon with the Royal Navy; 1733-1811) and Nathaniel (1737-1809; he accompanied Edward Wortley-Montagu abroad). Both of the brothers died in Alnwick, Northumberland. A relative (who published family memoirs) is Florence Horatia Nelson Suckling, named for the family’s connection with Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Now Mary Gosling has a Davison with a Nelson connection: Nelson’s friend and companion Alexander Davison, who married William Gosling’s sister Harriot. Alexander Davison had Northumberland connections as well. I am convinced Alexander Davison, father to the above Alexander, and George Davison of Little-Mill, father of Jane, Nathaniel and Nicholas were related. Just too much coincidence – of name, of locale, of Nelson.

Any help would be appreciated.

Permalink Leave a Comment

9 November 1829

November 9, 2008 at 8:16 pm (a day in the life) (, , , , )

On this day, Charles Smith writes in his pocket diary: “Came up from Tring to London with Mary & the two children–”

The printed diary marks this day – a Monday that year – as a Bank Holiday; the Smiths, however, had been on holiday and on the continent. A whirlwind tour of the Rhine and part of Switzerland that leaves me breathless every time I read about it.

rhine-fallsIn Mary’s diary, the trip is a litany of places; but at least she took time to write about “having seen for the first time the beautiful scenery of the Rhine”! As a lover of all things deutsch, I willingly listen to everyone’s reaction to the likes of a Grand Tour of the German Lands (so few English ventured in that direction… All the more reason to adore Mrs Trollope’s Vienna and the Austrians (1838) vol. 1 [Bentley, London]; vol. 1 &  vol. 2 [Galignani, Paris]). While Mary’s jottings sounded sparse, little did I know until I read through Charles’ description of the trip just how little could actually be recorded: his diary lists only the places by name!

So how lovely to recently come across a short account left by young Drummond Smith of this very trip (Drummond and Spencer accompanied Sir Charles and Lady Smith). What incessant rain they encountered! And that made me really wonder about nineteenth-century carriage travel – especially when seeing they donned “cloaks and umbrellas” for one entire day’s ride. And these poor drenched people on the road for twelve and fourteen hours! How Drummond howls about the state of some of the roads in the Low Countries, and the deadly pace of the horses (sometimes as little as five miles per hour). Food for thought, indeed…

Charles was not a well man, and he came home from this trip – as you read – to consult his London doctor, then spend a little time with the in-laws at Roehampton Grove. Winter is settling in by the time they return to Suttons, and Essex experiences a “fine frosty day” only ten days later.

The Smiths had left from the Tower on September 9, departing on the Steam Packet LORD MELVILLE. Two days before, Charles noted: “I came up to London & got the Passport, the Austrian Minister refused to sign it because it was obtained from the French and not from the English Minister.” Oh dear… Bureaucratic redtape! A more poignant entry the next day: “Mary and the children came up from Suttons, the little {ones} went on to Tring and were separated from their Mother for the first time–”

Drummond comments that in Aix la Chapelle they toasted Little Charles’ second birthday (September 15) with Champagne — which made them all sleep rather ill that night. Mary includes the news that “Several heavy storms” happened during the day. Drummond leaves to return to England in early October; he enters Cambridge University that fall. The trip ends for Mary and Charles on the 4th of November, and Charles draws this charming family portrait: “We arrived at Tring from London and found the dear children well and excessively improved especially the Baby whom I should not have recognized — Saw Emma’s Baby who with herself was thriving well — My Mother & Sisters were delightfully well & very glad to see us-”

Emma’s baby (her first), Cholmeley, was christened on the 6th and Charles stood godfather; the other godparents were Mrs Leigh Perrot and Mr Edward Knight, though both were “represented by deputy”. Mr Edward Austen christened his own son, at Tring Church.

By the way, Drummond was unimpressed by the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen (pictured; courtesy of www.ancestryimages.com); he thought they were not high enough and would benefit from being placed one on top of the other.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Mr Boudier Uncovered

November 8, 2008 at 10:33 am (people) (, , , , )

The Oxford Quarterly (1825), under preferments: “The Bishop of Gloucester has instituted the Rev. John Boudier, M.A. to the Rectory of Farmington, Gloucestershire, a dispensation having passed the Great Seal to enable him to hold that Living with the Vicarage of St Mary’s, Warwick.” Ah-ha! Sir Charles Joshua Smith studied with a Mr Boudier of Warwick; his brother Drummond studied with a Mr Boudier of Farmington. So, not only does Mr Boudier now gain a first name – he gains a vocation and a couple livings, including that of St Mary’s, Warwick.

I visited St. Mary’s in July 2007; what a beautiful church. And to have the organist practising that afternoon was a true boon. If only I had known then what I know now from A Pictorial & Descriptive Guide to Leamington Spa & Warwick (1900): “The six-light east window [of St Mary’s, Warwick] is modern, and was erected principally in memory of the Rev. John Boudier, vicar, 1815-72.” Having just been reading Emma’s diaries, I would never have put St. Mary’s Rev John Boudier and Charles’ Mr Boudier together: yet it all makes such plain good sense! Especially when Emma comments that they saw St Mary’s– with Mr Boudier. I initially took that comment to mean that Charles’ tutor was in tow, but the sentence takes on a whole new meaning: Mr Boudier was showing the Smiths his own church!

st-marys-seen-from-the_castleSt Mary’s dominates the city of Warwick, especially in this photograph (from their website), taken from Warwick Castle. The tomb of Fulke Greville and the Beauchamp Chapel are well worth seeing. The history of the area is well brought out in even the quickest tour around St Mary’s – from the tombs to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment’s chapel. I was fascinated, and even returned later in the day (I was only in Warwick, for my talk on Fanny Seymour and a peek at Richard Seymour’s diaries at the Warwickshire Record Office, for the weekend).

The Rev. John Boudier resigned from St. Mary’s – aged 90! The Antiquary (1871), published the year before Mr Boudier’s death had this announcement: “The ancient church of St. Michael, Warwick which is now used as a blacksmith’s shop [!!], is to be restored as a testimonial for the Rev. John Boudier, now resigning St Mary’s, at the age of 90, after sixty years’ service as vicar.”

Going through my newest set of letters, I find that Emma’s youngest brother Drummond is welcoming Tom Gosling, Mary’s youngest brother, to Mr Boudier’s Farmington establishment in February 1829. Tom has left Eton and he will enter Christ Church, Oxford in April 1831. So Mr Boudier had at least four Smith-Gosling sons as resident students (Spencer Smith studied with him as well).

One of the toughest tasks of deciphering the letters and diaries and untangling the lives of the Smiths and Goslings is identifying people whom they knew so well – too well, in fact, to really need to write much about them! So when someone is suddenly identified, it is a real thrill – and also means that some incident lightly passed over now takes on new significance. For instance, Richard Seymour also mentions Mr Boudier:

January 24, 1845.– Rode to Warwick to settle accounts of S.P.C.K. Then sat with Boudier who told me much of his sorrows … also his desire for many reasons to leave Warwick, and his wish that I would exchange with him. I do not think this can be. I shrink from it for many reasons, the vast responsibility, the difficulty, the labour of such a post. On the other hand, the field for good is large, and there would be good means of educating my boys. If the will of God plainly took me there, I do not think I should dislike it. But as I do not see this, I don’t think it will be. [eds: he declined both] [from The Nineteenth Century Country Parson, eds. Hart & Carpenter, p. 98-99]

Permalink Leave a Comment