Researching Arthur Henry Austen-Leigh

January 30, 2009 at 12:37 pm (people) (, )


I have visited several times the webpage dedicated to presenting information (and unearthing more) about the somewhat enigmatic Arthur Henry Austen-Leigh, son of Emma and James-Edward. The Rev. A.H. Austen-Leigh served as rector of Winterbourne in South Gloucestershire from 1875-1890. It is probable that he was named after his two uncles, Arthur Currie (Charlotte Smith’s husband) and Henry Wilder (Augusta Smith’s husband) — though there are several Henrys in the extended family! I will have to look through Emma’s diaries and see who stood sponsors to the baby (born in February 1836, just a few months before Henry Wilder’s death).

I contacted John, the webpage administrator, because of their wonderful listing of Mamma’s Grandchildren – in total 51! I presume the list was written up by Emma, as it resides at the Hampshire Record Office, among the Austen-Leigh papers. Mary’s three children appear with Cholmeley (Emma’s first son) at the head of the list.

No. 32 New Norfolk St., was the London residence at which the Smiths resided when little Charles was born; No. 6 Portland Place (another London address) was the residence of Mamma Smith – but Mary and Charles stayed often, even though Mary’s own family, the Goslings, resided at No. 5! Only little Augusta was born at the Smiths’ country estate of Suttons.

Interesting to see how Spencer – about whom so little is really known, as far as his day-to-day life goes (other than as commented on by his sister Emma) – moved around, even after purchasing (I presume; though perhaps he did lease the property?) his Hampshire estate of Brooklands. Some addresses have stronger Seymour ties (Frances wanting to be with her own family at times of giving birth?), for instance Cadlington. Their first child, Spencer Joshua (undoubtedly named for his deceased uncle, Charles Joshua Smith, and great-grandfather, Joshua Smith; as well as his father) – who did not live to see his fifth birthday, was born at No. 6 Portland Place. While Eleanor (towards the bottom of the list) was born in Brighton!

Two books are online that may be of use to those interested in Arthur Henry: his brother Augustus wrote a history of King’s College, Cambridge; and the biography of Augustus edited by their brother William.

I must say I particularly enjoyed the wedding announcements included on the A.H. Austen-Leigh site — how very “society pages” in the likes of The New York Times! Pity there were no such expansive write-ups in the 1820s…

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