Freydis’ Family??

February 16, 2009 at 10:10 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

austen-desk-diary1Freydis Welland, daughter of Joan Austen-Leigh, published silhouettes cut by James-Edward Austen-Leigh in the book Life in the Country. Now comes some Austen journals, diaries from The British Library – but WHO are the silhouettes found on the covers???

Set for publication in mid-2009, guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The woman does not match that of Emma Austen-Leigh, for Joan included a silhouette described as Emma’s in her Persuasions article “My Aunt, Jane Austen” (nabbed from that site, it’s posted below).

I have always known I would have to contact the family — seeing Edward’s drawing of Stoneleigh Abbey, which was done during his 1833 tour taken with Emma and her family (the basis for my article in the upcoming issue of Persuasions [July 2009: this article is available online at]) included in Life in the Country, convinced me yet again of that task this past fall. But seeing these silhouettes!

emma-smith_silhouette1Once the camera came into being, there would have been little need to create silhouettes, so surely Edward and his sisters-in-law practiced making shades of family and friends during the 1820s and 30s, when all the siblings were together and the children were young.

And if the silhouettes are identified….Oh, happy day indeed!!

It is difficult not to wonder, Could the above show Fanny Seymour? Why her?? — There is something reminiscent of a portrait of her by Augusta, which I found in the collections at HRO in Winchester.

The man doesn’t look like a Smith — they all seem to have had quite prominent noses!


 (“Emma Smith,” from Joan Austen-Leigh’s Persuasions article)

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Robert Gosling’s Legacy

February 14, 2009 at 11:01 am (people) (, , )

Robert Gosling, Mary’s brother, studied to be a lawyer; he entered the family banking business, Gosling and Sharpe, some unspecified time before the death of his eldest brother (in 1834), according to the obituary of their father William. 

Robert died in August 1869, and I happened upon an article in The Law Times (though based on an article in The London Illustatrated News), which gives the contents of his will:

The will of Mr. Robert Gosling, banker, Fleet-street, and of Portland-place, and Botleys-park, Chertsey, Middlesex, has been proved in the London Court, under 700,000l. personally, the executors being Georgina Vere Gosling, his relict, and Robert Gosling and William Cunliffe Gosling, his sons. The will bears date April 13, 1864, and two codicils 1866 and 1868; and testator died at Botleys-park on the 12th ult., aged 74. He leaves to his wife the jewels and pearls,– the latter, after her decease, are to go to his eldest son; he also leaves her an immediate legacy of 1000l., an annuity of 1500l., and the interest of 100,000l. for her life, the principal, at her decease, to be divided among his four sons, William, Herbert, George, and Frederick; and to them he has left the sum of 240,000l., also 10,000l. bank stock, and 20,000l. stock in the South-Western Railway. His mansion and estate, Botleys-park, he leaves to his wife for her life; and it is his wish that his unmarried daughters should reside with their mother. The mansion, after her decease, he gives to his second son, William. Each of his married daughters having received 16,666l. as a marriage portion, he bequeaths the like sum to each of his two unmarried daughters. He has bequeathed to each of his four married daughters a further sum of 10,000l. There is a legacy to his sister, and to each of his godchildren who may be related to him a legacy of 50 guineas. To his partners Richard and Francis Gosling each 300l.; to Mr. Richard Gosling, jun., and Charles J. Sharpe, his partner, each 200l.; to each of his clerks in the banking-house, 50l. free of duty; to the porters, each 10l.; and legacies to his servants. He bequeaths to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and to St. George’s Hospital, each 100l. He leaves 500l. to the school, Farnham, Essex, to be added to the sum of 1500l. left for the same object by his brother, William Ellis Gosling. He appoints his son Robert residuary legatee, who, he states, is otherwise amply provided for under the will of testator’s late father.– Illustrated London News.

A strange sum for the marriage settlements of the girls – £16,666! Interesting to note, as Robert’s daughters married in the 1850s, that Mary Gosling, in 1826 had £20,000 at her marriage (and we must presume sister Elizabeth brought the same sum to her marriage with Langham Christie). Tougher times? More daughters?

There is a photograph of Robert in old age (four years prior to his death); he seems a frail man, his thinness making him appear on the taller side. He is seated and his coat-tails, ready to brush the ground of Botleys, give the aura of a proper mid-Victorian English gentleman of means, while the stove pipe hat makes this American think “Abraham Lincoln”! Georgina sits beside him, a look of patience upon her care-worn face. She, especially, comes across in Mary’s diaries as a caring woman whom it is easy to admire. Their children and grandchildren flank around them, as everyone poses upon the great sweeping staircase one would use to enter Botleys. Reading the contents of Robert’s will while looking at the photo just brings them all to life.

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Happy Birthday, Mary

February 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm (chutes of the vyne, people) (, )

February 2nd, 1800 and Mary Gosling’s birth was recorded in the diary of Eliza Chute (her mother’s “sister of the heart,” in other words her BFF). So happy 209th birthday Mary! Being a fellow Aquarian, I feel sure I understand her a little better than others might…

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