Mary in Memoriam

March 19, 2009 at 9:26 pm (people) (, , , , , )

Having no ‘picture’ of Mary I found the wording of her memorial inscription – at the small church of St Mary in Stapleford Tawney (Essex) – thoroughly moving: It so well describes the young woman, wife and mother who lies under the surface of her diaries and the handful of letters which have so far surfaced. Sobering to see that her birthday is included; I hunted for this date for so long! (And first found it, as mentioned on February 2nd’s post, in the diary of Eliza Chute.)

The memorial begins with an epitaph to Charles Joshua Smith; is followed by that for his first wife, Belinda Colebrooke; and ends with this memorial to the life of Mary Gosling:

 Also Mary,
second daughter of William Gosling, Esq:re.
of Roehampton Grove, Surrey,
and second Wife of Sir Charles Joshua Smith, Bar:t.
of Suttons in this Parish,
whom she survived eleven Years
she was born Feb:y. 2.nd 1800, and died July 3.rd 1842.
To her Children her memory is endeared
by her Devoted Tenderness, and Watchful Solicitude,
and to all connected with her
by her Gentleness, Meekness, Self denying Benevolence,
and unwearied endeavour to fulfil every Christian,
and Relative duty.
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind.

Acts X X v. 19

In her few extant letters (it would be wonderful to find more!), Mary comes across as one who deferred to her mother-in-law, loved her children and fought to care for those nephews orphaned by the deaths of Augusta and Henry Wilder; she does her duty by her young son; and cares for the poor of the district. She quite evidently went through a period of great personal depression upon the death of Charles; then had to deal with the successive deaths of her beloved father and eldest brother. Although she writes little about her own reaction to her step-mother’s death, her sister Charlotte collapsed. In this one diary entry Mary’s “Gentleness” and “Meekness” come to the fore.

I want to thank Mike for supplying the text. How I wish I could have found my own way to Stapleford Tawney.

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