Sarah, a reader researching her family tree, contacted me recently — ID’ing the Rev. Daniell, whom Mary (Lady Smith) heard preach in Ramsgate in 1841, as John Mortlock Daniell. Just knowing the entire name, has opened up a load of information, including a picture of the man: he published much work.
Mary Gosling’s diaries were the first I found; Lady Smith’s were the diaries which opened up this entire project. Even last night, reading some of Mamma Smith’s 1830s diaries, my thoughts roamed to ask, “Where are more diaries? They must have been divvied up between her surviving children…”
There are literally HUNDREDS of names in all these diaries and letters. The Smiths rarely say much about people, but just knowing who they met and interacted with fleshes out their lives that little bit more.
For instance, Sarah’s information made me look that much closer at Mary’s comments: usually she mentioned a clergyman in reference to him “doing the duty”; here she has written that she “went to hear Mr Daniell”. A curious phrase – but one borne out by Mr Daniell’s reputation as “very popular.”
I cannot offer Sarah much information — but the fact that she can now place one woman in her forebear’s congregation for one Sunday is proof that the power of the internet connects so many disconnected things: as in recreating the lives of people alive 200 years ago!
I hope to start adding lists of names, from Emma’s diaries, from Mamma Smith’s diaries; from family letters. Do take a look at those lists already up under Dramatis Personae — and let me know if you know something about someone on the list. Even a name alone can sometimes unlock a world of information.
And if you’re lucky: You get a picture too!