Sarah Smith – wife of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, Wilts

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, history, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wish I had a picture of Sarah, Mrs Joshua Smith, to share. Alas, the one citation I have of a miniature of her — by Anne Mee — came with NO illustration!

So, to illustrate this lengthy obituary of Sarah, I include this illustration of Stoke Park, where she died. The write-up comes from The Monthly Magazine and British Register, 1810:

“At Stoke Park, near Devizes, Mrs Smith, the lady of Joshua Smith, esq. one of the representatives in parliament for that borough. She was the daughter, by a second wife, of Nathaniel Gilbert, of the island of Antigua, sequire [sic], a gentleman of large landed property there, and chief legal magistrate of the island, the maternal sister of the late lady Colebrooke, and mother of the present lady Northampton. Through life, this lady was conspicuous not only for great good sense and very amiable manners, but also for the great sincerity of her attachments; a sincerity which was the result of affection, principle, and benevolence, alone. In an age in which the woman of fashion too frequently affects the most extravagant degree of moral sentiment, the purity of her conduct expressed the innate worth and value of her mind; and while her charitable heart was ever ready to mitigate distress, the delicacy of her pecuniary favours never wounded the feelings of those, whom her bounty so liberally relieved. Though handsome in her youth, she was totally free from vanity and affectation; her charity, though exerted on the precepts of the divine word, in secrecy and silence, was not confined merely to alms, but manifested by a liberal and charitable opinion of the conduct of all. So far was she from uttering scandal of any one that she did not even think it; and as to pride, if it resided in her, it was of that decent kind which preserved her within the bounds of virtue and propriety. Thus beloved and revered for three generations, in consequence of a debility of body produced by an arthritic complaint, she expired at the end of her sixty-second year, when threatened with a total loss of sight, leaving her inconsolable husband, children, and other connections, the example of a woman, illustrious in every social department of life. Her remains were conveyed for interment to the family vault at Lambeth.”

[Curious mistake: the Lady Colebrooke, who was half-sister to Mrs. Joshua Smith, died in 1818 – eight years later.]


Sarah Smith of Erle Stoke Park lives on in letters, especially those to her daughter Eliza Chute of The Vyne, now housed at the Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, England. Eliza, in 1793, was newly married, and frequent correspondence passed between the two households.

A plea to anyone coming across letters of the 1790s: This important decade connects the Smiths & Goslings together in the “parent generation” – not only is Sarah Smith writing to Eliza and William Chute, she also writes of the newly-married pair William and Eliza GOSLING. Eliza Chute, as well, writes of her life — at The Vyne, at Roehampton Grove (the Gosling home), at Richmond — to her sisters Emma Smith (at Stoke); Augusta Smith (at Suttons, in Essex); Maria, Lady Compton (later: Lady Northampton = Marchioness of Northampton). Please contact me (see about the author for contact information) if you have letters to share!

  • Just bought a letter from eBay, for instance, and
  • its contents point to the people in this blog??
  • Contact me; I’d LOVE to hear from you!


  1. Adrian Villac said,

    ii have a book that belong to Joshua smith,Got his heraldic symbol and motto:Marte et would be nice to hear from you and see your comments about this.Greetings,Adrian

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, Adrian — I’ve seen online versions of the book plate; how EXCITING to have one of the actual books! Do tell me the title.

      Joshua, from all I’ve read in the family letters, had a VERY extensive library. If you’re interested – since the house no longer exists, really – I’ve a fascinating article on Erle Stoke Park I could email you. There’s even a schematic, showing where the library was located! (let me know.)

      His moto was “Marte et Ingeni”; hmm…. googling that I find a handful of books, such as “The Poetical Works of George Keate” (1729-1797), published in 1781 – and now kept at The Vyne.

      I can tell you that most were up for sale, in May 1820 (the year after Joshua’s death) – an auction over several days. I think copies of the auction catalogue exist, but I’d have to relook and see that it was Erle Stoke at this time and not the next owner.

      Hope you’ve taken a moment to peek at his portrait!

      thanks for writing.


      • Adrian Villac said,

        Hi janeite.The book is essay on the treatment and conversion of african colonies.By the Reverend James Ramsay,MDCC,LXXXIV.The motto i could read is indeed” Marte et ingenio”,then i could see clearly Joshua Smith .Stoke Park.i will appreciatte whatever info you cand send me me by mail.Vererything i know is that this bookwas like a best seller in that time because of autor Rev.Ramsay was an abolutionist.the other thing what it was the estimated price of thse piece in the 1820 auction catalogue and what could be the pricee ofthis item nowadayconsidering this piece is scarce to find.I feel excited abou thiis.and a very curios thing is that i bought the book in Cuba..I wonder that cost a leletter signed by his wife,.the very best to you at this wonderful day for Mom’s day.Greetings,Adrian

      • Adrian Villac said,

        Dear Janeite>I wonder if you havebooks thhat i could get from those years,Please contact me at,Adrian Pd i’ll be out of office for a cpuple of days

        2014-05-10 15:04 GMT+01:00, Two Teens in the Time of Austen

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