One Woman’s Belongings, circa 1811

February 7, 2015 at 6:37 pm (history) (, , )

William in Hampshire sent this link to the National Archives blog, asking if this Mary Smith could be in any way connected to the Smiths of Suttons. As you might imagine: LOADS of Marys and LOTS of Smiths in the world!

But the story, about a poor woman in the lunatic asylum, is fascinating if only for the wealth of items she brought with her in a small wooden box. What I found MOST intriguing were the miniatures. Surely, they represented her family – several adults and even a baby. Of course today no one has a clue as to the identity of the sitters – nor does the repository have much information on this particular Mary Smith.

smith miniatures_1811click to read Mary’s full story


  1. William, Hampshire said,

    Agree many Mary Smiths in the world, but very few so obviously wealthy and well connected as this one.

    If you look closely at the papers in the image, one relates to the East India Company, and another to the Stock Exchange. There looks also to be at least one letter.

    And so I would have thought that, despite the repository (presumably National Archives) saying that it does not “have much information on this particular Mary Smith”, examination of the various papers (as opposed to the miniatures) could well lead to the establishment of her identity.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, William – I agree; the articles may hold clues. With any luck, perhaps there will be some follow-up, and we’ll learn more about the woman’s identity.


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