James Edward Austen Leigh: His Oxford University Years

September 5, 2012 at 8:21 am (a day in the life, jane austen, people, research) (, , , , , , , )

James Edward Austen was the only son of James Austen — eldest brother of Cassandra & Jane Austen; and the clergyman who said Sunday service (at Sherborne St John) for William & Eliza Chute of The Vyne.

Edward, as he was known within the family, visited and dined with the Chutes as the years went by. And in 1828 he married my little Emma Smith — their wedding taking place on the 16th of December, the birthday of Edward’s dear Aunt Jane.


I don’t know that I will ever be able to answer that question. Of interest, is Emma’s diary notations that she and Edward read Emma together in the days surrounding their engagement (September 16, which Emma calls “This day proved one of the most important in my life”). These days were the basis for my Persuasions article entitled “Edward Austen’s Emma reads Emma“.

This blog post, however, is about Edward rather than Emma. A fine biography looking at Edward’s Oxford University years by Chris Viveash, originally published in JAS Reports and reproduced in an updated but abridged essay. The future clergyman is caught here as a vivacious young man, complete with a circle of close friends, all of whom enjoyed hunting while doing the required coursework to gain their university degrees.

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London Literary Tour: 84, Charing Cross Road

July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm (a day in the life, entertainment, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

In my email today, in honor of the London Olympics, ABE Books (used books site) sent a newsletter featuring “A Literary Tour of London“. It ended with “What books are missing from this list?” Carol S. from West Sussex responded, “84 Charing Cross Road” — that had me DASHING to my closet, where the bulk of my paperbacks are kept, in order to dig it out.

I devoured it.

Chuckled over parts.

Wished I, too, had book-people.

Want to see London (though NOT in Olympic Chaos).

Will probably continue on with its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

And now I want to share

Some bits I especially


were wonderfully touching

and written for book-lovers and London-lovers:

  • “Will your please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.”
  • “I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.”
  • “I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”
  • “you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don’t belong to me, some day they’ll find out i did it and take my library card away.”
  • “I just never saw a book so beautiful. I feel vaguely guilty about owning it.”
  • “P.S. Have you got Sam Pepys’ diary over there?”

and too many more… including that Helene went out of her mind over Pride and Prejudice.

From the 1950s austerity to the Beatles hysteria – this slim volume has it all. As Helene says, “Write me about London — the tube, the Inns of Court, Mayfair, the corner where the Globe Theatre stood, anything. I’m not fussy.”

We’ll leave 84, Charing Cross Road with this description by Maxine: “It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell…” and these parting words from Frank: “it’s an old edition…, not very handsome but well bound and a good clean copy, and we are sending it off to you today with invoice enclosed.”

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One Man Band: Life of an Independent Scholar

June 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm (a day in the life, books, history, introduction, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Curious about what a project like this Smith & Gosling research entails?

Although I worked (as staff) in academia for nineteen years, being an “independent scholar” (ie, without academic affiliation) means you don’t have the “interaction” of colleagues. That I really miss — and that’s why I’m so grateful for the readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen! If I can’t bend your ears, you at least allow me to bend your eyes. And it’s a two-way street – I value your comments and “likes” and dialogue.

So here’s my summary of Life as an Independent Scholar:

  • the location of diaries, letters, sketch books, portraits and miniatures, ephemera
  • a transcription of handwritten items
  • identification of people, places, and also the political, social, economic history of the era (approximately 1760-1845)
  • “getting the word out” through blog spots, journal, magazine and local history articles
  • finding obscure sources, including private collectors, for single items that once belonged to the Smiths, Goslings and friends/family
  • tracking down book citations
  • tracking down oblique references to family members in printed or manuscript sources
  • obtaining copies (xerox, digital photographs, microfilm) of relevant source material (thereby owing great debts to many blog readers)
  • corresponding with lots of libraries, record offices, and other depositories
  • TONS of internet searching
  • accepting the help of anyone who offers (see “obtaining copies”)
  • asking for help, when the distance is too great to make a personal visit (ditto)
  • spending precious hours/days/weeks at wonderful libraries and archives
  • typing-transcribing-writing-rewriting-proofing-searching-questioning-rewriting-proofing

No research assistants – No typists – No funding = A One-Man Band!

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Caroline Wiggett Remembers Austen/Vyne Neighbors

December 30, 2011 at 10:23 am (a day in the life, chutes of the vyne, diaries, jane austen, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

From the mouth of babes — or at least those (in 1869) who were once babes, and reminiscing about their lives c1803!

Caroline Wiggett was “adopted” by Eliza and William Chute. Cousin to William Chute of The Vyne, and the youngest of seven motherless children, Caroline went to live at The Vyne when she was 3-and-half years old. Caroline always called them Aunt and Uncle Chute.

This silhouette of Caroline as a young woman (left) graced the cover of the Jane Austen Journal (published by the British Library a couple years ago; still available on Amazon).

When in England four-and-a-half years ago, one manuscript I transcribed was Caroline Wiggett Workman’s Reminiscences, which she wrote for her nephew Chaloner Chute, among others. Re-reading it tonight, in light of Ellie Bennett’s thoughts, the list of neighbors she recalled as being important to the Chutes pops, like reading an Austen biography.

Caroline is remembering what life was like when she was first adopted, and the neighbors whom came and went and provided friends for the Chutes, as well as playmates for the lonely little girl.

We start with the Brocas family of Beaurepaire, which remained largely untenanted, but was sometimes inhabited by “old Mrs Brocas, step grand mother to the late Mr. Brocas.”

In the village of St John (called West Sherborne), there lived the rector “old Dr. Hall,” his wife and sister. “These we visited now & then”.

Mrs C. Blackstone and her daughter Margaret — a particular friend to Caroline, as they were of a same age — lived at Worting; “at the Upper house an old Mrs. Blackstone & her nephew (who was then the rector) & her daughter Harriett lived, relations to Mrs. C. Blackstone.” At the Great House was Mr. and Mrs Clarke – a sister to Lady Mildmay; they had several children. “We were often in that house as my Aunt was very partial to the family.”

Her next estate is Manydown, where lived “Mr. Wither & three daughters” – Mrs. Heathcote (a widow, whose son William was friend to young James Edward Austen), Miss Alethea Bigg & Miss Kitty. “These frequently rode to the Vyne, as my Uncle was very partial to old Mr Wither, so we were on most intimate terms with the family. I was very fond of visiting them”.

She next mentions the James Austens (Mary Lloyd, his second wife; Anna, Edward, and Caroline his three children); distance — to Steventon — seems a bit of an impediment, but James was of course the Rector of Sherborne and therefore their clergyman.

Colonel & Mrs Cunnyinghame with 7 children lived at Malshanger, she was a great friend of my Aunt’s”. Mrs Sclater and two maiden sisters lived at Tangier. Mrs & Mrs Bramton (Mrs B the sister of William Chute) lived at Oakley Hall. Lady Hicks was another married Chute sister. “Miss Elizabeth Chute took a small house at Oakley to be near her sister Mrs. Bramston”.

“The Crooks lived at Kempshot. On the Aldermaston side, we visited the Mounts, father of the Late W. Mount; there were 4 or 5 daughters…., the eldest afterwards married Mr. Michael Beach. We were very intimate in that house, also at Sulhamstead” — home of the Thoyts.

“There were many other neighours whom I have not mentioned, who used to dine at the Vyne, but those mentioned were those whom we saw most of, & with whom we were most intimate.”

* * *

Rupert Willoughby (an Austenian-sounding name!) has written several books that will be of interest to those looking for information on locale, or neighbors, or the Chutes. Willoughby’s website has a detailed listing of his books:

      • Basingstoke and Its Contribution to World Culture
      • Reading and its Contributions to World Culture
      • Chawton: Jane Austen’s Village
      • Shelborne: Gilbert White’s Village, with a guide to his house; with illustrations by Julie Anne Hudson
      • Sherborne St John & The Vyne in the Time of Jane Austen
      • A Key to Odiham Castle
      • Life in Medieval England
      • The Incredible Journey of Victor Hugo’s Dog (forthcoming)

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It’s a Small Jane Austen World

July 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In Friday’s post (hurray!) was the 2nd Sarah Markham book — really the one I wanted most because of its subject, which you can glean from its title: A Testimony of Her Times: Based on Penelope Hind’s Diaries and Correspondence, 1787-1838.

A slight aside: Penelope Loveday Benwell Hind was born in 1759 and died in 1846; so the title dates are NOT her lifespan!

When I found mention of this book online – and quickly located a nice (used) copy at a fair price, I awaited its arrival impatiently because of the time period and, also, I’m a sucker for any account based on an English woman’s life. Will say this of the book: EXCELLENT! Locate a copy ASAP, it will NOT disappoint.

There were MANY connections to other diary/correspondence/biography I have collected over the years: there were mentions of the Countess of Ilchester (the Talbot family) mentioned in A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen: The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter; the Byngs — see the Torrington Diaries — were relations of the Lovedays; the Berrys — ie, Mary Berry of the Walpole correspondence — comes in for frequent visits; Felbrigg Hall comes up once or twice (must admit to boredom so I never read more than the first book about the National Trust caretakers of the estate).  Then came this, on page 85; the Hinds are removing Pen’s sister Sarah to their home in Findon, Sussex:

“The first day’s journey was quite short as they spent the night at SPEEN HILL with a FRIEND, MRS CRAVEN, who had formerly lived at Chilton House…” There is then a footnote explaining about Mrs Craven — though with no mention of her Austen connection; that comes from JA’s Letters. Mrs Craven’s elder son was Fulwar Craven. (I’ll let you consult your own Letters to puzzle out the Fulwars-Cravens-Fowles-Austens.)

Of Mrs Craven, Le Faye writes: “1779 [married] Catherine Hughes, daughter of James Hughes of Letcombe, Berks., and had two sons and one daughter; lived at BARTON Court  and also at Chilton Foliat, Wilts” — which is where the Lovedays would have encountered her. Husband John Craven died in 1804; Mrs Craven in 1839.

Then this morning, MORE Austen connections. A great friend to Pen Hind’s first husband (William Benwell) was the Rev. James Ventris. He continued a friend and “since he had stayed with them [the Hinds] he had been presented to the living of Beeding, not far away, and lived at Beeding Priory. In May 1816 he married Jane Hinton, daughter of the former rector of CHAWTON, whom they liked very much.” Miss Hinton herself appears in JA’s Letters; and the family are in Le Faye’s Biographical Index. Mrs Ventris is the “Jane II” who lived 1771-1856. Her brother, John-Knight Hinton, joined the suit of James-Hinton Baverstock against Edward Austen Knight in 1814 “for possession of his Hampshire estates” (Edward settled in 1818, paying 15,000 pounds).

Mrs Ventris’ sister, Mary, had a daughter – Elizabeth Wells — who married the nephew of Pen Hind! Arthur and Elizabeth Loveday had a son, another Arthur (for Pen also had a brother Arthur). This family, who’s little history is coming up in Testimony, became related to the Lefroys when young Arthur married the youngest daughter of Anna Austen and Ben Lefroy! (Anna, of course, was elder sister to James Edward Austen Leigh and Caroline Mary Craven Austen.)

Have to wonder, with all the letters and diaries that could exist in the Loveday-Hind-Wells-Craven-Hinton etc circle, if there aren’t some uncovered mentions of the Austens… Jane included.

BTW: Happy 4th of July!

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Breaking News: Scenes from life at Suttons

June 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm (a day in the life, books, estates, news, people, places, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

**My “solution” to the Mr Darcy-Mystery Man will appear at the end of the week**

The breaking news concerns a slim little volume I’ve searched a couple YEARS for: Scenes from Life at Suttons, 1825 & 1827 — a Wiltshire seller had a copy on eBay, the auction ending about three weeks ago. Yet who but me would want this little book?! Evidently, no one: when I emailed about it the book was still available. This little prize arrived in my mailbox this past Monday — the 13th of June! YIPPEE.

So what does this little treasure offer?

There are 28 pages of text, which are short plays, in verse, written by DRUMMOND and ELIZA SMITH. The scenes take place in 1825 and 1827, as the title indicates. They are comical and charming little pieces, especially heartwarming to me because I can see and hear them, I know the “characters” so well! The first is entitled BREAKFAST AT SUTTONS, JULY 1825. The first pages includes this exchange:

Fanny: Whoever chuses coffee — speak.
Charlotte: I should like some — but very weak.
Augusta: Coffee too — if you please, for me;
                     But no — I think I’ll have some Tea.

Readers get a sense of the house, the manners and characters, as well as the staff members: we have “appearances” by Tanner (Mr Tanner he is later called); John who evidently answered the door to a ‘poor woman’ arriving to talk to Mamma; the ever-loyal Tidman, who shows up in letters. Interestingly, these people do not appear as “characters” listed at the beginning of each “play”!

The next scene, AN HOUR’S READING AT SUTTONS, 1825, features Aunt and Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma is, of course, Mamma Smith’s youngest sister (she never married); Aunt, on the other hand is erroneously ID’ed as Maria, the Marchioness of Northampton (ie, Mamma’s eldest sister).

‘Aunt’ was in fact Charles Smith’s only sister, Judith Smith of Stratford! I recall a charming little drawing of Aunt (by Augusta, the daughter) in the collection of the Hampshire Record Office (HRO). I have long meant to ask for a copy; this makes me want it even more, because, although there is no Aunt Emma, Scenes from Life at Suttons has portraits of Mamma and her sister Maria, Lady Northampton!

The last little play, EVENING AT SUTTONS, 1827, has a few lines spoken by my beloved MARY! This takes place in The Library.

The end of the book includes ELEVEN portraits, all (except her own) by Augusta Smith Wilder. So came my first look at Mary (Gosling) Smith, and even her sister Elizabeth. Most of the Smith siblings are present: Augusta, Charles, Emma, Spencer, Charlotte and Drummond. Alas! No Fanny, Eliza or Maria!! Which is QUITE the loss, though as far as Fanny goes I believe the portrait at HRO is of this set. This I have a copy of! (Sorry, you won’t find it online…). Mary’s portrait easily translates into a silhouette, so I’ll shortly post her picture, as companion to her “sister of the heart”, Emma Austen Leigh. Stay tuned for more about this unique booklet!

One thing I can NOW say: This title does indeed exist! I was beginning to think May Lamberton Becker’s imagination had conjured it up. The description, its only depiction, appeared in her book Presenting Miss Jane Austen (1952).

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Bloomin’ Rhododendrons

May 28, 2011 at 11:17 am (a day in the life, estates, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

One *amazing* discovery, made reading these 200-year-old (more or less) letters and diaries, is the passion for FLOWERS everyone, young and old, exhibited. There are those who loved to draw and sketch flowers:

Miss Meen came & I began to learn painting flowers” – Emma Smith, 6 February 1815

That same year, in late Summer, Castle Ashby, home of the Marquess of Northampton, when Emma’s cousin Spencer Lord Compton married Margaret Maclean Clephane, the rooms were bedecked with “flowerpots, to the number of 32”. These were placed “in most of the rooms“, although the Great Hall received special floral treatment.

In her 1798 diary, Augusta Smith (Mrs Charles Smith of Suttons) kept a listing of flowers, probably those she found at Suttons following her March wedding, or else those she had cause to see planted. Among them, “White Lilics & Day Lilies. Lillies of the Valley Bigonia…Magnolias  Seeds of Anemonie, sown directly

In the summer she exults about eating “The first dish of Strawberries from our garden.”

In August 1832, when her younger daughter “little Augusta shews a great taste for flowers” Mary (Lady Smith) makes sure to note it in her diary.

These are just a few that popped to mind, which I could find and quote. As my own garden turns to blooms, they join recollections of springs and summers abroad, in England and Wales. The rhododendrons that grew wild along the roadside my father and I trekked along in search of a castle estate in North Wales always comes to mind when I see my own blooms (left).

And there is nothing more humble than the little purple violets which grow wild hereabouts; weed to some, it is a valued little flower to me, as much as Augusta’s Lilies of the Valley must have been to her:

Truthfully, I have very little love of gardening. But to have such color and scent to hand is something I too watch and note every year. The crocuses that bloom on the “first” warm day — only to decimated by the ensuing cold… The rhodos that grew larger and larger — and attract too many bees to safely cut them for an indoors look… The Day Lilies which, despite being orange and therefore not really a favorite color, I watch to see their daily progression from open blooms to dying relics.

So it is any wonder everyone writes of the passage of their gardens, whether working in them or simply admiring them?

I am reminded to note two new books added to my collection, bought for $2.99 each at the local Goodwill: The Glory of the English Garden, by Mary Keen; and Royal Gardens, by Roy Strong. Will have more to say about them when I’ve looked through them more thoroughly. Having a keen interest in the Royal Gardens, I was ready to purchase that one straightaway; the other I was less sure about — yet, I have a feeling that one will prove the more valuable in the end. Such wonderful chapters, and glorious pictures (by Clay Perry).

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Royal Wedding, circa 1816

April 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm (a day in the life, british royalty, fashion, news, people) (, , , , , , , )

Hmmm… many Jane Austen sites have had a similar idea: to focus on the “wedding of the century” in Jane Austen’s lifetime, that of the Princess Charlotte to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in May 1816.

To read those accounts, see Austenonly; Jane Austen’s World; The Regency Fashion Page; Princess Charlotte’s page on Wikipedia.

All give detailed accounts of the princess’ wedding dress. So I guess I won’t go there! Although it was hearing that the dress was “on display” which interested me in the first place.

But, with a little digging, Smith&Gosling can offer some “timely” insight from sources more in the know: The Princess Charlotte was mentioned in the letters and diaries; at least once with some amusement in a letter written by Emma Smith.

* * *

A brief “book break” —

Here is a slightly unusual book on the Princess: Mrs Herbert Jones’ The Princess Charlotte of Wales: An Illustrated Monograph (1885).
The Memoirs of the late Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales and Saxe Cobourg (1818).
The Life & Memoirs of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte (1821).
Royal Correspondence, or Letters between her late Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte and her Royal Mother, Queen Caroline (1822).

* * *

And on to Emma Smith!

Mary Gosling’s girlhood diaries are of travels; so far (maybe…), there is nothing “daily” prior to 1829. Emma Smith, however, began keeping a daily journal in 1815. Youthful Mary is perhaps a loss when it is realized that her youngest sister, Charlotte, had as godmother QUEEN CHARLOTTE!

Emma, at this stage in her life, makes a nice reporter. Why? because she had met (and corresponded with) one of the daughters of the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV). The Duke and the Miss Fitzclarences even attended a gathering, to which Emma went in May 1815, at her aunt Mrs Thomas Smith’s home. Surely Mary and Elizabeth were the “two Goslings” who accompanied Mamma, Augusta, Emma and Fanny.

But let’s focus on weddings. From Emma’s 1816 diary:

Friday 3 May The princess Charlotte was married to the Prince of Saxe Coburgh. The ceremony was performed at Carleton house & afterwards they went to Oatlands.

Wednesday 29 May Mama & Augusta dined at Mrs Gosling’s then they went to the Ancient Music where they saw the Princess Charlotte & the Prince of Saxe Coburgh I drank tea with the Goslings

Monday 22 July The Princess Mary married the Duke of Gloster a very sumptuous wedding at the Queen’s house. they then went to Bagshot

Tuesday 23 July Lady Burgess was married to the Earl of Paulett at her house Picadilly  There were about 18 people at the wedding the Duke of Clarence gave her away

Lady Burgess was Emma’s great aunt, the widow of Sir John Smith Burgess (he took his wife’s name), brother of Sir Drummond Smith and Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park.

more soon (including Emma’s rather amusing letter…)

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Erin go bragh

March 17, 2011 at 8:26 am (a day in the life, people, places, research, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

…Éirinn go brách… Ireland forever!

The following words are those of Margaret Fountaine (published in Love Among the Butterflies):

“…then we were off, speeding across Holyhead Harbour out into the open sea…. We amused ourselves… by rampaging all over the boat, A strong breeze was blowing so we left our hats in the cabin for safety. The sky was almost cloudless, blue in the sky above, blue in the rolling water below. Close to the side of the boat, with my hair in long shreds streaming in the wind, I leaned forward straining my eyes to catch the first glimpse of the Irish coast.”

Margaret, in 1890, was 28 years old. When I first travelled to Ireland, along that same route — Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, arriving as dawn (and an autumn mist) rose over the intensely-blue waters — I was about 23 years old.

Mary Gosling travelled to Ireland in 1821, when she was 21 years old; it was the culminating landing of a trip that brought the Gosling family (“Papa, Mamma, my Sister and myself”) from Roehampton, through Shrewsbury, to Chirk and North Wales, then a boat ride across to Ireland. On September 9th, they “arrived at Howth eight miles from Dublin at three o’clock, after rather a rough passage of seven hours. We went to Dublin in the Mail coach and arrived at Morrison’s hotel in Dawson Street at five o’clock.” Mary reports “we were all very ill” during the sea journey. Emma, who received a letter from her dear friend, passed similar news on to Aunt [Mrs Judith Smith, of Stratford] in a letter dated 28 September: “We have heard again from the Goslings they have been in Ireland, but suffered so much from sea sickness both in coming & going that it has in a great degree spoilt their enjoyment, they say that those who cross the water as they did in steam boats suffer more from sickness than in any other way.”

This Irish part of the trip was most curious when I first read it. (This 1821 diary was the very first piece of this research! and I had NO idea who Mary was, never mind what her ‘Papa’ did for a living). Mary accompanies Papa “to see the Bank, the exterior of which is very handsome forming a very fine object almost in the centre of the City with Trinity College…. We saw the whole process of making bank notes, which is all done by steam engines and is very curious.” She then goes on to describe the process: what is done with and to the paper; the printing of notes; the finishing and “signing” — “which must be done by hand”. Knowing the identity of William Gosling — a banker, with his own ‘family’ firm — it all makes such perfect sense; for who, but a banker, could gain such immediate access to the making of currency!

They toured a little of the island, then headed back to Dublin — where they again see the process of “making money” on September 17th. They prepared for a return to England the following day, going to Holyhead: “We got up at half past four…we had a very favorable passage of seven hours and a half though very ill all the time”. Their return was leisurely: they arrived at Roehampton on October 6th, “well pleased with our six weeks Tour. We travelled all together 845 miles.”

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Sad Day at Suttons

January 14, 2011 at 11:05 am (a day in the life, people, research) (, , , , , , )

The year was 1831; Charles was only 30 years old and had endured some horrific medical procedures (never mind the mercury-laiden medicines!). I will post some information about this “last illness” of a vital young man, as well as some of the questions that remain on what precipitated the entire episode, at a later point.

{note on the obituary, which was published in Gentleman’s Magazine: Augusta Smith’s eldest sister was Maria the dowager Marchioness of Northampton, but Lady Dunsany was actually a paternal AUNT to the four Erle Stoke sisters Maria, Eliza, Augusta, and Emma. Charles’ father, Charles Smith of Suttons, pre-deceased his uncle by marriage, Sir Drummond Smith — which is how the title devolved upon Charles Joshua. Charles left three children at his death: Charles Cunliffe Smith, Mary (called Mimi by her mother), and Augusta.}

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